Agencies, Dhaka/New Delhi President Pranab Mukherjee today struck an immediate chord with students of the Dhaka university as he turned nostalgic while speaking, in Bengali, of his ‘’roots in the soil of Bengal’’ and the common experience of its beauty that he shared with the people of Bangladesh.
He arrived here yesterday on the three-day historic state visit. The President also spoke of the sacrifices of the university students while fighting for the cause of freedom, their mother tongue and democracy. ‘’For me personally, this is an emotional journey. I have my roots in the soil of Bengal, and have imbibed its language, traditions and culture,’’ he said, addressing the students in university premises. ‘’I have grown up reading the compositions of the same poets as you, listening to the same songs which both our people love and walked along the banks of the same rivers which inspire the songs that make us all similarly wistful. When I was a child I never dreamt that one day I would come here as the President of my country,’’ Mr Mukherjee said.
Bangladesh was the first country that he was visiting as President, as the last visit by an Indian President to Bangladesh was almost 40 years ago by President V V Giri in 1974, he said. He also said his wife was born in Narail and started her education here. The President is accompanied by wife Suvra Mukerjee on this visit. He said he was overwhelmed by the spontaneous outpouring of support and goodwill that he received from the people of Bangladesh when he became the President, and thanked them for it.
Paying glowing tributes to the contribution of the Dhaka university to the cause of liberation and democracy, he said the instution, which had the reputation as Oxford of the East, was still among the top institutions of contemporary Asia. ‘’Students who graduate today are following in the footsteps of the great alumni who passed through these portals in the generations before you. The names of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Tajuddin Ahmed, Satyendranath Bose, R C Majumdar, Humayun Ahmed, Buddhadeb Basu and Shamsur Rahman come to mind. They include many of the brightest minds of the last century who distinguished themselves through their academic achievements,’’ the President said.