Saturday, December 27, 2008
NEW DELHI: After wreaking havoc in Mumbai, major towns of West Bengal, including Kolkata, are next on the hit list of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.
Top sources in the Union Home Ministry confirmed that a group of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al- Islami (HuJI) terrorists has made repeated attempts to enter India recently from Bangladesh through the ‘chicken neck’ corridor.
“There is a possibility that some HuJI terrorists have already crossed over with arms and ammunition and are heading to team up with Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), Indian insurgent group, to carry out lethal terror strikes in West Bengal during end-December and early January,” sources said.
Another intelligence report on Wednesday stated that ULFA militants in Bangladesh are likely to enter through the Karimganj district of Assam, a temporary departure from their established routes of transit in Meghalaya.
Both the states have been alerted by the Centre. The alerts come close on the heels of the arrest in Jammu of three Pakistanis, one of them allegedly an army regular. The trio had come from Dhaka and apparently lived in Kolkata before proceeding to Jammu and Kashmir.
Working in cahoots with Bangladesh’s espionage agency Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), the ISI, with its sinister plan of ‘bleeding India through thousand wounds’, has made contacts with several Indian insurgent groups.
The recently carried out blasts in Assam that killed 89 were part of this design where the handlers in Bangladesh had roped in ULFA and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).
KLO that came into existence in 1995 with the help of ULFA is active in six districts of West Bengal _ South Dinajpur, North Dinajpur, Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, Malda and Darjeeling _ and four districts of lower Assam - Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara.
Intelligence agenciesclaim that both ISI and DGFI have made KLO an active partner with HuJI and are constantly helping it to upgrade its strike power by supplying arms, ammunitions and explosives.
“KLO chief Jeevan Singh is sheltered in Bangladesh, and is a protégé of the ULFA,” a senior official said. He hangs around in northern Bangladesh, close to his home constituency. Singh, along with Ranjan Daimary of the NDFB and Paresh Baruah of ULFA are said to be paying off the debt of protection from the HuJI-ISI nexus through "disturbing" eastern India. “Keeping them there cannot be a charitable deed, they would have to pay a price,” said a senior official.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Sanjoy Ray / GUWAHATI
The year 2008 though witnessed lesser casualties of terrorist violence in the State compared to 2007, it, however, saw the emergence of Islamic militancy in the biggest way, even overpowering the impact of decade-old home-grown insurgency. More than 200 civilians have been killed in the State so far (Mid-December), besides 16 security personnel and about 130 terrorists taking the tally of casualties of insurgency to 369.
Of the 130 terrorists killed across the State, around ten were suspected HUJI activists, seven of them were killed in an encounter with the Army in the Dhubri district in September this year.
The month of October this year witnessed killing of around 90 civilians, eight security personnel and 18 insurgents. The month of April remained the most peaceful phase of the year with only 11 deaths taking place.
Last year, the total number of casualties of terrorist violence was around 437, which included 269 civilians.
As many as 29 blasts have rocked the State till mid-December this year, the October 30 serial blasts, which claimed around 90 lives being the biggest ever terrorist attack the region has ever witnessed.
The growing prominence of the outside players in the State came into the fore on October 30, when nine serial blasts ripped apart the State, including three in Guwahati.
Though investigations into the incident is yet to reach any logical conclusion, the preliminary investigation revealed that the perpetrator of the blasts was not the usual ULFA, but were orchestrated by powers, suspected to be the HUJI, from across the border, with Bodo militants providing logistic support.
“The State is facing a new kind of threat and the focus of law-enforcing has more or less shifted to cross-border terrorism than home-grown, with Islamic fundamentalist groups, operating from foreign lands, emerging as the new players in the game of blood and pushing the State’s insurgent outfits, including the ULFA and NDFB, to roles of side players,” concedes a senior Assam Police official while talking to The Assam Tribune.
“We, however, are not undermining the strength of any outfit, be it ULFA, NDFB or some splinter group,” the official stated.
The year 2008 saw the ULFA suffering revolt in its ranks and the proximity of its top leaders with Bangladeshi groups drew flak even from its own members, resulting in unilateral ceasefire agreement by the A and C company of ULFA’s 28 battalion. The potent wing of the outfit decided to join the mainstream with top leaders including Mrinal Hazarika, Joon Bhuyan and Jiten Dutta, leading the cadres.
The Dima Halom Daogah (Jewel faction), popularly known as Black Widow, also made its presence felt, unleashing a reign of terror with killings and blasts in the North Cachar Hills, killing at least 25 people, including police and railway personnel, within a week in May.
In the aftermath of the blasts, the NDFB leadership in designated camps in the State decided to replace Ranjan Daimary as the C-in-C with Dhiren Boro.
The All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA), fighting an armed battle for rights of the Adivasi people, suffered a major setback when its ‘C-in-C’ Mangra Oran alias David was arrested this month from Jharkhand.
Friday, December 19, 2008
The general election in Bangladesh, scheduled for December 29, will be most critical for that country’s future. Referring to it, American Ambassador to Bangladesh, Mr James F Moriarty, told the US Commission on International Religious Freedom in Washington on December 11, “The country could achieve a peaceful transition and become a model of a relatively prosperous Muslim majority democracy… Or it could return to the winner-take-all obstructionist politics of previous years.” According to a recent report in Bangladesh’s leading English-language newspaper, The Daily Star, he further told the commission, a Government-funded advisory body created in 1998 to monitor religious freedom around the world and make policy recommendations to the US Administration, that if “Bangladesh stumbles within the coming months, it could become a breeding ground for terrorists and groups wishing to operate in South and South-East Asia”.
It is not difficult to recognise the validity of Mr Moriarty’s observations and identify the forces that could make Bangladesh a breeding ground of terrorist groups. His observation that Bangladesh could “return to the winner-take-all obstructionist politics of previous years” clearly points in the direction of the four- party alliance, of which the two principal constituents are Begum Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, that ruled the country from 2001 to 2006. The BNP was by far the senior partner with 193 seats in the 300-strong Jatiya Sansad or National Parliament, and having polled 41.4 per cent of the votes cast. The Jamaat came a distant third with 17 seats and 4.28 per cent of the votes polled, way behind the Awami League, the main Opposition party, which won 62 seats and secured 40.02 per cent of the votes.
Yet the Jamaat called much of the shots in the coalition Government, stalling action against fundamentalist terrorist organisations like the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and Ahle Hadith Andolan Bangladesh. Though international pressure forced the coalition Government to ban these terrorist outfits and arrest their leaders, the organisations remained active. This, it was widely alleged, was made possible by the Jamaat’s support.
In fact, the Jamaat’s Amir, Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami, and general secretary, Mr Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid, had for a long time even denied the existence of the Operations Commander of the JMJB, Siddiqul Islam, or Bangla Bhai. Understandably, its relations with these organisations have been like those of Pakistan’s Jamaat-ud-Dawah with the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.
Besides, the Jamaat used its participation in the Government to increase its massive business empire which funds its welfare and other activities aimed at expanding its support base and maintain its organisational infrastructure. It had its followers placed in universities, the armed forces, security agencies, the administration and the judiciary, often having the rules bent for the purpose. Also, thanks to generous help from Mr Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid, who was Minister of State for Social Welfare, there was a vast increase in the number of fundamentalist Islamist NGOs while secular NGOs were subjected to crippling harassment and persecution.
Not surprisingly, Bangladesh became a seething pit of murderous Islamist violence — directed against the secular civil society, the intelligentsia and the Opposition parties like the Awami League — during the rule of the four-party coalition. The horror of the situation was dramatically underlined on April 21, 2004, when a murderous grenade attack was launched at an Awami League rally in Dhaka. Though Sheikh Hasina, the prime target, survived, 22 Awami League leaders perished.
It was symptomatic of the BNP’s visceral hatred for India that some of its leaders insinuated that New Delhi was behind the attack and an inquiry by a former judge with links with the party blamed a neighbouring country without mentioning India. Not so long after the incident, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister, Mr Mohammad Morshed Khan, publicly warned India that if Bangladesh was India-locked, the seven States of north-eastern India were Bangladesh-locked and that he could wipe out India’s $ 3 billion annual trade with Bangladesh by just issuing one statutory order!
Needless to say, insurgent outfits like the United Liberation Front of Asom, active in north-eastern India, who had earlier been described by Begum Khaleda Zia as “freedom fighters”, received full support from Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, which has close links with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. Simultaneously, there was a sharp increase in the incidence of terrorist attacks on India emanating from Bangladesh. That the trend continues, particularly in the North-East, during the current caretaker Government’s regime, was underlined by Home Minister P Chidambaram’s statement in the Lok Sabha on December 15, “The Government of Bangladesh has a responsibility to control the HuJI. In the long run, Bangladesh is hurting itself (by not containing terrorism).
