Saturday, February 12, 2005

BANGLADESH: Bangla Bhai: from ‘saviour’ to ‘constant terror’

+ According to the locals, Bangla Bhai established his organisation at a time when there was a great need for such an organisation. ‘We welcomed it as our saviour from the grip of the underground parties,’ said a man of the locality. Press reports say a total of 41 people at Raninagar and Atrai upazilas of Noagoan district were killed by the Purba Banglar Communist Party since 1998 and 19 people in Rajshahi district since April 1995. Of the 41 killed in Atrai and Raninagar, 13 belonged to the Awami League and 7 to the BNP and its front organisations. Of the 19 persons murdered in Rajshahi district, 7 were elected representatives of union councils and the metropolitan.+

12/02/2005

Bangla Bhai: from ‘saviour’ to ‘constant terror’
KHADIMUL ISLAM, back from Bagmara

Followers of the self-styled vigilante leader Bangla Bhai may soon take vindictive actions against those they consider ‘enemies’ of their ‘cleansing operation’, fear many people in Bagmara in Rajshahi district.

Some of them, especially public representatives of the entire upazila, expressed apprehension that the ‘core followers’ of the extremist leader might turn into self-styled guerrillas, threatening the security of the area.

They said the emergence of Azizur Rahman alias Bangla Bhai, the leader of the Jagrata Muslim Janata, was supported by a section of the local people, apparently to combat the self-styled outlaws, the Sarbaharas, who have been engaged in terrorist activities in the region for long.

With his actions under the scrutiny of the global media now, Bangla Bhai is on the run, but many residents of the area are afraid of further repercussion if and when his activists get a chance to launch further attacks.

‘Their operation to uproot the underground party members has apparently come to an end. So, now they may launch another operation against the persons they believe to be their enemies,’ a local representative of Taherpur told New Age last week.

Abdul Khalek, senior vice president of the Taherpur municipality unit of the Awami League, said the Jagrata Muslim Janata had earlier killed members of so-called underground parties, gaining tacit support from the local people.

The Bangla Bhai-men, as a result, established their own stronghold in the area. ‘Now it is their turn to launch another operation to kill Awami League leaders,’ he added.

A municipality chairman, also an Awami League leader, admitted that they had initially supported the Bangla Bhai people to get rid of the Sarbahara-men.

‘The result is now at our hands. But we have now realised that we have committed a mistake by supporting an extremist force against another such group,’ he said, citing the example of Bangla Bhai’s supporters’ recent attack of Mokbul Hossain, who is not a member of any extremist party.

Mokbul, chairman of Sreepur union parishad and president of Bhabaniganj unit Awami League, once helped Bangla Bhai ‘by every possible means’, but he was not spared from the alleged JMJ attack.

Hearing his cry for help and an announcement over mike that claimed Sarbahara men had fired gunshots and hurled bombs to kill the UP chairman, the villagers chased the attackers and beat three of them to death.

Mokbul used to attend meetings of Bangla Bhai and many of his family members and close associates joined the JMJ and took active role in elimination of Purba Banglar Communist Party activists from the area.

Following the January 25 incident, the inhabitants of the locality have become frustrated that the JMJ might turn into a new ‘Frankenstein’ of the area.

‘Most of the JMJ leaders who went into hiding may abruptly return and conduct attack on their opponents,’ a cell phone trader at Bagmara Bazar told New Age.

According to the locals, Bangla Bhai established his organisation at a time when there was a great need for such an organisation. ‘We welcomed it as our saviour from the grip of the underground parties,’ said a man of the locality.

Press reports say a total of 41 people at Raninagar and Atrai upazilas of Noagoan district were killed by the Purba Banglar Communist Party since 1998 and 19 people in Rajshahi district since April 1995.

Of the 41 killed in Atrai and Raninagar, 13 belonged to the Awami League and 7 to the BNP and its front organisations.

Of the 19 persons murdered in Rajshahi district, 7 were elected representatives of union councils and the metropolitan.

Of them, the most gruesome incident was the murder of six people in Atrai in April 2003.

Bangla Bhai launched his ‘crackdown’ on the extremists on April 1, 2004. The militant has tortured 15 suspected outlaws to death and maimed dozens of others since he launched his operations.

People united and helped Bangla Bhai against the outlaws after having been brutalised for so many years.