Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is under the scanner for her soft and accommodative stance to Heffazat-e-Islam and other such outfits. Sheikh Hasina was told categorically by her party leaders that the idea of including Heffazat-e-Islam in the 14-party alliance should be dropped immediately. At the same time, the party should take a stern stance against the Jamat and BNP elements that have penetrated its ranks.
The political situation in Bangladesh is presently quite vulnerable. Sheikh Hasina is planning to restructure her cabinet. Observers feel that she is likely to drop at least one third cabinet members. According to political observers, the restructuring is an election oriented move.
The Opposition BNP-Jamat alliance, like in thd previous elections, has demanded a caretaker government (including all party representatives) at least one year before elections. Sheikh Hasina had opined that she was willing to offer the Home Minister’s portfolio to anybody from the opposition. She offered the same to BNP earlier but the opposition party had refused. Quite a few Dhaka-based senior leaders are of the opinion that Pakistani intelligence service ISI and terror outfits are actively trying to disrupt the polling process by pushing in funds.
The Teesta Pact has become a problem for Sheikh Hasina. Before coming to New Delhi she had told in party conferences and public meetings that Bangladesh was sure to get its due once the agreement is done. But since it did not work out, Hasina is having a tough time to keep her countrymen and opposition parties’ in confidence.
Bangladeshi sources claim that she may be under pressure from Hassan Mamood, an MP from Chittagong. Mahmood is a known to be communal and responsible for a number of communal clashes in Chittagong. He is alleged that Saudi authorities have informed Hasina through Mahmood, that since Bangladeshi government has hung many Jamat leaders, they would not allow Bangladeshi citizens to work in Saudi Arabia.
Hasina’s daughter is married to Mahmood’s son. The daughter has expressed her intent to divorce her husband and engaged herself in social work. Mahmood has recently demanded that party’s name should be changed to Awami Muslim League, as it was in 1949. The civil society in Dhaka has strongly objected to this. Senior intellectuals are saying that there is practically no difference between AL and Jamat-BNP alliance. Not only in Chittagong but Mahmood’s group has started massive anti-Hindu programme in the Khulna division.
These developments have serious ramifications for India. West Bengal is sitting on a terror tinderbox. The signs have long been evident but successive governments have chosen to live in denial and allowed the problem to continue. A latest report on the terror heat map in Southeast Asia paints a very worrying picture for India. The Bangladesh government report which has been sent to the Union home ministry confirms that Bengal, along with Assam and Tripura, form part of an intricate terror network where Bangladesh-based modules have found safe havens due to the porosity of the Indo-Bangladesh border.
West Bengal shares 2200 km of border with Bangladesh and has turned out to be one of the most suitable routes for terror operatives from Harkat-ul-Jihadi al-Islami (HuJI) and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) to sneak through. Bengal's demography and conveniently located cities offer them relocation and cover. As the Sheikh Hasina government turns up the heat on home-grown terrorists (some with Al-Qaeda and Islamic State links), many of these operatives are infiltrating into the state along with arms and ammunition.
More than 3000 history-sheeters and 37 hard core terrorists were arrested in June last year in a nationwide crackdown. Hasina had said, “Where will they hide in Bangladesh. No one will get away. Bangladesh is a small country. It’s not a tough task to find them. They will be brought to justice.”
The report on JMB and HuJI’s terror activities carried by a leading reports that there was a three-fold increase in terror infiltration in 2016 compared to the year before. While nearly 2,000 HuJI and JMB operatives entered through the three states, the report says approximately 720 entered through the Bengal border alone. It says Bengal government officials are “skeptical” about the report, “but even if just a close estimate, the number is disturbing as intelligence reports pegged the number of infiltrators in 2014 and 2015 at 800 and 659, respectively.”
The NIA, incidentally, had found a direct link between the October 2014 blast in Bengal’s Burdwan district where two JMB operatives were killed and a third injured. Cops had recovered improvised explosive devices, RDX, wrist watches, and SIM cards from the site.
Unfortunately, Bengal still remains in a mode of denial.
Instead of tightening its security apparatus, it is trying reportedly to ascertain the “veracity” of the advice from Bangladesh. Assam appears to be more receptive. The state police has already arrested 54 JMB operatives and “formed a high-powered committee of top police officers and MLAs to check infiltration.”