The Terror Killings In Bangladesh Are India's Problem Too

21/06/2016 5:02 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

Bangladesh continues to reel under acts of terrorism, specifically the ongoing target killings of liberals, minorities, Ahmediyas, Shias, Sufis, gay rights' activists and even bloggers. Such murders are now happening at regular intervals. The modus operandi carries the hallmark of radical Islamist organizations -- each killing is brutal, grotesque. The latest victim was a Hindu priest, 70-year-old Ananda Gopal Ganguly. He was killed mercilessly -- he was shot and then his throat was slit. ISIS has claimed responsibility. This gruesome murder has heightened the sense of insecurity and fear among Hindus in Bangladesh.

But Hindus are not the only group living in fear.

On 5 June, a Christian grocer, Sunil Gomes, was killed in similar fashion and ISIS took credit. The killings did not stop here. Hours after Gomez's murder, Mahmuda Akhtar, the young wife of police officer Babul Akhtar was inhumanly shot dead when on her way to drop her son to the bus-stop for school. Babul Akhtar was investigating terror killings thought to be carried out by the Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

This brazen act confirms the resolve and determination of terrorists operating in Bangladesh. It sends out the message that laws are meaningless and the police machinery is impotent.

Indian security agencies must demonstratively collaborate with Bangladesh to hunt down the perpetrators responsible for the spate of killings.

The confrontation between the establishment and the terrorists is head on and the battle lines are drawn very clearly. By killing the wife of the prime investigator, the perpetrators are also sending out a threat -- that these killings that started in 2013 will continue.

Amid these murders, what is intriguing is Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's consistent assertions that such murders are not being carried out by the ISIS or Al-Qaeda but instead by home grown terrorists. But Madame Prime Minister, whichever entity is responsible, people are still dying and at an alarming frequency. This needs to be stopped -- immediately. It's high time the government comes down heavily on these killers. Hasina's latest outburst against the assassins is full of rhetoric -- one hopes it is not an empty promise and that the avowed action against the JMB will be visible in the month of Ramadan itself.

The government maintains that there is an unholy nexus between the Jamaat-e-Islami and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party(BNP). It's not surprising at all. The government is also blaming Pakistan's ISI for masterminding such killings. Again, this is nothing new, given Pakistan's subversive role in destabilizing Dhaka.

On 8 June, a massive anti-Pakistan demonstration was held in front of the Pakistani High Commission against Pakistani's interference in Bangladesh's affairs. It may be pertinent to point out that Pakistan has been vehemently opposing the trial and executions of war criminals who had collaborated with Pakistan during the liberation struggle. Pakistan's Parliament passed a resolution recently condemning these executions. Bangladesh's relations with Pakistan are at their nadir and are expected to worsen in view of the terrorist violence unleashed on Bangladeshi soil.

Public opinion must be whipped up on this side of the border to keep the extremists on the defensive.

Meanwhile, the involvement of ISIS cannot be ruled out. A former southwestern Ontario resident called Tamim Chowdhury, aka Shaykh Abu Ibrahim Al Hanif, was identified in the latest edition of ISIS propaganda magazine Dabiq as the "emir" of its branch in Bangladesh. He has referred to Hinduism as a "filthy cow-worshipping religion" and has also threatened to slaughter those who do not agree with the militant facet of Islam.

India, as Bangladesh's neighbour, cannot afford to remain oblivious to these disturbing developments. The security agencies must demonstratively collaborate with Bangladesh to hunt down the perpetrators responsible for the spate of killings. This is in India's interest as Islamist terrorists have already orchestrated enough attacks on Indian soil. The threat of further assaults remains. Presently, there is an India-friendly and secular government in Dhaka. Its hands must be strengthened by the Indian political and security establishments. Further, each killing in Bangladesh should trigger protests in India. Our silence may signify indifference to such acts of terror.

Public opinion must be whipped up on this side of the border to keep the extremists on the defensive. Similarly, the media needs to keep condemning such acts, adding strength to Bangladesh's secular forces in their propaganda drive to demoralize the jihadis.

The writer is a retired IPS officer and a Bangladesh watcher. Views expressed are personal

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