Indian President Pranab arrives today

Dhaka is set to welcome Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday amid a shutdown called by the Jamaat-e-Islami to protest against the war crimes trial.A special flight carrying the Indian President and his entourage, including first lady Suvra Mukherjee, will touch down at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at around 12.30pm.
Bangladesh’s President Zillur Rhaman will receive him, his Deputy Press Secretary Shazzad Haider told
This is the first tour of Mukherjee to any country after taking over as President in August 2012.
During his three-day visit, the President, who was a senior leader of the ruling Indian National Congress in his six decades of political career, would convey India’s commitment to resolve the unresolved issues with Bangladesh.
“What the President will convey to the top Bangladesh leadership is the Indian government’s commitment to take bilateral relations to a higher level and to resolve unresolved issues,” Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told journalists at a briefing in New Delhi.
The visit comes at a time when the country’s political situation has turned volatile following the verdict relating to top Jamaat leaders in the International Crimes Tribunal.
The main opposition BNP is also on the street to realise their demand of restoration of caretaker government system that the current government has scrapped.
The foreign secretary said the visit ‘is not designed to engage in political negotiations.’
He said they were in touch with Dhaka and monitoring the evolving situation in the wake of widespread violence that erupted after the Tribunal awarded death penalty to Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee.
The party gave a call for shutdown on Sunday and Monday, followed by the main opposition BNP’s Tuesday strike.
The Indian President will be in Bangladesh for those three days when he will receive Bangladesh Liberation War Honour Award and an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Dhaka at a formal convocation ceremony.
He will call on President Zillur Rahman on Monday and receive the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour Award from him.
He will also meet with the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Leader of the opposition and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad Abdul Hamid, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, and Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith.
He is also expected to meet Jatiya Party Chairman Hussain Muhammad Ershad.
The Indian President will attend a reception to meet members of the Indian community in Bangladesh.
He will be accompanied by the Minister of State for Railways and four Members of Parliament including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party Trinamool Congress’s General Secretary Mukul Roy.
The Foreign Secretary said the President’s visit would provide ‘an opportunity to take bilateral relations to a new height.’
He said the choice of Bangladesh as his first visit ‘is reflective of the fact that India attaches the highest importance to its relations with Bangladesh and seeks a deeper and stronger partnership with that country.’
During his stay, Mukherjee along with Hasina would also flag off a freight train from the Dhaka Cantonment railway station that is made of the tank wagons and locomotives being supplied from India under the $800 million line of credit.
He will pay a visit to the home of Rabindranath Tagore in Shilaidaha in Kushtia district and also to Bhadrabila in the Narail district of Bangladesh where he would visit old family relations of the Indian first lady.
He would also visit Kumudini Welfare Trust in Mirzapur before leaving Dhaka on Tuesday.
Ahead of President Mukherjee’s visit, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai visited Dhaka.
Both sides earlier this month inked an extradition treaty, a liberalised visa agreement, and also exchange of maps of the demarcated stretches, in accordance with the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) of 1974.
The ratification of the land boundary agreement has been another issue that remained unresolved until recently when the President proposed it in parliament for constitutional amendment.
Once ratified, 111 Indian and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves that fall in each other’s territory will be exchanged.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has recently been signed to construct a rail link between Akhaura and Agartala.

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