The incidence of terrorist strikes against India from Bangladesh will increase sharply if the election brings the four-party coalition to power. Given the groundswell of support for the Awami League, this will happen only if the election is rigged. Many fear the election will be rigged because both the BNP and the Jamaat managed to install their supporters in the election machinery when they were in power. They have not been weeded out.
Also, attempts at intimidating Hindus, who traditionally support the Awami League, from voting have been reported form districts like Jessore, Khulna, Satkhira, Faridpur, Madaripur, Gopalganj, Jhalakathi, Pirojpur, Chandpur, Noakhali, Pabna, Bagerhat, Narail and Barisal where pockets of Hindu population exist. Hindus are being quietly told not to vote if they want to avoid the kind of communal carnage and gang-rape of their women that occurred in the immediate aftermath of the 2001 general election. Intimidation has also been reported from districts like Sherpur, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Dinajpur, and Sylhet, which have sizeable pockets of indigenous ethnic minority communities who also traditionally support the Awami League.
New Delhi must mount pressure through the international community to prevent rigging. Poll observers being sent from various countries must be very alert. In any event, India must further step up its fight against terrorism. An important first step will be halting cattle smuggling to Bangladesh which is paid for through hawala transactions, much of the proceeds from which goes to funding terrorist activity here. Do we have the political will for it?
India government officials say they have ordered closer surveillance of land borders amid concerns of more potential terrorist strikes inside the country by militants infiltrating from either Bangladesh or Pakistan.
India has increased vigilance along its border with Bangladesh. Domestic media reports say officials made the move following intelligence that suspected militants have entered the state of West Bengal.
There are specific concerns about members of Harkat ul-Jihad-al-Islami, which operates in both Bangladesh and Pakistan, and has been blamed for urban attacks in India in recent years. There are also worries about potential strikes by separatists targeting West Bengal and Assam, who are believed to have camps across the Bangladeshi border.
The director general of the Border Security Force, M.L. Kumawat, tells reporters security has been stepped up in the wake of such intelligence.
"We have asked our people to be highly alert and see that in no circumstances people from other countries can come into our country," he said. "We have heightened our vigilance, heightened our alertness and I can assure you that border guarding forces are much more alert than they were ever before"
The border with Bangladesh is notoriously porous with smugglers routinely moving across it without challenge. Kumawat says that border is of particular concern.
"About Bangladesh border, as you know, we have 4,096 kilometers of border on our eastern frontier and there are some areas where we do not have a fence, even now," he said.
India's home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told the parliament on Wednesday that he is ordering faster construction of additional fencing along the Bangladesh border.
The minister, who took responsibility for internal security in wake of last month's Mumbai terror attack, also says diplomatic efforts are being made to have the Bangladeshi and Burmese governments take action against anti-Indian insurgents on their soil.
India blames the Mumbai attack on at least 10 radical Islamic terrorists who infiltrated by sea from Pakistan.
That has prompted top Indian government officials to vow to upgrade and unify coastal and port security. At present India has no coordinated system for defense of its shores with security responsibilities divided among more than 20 separate ministries, agencies, departments and civilian and military forces.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
by Rupam Banerjee
THE ROLE of Bangladesh has attracted serious scrutiny over the recent serial blasts in India. The Bangladesh Government’s repeated assurance of taking strong actions against terrorist groups appears to be hollow as a section of the Bangladeshi civil and military officials have been working hand in hand with the agents of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan to help out the Islamic terrorists and the militants from India’s North-eastern states and West Bengal.
In fact, according to the intelligence reports, these ISI agents and Bangladeshi officials have now been coordinating between the Indian militants and Islamic terrorists to carry out subversive activities in India.
The reports point out that with easy availability of arms, ammunition and explosives from China via Myanmar and the unholy alliance of terrorists are set to create havoc in India as it is evident from the recent blasts in North India, Tripura and Assam.
The reports have also mentioned that the militants from Assam,. Tripura, Manipur and West Bengal have already undergone a series of training along with the members of the Islamic Jihadi Council (IJC) in the use of different kind of explosives, including RDX and TNT under the supervision of some ISI and Bangladeshi experts.
According to the reports, the Islamic Jihadi Council is comprised of activists from Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), Lashkar-e-Toiba (L-e-T), Taliban, and Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups, who are now settled in different parts of Bangladesh.
The reports also point out that under the supervision of the ISI and Bangladeshi experts, the IJC members, most of whom are trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan, have been working together with the members of different militant groups from North-East India for carrying out subversive activities in India.
Besides utilising the militants from the North-eastern parts of India, it is feared that the ISI and the IJC may even use the Maoists to carry out serial blasts in different parts of the country. The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) had already arranged meetings between the ISI agents and the Maoists, both in Bangladesh and Nepal.
Reports from across the border said that at least 20 teams, comprising Indian militants and Islamic terrorists, had been formed after extensive training on use of different kinds of explosive to carry out clandestine activities in different parts of India.
These teams had reportedly established contacts with their linkmen in Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata in West Bengal. Each team is comprised of at least seven members.
The Intelligence agencies blamed the attitude of the Bangladesh Government and poor management of Indo-Bangla border for the recent spurt in serial blasts in different parts of India. The concerned officials also stated that lack of cooperation from the Bangladesh authorities and insufficient border security forces made it virtually impossible to crack down these militant groups.
They also pointed out that the recent handover of 17 ATTF militants by the Bangladesh Rifles was merely an eyewash. The seventeen militants actually belonged to a breakaway group, which wanted to surrender before the authorities in Tripura. The Bangladesh Rifles intercepted the seventeen militants and put them behind the bar. Later, they were handed over to the BSF authorities.
However, Bangladesh authorities are not leaving any stone unturned to play host to the leaders of Indian militants like Anup Chetia, Paresh Barua and Jiban Singh. Most of these leaders have been running businesses in and around Dhaka and Chittagong with the money extorted from the Indian businessmen and the so-called help from their ‘friends’ in Bangladesh Government.
West Bengal, Assam and Tripura have been demanding for a long time deployment of more Border Security Force battalions for proper manning of the Indo-Bangladesh border. But the Centre continued to turn a deaf ear to their demands.
A senior West Bengal official said that serial blasts were designed to destroy the basic fabric of the country. He further added that it is high time Centre paid more attention to the international border with Bangladesh. He also warned that any further delay would just aggravate the situation.
The official also added that the concerned authorities have intensified vigilance along the border and other vulnerable areas to prevent any subversive activity by the unholy nexus of Islamic terrorists and Indian militants.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
“We believe that the State Government is not dealing with the situation in the manner it should have. Besides, repeated contradictory statements made by Chief Minister, Director General of Police and the Army has further worsened the scenario in the affected areas,” said Jebra Ram Muchahary, president, ICITP, adding, “This is the right moment for the Centre to step in and initiate necessary steps to book the culprits so that such incidents are not repeated anywhere else in the country.”
Taking strong exception to the hoisting of a Pakistani flag in one of the affected areas, Muchahary said, “The incident of hoisting of a Pakistani flag is a matter of shame not only for the State but the entire country, and those responsible for doing so must be dealt with a firm hand.”
Urging the civil society to play an effective role to stabilize the current scenario, Dr Ram Dayal Munda, chief president, ICITP, national committee, said that the State Government has been found wanting as far as resolving the issues of the affected people is concerned.
“The issue of hoisting the Pakistani flag in Assam has been appreciated by a section of the Pakistani media, which is a nasty sign for the country,” Dr Munda pointed out.
AKRSU president Biswajeet Rai further asserted that the clash between the two groups is part of a deep-rooted conspiracy masterminded by a vested interest circle operating at the behest of anti-national forces.
“We, during our visit, had seen that there is a still a sense of uncertainty in the minds of the people. As far as security arrangements are concerned, it is definitely not up to the mark,” Rai asserted.
“If the Government does not take urgent steps to safeguard the interest of the indigenous people, we would be forced to retaliate in our own way,” Rai warned.
“The involvement of a third party behind the group clashes is certain, and it is the job of the Government to unearth the force behind it,” said Prafula Hafila, president, ADSU.
The joint delegation of ICITP, AKRSU and ADSU also informed that it had submitted a memorandum highlighting the demand for a separate State of Kamatapur at the first session of the ‘Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ held at Geneva from October 1 to October 3.
