Bangladesh promises to take stringent measures against terrorism

NEW DELHI: Bangladesh will take stringent measures to thwart any attempts by the Bodo militants of Assam or any other insurgent group from India’s Northeast to enter the country to take shelter, and will launch operations to flush out terrorists if need be, as it did in 2009 within months of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s return to power.

Senior Bangladeshi officials told ET that the government has a zerotolerance policy against terror and insurgency.

After the massacre of tribals by the banned Bodo militants in Assam last week, India had approached the neighbouring countries including Bhutan and Myanmar to crack down against the insurgents who are also operating from across the border.

“Unlike the previous BJP-Jamaate-Islami led government, this government does not encourage or patronise terror and insurgent groups either directly or indirectly,” a Bangladeshi official said on condition of anonymity, adding that Hasina herself has been a target of terrorism as an aborted attempt was made on her life in 2004 while senior party leaders were injured in the attack.

In 2009, Hasina fulfilled India’s long-standing demand when she cracked down against all Northeastern insurgents and handed over key leaders of the banned outfits who were patronised by the erstwhile Khaleda Zia regime between 2001 and 2006.

Senior leaders of ULFA were handed over to India and ULFA commander Paresh Baruah fled the country on the eve of Hasina’s return to power, fearing a crackdown. India’s relations with Bangladesh had touched a new low under the Zia regime, officials said.

In 2004, senior ministers of the Zia regime were found allegedly involved in a huge arms smuggling case. The 2001-06 period also saw LeT, HuJI and JMB terrorist groups becoming active in Bangladesh, officials said.

The Hasina-led Awami League that retained power in 2013 has also cracked down against all other religious extremist and terror groups. Besides, it has made attempts to check fake Indian currency notes entering India through Bengal.

“Our focus is to encourage sub-regional cooperation between India’s Northeast, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh to usher in prosperity and unlock potential of the region. The goal is to increase sub-regional trade and connectivity. Any subversive activities will destabilise the region and its economy,” a senior Bangladeshi official said.

The two neighbours have been cooperating closely to counter terrorism. Recently, teams from India and Bangladesh visited each other’s country regarding probe into the Burdwan blast. Bangladesh government officials asserted that Prime Minister Hasina had given a strict directive to keep a tight leash on all insurgent and terror groups trying to destabilise the country and the region.

Source: The Economic Times

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