Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bangladesh next week to attend the birth centenary celebrations of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has been put off after the commemorative programmes were deferred due to detection of coronavirus cases in that country, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday.
The MEA said it has received formal notification from Bangladesh that a decision has been taken by them to defer the public events being organised to celebrate the birth centenary of the Father of Bangladesh.
The deferment is on account of the detection of cases of coronavirus in Bangladesh, and the larger global public health situation in this regard.
The impact of this deferment applies also to the large gathering planned for March 17, at which Prime Minister Modi was invited, the MEA said. "The Bangladesh government has advised us that fresh dates for these commemorative events will be conveyed later," the MEA said.
"In this context, Prime Minister's visit to Bangladesh next week at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is being deferred," it said.
While expressing understanding of the circumstances that necessitate this deferment, India is ready to work with Bangladesh, as partners, to combat the spread of this disease in the shared neighbourhood, the MEA said.
Modi's visit to Bangladesh was coming at a crucial time and he was expected to assuage concerns there over India's new citizenship law and the NRC.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla was in Bangladesh earlier this month and during his visit he had assured Bangladesh that the updation of the National Register of Citizens will have "no implications" for its people, asserting that it is a process that is "entirely internal" to the country.
Earlier, Prime Minister Modi's visit to Brussels this month to hold a summit meeting with the European Union had also been postponed in view of the global spread of Coronavirus.
Bangladesh decided to postpone the March 17 grand inaugural ceremony of the birth centenary celebrations of Mujibur Rahman, hours after three Coronavirus cases were detected in the country.
The year-long celebrations were scheduled to open amid massive festivities at the National Parade Ground in Dhaka on March 17 and was expected to be attended by several foreign dignitaries, including Prime Minister Modi.
"The planned celebrations for the Mujib Year have been rearranged in view of worldwide outbreak of coronavirus," Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters on Sunday.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman served as the first President of Bangladesh and later as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from April 17, 1971 until his assassination on August 15, 1975.
He is considered to be the driving force behind the independence of Bangladesh and has been given the title of "Bangabandhu" (Friend of Bengal). His daughter Sheikh Hasina is the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh on Sunday reported three cases of coronavirus. Two persons brought the disease from Italy, infecting the third one on their return home, officials said.