FACING THE CHALLENGE OF TERRORISM
ABDUL GAFFAR CHOUDHURY
Government has at last declared rewards of lump sum amount for providing information on miscreants involved with terrorism and have also assured anonymity of informants. About a week has passed after the announcement of such rewards but it has not been proved much effective as yet.
The kind of terrorism that is prevalent is not an organised one but full of stray incidents. The miscreants are small in numbers and they attack public transports in unprotected areas and as soon as they have committed their vandalism, quickly leave the scene. This is observed to be happening since January 6, 2015. The general consensus is that it is not part of any political movement but merely acts of subversion against people and the government.
After their failure to gain support from people to their call of hartals and blockades, BNP’s motive is to terrorise people by torching public transports and killing people. Government has engaged law enforcement agencies to safeguard public life and properties. They have arrested hundreds of opposition workers and leaders, so there is no visible anti-government movement but atrocities against people have continued.
Begum Khaleda Zia, the leader of BNP, recently lost her younger son Arafat Rahman Koko. It was expected that the grief-stricken mother would postpone this so-called movement and sympathise with those mothers who have lost their sons in the brunt of their terrorist activities. This expectation was in vain. Begum Zia did not postpone the so-called blockade and a large gathering in the Namaz-e-janaja of her son might have strengthened her belief that BNP’s present misdeeds did not anger the people. This is a no-win-no-defeat situation for government.
A section of our elite class is not vocal against this terrorism but creating pressure on the government to agree to have dialogue with BNP on their terms. Yet they never asked for BNP to abandon this subversive role in the first place to be able to ask government to agree for a dialogue. In Britain, IRA terrorists first ceased their terrorism and then came for negotiation with the British government. But in Bangladesh, this section of elite class is fully aware that at the present moment a political dialogue will not be fruitful. If government makes concessions to terrorism, it will result in further political deadlock. BNP will raise their demands sky high and it will be difficult for any democratic government to compromise in such a situation.
In other words, it will be as bad as surrendering to terrorism. Nowhere in this present world will democratic governments surrender to terrorism. Where terrorism is political with public support, terrorists had to abandon their arms to initiate peace talks. In Bangladesh, right now government has no other option but to apply their full force to combat terrorism like any other modern democratic country where terrorism is not tolerated.
Only application of force by law enforcing agencies will not solve the problem. The present terrorism prevailing in Bangladesh is urban in nature. Those who are now engaged in killing people are not from the lower economic strata of the society but are from the urban rich class. Few months ago, I read a survey on our private universities. The survey revealed that many of these universities are the seat of jihadist radicalisation. Jamaat also provides huge money to promote some of these universities where the maximum number of teachers are pro-jihadists or at least sympathetic to them.
These university and college based terrorists are living under the protection of their influential parents and guardians and their political patrons. It will be very difficult to catch them by simply announcing rewards. Few miscreants who were caught and beaten by mob before being handed over to police, were hired goons from lower strata. The terrorists from rich strata of society lead the ones from lower strata, and they hire the latter to be at the forefront of the actual misdeeds so that only the latter will be caught in case of a police raid. This type of incident was reported in several cases.
To combat this ultra-modern terrorism government needs mass mobilization against it. Random arrest or declaring rewards will not guarantee any solution. Awami League should give strong direction to their workers and leaders at the grass root level to organise vigilant committee so that real miscreants can be spotted and stopped from killing and torching public property. They should help law enforcing agencies actively everywhere.
Recently when I was in Dhaka, I heard allegation from responsible and respectable individuals that one reason why terrorism cannot be crushed is because many miscreants are getting protection from a section of Awami League leaders and MPs. Police arrested miscreants who get easily bailed out by a section of Awami lawyers. Jamaat penetrated into Awami League becoming their big business partners that include bank and insurance businesses. They obtain protection from these leaders when they face arrest.
It is indeed a Herculean task for Sheikh Hasina to fight this multifariously linked terrorism. She cannot fight this battle alone risking her own life. She should mobilize her party and if necessary call all other democratic parties in a round table conference to combat this menace jointly. It may look like a small scale problem now but its expansion is beyond borders.
This terrorism has definite link, direct or indirect, with ISIS in the middle-east and has monetary support from that war-torn region. Already some ISIS activists have been arrested in Dhaka. Government should ensure that these jihadists do not enter or leave the country through our borders.
Our media and the patriotic section of elite class have their moral duty to join this fight against terrorism otherwise their cry for democracy will be pointless and self-defeating.
FEBRUARY 01, 2015