Kolkata: India and Bangladesh not only share a common ancient history and culture, but also maintain excellent bilateral relations in contemporary times, senior Indian Army officer Maj Gen M P Singh said here on Saturday.

A 30-member delegation from Bangladesh along with six serving officers of its armed forces will attend the Vijay Diwas observance on December 16 to honour the triumph of Mukti Bahini (liberation warriors) and the Indian armed forces over Pakistan in the 1971 war, he said.

Singh, Major General General Staff (MGGS) of the Eastern Command, said the two neighbouring countries share a special relationship.

“Our two nations not only share a common ancient history and culture, but in contemporary times also maintain excellent bilateral relations which are built on the foundations of people-to-people contact and mutual respect for each other,” Singh said.

Addressing a press conference at Fort William, the headquarters of the Army’s Eastern Command, he said that the prime ministers of India and Bangladesh have given due importance to mutual relations under “our policy of neighbourhood first.” Andalib Elias, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Kolkata, said that there may not be any other neighbouring heads of government who share this kind of understanding, appreciation and respect for each other.

“That bond of souls is increasing and we are passing through the golden phase. The wonderful relations between the two prime ministers are exemplary in the world,” he said.

Elias said that with 52 years having passed since the 1971 war, it has to be ensured that new generations know what happened then.

“They should know about the genocide (by the Pakistan Army), they should know about the friendship which stands all the tests,” he said.

The Bangladeshi official said that when the Pakistan Army unleashed a genocide on the Bengali people of erstwhile East Pakistan in 1971, people rushed towards the Indian border with the expectation that India would provide support to them and that happened.

He said that more than 10 million refugees stayed in India for more than nine months and they were provided all support and assistance by the country’s government and also its people.

The MGGS said that the recent achievements in bilateral relations include settling land and maritime boundaries and demarcation, improving connectivity, cultural exchanges, increased volume of trade and commerce.

“Our defence forces have also shared a cordial relationship over the years, which have seen an increase in the number of joint exercises and training,” Singh said.

He said that the Indian Army’s Eastern Command was at the centre stage of the historical struggle.

A 30-member Bangladeshi delegation and six serving officers from Bangladesh armed forces along with their families will participate in the ‘Vijay Diwas’ observance here.

He said that India’s war veterans who participated in the 1971 war will also be attending the event.

A series of events have been planned to mark Vijay Diwas, which include an interaction between Mukti Jodhas of Bangladesh and India’s war veterans, military tattoo, wreath laying to pay respects to the martyrs of the war and cultural events at Victoria Memorial, he said.