Meanwhile, the Assam Minorities Students’ Union today organized a sit-in demonstration in protest against the group clashes at the Lakhidhar Bora Khetra premises here.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Dhaka , (Asiantribune।com) : The Vested Property Act (VPA), a controversial law in Bangladesh that allowed the Government to confiscate property from individuals it deemed as an enemy of the state. Before independence it was known as the Enemy Property Act and is still referred to as such in common parlance. The act is criticized as a tool for appropriating the lands of the minority population The vested property was known in Pakistan as ‘enemy property' after the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
On 6 September 1965, Pakistan proclaimed a state of emergency under the Defense of Pakistan Ordinance at the outbreak of war with India. In exercise of the powers conferred by the Ordinance, the Central Government of Pakistan promulgated on the same day the Defence of Pakistan Rules. Under the rules, the Governor of East Pakistan passed an Order on 3 December 1965 regarding enemy property by which the property of the minorities was declared “Enemy Property”.
Renamed as Vested Property Act
After Bangladesh won independence through bloody War of Liberation against Pakistan in December 1971, President of Bangladesh in his Order No-29 of 1972 ,changed the nomenclature to Vested Property Act without altering the contain of the law। After a long struggle and a bloody war of Independence the rise of Bangladesh naturally conveyed the message to the democratic and progressive forces that the communally promulgated Enemy Property Act would not continue।
Surprisingly enough the existence of the Act is inconsistent not only with the UDHR but also with the provisions of the constitution itself। In Independent Bangladesh on 26th March of 1972 Bangladesh (Vesting of Property and Assets) President's order No. 29 replaced former Enemy Property Act. But it was a classic irony that Bangladesh saw the continuation of two mutually opposed things simultaneously, One a secular democratic constitution in 1972 and the other the continuance of the Enemy Property Act though in a new name. Bangladeshi Hindus become coveted enemy under VPA. What does it mean? ’
The VP Act was practically declared void by promulgating 'The Enemy Property (Continuance of Emergency Provisions) (Repeal) Act XLV in parliament on 23 March 1974। But immediately after words another declaration named the Vested and Non-resident Property (Administration) Act XL VI of 1974, brought the above act into force। This Act was later amended on 27 November 1976, by the Enemy Property (Continuance of Emergency Provision) (Repeal) (Amendment) Ordinance 1976.
The government, or any officer or authority as directed by the government, was empowered to administer, control, manage and dispose of, by transfer or otherwise the enemy property or enemy firms known as 'vested property'. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in a judgment said:” Since the law of enemy property itself died with the repeal of Ordinance No.1 of 1969 on 23 -3-1974 no further vested property case can be started thereafter on the basis of the law which is already dead.
Accordingly, there is no basis at all to treat the case land as vested property upon started VP Case No-210 of 1980। (58 DLR 2006 pp 177-185). A writ petition has been filed in the High Court of the Bangladesh Supreme Court in August 2008 for annulment of VPA,The Government of Bangladesh has, within the framework of this law, taken possession of property declared to belong to the enemy, by appropriating the property of members of the Hindu minority who had migrated to India, or by appropriating the property of people who were heirs or co –owners. Since then the issue has been rolling with ordinances, amendments, circulars, memos, and committee and so on. But no tangible action has yet been taken by the Government to solve the contentious issue of minority Hindus.
Though renamed as the Vested Property Act in 1974, the law still retains the fundamental ability to deprive a Bangladeshi citizen of his/her property simply by declaration of that person as an enemy of the state। Leaving the country through abandonment is cited as the most common reason for this, and it is frequently the case that Hindu families who have one or several members leaving the country (for economic as well as political reasons) have their entire property confiscated due to labeling as enemy.
The enactment of Enemy (Vested) Property Laws which are at the heart of the matter relating to the various socio-economic problems of the minorities in Bangladesh has not come all on a sudden। This act is actually the culmination of many discriminatory ordinances passed one after another by the ruling elites of both Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Chronologically they are: The East Bengal (Emergency) Requisition of Property Act (XIII of1948), The East Bengal Evacuees (Administration of Property) Act (VIII of1949), The East Bengal Evacuees (Restoration of Possession) Act (XXII of 1951), The East Bengal Evacuees (Administration of Immovable Property) Act(XXIV of 1951), The East Bengal Prevention of Transfer of Property and Removal of Documents and Records Act of 1952, The Pakistan (Administration of Evacuees Property) Act (XII of 1957), The East Pakistan Disturbed Persons (Rehabilitation) Ordinance (No 1 of 1964), The Defence of Pakistan Ordinance(No। XXIII of 6th September, 1965), The Defence of Pakistan Rules of 1965,The Enemy Property (Custody and Registration) Order of 1965, The East Pakistan Enemy Property (Lands and Buildings Administration and Disposal Order of 1966.
The Enemy Property (Continuance of Emergency Provision) Ordinance No। 1 of 1969. Bangladesh (Vesting of Property and Assets) President's (Order No. 29 of 1972). The Enemy Property (Continuance of Emergency Provisions) (Repeal) Act (XLV of 1974), The Vested and Non-Resident Property (Administration) Act (XLVI of 1974). The Vested and Non-Resident (Administration) (Repeal) Ordinance 1976 The Ordinance, (No. XCII of 1976). The Ordinance No. XCIII of 1976.
As Pakistan was established on the two nation theory from the very beginning the rulers were quick to smash any kind of democratic movement. They deliberately used communal tactics to drive out religious minorities’ from their home land and to suppress all kinds of movement.
It may be recalled that "Transfer of Property Act" is ignored in case of the Hindus by keeping the Enemy Property Act as the Vested Property Act। So the property based crisis deepened and disturbed society at the root.
One report makes it clear how with the promulgation of the Vested and Non-resident Property (Repeal) Ordinance by President A। M. Sayem during the rule of General Ziaur Rahman, many government officials became the owners of lands earlier held by the Hindus.
With this process of eviction of the Hindu peasantry and their ejection from the villages has appeared a new class of land grabbers। The gradual disappearance of the Hindu peasantry from the Bangladesh countryside, the same report shows, reached a new phase with the circular of 23 May 1977 on the Ministry of Lands of the Government of Bangladesh which empowered the Tehsildars to find out the lands suitable for enlisting as enemy property.
Since there was a provision for rewarding the successful tehsildars they felt encouraged to bring many undisputed properties of the Hindus under this list।
Hindu peasants were thus left with no alternative, but to move on, as they could not expect any remedy from the additional deputy commissioner, the sub-divisional officer, or the circle officer who, like the tehsildar, were similarly entrusted with the responsibility and similarly promised reward। While steps for disposal of vested properties were under way at different levels, the President Genl. H M Ershad issued an order to stop disposal and fresh enlistment of vested property by an announcement on 31 July 1984, in the conference of the representative of the Hindu community held at Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka.
In pursuance of the announcement of the President, the Ministry of Land Administration and Land Reforms issued a memo on 23 November 1984 reiterating that disposal of vested property and further enlistment of any property as vested would stop on 21 June 1984, and that any action taken in contravention of the announcement of the President should be treated as cancelled। The government, however, issued a memo on 1 June 1989 revoking the ban on renewal of lease and eviction from vested property on certain conditions.
On November 4, 1993, the then BNP Government led by Begum Zia made another declaration for scrutiny of the census list of the enemy properties। This declaration was another initiative to use the 'Act' to harass and oppress the religious minorities in Bangladesh. In a changed political situation the present govt. issued two circulars from the ministry of land on November, 14, 1996 the gist of which is –
1. Not to enlist any more property as enemy vested properly.(b) Without prior permission of the land ministry no member of Hindu, Buddhist, Christian communities shall be evicted out.
2. In land survey the land property of religious minorities should be properly assessed During Awami League Government (1996-2001),the Vested Properties Return Act, 2001 is not only tokenism.
It may well be the beginning of legalising the omissions and commissions committed under a patently discriminatory law. Sheikh Hasina led Awami League government annulled this VP Act in 2001. It wanted to return the 'Vested' property to their original Hindu owners. The move was criticised as a 'political tokenism' aimed to appease minority voters prior to the general elections.
Hindu properties continue to be' vested'- a recent observation
Nearly two lakh Hindus have lost 22 lakh acres of their land and houses during the last six years, a Dhaka University Professor Abul Barkat says in May 2007 . At the current market price, the value of the 22 lakh acres of land (one acre roughly equals three bighas) that the Hindu families were displaced from is Tk 2,52,000 crore, which is more than half of the country’s gross domestic product, he says Some 12 lakh or 44 per cent of the 27 lakh Hindu households in the country were affected by the Enemy Property Act 1965 and its post-independence version, the Vested Property Act 1974. Prof. Barkat points out that 53 per cent of the family displacement and 74 per cent of the land grabbing occurred before the country’s independence in 1971 .
