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Reciprocating Dhaka on terror

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  23 March 2017 12:00 AM GMT

Due to cynical political calculations, successive Bengal governments have been turning a blind eye to the growing terror threat from Bangladesh. As a consequence, Assam and other Northeast states are vulnerable to jihadis not only moving at will through safe corridors in the region, but setting up bases here and placing modules. The Sheikh Hasi government in Bangladesh has been locked in an uncompromising struggle with Islamists for quite some time; several notorious 1971 war crimils who later morphed into fundamentalist leaders have been sent to the gallows and more are likely to follow suit. It now transpires from media reports that Dhaka has sent a report to New Delhi about Bengal, Tripura and Assam forming part of a terror network where Bangladeshi jihadis easily cross over through the porous intertiol border to find safe havens. While intelligence reports had put the number of such infiltrators into India at 800 in 2014 and 659 in 2015, Dhaka has warned that the number jumped three-fold last year — nearly 2,010 jihadis are estimated to have sneaked into the three Indian states. They are believed to be mostly operatives of Harkat-ul-Jihadi al-Islami (HuJI) and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB); over 700 of them are said to have entered Bengal while the rest made their way through Tripura and Assam. Dhaka’s frustration is understandable, considering the massive crackdowns launched against ‘homegrown terrorists’, with some professing ISIS and Al-Qaeda links. But these countrywide drives have largely failed to net the really big fish or destroy the terror network, as the targets easily slip into India to elude Bangladeshi law enforcers. A case in point is the masterminds of the Dhaka Gulshan Café attack, Bangladeshi-Cadian IS operative Tamim Chowdhury and JMB leader Mohammed Suleiman, known to have stayed at a hotel in Bengal and met other operatives in Malda district.
However, the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal is learnt to have been largely sceptical of Dhaka’s inputs to New Delhi. It is an exhibition of the same pernicious mentality regimes in states like Uttar Pradesh have displayed in the past — that any move, or even talk, against radicals in terror hotbeds like Azamgarh will upset the Muslim electorate. This in turn has stymied law enforcement agencies both in Delhi and other states. There can be no religion when it comes to terror, which political parties will do well to remember if the new dispensation in UP now cracks down hard on terror groups. With the RSS in its recent Coimbatore resolution slamming the Bengal government for ‘ubated rise in jehadi violence by encouraging anti-tiol elements due to vote-bank politics’, the rhetoric from both sides will only get shriller in coming days. Elsewhere, Tripura may be well placed to take on jihadi elements, given the empowerment of the state police force earlier in dealing with the tribal militant challenge. Assam has been the most vulnerable, considering the drift in police administration during the 15 years when Tarun Gogoi kept the Home portfolio with himself. JMB training camps and modules in Chirang and Kokrajhar districts were busted only in April last year; things have picked up further since then, with the Assam police bbing over 50 Bangladeshi operatives in the last six months, and the State government forming a high-powered committee of top police officers to keep an eye on jihadi activities. There can be no let up on watchfulness and timely action against terror groups, whatever their ideology. Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasi is scheduled to visit this country in April this year, and counter-terrorism is learnt to be among the top issues that she will be discussing with the Indian leadership. Not long ago, it was the grouse of New Delhi that Dhaka allows anti-India elements to flourish on Bangladesh soil. After the Awami League regime implemented ‘push back’ policy to throw out militant leaders like Arabinda Rajkhowa and Ranjan Daimary and followed it up with massive anti-terror campaigns, the onus is now on India to reciprocate in kind against jihadi groups.

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