Sunday, October 17, 2004

India: Analysis - Is Bangladesh the next Afghanistan?


An Indian insurgent groups there, the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA), is part of the Bangladesh Islamic Manch, which openly talks of Talibanising Bangladesh, and says: Sylhet nilam gana bhotey, aar Assam loibo laathir jore (we captured Sylhet through referendum and we will conquer Assam forcefully). At the moment, India is indignant about the refuge northeast insurgents get in Bangladesh, particularly from its intelligence agency, the DGFI. Cox's Bazar and Teknaf have emerged as major arms markets for Indian terrorist groups. ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah seems to move about at will.
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Is Bangladesh the next Afghanistan?

India isn’t the only one worried about the growing Islamism in Bangladesh. The Germans are so anxious they bluntly told Bangladesh’s ambassador to consult their top anti-terrorism official during the preparations for Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer’s visit to Dhaka in July.

The Germans were probably unnerved by the April blast in Sylhet, where the visiting British High Commissioner was injured. Five persons died, and he was whisked off back to England. No wonder the British told the Bangladeshi minister of state for home that his country was in danger of becoming a failed state like Colombia, but without the drugs.

Bangladesh doesn’t like to hear about its Islamist problem. When the daily Prathom Alo did a three-part series of articles of the growth of Islamism and militancy in Chittagong, it was threatened with closure.

The Islami Oikya Jote, a coalition partner of the BNP-led government, is currently spearheading a movement to declared Ahmediyyas as non-Muslims. So while a large number of BNP members are nationalist without being anti-India, having to share power with the IOJ and the Jamaat-e-Islami has left them to helplessly watch while Islamism grows in Bangladesh.

An Indian insurgent groups there, the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA), is part of the Bangladesh Islamic Manch, which openly talks of Talibanising Bangladesh, and says: Sylhet nilam gana bhotey, aar Assam loibo laathir jore (we captured Sylhet through referendum and we will conquer Assam forcefully).

At the moment, India is indignant about the refuge northeast insurgents get in Bangladesh, particularly from its intelligence agency, the DGFI. Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf have emerged as major arms markets for Indian terrorist groups. ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah seems to move about at will.

Dhaka’s reaction is to say that if there are 199 Indian insurgent camps in their country, there are 27 Bangladeshi insurgent camps in India. And they complain about India’s fencing the border, though illegal immigration is a sensitive problem for our northeastern states.

with Anirban Roy/Shillong

Hindustan Times 17/10/2004