About 1.2 million households and 6 million people belonging to the Hindu community have been directly and severely affected by the Enemy/Vested Property Act. The community has lost 2.6 million acres of its own land in addition to other moveable and immovable property. The approximate money value of such loss (US $ 55 billion) would be equivalent to 75 per cent of the GDP of Bangladesh (at 2007 prices). The EPA/Vested Property Act has compelled Hindus to break family ties. Stress and strain, mental agony and a fuelling of religious fundamentalism have been the offshoot. The deprivation led to the growth of a communal mindset in what had been a historical secular climate and context.
The Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Sangbad (21st March 1977) alleged that at that point in time, according to the government's own figures, 702,335 acres (2,842 km²) of cultivable land and 22,835 homes were listed as enemy property.According to a report of the Land Ministry in October 2004,submitted to a parliamentary standing committee "445,726 acres of vested property out of 643,140 acres ended up in encroachment across the country. “Grabbers gabbled up more than two thirds of vested property as the government lost control over the lands as the custodian and its long-line dithering blocked anti-encroachment efforts,” the report said. (The Daily Star, 15 October 2004) Professor Abul Barkat and his co-authors have accurately projected the economic history, lapses in the land laws, willful negligence of the bureaucracy and greed of the politicians for property.
Prof Barkat found that no list of the people evicted or the quantum of lands grabbed on the basis of the Vested Property Act has been prepared till date. Instead, politically powerful people grabbed most of the land during the reign of the BNP-led alliance government between 2001 and 2006. Politically powerful people grabbed most of the Hindu lands during the reign of Begum Khaleda Zia's. Forty-five per cent of the land grabbers were affiliated with the BNP, 31 per cent with the Awami League, eight per cent with Jamaat-e-Islami and six per cent with the Jatiya Party and other political organisations, the New Age and the Daily Janakantha, on 27 May.07 quote Prof Barkat. The affected Hindu families met with more incidents of violence and repression in the immediate-past five years of the BNP-led government than in the previous five years of the Awami League government, the Barkat research report concludes. (NewAge, Janakantha, Manabzamin,27 May.07)
The US State Department in its Human Rights Report in 2007 says: "During the year the government did not take any measures to implement the 2001 Vested Property Return Act providing for property restitution to persons, mostly Hindus, who had their property seized by the government after the 1965 India-Pakistan war".
USCIRF Report issued in May 2008 says : In light of Bangladesh's upcoming national elections, currently scheduled for December 2008, the Commission recommends that the U.S. government should ask the Bangladesh Government to: repeal the Vested Property Act, discriminatory legislation that has been used unjustly to seize Hindu-owned property in the decades since Bangladesh's independence and has continued to be used under successive governments to reward well-connected members of the majority community in Bangladesh.
Exodus of Minority
Migration is the ultimate consequence of black laws since 1948, state communalism, discrimination, persecution and oppression on minorities. The readers will get an accurate scenario of migration from the following statistics. In 1947 the proposition of the religious minorities was 29.7% of the total population. Before 1971 it was 19.6%, in the 1974 census it was 14.6% and in1991 it was 11.7%. and now in 2001 it is 9%. The average number of family member in Bangladesh of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian is 5.7, 5.5, 5.9, 5.4 respectively. The statistics shows that 1 crore 25 lakh people migrated in the Pakistan period and 1 crore in the Bangladesh period-from 1971 to the present. Even government statistics admit that the number is around 50 lakh. The weekly Holiday showed in 1991 that from 1974 to 1991 29 lakh 50 thousand humiliated Hindus left Bangladesh to become a 'stateless-citizens' in India and their present number became 1.5 crore since the period between1974 and 2006.
But in reality, as Professor Barkat study shows the Hasina largesse did not benefit the Hindu minority, who owned land at the time of partition. In fact, it ended up displacing most of them from their ancestral land. While trying to review the impact of the law on the land ownership of the Hindu community, we have to get rid of this uncivilized state of affairs to establish a civilized society.
Otherwise, we have to face a bigger historic catastrophe,' Professor Abdul Barkat, who teaches economics, insists in his research paper, 'Deprivation of affected million families: Living with Vested Property in Bangladesh'. It is needless to say that Vested Property Act is a law against the spirit of the Constitution of Bangladesh. The Act has violated the fundamental rights of a class of people guaranteed in the Constitution of Bangladesh: Those discriminatory laws and post seventy-five constitutional amendments not only hurt the feelings of the minorities severely, their confidence on Bangladesh state machinery have been dwindled; they have been effectively transformed into second class citizens.
It is needless to say that Vested Property Act is a law against the spirit of the Constitution of Bangladesh. The Act has violated the fundamental rights of a class of people guaranteed in the Constitution of Bangladesh:
Article-27, "All citizens are equal before the law and are entailed to equal protection of law”,
Article-28(1), "The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth",
Article-29(1) "There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in respect of employment or office in the service of the Republic" and
Article 29(2) "No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office in the service of the Republic."
The story of Pakistan is one of remorseless tug and pull between the civilian and military rulers on the one hand, and the liberal and religious forces on the other. In the process, the country has failed to become a democracy, a theocracy or a permanent military dictatorship. The chief casualties have been the rule of law, the state institutions and the process of national integration, with grave consequences for the civil society.
Despite 15 years of formal democracy in Bangladesh, the army remains unaccountable to the public, who cannot freely criticize it due to constitutional forbidding. Even the liberal Awami League party uses religion in all its activities and does not clearly advocate reinstitution secularism in the constitution. Political leaders of all spectrums oppose civil society activism in the name of traditional religious values.
The culture of intolerance, hatred and violence of political parties goes hand in hand with terrorist activities that have "intruded into the popular psyche" since the mid-1990s. The state's total failure to check terrorist threats to democracy is ascribed by many to the fact that Bangladeshi rulers themselves patronize Islamic fundamentalism.
Politicization of the bureaucracy and judiciary and the absence of internal democracy within parties are other obstacles to democratic practice. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely says Lord Acton." So not dictatorship, but democracy -- a government of not one man but of all people -- is now the norm in almost all countries of the world. But the quality of democracy obtaining here is abysmally low. The reasons are not far to seek.
Corruption has eroded the vitals of democratic institutions all over the country. A large segment of Parliamentarians, who make laws and frame the guiding principles of governance, and the bureaucrats who implement the same, barring a few, indulge in corruption. That is why democracy in Bangladesh took different shape and size under bootish regimes and became demo-crazy of power.
Reza Hossein Borr , a leadership consultant (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) writes about Pakistani leaders : “A country begins its decline when its politicians and leaders begin to lose respect for integrity, competence, performance of duty and serving people. These are the issues that can break down any country. No country can survive without integrity of its leaders. No nation can survive without competent professionals running the affairs of the country at an acceptable level every day. No nation would survive when its leaders do not have on lasting commitment for serving the people and creating conditions in which the masses feel that their lives get better and better every day. No nation can survive if oppression and brutality becomes the routine of the day with a sense of impunity in those who commit oppression.
If we look back at the history of Pakistan so far, none of its leaders had any dignity to realise their end and accept it gracefully. General Ayoub Khan dominated the country for some time. When his time was over he could not realise it and therefore he continued oppression. There were demonstrations against him everywhere. The public called him a dog and finally threw him out of power in disgrace.
He came to power with pride, called himself Field Marshal and left like a dog. His successor, general Yahya Khan was even worse than him. He caused the disintegration of Pakistan, massacred millions of Bangladeshis. His army raped thousands of women. He was the person who accused you Ayoub Khan of mismanaging the country and corruption, however he himself turned to become even worse than his predecessor. He had to leave and live in disgrace too because of not realizing that his time was all over.
Z Ali Bhutto had the same fate. General Zia hanged him for corruption and murder. Zia became the target of the same fate. He did not hand over the power with dignity and grace until he was killed in an aeroplane crash. Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif both defied public. Both did not learn from the history of their predecessors. None of them retained their respect and dignity. Both of them were fired and sent into exile in disgraceful manners.
General Musharaf took over the power from Sharif promising that he would clean the country and would bring prosperity and dignity to the nation though shortly after assuming power he followed in the steps of his predecessors and repeated their mistakes. Today he is the man without dignity. He has lost respect. And he would go in disgrace like his predecessors. It seems that Pakistan is the land of disgraceful leaders. The leaders of Pakistan are either killed or sent into exile in disgrace, yet there are hundreds of army generals and politicians who would do everything possible to face this fate.
The Pakistani generals and politicians certainly know how to take over the power. They certainly do not know how to retain the power and how to manage and lead Pakistan. They surely do not know how to hand over the power gracefully and with dignity before they have lost all the respect. They come with grace and go in disgrace. They come with dignity and go without dignity.”(www.globalpolitician.com) Bangladesh also stripped with the legacy of Pakistan.
