New Delhi: Forty years after he participated in the 1971 India-Pakistan war to liberate Bangladesh, Indian Army chief General VK Singh will embark on a five-day visit to Dhaka on Sunday, when he will gift three antique 3.7 Howitzers to the neighbouring country`s army as mementoes.
General Singh, who fought in the war as a freshly commissioned second lieutenant in the Rajput Regiment, will also present all required equipment for setting up a computer lab for the Bangladeshi armed forces, apart from a rock-climbing wall, both for training purposes, army officers said here.
The gestures are part of India`s and the Army chief`s efforts to take forward the growing defence relations between the two nations, they said.
"Bangladesh`s first artillery battery, called the Mujeeb Battery, was formed with 3.7 inch Howitzers. India too used these several decades ago. Since Bangladesh wanted some guns for its legacy value and for perpetuating the Mujeeb Battery`s memory and accomplishments, these guns are being gifted," an officer said.
Gen Singh will meet top government leaders, senior armed forces officers and will also attend the passing-out parade of two batches of the Bangladesh Military Academy in Chittagong.
Army officials said here that Singh will fly to Dhaka on Sunday at the invitation of his Bangladeshi counterpart General Mohammed Abdul Mubeen. "The visit assumes special significance in the light of improving military cooperation between the two countries in consonance with the growing relationship," they said.
Gen Singh, who will be accompanied by his wife Bharti Singh and five senior Army officers, will also call on President Mohammed Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
At Chittagong, he will be the chief guest at the passing-out parade of the 64th Long Course and the 35th Special Course of the Bangladesh Military Academy June 22, another first for an Indian general. He will return to India June 23.
As India`s eastern army commander based in Kolkata, prior to taking over as the chief of the Indian Army, General Singh made special efforts to expand military ties between India and Bangladesh.
"The India-Bangladesh relations are multifaceted and founded on historical linkages. The successful visit of Bangladesh prime minister in January 2010 and Bangladesh army chief in March that year to India has also contributed significantly to the consolidation of the existing ties and given a further boost to the cordial relations between both the nations," an officer said.
"The visit will further cement India`s defence relationship with Bangladesh and add impetus to the ongoing defence cooperation. Maintenance of enhanced military-to-military contacts with Bangladesh by the Indian Army is mutually beneficial to the strategic interests of both the nations," he added.