Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unlikely to visit Bangladesh to attend the celebration of the birth centenary of freedom fighter and first Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, after Dhaka scaled down and postponed several events related to Rahman, scheduled for March 17, the Hindustan Times reported on Monday. Bangladesh’s decision came the same day as the country confirmed three cases of the novel coronavirus.
Rahman was born on March 17, 1920, and was one of the central figures in Bangladesh’s struggle for independence from Pakistan, which led to the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. Modi was scheduled to visit Dhaka on March 17 to attend the inaugural ceremony of the celebrations, and to deliver an address. He was also expected to meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Modi’s visit was seen as an act of conciliation amid tensions between India and Bangladesh over the Citizenship Amendment Act, and protests in the neighbouring country over it.
Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, chief coordinator of the “Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee”, said at a hastily convened press conference late on Sunday that the celebrations will be held later in the year. Chowdhury said the events to be held on March 17 would be inaugurated by Hasina and would go ahead on a small scale without any public gatherings.
Asked whether foreign guests would attend the events, Chowdhury said: “It is going to be held on a big scale later and we hope all the guests from within the country and abroad will participate.” He did not clarify whether Modi would attend the function but news agency ANI cited sources as saying that Modi is unlikely to visit Dhaka.
Bangladesh’s Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research said on Sunday that two out of the three coronavirus patients had returned from Italy recently, the Dhaka Tribune reported. The institute’s director Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora said that two other people who were in close contact with the infected trio have been quarantined.
The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases worldwide went up to 1,05,523, and 3,584 people had died as of Sunday. Forty people have been infected in India so far, though there have been no deaths yet.