In Bangladesh, being a minority means being a victim of oppression, torture and discrimination. The educated Hindus, who could play a leadership role in the community, left the country. The poor, who lacked leadership qualities, stayed back. Eminent personalities of the minorities who stayed on in Bangladesh live in the cities, so there are none to look after them in times of distress. As a result the minority community, a very much-advanced component of our population, is unable to contribute to country’s development activities. So, we need not to produce more evidences, rather looking forward the needful action from the non-party caretaker Government led by Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed to repeal the VPA as he is committed to establish democracy and rule of law.
Rabindranath Trivedi is a retired Addl.Secretary and former Press Secretary to the President of Bangladesh, Secretary General Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) Bangladesh National Chapter
- Asian Tribune
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Over a million Bangladeshis who have entered India legally through Bengal since the 1970s cannot be traced, official figures said today.
The disclosure, made by the Border Security Force, swivels the spotlight from the problem of illegal immigrants who have been streaming in across the border for decades.
BSF director-general A.K. Mitra said that between 1972 and 2005, the entry of over 1.2 million Bangladeshis had been cleared by immigration counters on the Bengal border. “There is no record that they have returned,” he said.
Mitra was speaking to reporters on his return from the India-Bangladesh border co-ordination conference held in Dhaka through this week.
Concern over Bangladeshis overstaying their visa or illegally entering India took centre stage in the past two years after a series of blasts were linked to radical Islamic groups with connections in Bangladesh.
Home ministry sources said talks between the home secretaries of the two countries were on the cards, where the issue of the missing Bangladeshis would be discussed.
Thousands from Bangladesh come to Bengal every year, mostly for medical treatment in Calcutta, while hundreds visit the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer Sharif. This is apart from the thousands entering Assam through the north-eastern border.
While many of these Bangladeshis are believed to have moved into Delhi, Mumbai or smaller but prosperous towns like Jaipur, the bulk of them live in Bengal.
“Yes, there is demographic and geographical closeness, but for several years the state government has been trying its best (to deal with those overstaying),” a senior Bengal police officer said.
Driving away illegal immigrants, too, has become more difficult than before, the officer admitted. State officials pin the blame on procedural changes made by Dhaka.
Suspected illegal immigrants are first tried in a court and then convicted. The state government concerned then sends the list of names to the BSF, which forwards it to Bangladesh Rifles. It is then up to the Bangladesh government to confirm the nationality of the illegal immigrants and take them back.
“There are many who have completed jail terms but have not been accepted by Dhaka. What do we do with them?” a Bengal police officer told The Telegraph.
However, experts say deportation does not pose as much of a problem as detection of illegal immigrants. BSF officers complain that investigating agencies do not inform the force of arrests, undermining security concerns. “We only come to know through newspapers,” DGP Mitra said.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
- Students gear up for fresh agitation
“We are gearing up for a vigorous agitation. We would like to tell the government that we are not going to sit quietly till all the clauses of the Assam Accord are implemented,” AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya said on the eve of 23rd anniversary of the signing of the accord.
The AASU launched a hunger strike from 6 this morning to protest the government’s failure to implement the Accord and deport Bangladeshis.
The strike will continue till the official hoisting of the national flag tomorrow.
The student organisation demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and chief minister Tarun Gogoi set a time-frame for the implementation of the Assam Accord.
“The Prime Minister and chief minister, after unfurling the national flag tomorrow, should let the people know by when the government will honour the commitment they made to the people of Assam 23 years ago,” Bhattacharyya said.
By not implementing the accord, the government was dishonouring a non-violent movement spearheaded by the people of Assam, he said.
The AASU also criticised the chief minister for flaying Gauhati High Court’s remark on infiltration. “We are cautioning the chief minister against making any flippant remark on the Bangladeshi issue. It is unfortunate that to protect the interest of Bangladeshis, the chief minister is even making light of a court observation,” he said.
The Opposition AGP and BJP also lambasted Gogoi today for being dismissive of the court’s observation about Bangladeshi migrants. Gogoi had yesterday said the court’s remark that a Bangladeshi would become a kingmaker in Assam was “sweeping and provocative”.
AASU activists, along with members of the Hindu Yuva Chatra Parishad, today handed over 122 suspected Bangladeshi nationals to police in Sonitpur district.
Police said the suspected migrants were on their way to Kharupatiya in Darrang from Dibrugarh in a hired bus when the activists waylaid them at Bihaguri and took them to Tezpur police station.
A two-member division bench of Gauhati High Court, on the other hand, gave 18 persons, who were declared foreigners by the foreigner’s tribunal and the single bench of the court, one more chance to prove their citizenship.
AASU activists stage a dharna in Guwahati on Thursday. Picture by Eastern Projections.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The influx from Bangladesh to Assam (India) remained a major issue of concern for the Assamese civil societies and advocacy groups since early Seventies. The All Assam Students Union (AASU) led historic Assam Agitation to the outcome of the prolonged anxiety of the indigenous people of the State against the illegal Bangladeshis living in Assam. The movement staring on 1979 to deport millions of Bangladeshis from the State that had united all social and advocacy groups for the cause.
The issue of influx once again came alive after a historical judgment by the Gauhati High Court. The court observed in one of its verdicts that illegal Bangladeshis, who used to get Indian passports because of callous approach of police and passport authorities, were slowly becoming the 'king makers' in Assam, as many politicians started using them as their traditional vote banks. The landmark judgment of the high court on July 23, also observed that a strong political will to free Assam from illegal Bangladeshis was the need of the hour. The judgment was passed while disposing the petitions of 61 petitioners after they were pronounced as foreigners by the respective Foreigners' Tribunals.
In one Md Kamaluddin's case, the court ruling said that he was in possession of a passport issued by the Pakistan government for his travel to Bangladesh. After coming to Bangladesh, he stealthily came to Assam, stayed back and even filed a nomination during the 1996 State Assembly polls. This can happen only in Assam, it said.
It also stated that in due course of time, the Bangladeshis had 'incorporated their names in the voters' lists on the basis of which they must have cast their votes'. Thus the petitioners and such other large number of Bangladeshis present in the State of Assam have a major role in electing the representatives both to the Legislative Assembly and Parliament and consequently, in the decision-making process towards building the nation. They have become the kingmakers, the judgment added.
The day, if phenomenon continues, is not far off, when the indigenous people of Assam, both Hindus and Muslims and other religious groups will be reduced to minorities in their own land and the Bangladeshis who are freely and merrily moving around the fertile land of Assam, will intrude upon the corridors of power, the court ruling warned, adding that neither the Centre nor the state governments can disown their foremost responsibility of defending the borders of the country, prevent any trespass and make the lives of citizens safe and secure.
Meanwhile, the media in Assam start pouring news, editorial and analysis on the issue. The AASU leaders have taken the advantage of the situation to materialize the public anger against the authority for their failure in detecting and deporting the illegal Bangladeshis from the State. Criticising the concerned authority and also both the governments at Dispur and New Delhi for their failure to detect and deport the illegal foreigners from Assam, the students leaders even appealed to the common people not to employ suspected Bangladeshis in any domestic and industrial works.
The initiative of the students' body has been supported by various other organisations including Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad, North East Students Organization, Assam Public Works, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Assam, Purbanchaliya Loka Parishad, with political parties like Asom Gana Parishad, Trinamul Gana Parishad, Bharatiya Janata Party with others, who subsequently initiated different campaigning against the Bangladeshi citizens, illegally taking shelter in various parts of India.
The AASU leaders (President Shankar Prasad Ray, general secretary Tapan Gogoi and adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya) argue that the influx from Bangladesh have already increased the threat to the indigenous communities of the region. Moreover it has emerged as a threat to India's integrity and sovereignty with those infiltrators possessing the capacity to grab political power in Assam in near future. The student activists were also worried that the Jehadi elements might have entered Assam with the help of those Bangladeshis and could place the region at severe risk any time.
They have already launched a series of agitational programmes in support of their demands starting on August 6. The student activists demonstrated in front of the regional passport office at Guwahati on the day, as it was indicated in the court verdict that illegal Bangladeshis managed to get Indian passport from the office with false documents.
The Sentinel*, a Guwahati based English daily, editorialised the issue of Indian passport, which was managed by some Bangladeshis on false pretexts, saying, "What is the ultimate proof of Indian citizenship if even a foreigner can get an Indian passport?" It also added, "A passport is a document issued by our government permitting us to travel to other countries....How many countries will agree to give us visas on our passports once it becomes known that even a foreigner or a terrorist from another country can acquire an Indian passport without verification?"
