India on Tuesday subtly nudged Bangladesh to protect minority Hindus against radical Islamists and urged it to keep alive the secular spirit of its 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan so that the communal forces could not hurt the mutual trust between the two neighbouring nations.

As the prime ministers of India and Bangladesh, Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina, met in New Delhi, the two sides agreed to step up bilateral cooperation to combat radicalism and terrorism. With China’s expanding footprints in Bangladesh being a concern for India, Modi and Hasina also had a comprehensive discussion on the issue.

“We also stressed on (India-Bangladesh) cooperation against terrorism and radicalism,” Modi said as he and Hasina addressed media-persons after a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. “To keep the spirit of 1971 alive, it is also very important that we fight together against such forces, which want to hurt our mutual trust.”

He apparently referred to the spirit of 1971 in order to subtly convey New Delhi’s concerns over activities of Pakistan-backed radical and extremist organizations in Bangladesh.

New Delhi conveyed to Dhaka that counter-terrorism and radicalisation were ‘obstacles’ in India-Bangladesh relations and ‘security threat’ for both, according to Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra, who briefed journalists after the meeting between the two prime ministers.

Bangladesh was born half a century ago rejecting the religious nationalism of Pakistan. But its war against fanaticism and fundamentalism is far from over, despite the initial success of the crackdown launched by Hasina’s Awami League government on fundamentalists after it returned to power in 2009.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other Sangh Parivar offshoots had in October-November last year campaigned in India, criticizing the Hasina Government for being “mute spectator” to the vandalism at Durga Puja pandals at Comilla and other places in Bangladesh. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s government, however, had not allowed the campaign to derail the relations between New Delhi and Dhaka and had rather acknowledged the Hasina Government’s initiatives, not only to deny sanctuaries to militants of north-eastern India, but also to rein in the radical Islamists in Bangladesh.

The radicals also vandalized an idol of Ganesha at Chittagong in Bangladesh during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival recently.

Hasina, however, conveyed to Modi on Tuesday that her government was committed to protecting the rights of minority Hindus in Bangladesh, according to Kwatra.

During an interview with the ANI ahead of her visit to New Delhi, Hasina responded to a question on extremism in Bangladesh by pointing it out that India and several other countries were also afflicted by the menace. She said that all communities had equal rights to celebrate religious festivals in Bangladesh and her government did take actions whenever some attempts were made to disturb communal harmony.

Asked if Modi also conveyed to Hasina New Delhi’s concerns over China’s expanding footprints in Bangladesh, Kwatra said the discussions between the two leaders had been “comprehensive”. “In this context,” he added, “there is a clear common understanding that the strategic priorities of the relationship of the two countries, interests and concerns of India, and interests and priorities of Bangladesh are all factored in our cooperative matrix of engagement.”