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Plea for influx talks with Hamid

Bangla President to visit Balat where he trained in 1971

Assam governor Jagdish Mukhi (second from right) and his wife greet Bangladesh President Md Abdul Hamid and his wife on arrival at LGBI Airport in Guwahati on Thursday

Guwahati: Bangladesh President Md Abdul Hamid on Thursday stressed on the "shared common political, cultural and social values" with India to drive home the "importance" of ties between the countries and how to take it forward for peace and prosperity in the region.

Hamid is on a three-day visit to Assam and Meghalaya.

During a dinner hosted at a hotel here on Thursday night, Hamid recalling India's role in the Bangladesh Liberation War. He also reminisced of his days in Meghalaya in 1971. On Friday, he will visit Balat, a small town in East Khasi Hills, where he had undergone training.

"I reached Balat via Gumaghat and Moilam in Meghalaya to set up a youth reception camp whose members directly fought the war. I feel very happy to recall my days when I actively took part in the war of liberation at the call of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. We organised the young freedom fighters and discussed war strategies with senior politicians and organisers," he said.

"One million people from Bangladesh were sheltered in 45 refugee camps set up in Assam and parts of the state now in Meghalaya. I follow with great admiration the development of Assam under the current leadership. I hope various connectivity projects with northeastern states remain a vital component of our partnership."

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, "Our relationship with Bangladesh is of great importance and a priority for our government. The people of Assam and Bangladesh share a special relationship rooted in common culture, heritage, literature and language."

Hamid, accompanied by first lady Rashida Khanam and Bangladesh high commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali, among others, arrived here by a special flight around 1.30pm.

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia requested Sonowal to raise the issue of infiltration during his meeting with Hamid.

Saikia said he made the request because influx is an emotive issue for the people of Assam and a minister from Bangladesh during an earlier visit had said the issue was never raised by India during any bilateral interaction.

Hamid also visited the Kamakhya temple and enjoyed a cruise with his entourage on the Brahmaputra.

After visiting Balat on Friday, he will go to Shillong, where he will visit the bungalow of Bidhan Chandra Roy (former Bengal chief minister) and Sidli House, where Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore had stayed during his third visit in 1927.

After spending the night at the Raj Bhavan in Shillong, Hamid will return to Guwahati and leave for Delhi on Saturday.

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