Next phase of agitation by the student's organization begins on August 10 with public rallies in various parts of the State. It will be followed by another demonstration beginning on the early morning (6 am) of August 14 to the time of flag hoisting on August 15 on Independence Day to raise voice against the government for their failure to implement the Assam Accord effectively. The Accord was signed between the agitating leaders and the Union Government of India on August 14, 1984 to culminate the Assam movement. More public meeting and processions on August 20 and a torchlight rally on August 26 will follow it, the students' body declared. *
The Assam Tribune*, the oldest English daily of Northeast, in one of its editorials commented that the development 'brings to the fore issues that have sinister implications for the security and integrity of not just Assam but the entire country'. It also reveals that 'despite it being an open secret that unabated cross-border infiltration from Bangladesh is fast reducing the indigenous populace of Assam to a minority, the response from the Congress-led State Government as well as the Centre has been one of utter indifference'.
It also added, "Let alone admitting to the fact that more and more Bangladeshi nationals are getting themselves registered as Indian citizens - thanks to their easy access to crucial documents like ration cards and even passports - the State Government seems to be reluctant even to admit the presence of infiltrators, and has all along been maintaining a casual approach on the issue. If the State Government needed any further proof of cross-border influx as also the evil designs behind the infiltration, the High Court ruling should wake it up from its slumber."
The deportation of illegal foreigners from Assam however runs in slow pace. Statistics made available to the media reveal that only 12,846 persons were declared as foreigners under the provisions of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act (during 1985 to 2005 July) and 1547 of them could be deported. No one knows where the rest has gone. Quoting the Border Police, the local media reported that another 30,000 persons were declared foreigners under the provisions of the Foreigners Act (during 1986 to 2008 March). Among them, 674 were deported, but once again the rest got vanished.
Facing the heat of growing public resentments, the State government has come out with declaration that it had already detected over 4 hundred thousands suspected Bangladeshis living in Assam. The Assam government spokesperson, Himanta Biswa Sarma has recently announced during a press conference that the government had also 'charge-sheeted 3,92,000 suspected Bangladeshis before the Foreigner's Tribunal Act'.
"If the Government is really serious in detection and deportation of foreigners without harassment of genuine Indian citizens, the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) should be expedited and photo identity cards should be given to all genuine Indian citizens on the basis of that," commented in another editorial of the daily, adding that the Government of India must try to sign an extradition or push back treaty with Bangladesh, as at present, the Bangladesh government refuses to accept the persons sought to be pushed back.
Nava Thakuria is an independent journalist based in Guwahati, Northeast India, whose main interest is in socio-political developments of Northeast India and neighbouring Bhutan, Burma and Bangladesh.
Observing that influx of illegal migrants from other countries poses a “threat to the integrity and security of India”, the Delhi High Court today allowed the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) to deport five members of a family to Bangladesh, reports PTI. “The largescale influx of illegal migrants has led to large tracts of sensitive borders which has serious implication for internal security,” said justice S L Bhayana in a judgement.
He dismissed a petition filed by a Bangladeshi woman, Razia Begum, seeking a stay on the deportation order passed by FRRO in April this year against five members of her family and said the ration card and nationality certificates obtained by them were forged and fabricated.
Rejecting the woman’s claim that they have been staying in Mehrauli area since 1980, Justice Bhayana said “The influx of Bangladeshi nationals who have illegally migrated poses a threat to the integrity and security of India. The FRRO is duty bound to take all necessary measure”.
On December 27 last year, the staff of FRRO had apprehended 16 Bangladeshis as they were allegedly staying in the country without valid documents. The FRRO passed an order on April 23 this year for deportation of the illegal migrants.
“The order of deportation is not a punishment but a method of ensuring the return to his own country of an alien who has not complied with conditions. Hence Bangladeshi nationals who have migrated illegally have no right to remain in India and they are liable to be deported,” the court said.
Expressing concern over the continuing influx of Bangladeshis into India, the judge said “on account of variety of reasons, including religious and economic, it is difficult to make a realistic estimate of the number of illegal migrants...”.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Twenty-two students’ and youth organisations today joined hands in Tinsukia to demand immediate detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis in the district, and served a 72-hour deadline to the illegal immigrants to leave the district voluntarily or face dire consequences. The groups include the Tinsukia district units of AASU, AJYCP, All Assam Muttock Yuva Chatra Sanmilan, All Moran Students’ Union, ATTSA, TMPK, Tai Ahom Yuva Parishad, Bengali Yuva Chatra Parishad, and Bhojpuri Students’ Union, among others.
Office-bearers of the 22 organisatons met this morning at Tinsukia to chalk out an agitational programme for detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis in the district. They later briefed the media about the decisions taken, which include the 72-hour deadline starting Tuesday morning.
Speaking to this newspaper, youth leader Birinchi Neog said: “The Gauhati High Court, a former Governor of Assam... all have expressed concern at the alarming influx of illegal foreigners. These persons have to be detected and deported at any cost.” He said Assam needs to have an Inner Line Permit system in place to discourage outsiders from settling in the State, as is enforced in Arunachal Pradesh.
Neog squarely blamed the Assam government and the district administrations for miserably failing to detect and deport the huge number of illegal Bangladeshis. He stressed on the urgent need for a special task force to detect and deport illegal foreigners in Assam.
AASU information secretary Pulok Gohain said the government should go about its task of detecting and deporting illegal foreigners with a sense of urgency, rather than issuing threats to the citizens to refrain from taking the law into their own hands. “It is because the ministers and officers are conniving with illegal foreigners which is forcing the civil population to take steps to save the state,” he added.
Migrants rounded up: Meanwhile, in keeping with the ongoing hunt for illegal Bangladeshi settlers, the district unit of AASU today compelled the district administration here to identify aliens by laying siege on a hamlet on the bank of the Brahmaputra near Chandmari Ghat. AASU workers rounded up more than a hundred suspected Bangladeshis from the settlement that housed nearly 35 families. As men were away for work, those rounded up included mostly women and malnourished children. The members of the student body also reportedly resorted to aggression as they forced entry into the homes of the suspected aliens and wrecked their huts. Huts and belongings of a few families were also set ablaze.
However, AASU activists denied committing any such violent acts.
The student body later handed over the suspects to the police for verification. Additional Superintendent of Police (Border), SR Mili also rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. The claim of the AASU that the settlers are Bangladeshis could not be confirmed, as the police verification was going on till the filing of this report.
Tinsukia Correspondent adds: Today’s meeting held in Tinsukia urged both the district administration and police to take initiative for detection and deportation of the illegal migrants and also appealed to all the ward members of both gaon panchayats and civic bodies to keep strict vigil against the presence of foreign nationals in their respective areas.
It also urged the public in general of the district not to employ and provide any shelter to doubtful citizens and urged the civic bodies to re-examine the licenses of the rickshaw-pullers. The meeting also urged all the parties, organisations or individuals concerned not to give any communal colour to the foreign nationals issue.
Security forces are on the look-out for over one lakh Bangladeshis who had entered the country legally and have gone missing, a senior police officer has said.
"Over one lakh Bangladeshis who entered India with valid passports and visa are traceless as on date," Meghalaya'a Additional Director General of Police Kulbir Khrishna said while speaking at a seminar 'Changes in Security Perspective of Indo-Bangladesh' here. He said the number of these missing Bangladeshis could be ascertained as they had valid documents. However, the total illegal migrants in India could be astounding, he said.
Pointing that there was evidence to show the involvement of HuJI, which has proximity to Bangladesh's intelligence agency DGFI and Pakistan's ISI, in a number of terror attacks in the country in the recent past, Khrisnan said the porous border has fomented the movement of insurgent elements and illegal migrants.
"The seat of power in Bangladesh is occupied by elements who come from different streams of thoughts. This makes it further difficult to deal with the problem," he added.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
The controversial Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasrin's return to India is likely to put the Bengal government in a spot. She had to be packed off last year after a riot-like situation gripped Kolkata. Now she wants to be back in the City of Joy.
THE SPECTRE of Taslima Nasrin is back to haunt the Left Front government in West Bengal. The controversial author returned to India from Sweden and landed at New Delhi days before her visa was to expire. Her visa expires on August 17 so there was no way the Centre could have refused her entry.
The writer had to leave Kolkata in a hurry following violent protests in November, 2007 by a section of the minority community over her writings. A near riot-like situation gripped Kolkata and the army had to be called into stage a flag march. She was packed off to Jaipur by the Bengal government only to face the ire of a section of the community in Rajasthan. She was later bailed out by the Centre and put in a safe house under virtual house arrest. She left the country four months ago and is now back to the safe house in the outskirts of New Delhi.
Taslima has been pining to return to West Bengal and had complained of suffering from claustrophobia, isolated as she was at the guest house unable to meet people. She left the country because of this. Earlier, she had called the guest house a “chamber of death”.
Now she is back and is said to have expressed a desire to return to Kolkata. The home ministry is expected to write to the state government seeking a response.
