Dhaka : The islands of silt that rise in remote areas of Bangladesh as rivers change course are havens for regrouping by banned Islamist militant outfits, media reports said Tuesday.
The government’s inability to touch the “political patrons” of the militant groups, a long porous border with India and easy availability of bail are among the principal reasons that have helped this.
Leaders and cadres of the banned Islamist outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) are reportedly reorganising themselves in the remote chars in the northern districts after getting out of jails through legal loopholes, New Age newspaper said quoting sources in the intelligence agencies. Chars – islands of silt – arise as rivers change course in the delta that covers most of Bangladesh.
The intelligence agencies alleged that the remote char lands spread over Sirajganj, Jamalpur, Sherpur, Pabna and Bogra districts in northern Bangladesh have for long been used to run training camps by the militant outfit.
“The far-flung chars are considered a safe haven for the militants as it takes the law enforcers hours to reach there, thus giving the terrorists time to evade a raid,” the officials say.
A senior official of the Special Branch told the newspaper: “During recent investigations we came to know that the militants who were released from jails are trying to reorganise.”
According to The Daily Star, the authorities during their drive against militancy have so far arrested over 550 JMB militants, including many of their senior leaders.
“However, no initiative by the law enforcers was ever seen to bring the patrons of these militants to book,” the newspaper noted.
The ruling Awami League government announced it would take action against the patrons.
But no action has been taken yet though names of some former BNP-Jamaat-led ruling alliance’s political leaders, lawmakers and ministers surfaced as patrons of JMB in the northern districts.
Some people in northern Rajshahi region have filed cases against some alleged patrons of JMB.
Aminul Haq, a former minister in the Khaleda Zia government, has been convicted by a court for patronising JMB and some other leaders of Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have been accused in the cases.
Two of them, Maulana Obaidullah and Maulana Mansur Ali, were caught recently.
They were found to be hiding for over 13 years. They were masquerading as teachers in local madrassas while promoting JMB modules in Bangladesh in coordination with Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Some Bangladeshi militants like Abdul Hannan have fled to India when pursued.
The former Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer (chief) of Habibganj district in northern Bangladesh, Maulana Saidur Rahman alias Mohammad Hanif alias Mohammad Kamal has been designated the new JMB chief.
The authorities have yet to arrest him “as most of the time he is reportedly staying in Bashirhat and Murshidabad in India”, New Age said, quoting sources in Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite force aiding the police in anti-terror campaign.