Bangladesh to honour 226 Indians for role in 1971 `Liberation War`
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 00:07
  
Dhaka: Bangladesh will honour some 500 foreigners, including 226 Indians, for their crucial support to the country's 1971 'Liberation War', as it marks the 40th Victory Day anniversary next year.

"The cabinet on Monday approved the proposal to accord reception to distinguished foreign nationals and organisations for their extraordinary contribution in our Liberation War," Abul Kalam Azad, the press secretary of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said to a news agency.

Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi would be conferred with a special honour for her "immense" support for Bangladesh's independence, officials earlier said.

Azad said a high-level committee of liberation war affairs ministry officials and distinguished people were preparing the list of foreigners along with citations to be honoured in Dhaka during the Victory Day celebrations next year.

"Though we have already prepared a draft of the awardees but at this moment it is difficult to say what could be the size of the list," said Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, who heads the committee.

A member of the committee on condition of anonymity said they were holding meetings for the past two days to prepare the citations and the list included 226 Indians and 40 Pakistanis.

"India backed us crucially during the Liberation War, but we also want to acknowledge the role of Pakistanis who defied the Pakistani junta risking their safety to support us," he said.

Officials familiar with the process said a sub-committee was tasked to prepare the list while another sub-committee was tasked to finalise the modus operandi of the reception.

"The studies found that people like Victoria Victoria Ocampo, the great Argentinean known for her love for Rabindranath Tagore, waged a campaign in her country for our liberation in 1971 while she was 90," an official earlier said.

Asked who were the Pakistanis who had extended their support, a member of the committee said the initial searches found nearly 35 such Pakistanis who dared to stand for the cause of Bengalis, exposing themselves to tortures, imprisonments and manhunts.

Apart from the late Indian Prime Minister, then Indian army chief, Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw and the Army commander in India's eastern theatre, Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, figure in a list of eminent people to be honoured by Bangladesh.

On March 26, 1971, Bangladesh - then East Pakistan - declared its independence from West Pakistan.

According to official figures, Pakistani troops, aided by local collaborators, killed an estimated 3 million people, raped about 200,000 women and forced millions more to leave their homes during the bloody nine-month guerrilla war.

On March 25, the ruling Awami League government set up a special tribunal for the trial of "war criminals" accused of genocide and those who sided with the Pakistani military during the 1971 'Liberation War'.

The radical party Jamaat-e-Islami, an ally of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and several other rightwing groups have been accused of helping the Pakistani military.

Jamaat's chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid led the so-called Al-Badr forces, which is widely believed to have been involved in genocide, rape and murder of frontline intellectuals in an effort to cripple the emerging nation in 1971.

Bangladesh's honour list includes eight Russians, 35 Britons, two Irishmen, five Australians, three Dutchmen, three Argentinians, eight Swiss, two Germans, 13 Frenchmen, three Butanese, 13 Japanese, two Sri Lankans and 15 Nepalese, a committee members was quoted as saying by bdnews24.com.

Those honoured will receive a 50 gram gold (18 carat) crest and an honourary citizenship of Bangladesh, the report said.

Among those expected to be honoured include former Soviet leader Leonid I Brezhnev, former Cuban president Fidel Castro and former Yugoslavian president Marshal Josep Broz Tito.

Former Indian prime minister IK Gujral, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar and painter MF Hussain are among living Indians to be honoured.

Other Indian recipients include former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu, former defence minister Krishna Menon, former Congress leader Sachindra Lal Singha, diplomats DP Dhar, PN Dhar, film maker Satyajit Ray, singer Manna Dey, artist Bishnu Dey and singer Mohammad Rafi, the report said.

Pakistani politicians include Sindh nationalist leader GM Sayeed and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib's friend Sheikh Ayaz, Master Khan Gul and Ghous Baksh Bijenjo.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 00:07


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