However, the Bengal government is not at all happy with her return. The state chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb told the media that the state government had not received any request from her to return to Kolkata. Neither has it received any communiqué from the Union Home Ministry. He said the decision would have to come from the highest level, if there is any communication from New Delhi or the writer.
It is evident that Taslima is not welcome in Kolkata. Although equations at the Centre between the Congress-led UPA and the Left have changed and the Centre may not act with as much alacrity as it did last time in keeping her confined in New Delhi and not allowing her to return to Kolkata.
At the Indira Gandhi International Airport yesterday, she was received by security and intelligence officials and driven to the guest house.
Meanwhile, Taslima has requested for a permanent resident permit. It is yet to be decided whether her visa would be extended beyond August 17. The way things are shaping up another round of unseemly controversy over the controversial writer seems to be in the offing.
- Cops push illegal immigrants back
- Bengali-speaking Muslims urge caution
Assam is witnessing a massive uprising against illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, commonly referred to as 'foreigners'. The State authorities have stepped up their drive to arrest and push back Bangladeshi immigrants, and student groups are busy identifying suspected foreigners and handing them over to the police.
The spurt in official action against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and anti-foreigners activism follows stinging comments by a Gauhati High Court judge in a recent ruling. "Bangladeshi infiltrators have not only intruded into every nook and corner of Assam, but have already become kingmakers," Justice BK Sarma said in his judgement, ordering the police to detain and deport 49 foreigners, among them a Pakistani citizen, who had appealed against the ruling of Foreigners Tribunals.
Pointing out how the Pakistani man had entered Assam from Bangladesh and contested the State Assembly election in 1986, Justice Sarma commented, "This can only happen in Assam." He went on to add, "The day is not far when the indigenous people of Assam -- both Hindus and Muslims and other religious groups -- will be reduced to minorities in their own land."
The past week witnessed the arrest of seven illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in eastern Assam's Nagaon district after the Gauhati High Court pronounced them foreigners. They were pushed back into Bangladesh through the border point of Mahisasan in southern Assam's Karimganj district.
But six of them were back in Assam by Thursday. "There is no formal agreement between India and Bangladesh and hence the only way to expel such immigrants is by simply pushing them back across the border," a senior Assam police officer said.
Even as the State authorities were enforcing the court judgement, in which 61 persons were found to be infiltrators, student groups -- including the All-Assam Students' Union (AASU) and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) -- also started hounding suspected foreigners. Last week, AASU and AJYCP activists rounded up nearly 50 suspected Bangladeshis from various parts of the State and handed them over to the police.
The anti-foreigners issue has gathered momentum with Opposition parties joining the protest. "Very soon, several Assam districts will be swamped by Bangladeshi Muslims and the State will be ruled by a Bangladeshi Chief Minister," warned former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Bijoya Chakravorty.
The sudden surge of anti-foreigners sentiment has resulted in apprehension among Bengali-speaking Muslims, who are at the receiving end of the AASU and AJYCP action against non-Assamese daily wage earners. "The victims being picked up by the student volunteers are mostly Bengali-speaking Muslims. This trend is dangerous, to say the least," warned Hafiz Rashid Choudhury, leader of the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), a minority-based political party.
"We want that all illegal immigrants who entered Assam after March 25, 1971, be expelled. But caution is needed to ensure that genuine Indians are not harassed," he added.
The State Government has also cautioned the Opposition against 'communalising' the issue. "It is unfortunate that some parties are trying to dub all Muslims as foreigners. If that happens, even Indian Muslims in Assam would oppose the anti-foreigners drive," State Government spokesperson and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. "We must defeat such designs. A foreigner is a foreigner, be it Hindu or Muslim," he added.
The AUDF maintains that action cannot be initiated against religious minorities just on the assumption that they could be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. "We are against providing shelter to any illegal immigrant from Bangladesh. But any action such as pushing back or deporting foreigners must be carried out within the existing legal framework," AUDF president Badruddin Ajmal said.
The AUDF chief said that the Government must immediately upgrade the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and make arrangements for issuing identity cards to all citizens. "It will help genuine citizens and avoid unnecessary harassment," he said.
The AASU had led a six-year-long agitation against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants between 1979 and 1985. The movement ended with the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985 which fixed March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection and deportation of East Paksitanis/Bangladeshis staying illegally in India.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Criticising the centre for facilitating return of the controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen to India, Muslim organisations in Kolkata on Friday called for her immediate deportation from the country.
Holding a meeting under the banner of All-India Majlis-e Sura, the organisations said, "we are deeply disappointed and dejected by this step of the Centre, specifically Union Minister Pranab Mukherjee, that he has allowed Taslima to return to India."
Seeking her immediate deportation from India, they said, "we are looking forward to a positive response from the Centre."
"The Centre's step has definitely hurt sentiments of the Muslim community in India," said a statement signed by Aziz Mubaraki, Additional Chief Secretary to Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan mosque.
All-India Minority Forum President Idris Ali described Taslima's return to India as "unfortunate and unexpected" and said it "will not be accepted by Muslims in India".
Controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, who was dramatically bundled out from West Bengal in November last year, returned today after spending more than four months in Sweden.
The 45-year-old Bangladeshi writer, who has been a target of Islamic fundamentalists, arrived at the Indira Gandhi International airport this morning and was immediately whisked away by security agencies to an undisclosed destination, official sources said.
The future plans of the doctor-turned writer, who shot to fame with her controversial book "Lajja", were not immediately known. Her visa is valid till August 12. She has been requesting for permanent residentship in the country but the Government has not taken any decision on the issue.
Taslima had left India on March 18 for Sweden after she was kept in a safe house in the national capital for more than four months. Taslima, who had not been allowed to see any visitors during the period, had described her confinement as living in "a chamber of death". PTI
Bangaldeshi author Taslima Nasreen returns to India
New Delhi, (ANI):
Taslima Nasreen, the controversial Bangladeshi writer, who had to leave India in March this year, arrived in the national capital on Friday and was immediately whisked off to an undisclosed location.Official sources said that her visa for India is valid till August 12, but did not disclose her future plans would be.
Nasreen was dramatically bundled out from West Bengal in November last year and eventually left the country for Paris before shifting to Sweden in April.
The 45-year-old Bangladeshi writer has been a target of Islamic fundamentalists in India and in other parts of the world for her controversial writings, including books ”Lajja” and ”Dvikhandita”.
In May this year she said she would like to stay in Tripura when she returns to India if not allowed to stay in Kolkata.
Talking to ”Ajker Fariad”, a leading Bengali daily here over telephone from Sweden, Nasreen said she felt like being buried alive in Sweden. She said that as she writes in Bengali, she should be allowed to stay in a Bengali-inhabited place.
I will request the West Bengal Government to allow me to stay in my Park Street home. If this fails, I will approach the Tripura Government, she had said then.
The controversial author has in the recent past also received full support from the writers community in India.They have said that she should be granted freedom of speech and security. (ANI)
An Intelligence tip-off that teenage boys from Park Circus have received some cassettes containing inflammatory speeches of Osama Bin Laden for "local circulation" has got Kolkata Police in a tizzy.
Baffled by such report, sleuths belonging to city police's Special Branch (SB) and detective department have started maintaining a close watch among the youths, aged between 15 to 18, hailing from Darapara area near Park Circus. However, no cassette were seized till today. A senior city police officer said they came to know that some audio cassettes on radical Islamic movement have reached the city recently through the India-Bangladesh borders and Attari check post in Punjub. The entire consignment of the cassettes came through trucks, said the officer, posted in Special Branch. The cassettes, which according to officials, contain inflammatory speeches of Osama Bin Laden, are being played secretly at some places near Park Circus and some other minority community dominated localities in the Central part of the city, the officer said.
He also said that surveillance has been stepped up in Kolutola and its adjoining areas after reports that some religious leaders had come to the city recently to hold meetings with their counterparts in the city. Senior city police officers admitted that surveillance has been stepped up in several pockets following the serial blasts in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. It was learnt that sleuths belonging to the anti terrorist cell of the city police's Special Branch and detective department have been asked to identify the places where the cassettes are being played. Further, they have been instructed to trace the recipients of the cassettes. It is suspected that some recipients of the cassettes include a section of youngsters who had participated in the demonstration that took place in Park Circus area on 21 September last year over controversial writer Taslima Nasreen's stay in West Bengal.
Alarmed over reports of arrival of cassettes on Jehadi movement in the city, surveillance in all entry points to the city has been intensified. Top district police officers have also been informed about the Intelligence tip off, said an officer of Special Branch.
