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Bangladesh Tough Stand against Terrorism
Gaurav Kumar
2018-09-17
Region : Asia, South Asia, Bangladesh,
Issue : Security, Terrorism,
Bangladesh is one of the few countries in South Asia that has been able to free itself from the clutches of extremist Islamist violence. The country has made incremental yet spectacular achievement in its fight against terrorism and religious intolerance. The year 2018 reflects on its achievement in terms of both crackdowns on the lslamist groups like Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JIB) and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS) as well as reducing the terrorist related incidence. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Bangladesh witnessed only one major terrorist related incident in 2018 in which three JMB militants were killed by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). The team recovered three suicide vests, two pistols, 14 IEDs and detonators, four containers of explosive gel and equipment to make IEDs. Apart from it, on 4 August, a group of armed men attacked an official vehicle from the US Embassy carrying the Ambassador Marcia Bernicat in the Mohammadpur area of Dhaka city.
The achievement has been slow and incremental in nature, nonetheless with substantial improvement in its capacity and capability to fight the menace of terrorism. In the first eight months of 2017, Bangladesh witnessed seven terrorist related violent incidences, compared to one till date. In 2016, it had witnessed five major incidences of violence. The fatalities linked to terrorist related violence were 163 in 2016 with 47 killed and 116 injured. In 2017, it declined to 76 in the first eight months with 31 deaths and 45 injured. The 2018, witnessed lowest number of fatalities in the last five years with just three fatalities that of the militants. Similar kind of relatively peaceful situation was prevalent only during the 2010-12 period.
The curtailing of violent activities has come on the heels of active anti terrorist operations by the security forces. In an unprecedented sustained series of action, the security forces have been able to make 19 recoveries of arms, ammunition and other related articles from various groups operating in different parts of Bangladesh. Security forces including the counter terrorism unit have arrested around 350 people in 2018 on various terrorism related charges. An impressive percentage of the arrestees are women. In a single raid on 23 June, Police arrested 200 leaders and activists of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and its student wing ICS from a hotel on the Station Road in Chittagong city. According to police they had gathered there for a secret meeting to plan anti-state and subversive acts. On 7 September, Bangladesh forces killed two militants of JMB in Munshiganj District of Dhaka. Similarly, another militant of JMB and prime accused of writer and publisher Shahjahan Bachchu murder case was killed by police on 28 June. Apart from injuries to few security forces, the year has not witnessed any casualty on the civilians or security forces front. This in itself speaks volume of the success the Bangladesh forces have been able to produce in its counter terror operations.
A lot of credit goes to the ruling dispensation’s political will to combat religious terrorism with iron hand. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is known to have taken tough stand against terrorism, narcotics and muscle power. In a recent speech during the three-day Deputy Commissioners (DCs) Conference, she had asked the DCs to take stern actions against fear mongers, extortion, muscle power and terrorism. She also asked officers to work with more devotion to maintain peace, discipline and stability in all areas, eliminating militancy, terrorism and communalism. Soon after the attack on the Amarnath yatris in India last year, Sheikh Hasina had reiterated Bangladesh’s “zero tolerance” policy against terrorism and vowed to continue to work together with India to eradicate the menace of terrorism. She is among few of the saner voices at global level who are repeatedly demanding for a concerted global initiative to block supply lines of weapons and money to terrorists to ensure the effectiveness of anti-militancy campaign.
Bangladesh has a history of religious violence, and observed surge during the mid 2000. It was the army-backed interim government that had first came up with tough law to curb terrorism in 2008, when it approved a new counter-terrorism law, laying down a maximum penalty of death for anyone involved in terrorist activities. The law had broadened the ambit of action against people responsible for financing terrorist groups, whether local or foreign as well as sheltering terrorists. In 2009, Hasina was the first leader who made a proposal to establish a South Asian regional anti-terror task force, though it never saw the light of the day. Above all there is public approval to her action, which was validated by the 33-page survey entitled “National Survey of Bangladesh Public Opinion” conducted by International Republican Institute (IRI). The survey found that a staggering 62 percent of people believe the country is progressing on the right path. Given the fact that she is sternly against allowing the country's soil to be used by terror groups, particularly acting against Bangladesh and India, her tough stand against terrorism is likely to continue and may yield positive results in future, which will be beneficial for both India and Bangladesh.
The views expressed above belong to the author(s)

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