With the tiol Investigation Agency (NIA) filing its chargesheet in the Burdwan blast case, the court will begin hearing a matter which has grave implications for both India and Bangladesh. Was the incident on October 2 last year an accidental outcome of a huge jihadi conspiracy to overthrow the Sheikh Hasi led Awami league government of Bangladesh, while creating bloody mayhem in India? The incident seemed innocuous enough at first, with a suspected LPG cylinder blast tearing through a two-storeyed building in the Khagragarh locality of Burdwan. But the police and fire brigade personnel were stopped at the doorway by two armed women in the house. When suspicious policemen filly reached the upper floor, they found wrist watch dials, SIM cards and RDX strewn at the blast site. More than 50 improvised explosive devices (IED)s, bomb making manuals, jihadi arms training and propaganda DVDs were were seized. Two bomb-makers were found dead because an IED had gone off suddenly. The Central government put the NIA on the case, in the face of stiff opposition by Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee accusing Delhi of ‘meddling’ in West Bengal. As the political tug-of-war between Delhi and Kolkata continued, NIA sleuths discovered the proscribed Bangladeshi terror outfit ‘Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh’ (JMB)’s trail spread across four states in India, with strong networks primarily in West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand. Reportedly, links between the JMB and the Indian Mujahideen have been discovered, along with a plot to perpetrate serial blasts in Kolkata during Durga Puja last year. Banned after carrying out over 300 serial blasts all over Bangladesh in 2005, the JMB’s has been plotting to install a hardline Sharia-based Islamic regime in Dhaka. It is found to have established bases in several madrasas in bordering districts of West Bengal, with a network of cadres making and distributing bombs as well as smuggling arms across the border.
The activities of JMB in India has primarily included ‘recruitment, radicalisation and training of vulnerable youths in a systematic and organised manner,’ as mentioned in the NIA chargesheet. Among the 21 chargesheeted, two JMB operatives Sahanur Alom and Shaikul Islam Khan are from Barpeta district of Assam. Arrested in lbari district, Sahanur was operating JMB’s Assam module under the direction of two senior JMB leaders, who have now slipped back to Bangladesh. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, long holding additiol charge of Home department, had earlier said jihadi elements are most active in Barpeta district. About the JMB, Gogoi had said the outfit had already attracted a number of youths from Assam for training abroad, apart from trying to set up a woman’s wing in the State. The State police DGP Khagen Sarma has said that Guwahati is one of the prime target of jihadi terrorists, which may operate with the help of some madrasas, NGOs and organisations. But the overall impression remains that the Tarun Gogoi government has been soft as far as militant and jihadi activities are concerned. This is playing with fire as Dhaka discovered during the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutiny in early 2009, with the Sheikh Hasi government just a few months old. The nexus between BDR ringleaders, Islamist parties and militant groups from Northeast states was discovered. Some of the ringleaders reportedly crossed over into Karimgunj and other bordering districts in India. Dhaka’s ‘push back’ policy since then forced militant leaders like ULFA’s Aravinda Rajkhowa and NDFB’s Ranjan Daimary to surrender. The Sheikh Hasi government has also executed some Islamist leaders accused of collaborating with the Pakistani army during Bangladesh’s war of liberation. India therefore cannot allow jihadi elements to operate from its soil, as NE ultra groups once used to do brazenly from the neighbouring country. Terrorism whether of jihadi or saffron variety, is a double-edged sword that can cut both ways. Pakistan is discovering this at a terrible cost, after allowing terrorist forces to operate from its soil for decades against Afghanistan and India.