Saturday, July 2, 2016

Dhaka terror strike: A season of melancholy and the Lost Travelers

Aawazon ke baazaron mein khamoshi pehchaane kaun!! Sadiyon sadiyon vahi tamasha, Rasta rasta lambi khoj !! 
Lekin jab hum mil jaate hain, Kho jaata hai jaane kaun!!  Woh mera aaena hai aur main uss ki parrchhai hun. Mere hi ghar mein rehta hai, mujh jaisa hi jaane kaun !
It is the season of melancholy in India, in Bangladesh and perhaps also rest of South East Asia. The line from the above song quoted tries to lay emphasise on the "lost individual".
"Perhaps, like me there is another individual looking like me in the mirror..." 
Every victim of a killing incident like this looks like me - don't they? And sadly also the killers! Or at least they look like my lost friend(s) in the neighbourhood.  
At this time of mourning and also concern about the possibility of spread of radicalism in Bangladesh, I do not have a better way to start this blog.
The fighters!
But what's really wrong with Bangladesh and especially in the context of the dastardly act of July 1, 2016?
To start with even as the ISIS is reported to have claimed responsibility for the hostage standoff and Dhaka attack, Indian security agencies and those in the know say the Sheikh Hasina dispensation is also partially responsible for the Friday night holocaust as it has been "unable" to cope with the challenges thrown by fundamentalist groups. However, Indian government has always rested faith in Bangladesh government especially led by Sheikh Hasina and even sought to dismiss contentions that the dreaded ISIS has reached the neighbourhood. 
Interestingly, hardly four to five hours before Dhaka attack on Friday, Indian External Affairs ministry endorsed Bangladesh government version. “India is talking to Bangladesh and they have assured us that there is no footprint of ISIS in Bangladesh,” official spokesman of Ministry of External Affairs, Vikas Swarup told newsmen in New Delhi. About 11,000 people have been taken into custody. “Bangladesh has assured us that they will ensure that there is no more attack on minorities in Bangladesh,” the spokesman had said replying to questions. Technically speaking it was a let down!
Responding to a media query in New Delhi about attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh on June 19, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said while the Bangladesh government is doing its best to counter terror "but more heartening is the fatwa issued by their religious scholars against terrorism". 
Blogger or a lost traveler?
In effect, the proximity of Bangladesh with India with a vulnerable border has the potential to make the country  the new seedbed of terror in the region. But did Hasina government fail to an extent? 
Or to be precised, did Indian agencies saw such radicalism in Bangladesh actually coming?
Indian intelligence agencies actually saw the "emergence of fundamentalism" in Bangladesh coming and had counseled Bangladeshi security agencies and the government to act firm and quickly against Islamic radicals. The attack on religious minorities including Hindu priests were seen as a part of set designs. Moreover, the Hindu commoners were also attacked at certain places in Bangladesh leading to about 200  Bangladeshi Hindus including women and children "feeling insecure" and had moved to border areas in Khowai areas of Tripura state "seeking shelter". There have been a pattern into these attacks and forcible conversion of minority Hindus and attacks on women were going on. In fact, several Bangladeshi groups including Ahle Hadith Andolon and  Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh have been financing terror activities in that country. There have been also inputs about these groups tapping contacts in parts of north east India and eastern India including Assam and West Bengal and pumping in funds from across the border. 
These organisations and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) of Bangladesh have been keen to turn Bangladesh into a possible "seedbed and activity centre" for their global activities especially in the wake of growth of ISIS in recent past.
Strategic experts in north east also seem to endorse the official agencies version. "Sheikh Hasina government despite all its good intentions and largely secular mindset, is pathetically incompetent to grasp, and certainly control. the situation. Her government is also not ready to accept that ISIS has already made foray into her land," says Manas Paul, an Agartala based security expert and longtime Bangladesh watcher.
Joy ride was more than symbolic

Bangladesh with about 150 million Muslims has for long been able to ward off Islamic radicalism and the Sheikh Hasina government in particular has been widely considered to be committed to secularism. However, Islamic fundamentalism of the Wahabi and Talibani variety has of late "plagued" a section of the Bangladeshi society as manifested in attacks on secular writers, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians, say Indian intelligence agencies. Official sources said Tripura and Assam governments have reported to the central government on a few Bangladesh-based organisations trying to have aligned to the ISIS mainly in terms of getting funds and identifying "raw recruits". Sources explain that the "targets" of Islamic fundamentalism were designed to silence those who dared to criticize hardliner Islam and radical philosophy as propounded by groups like Ahle Hadith Andolon and  Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh.
For her part, Hasina has so far maintained right spirit. "Yeh kemon musalman (What sorts of Muslims are they)", she questioned in her first reaction wondering how in the holy month of Ramadan, they could kill people in the name of Islamic values. 
Security agencies and police organisations in northeastern states say ISIS has meanwhile gained in immense sympathy and support base in Bangladesh. In the meantime, Pakistani liberal thinker Mobarak Haider (also a personal friend of blogger) wrote rather acidly on Facebook "The long arm of ISIS has touched Bangladesh after Turkey". 
"Can we understand ISIS and Al-Qaeda or Taliban and Boko Haram as separate entities? We may not like to agree but the fact is that they are products of an ideological movement of respected Muslim ulama like Imam Hambal, Imam Taimiah, Ibn-Wahab, Shah Wali Ullah, Syed Ahmad Shaheed, Syed Maudoodi and syed Qutb. These are great names of Salafi, Wahabi, Deobandi currents of Islamic revival. Hizb-al-Tahreer is said to be their present keeper. 
It may annoy some of us but the truth is that very few scholars of Islam have effectively disagreed with their vision and version of Islam", writes Haider.
The game has just begun and its an alarming one.


  1. Well written on the deepening tragedy.

  2. Spot on. Great analysis .Hit the bottomline really hard what many others just failed even to see. Waiting for more.