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#1716, 27 April 2005
How Did Bangladesh Become an Epicenter of Islamic Terrorism?
Satish Kumar
Lecturer, MMH College, Uttar Pradesh, India

Unprecedented mayhem under the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and Jamaat against religious and ethnic minorities has continued unabated. Besides numerous cases of dacoity, 305 serious cases of minority attacks were reported in the last few months. Last year, 11 members of a Hindu family at Sadhanpur village in the Banskhari area of Chittagong district were burnt to death by an Islamic outfit, which have become more organized under the present regime. The BNP came back to power in 2001. Jamaat became one of its leading partners. So, Islamic terrorist organizations got a license to unleash terror against the minority communities.

Bangladesh was formed on the basis of its own identity, which was moderate, secular and peace loving. Its 'Liberation Movement' fought against the Islamic and military terror of Pakistan. The conflict was between the moderate Bengali culture ethos and the theocratic reality of Pakistan. It is unfortunate that the new-born nation subsumed the very culture it had fought successfully in 1971.

Deeper analysis reveals that the Islamic indoctrination of Bangladesh was planted by Zulffikar Ali Bhotto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan. He knew that Bangladesh could become a India friendly country. Since Islam was the only weapon available to Pakistan, he drew up a long-term strategy to extricate Bangladesh from Indian influence.

The first set back to the post liberation movement was the killing of Sheikh Muzibur Rehman in a military putsch. General Ziaur Rehman became the new military dictator. He lifted the ban on communal and fundamentalist parties and de-secularized the Constitution in 1977 under pressure from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries. His successor, Gen. H M Ershad, declared Islam to be the state religion in 1988. This process of islamisation reactivated the Jamaat-e-Islami and other communal and fundamentalist forces in the country. Political Islam was supported by a steady flow of petro-dollars from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries, leading to the mushrooming of mosques, maktabs and madarssas in all parts of the country.

Islamic outfits in Bangladesh became transnational with the passage of time. Beginning in 1984, the Jamaat-e-Islami, in coordination with its Pakistan counterpart and the ISI, recruited 5000 madrassa alumni as Mujahideens and sent them in batches to Afghanistan to participate in the jihad against the Soviet occupation army. Here, they came into close contact with the Hizbul Islam, Al Qaeda, Taliban and Pakistani terrorist outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish Mohammed.

After coming back from Afghanistan, these diehard fanatics organized a host of terrorist outfits in Bangladesh to establish a Talibanised transnational state comprising Bangladesh, Assam, Tripura, Muslim majority districts of West Bengal and the Rohingya Muslim dominated Arakan Hills of Myanmar.

Islamic venom spread with the formation of a coalition government in 2001. Jamaat-e-Islami was a major coalition partner of the BNP led government. The full support of the present government led to the formation of a number of other Islamic terrorist groups, like Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JuM), Sahadat-al-Hikam (SaH) and the JMJB. An umbrella organization called Bangladesh Islamic Munch was set up in 2002 with representatives from these groups. The mobilization of these Islamic outfits has a three-fold objective.

First, to dismantle the liberal and secular outlook of Bengali culture and establish a uncompromising, fundamentalist political set up. Second, terrorize and sideline the minority communities in Bangladesh. Their targets are not only Hindus and Christians but also the Ahmediya community, which has come under increasing attack from the Jamaat-e-islami and other fundamentalist forums. The present Bangladesh regime is planning to declare the Ahmediyas as non-Muslims as provided in the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Third, to spread Islamic fundamentalism in the adjoining areas of India. Some 20 million Bangladeshi migrants have fled from Bangladesh and concentrated in the border districts of West Bengal and the North Eastern states. Illegal migrants account for almost 15 percent the total population of Bangladesh. Migration has radically changed the demographic structure and communal complexion of this region.

By all accounts, the disrupted and dysfunctional state of Bangladesh is gearing up to become a monolithic Islamic state and a breeding ground of Islamic terror, which is a strategic challenge for India.

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