Close to 50,000 people on Thursday thronged the sprawling Assam Rifles ground in Agartala to hear 'Bangabandhu's daughter' and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speak at the civic reception organised on her honour by the Agartala Municipal Council.
Overwhelmed by the huge size of audience Hasina said for her it was a 'pilgrimage' to visit Tripura , the place whose people played a crucial role to helping people of Bangladesh, its Mukti Bahini and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in attaining freedom from Pakistan.
"It was in Tripura where Bangladesh Mukti Bahini was allowed to set up training bases. Generous people here opened their home and hearts to provide food and shelter to lakhs of our violence-displaced people (from then East Pakistan) during our Liberation War of 1971. Tripura and India will continue to occupy a special place in the heart of the people of Bangladesh for the support provided in our liberation struggle," she said.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar termed the occasion a historic one for the people of Tripura, most of whom had their roots in Bangladesh.
Sarkar proposed to provide Bangladesh with 100 MW of power to be generated by upcoming 726 MW Palatana power project of the ONGC out of the Tripura's allotted share of 196 MW subject to the approval of government of India.
Hasina called for further consolidation of people-to-people ties between the two countries especially those of Tripura just across the border and advocated intensified cooperation in the fields of culture, education and sports besides exemplary cooperation to improve bi-lateral trade and commerce.
Earlier in the day, Vice President Hamid Ansari conferred honorary Doctor of Literature of Tripura University to Sheikh Hasnia in presence of an august gathering in the varsity auditorium in Agartala on the occasion of the 9th convocation.
Conferring the degree, Ansari saluted Hasina's exemplary courage in facing threats of terrorism and extremism and promoting pluralism, modernisation, tolerance and pursuing an ambitious agenda of economic growth, welfare and social justice.
Receiving the coveted degree, Hasina said it would mean so much given that it has been conferred by a university located on a place that was once housed a training base of Bangladesh Mukti Bahini during its liberation war.
Quoting Rabindranath Tagore, she said, "The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence."
She further said, "I learnt from my father the importance of secularism and inclusiveness in our society of all people, irrespective of their race or religion. These were his beliefs for empowerment of the people, and these remained deeply embedded in my mind and thus in my government."