Dhaka: Bangladesh on Friday rolled out the red carpet for President Pranab Mukherjee who arrived in Dhaka on Sunday on a three-day state visit to boost bilateral ties amidst a general strike by fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami to protest the conviction of its three top leaders for 1971 war crimes.
In an apparent fall-out of the domestic political standoff over war crimes trial and consequent violence, opposition leader and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia cancelled her meeting with Mukherjee that was scheduled for Monday, casting a shadow on the President's maiden foreign visit since taking over the highest constitutional post seven months ago.
BNP, which called a countrywide shutdown on Tuesday, the concluding day of Mukherjee's visit, cited no reason officially to call off Zia's meeting with the President. BNP was understood to have conveyed her inability to meet Mukherjee a couple of days ago.
Interestingly, Khaleda had met Mukherjee in New Delhi in November last year on the concluding day of her nine-day visit to India.
As Mukherjee began his visit, at least 14 people, including three women and a policeman, were killed fresh violence rocked the first day of the strike called by Jamaat in four districts of Bogra, Joypurhat, Jhenaidah and Rajshahi districts.
Mukherjee, who arrived here on an Air India One flight, was received by Bangladesh President Mohammad Zillur Rahman at the VVIP lounge of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. A galaxy of senior ministers of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's cabinet were also present.
Mukherjee was given a ceremonial reception at the airport including a 21-gun salute, after which he inspected the guard of honour by the three services of Bangladesh defence forces.
The visit by Mukherjee and his wife Suvra Mukherjee is invested with a lot of symbolism and takes place in the backdrop of spiralling violence by Jamaat-e-Islami, whose three top leaders have been convicted by international war crimes tribunal of genocide, rape and crimes against humanity during Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971.


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