Hilsa on table, doctorate from Dhaka varsity during Mukherjee visit
By Ranjana Narayan, New Delhi, Feb 26 : Bangladesh's choice hilsa fish from the Padma river will be on the platter during President Pranab Mukherjee's Bangladesh visit, his first trip overseas after taking over the country's top office last July.
Besides hilsa, the Indian president will also be treated to other special culinary delights when he visits Bangladesh from March 3-5, said a diplomatic official.
"President Mukherjee will also be presented a doctorate by Dhaka University," the official told IANS, not wishing to be identified.
Mukherjee will also visit Bhadrabila village, the ancestral home of his in-laws in Narail in Sadar sub-district. Suvra Mukherjee, the wife of the president, was born in Bhadrabila village, located eight km from Narail district headquarters. The village is located alongside the river Chitra.
According to media reports from Bangladesh, Kanai Lal Ghosh, the president's brother-in-law, is currently residing at the ancestral home. Suvra Mukherjee had last visited the village in 1995, the reports said.
Mukherjee would also visit Shilaidaha Kuthibari, a palatial mansion in Kushtia town where Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore stayed frequently. The country house was built by Tagore's grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore. He will visit Bhadrabila and Shilaidaha Kuthibari on the last day of his trip, the official added.
A team of 12 Indian diplomats, led by High Commissioner Pankaj Saran, visited different places of Narail Feb 8, including the ancestral home of the president's wife. The team arrived in Narail by helicopter. They also visited Wellington field, Narail Government Boys School field and the house of Shuvra Mukherjee's maternal uncle in Chasra village of the Sadar upazila, a media report said.
Mukherjee will also be conferred Bangladesh's top award for his contribution to the 1971 independence war that brought freedom to Bangladesh. Former prime minister Indira Gandhi was posthumously conferred the Bangladesh Swadhinata Sanmanona award in 2011. Congress president Sonia Gandhi received the award in Dhaka.
Ahead of President Mukherjee's visit, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai visited Dhaka.
India-Bangladesh ties are currently at a high. Both sides earlier this month inked an extradition treaty, a liberalized visa agreement, and also exchanged maps of the demarcated stretches, in accordance with the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) of 1974. According to the land boundary agreement, 111 Indian and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves, that fall in each other's territory and involves thousands of people on both sides, will be exchanged.
Both sides are also to launch a rail link between Akhaura in Bangladesh and Agartala in Tripura. They have also inked MoUs on several issues including amending the double taxation avoidance treaty and for opening additional border haats (markets) in Tripura and Meghalaya.
Khurshid participated in the second India-Bangladesh Joint Commission meeting.
On the ticklish Teesta water sharing accord, which was stalled due to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's intransigence, Khurshid had assured Dhaka that India is "committed to the issue".
(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)