The 70-day-long BSF's 'Maitri Cycle Rally' to commemorate the 50th year of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war victory covering a distance of around 4,000-km along the frontiers of five Indian states culminated in western Mizoram on Wednesday.
The 'Maitri Cycle Rally' comprising 13 cyclists of the Border Security Force (BSF) began on January 10 from the Panitar Border Out Post (BOP) in South Bengal and ended at Silkore BOP in western Mizoram on Wednesday, a day coinciding with the celebrations of the 101st birth anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is called the "Father of the Nation" in Bangladesh.
BSF Spokesman Ashok Kumar said that such a 'Maitri Cycle Rally' was organised for the first time to promote and strengthen the bonds of friendship and to enhance the mutual cooperation and trust between the BSF and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB).
"This would also create a sense of security and confidence among the people living along the international borders and impart messages about the ill effects of drug abuse and border crimes among others," Kumar told IANS.
He said during the 70-day journey, the 13 cyclists of the BSF were welcomed by the BGB officials, border residents and school students in many places all along the borders of India and Bangladesh. Various colourful Mizo ethnic and traditional dances and functions were held at Silkore BOP in Mizoram to celebrate the culmination of the rally.
BSF Director General Rakesh Asthana, Mizoram police chief Shashi Bhushan Kumar Singh, BSF's Additional Director General (Eastern Command) D.K. Boora, BGB officials headed by Brigadier General Mohammad Zakir Hossain among others were present at the closing ceremony. The commemoration of the 50th anniversary year of the 1971 Bangladesh war was decided at the five-day 51st Director General level talks held in Guwahati on December 22-26.
During the year-long commemoration, ex-BSF officers and personnel, Bangladeshi Mukti Yoddha (freedom fighters) and important personalities would be felicitated and the celebrations would culminate on December 16 this year.
Tripura frontier Inspector General (IG) Susanta Kumar Nath said that the 70-day cycle rally covered around a 4,000-km distance along the frontiers of West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram. Nath said the BSF has always maintained good relations with its counterpart BGB.
He said that to enhance the cooperation and goodwill, six "BSF-BGB Maitri Fooball Matches" would be organised in Tripura, West Bengal, Assam and Meghalaya. The first such match would be held at Belonia in southern Tripura on Thursday. During the matches, dog shows, band display and various other functions and events would also be organised.
The Tripura government has also developed a big memorial and park at the border village of Chottakhola -- 132 km south of Agartala -- in memory of the Indian soldiers and Bangladeshi freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives during the liberation war.
Five Indian states -- West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) -- share 4,096 km long borders with Bangladesh.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at email@example.com)
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