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Kovind inaugurates Dhaka's Kali Mandir destroyed by Pak Army in 1971

By Anisur Rahman
Last updated on: December 17, 2021 16:16 IST
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President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday inaugurated the renovated Sri Ramna Kali Mandir here, 50 years after it was destroyed by the Pakistani forces in 1971, and described the historic temple as the symbol of the cultural and spiritual bonding among the people of India and Bangladesh.

Photographs: @rashtrapatibhvn/Twitter

President Kovind is in Bangladesh on his maiden state visit at the invitation of his counterpart M Abdul Hamid to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan in the 1971 Liberation War.

The President and First Lady Savita Kovind offered prayers at the renovated temple.

Bangladesh's junior minister for religious affairs Faridul Alam Khan along with the temple's priests received the President, the First Lady and their daughter Swati while they stayed at the venue for nearly 30 minutes.

 

"The Indian president opened the extended part of the Kali temple, offered special prayers and exchanged greetings with those involved in running the temple," a spokesman of the temple said.

"President Kovind and his family members offered an exclusive special prayer inside the newly-inaugurated part of the temple," a Hindu priest familiar with the visit said.

The temple, located at the heart of the capital city Dhaka, was demolished as the Pakistani troops launched 'Operation Searchlight' to attack unarmed Bengalis, targeting the resistance movement in the country. They set on fire several important installations, including the Ramna Kali Mandir on the night of March 25, 1971 and subsequent days.

The Liberation War records suggest that on March 27, 1971, the Pakistani troops carried out an hour-long operation in the temple, killing over 1,000 people -- both Hindus and Muslims -- who took refuge at the site, and then levelled the place of worship.

India supported the renovation of the temple.

Addressing the Indian community after inaugurating the temple, Kovind said that he sees it as "a blessing from Maa Kali".

"This morning, I went to the historic Ramna Kali temple where I had the privilege of inaugurating the renovated temple. I look at it as a blessing from Maa Kali," he said.

"I have been told that the governments and the people of Bangladesh and India helped in restoring the temple which was demolished by the Pakistani forces during the war of liberation," Kovind said.

A large number of people were killed by the occupation forces, he said.

This temple is the symbol of the cultural and spiritual bonding among the people of India and Bangladesh, the President said.

"This marks an auspicious finale to my visit to Bangladesh," he added.

The Ramna Kali Bari is regarded as a historic landmark of Dhaka as it stood for centuries, though its design was changed considerably in the early 20th century.

Hindus make up some 10 per cent of the Muslim-majority Bangladesh's 169 million population.

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Anisur Rahman
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