When contacted, Mr Jawed Shamim, deputy commissioner of the city police's detective department, said he had no reports of cassettes containing speeches of Osama Bin Laden being played in Park Circus. "The special branch officers may have such reports, by I don't know anything about this," Mr Shamim added.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
by Wilson John
The two unstable Islamic countries flanking India have emerged as the Al Qaeda's staging posts. While Pakistan has been the epicentre of terrorism since the early 1980s, the emergence of Bangladesh as an extension of a global terror network pose serious challenges to the world, particularly India.
Though the terrorist groups targeting India (there is a hardly any difference between such groups and others with a global agenda) continue to be inspired by terrorist leaders based in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Bangladesh is where they meet, learn techniques of bomb making and collaborate for terrorist actions in India.
While the world is focussed on Pakistan's tribal areas and North-West Frontier Province as an Al Qaeda-Taliban Emirate, the Bangladesh terror network's emergence and growing power remains largely unnoticed.
This impression needs to be corrected without delay. Before September 11, 2001, no one really took seriously India's struggles to cope with an externally-aided and abetted terrorism. Pakistan, despite a huge evidence of its complicity in promoting terrorism, remained on the blind side of the Western nations, particularly the US, which, till recently, considered it as a 'strategic ally' in the war on terrorism.
Today, it is widely acknowledged that Pakistan has become global headquarters of terrorism. Similarly, Bangladesh is fast becoming a major centre of outsource for this grand coalition of terror groups which are facing intense heat in West Asia and Afghanistan.
Bangladesh has become host to various terrorist groups anxious to recruit and train young students coming out of these madarsas. One of the more prominent ones is Harkat-ul-jihad al-Islami (HuJI), widely regarded as the Al Qaeda's operating arm in South Asia. HuJI has been consolidating its position in Bangladesh where it boasts a membership of more than 15,000 activists, of whom at least 2,000 are "hardcore".
Led by Shawkat Osman (alias Sheikh Farid) in Chittagong, the group has at least six training camps in Bangladesh. According to one report, about 3,500 Bangladeshis had gone to Pakistan and Afghanistan to take part in jihad. Barring 34 who died, a large number of them returned home; of these, about 500 form the backbone of HuJI.
What should be of immediate concern to regional nations and the West (in particular the US) is, irrespective of the absence of sustained links between Islamic groups like HT, JeI and terrorist organisations, they essentially share the same ideology and anti-Western agenda. In Pakistan, the Al-Qaeda has been quite successful in co-opting various religious and sectarian groups to work for the larger "cause" of global terror. In Bangladesh such networking could be easier, making this small, impoverished country a potential sanctuary for Al Qaeda clones like HuJI.
For India, HuJI presents a clear and immediate danger. But even Indian authorities ignored the emerging evidence of HuJI's footprints. The group's activities in India were first noticed in August 1999 when four HuJI activists were detained in Guwahati -- two of them were from Pakistan, one from Kashmir and another from Muzzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. Their interrogations revealed a cache of explosives -- 34 Kg of RDX -- hidden in a Bangladesh mosque and the recruitment of young immigrant Muslims in Assam. But it was the attack on the American Centre in Kolkata on January 22, 2002 that uncovered the growing linkages of HuJI-B within India.
Investigators found HuJI-B's links with a local group called Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF) formed by illegal Bangladeshi migrants living in Assam and West Bengal with the help of HuJI-B and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists.
Another clear evidence of HuJI's strength and alliances was revealed when a suicide bomber walked into Hyderabad's Special Task Force office on October 12, 2005, and detonated a pressure-activated bomb carried in a backpack. Investigations pointed to a joint operation by cadres of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, HuJI and LeT. Two months later, Delhi Police detained three HuJI-B militants involved in the Hyderabad attack who said they were trained at ISI-run camp in Balochistan and were sent to India to target Bangalore and Hyderabad.
The series of terrorist attacks, beginning with Varanasi (March 7, 2006), besides numerous arrests of terrorists, their supporters and seizure of weapons and explosives, exposed the contours of a grand merger of various extremist and terrorist groups and organisations within India. Of the two terrorists shot down within hours of the Varanasi explosions, one was a LeT commander in Lucknow, while the second a HuJI activist from Bangladesh living in Delhi.
This alliance could not have operated across the country without extensive local support provided often by SIMI and other small, less-known outfits. The terrorist coalition utilises the support base to plan and execute terrorist operations, besides planning a safe exit. This support base in many areas like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar rely on modules set up by ISI for gathering intelligence on Indian strategic assets.
Madarsas have also been used in providing the logistics in the past and continue to do so but more covertly than in the past. The groups seek out rooms to rent out in outlying colonies or in crowded areas where they could remain anonymous; in many cases they have set up small businesses to merge into the crowd. The objective of this coalition of terror is to create political upheaval in India.
The fast emerging linkages between LeT, SIMI and HuJI (and Jamaitul Mujahideen Bangladesh) depict the contours of a pan-Islamist network in Asia, linking groups operating in Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and several south Asian countries like Indonesia.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Guwahati: The All Assam Students Union (AASU) has raised alarm once again over the infiltration of Jehadi elements through porous Indo-bangladesh border and warned that the whole country has to bear the brunt of infiltration in the form of terror strikes if it is not stopped immediately.
AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said this while addressing a press conference and added that Assam has become the safe corridor for the Jehadi elements due to the porous Indo-Bangladesh international border.
“We have been shouting for long to seal the international border and deport illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Neither the Centre nor the state governments had taken it seriously. Today the unabated influx has taken the form of terrorism, and triggering blasts across the country,” Bhattacharya said.
AASU leaders blamed all the political parties, including Congress, BJP, AGP and Left for not being serious on stopping influx of Bangladeshi nationals.
“Only for the sake of vote bank, political parties have blatantly been turning blind eye on the influx. We earnestly appeal to the political parties to give up their love for vote banks for the sake of Assam’s and indigenous people’s security. Centre became alert to the threats of Bangladeshis when terror struck near its door step. Not when we are raising the issue for such a long time,” AASU president Shankar Prasad Roy lambasted.
The student body said that the Gauhati High Court has clearly highlighted the problem of Bangladeshi migrants to Assam in its recent verdict.
A recent judgment of the High court stated that “……. large number of Bangladeshis present in the State of Assam have a major role in electing the representatives both to the Legislative Assembly and the Parliament and consequently, in the decision making process towards building the nation. They have become kingmakers.”
AASU demanded that government should set up detention camps in the state so that if someone is detected as Bangladeshi national, could not abscond.
“If influx continues days are not far when Assam will have foreign national as Chief minister,” AASU general secretary Tapan Kumar Gogoi warned.
Monday, August 4, 2008
KOLKATA: Syed Mohammad Noorur Rahman Barkati, Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid here, said on Friday that External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers and Steel Ram Vilas Paswan considered Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen’s return to India a serious threat to the country’s secularism.
“The Ministers acknowledged that the provocative text of the controversial Bangladeshi writer insulted not only Islam, but also people belonging to other religions,” the Imam claimed.
“Chances of Taslima’s coming back to India are slim as people who are secular and respect all religions will not allow it,” he said. “We will launch a massive campaign if she tries to return back by any chance.”
The Imam had previously issued a fatwa against Taslima in August 2007 to leave the country. She was forced to leave the city, where she was residing after being exiled from Bangladesh, on November 22, 2007 following widespread violence by All India Minorities Forum supporters demanding the cancellation of her visa. Taslima is now in Europe and recently expressed hope of returning to India.
Kolkata: Close on the heels of the beheading of a Hindu man for marrying a Muslim girl at a village in Murshidabad district, another man was set on fire by his in-laws on Friday at Anarpur in North 24-Parganas district for the same reason.
With severe burns, Arka Banerjee (22), a Hindu resident of Barasat's Chowdhurybagan, is now struggling for life in Barasat district hospital, superintendent of police of North 24-Parganas district Supratim Sarkar said here on Saturday.
Arka met Rehana Sultana, a Muslim during frequent trips to Baduria where his uncle stayed. Later they fell in love and got married in 2006 at a marriage registrar's office.
Apprehending opposition from his family, Arka rented a house at Haora, away from his parents, and did odd jobs to earn his living.
However, the girl's Islamist family members traced the couple to Haora after a year and brought Rehana and her one-year-old son to Anarpur, while Arka was threatened with dire consequence if he returned to Baduria.
Early on Friday, when Arka tried to enter his in-laws' house to get his wife and baby back, he was severely beaten up. Later Rehana's brother Monirul allegedly took out a tin of kerosene, poured it on him and set him on fire.
Some local people later rescued him by pouring water to douse the flames. He was then admitted to a local hospital and subsequently shifted to Barasat district hospital.
Arka's brother in-law Monirul was on Saturday arrested by the police on the basis of a statement by Arka at the hospital bed, the SP said.