Indian President to visit Ramna Kali temple in Dhaka, destroyed by Pakistan army in 1971

 Indian President Ram Nath Kovind will be visiting the historic Ramna Kali temple in Dhaka during his visit to Bangladesh for the 50th Victory Day celebrations.

The historic Kali temple dates back to the Mughal era. It was destroyed by the Pakistani Army in March 1971 in an attempt to curb the Bangladesh liberation war. During the destruction, the Pakistan forces massacred hundreds of Hindus at the temple. The temple was destroyed by the Pakistani army under "operation searchlight" which saw lakhs of locals in the then East Pakistan being killed, including many members of the minority Hindu community.

In 2017, during the then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's Bangladesh visit, it was announced that India will help reconstruct the temple. The temple before its destruction was Dhaka's key religious and cultural heritage and the tallest landmark.

In fact, during Bangladesh's founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's famous address on March 7, 1971, the temple can be seen in the background in many of the photos. The landmark speech essentially was a clarion call for independence of the country from West Pakistan and was delivered at the Ramna race course maidan in the city.

President Kovind will be in Dhaka from December 15 to 17 and will be the chief guest at the Victory Day celebrations on December 16. The parade would include a 122-member tri-service contingent from the Indian armed forces. On the first day of the visit on Wednesday, the Indian president will pay tributes at the National Martyrs' Memorial in Savar. His programme includes meeting with the muktijoddhas or Bangladeshis who took up arms to free the country.

It is the Indian president's first-ever visit abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 marks the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh's independence and 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu - Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier visited the country in March, his first foreign travel since 2019 amid the COVID-19 crisis.



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