Intro: The post-Burdwan blast developments, where the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has almost visualised a dreaded picture of an Islamist State in Bangladesh through its revelations, had shocked the people of eastern India in particular and the country as a whole.
The accidental blast in Burdwan of West Bengal on October 2 unfolded the inherent network of the Islamist fundamentalist outfit named Jamaat-ul-Mujahiddeen Bangladesh (JMB), which aims to establish the Sharia law in the South Asian country.
Though it is now over a decade since the JMB started its activisties in Bangladesh, the Indian Union government in New Delhi was seemingly reluctant to take the matter seriously except morally supporting the Sheikh Hasina Wajed led Awami League government in Dhaka for its anti-terror campaigns. But when the JMB, which opposes any modern form of governance, quietly entered into West Bengal and Assam, New Delhi has found it too hot to handle. Till then the JMB had recruited many Muslim youths from eastern India and also started fund-raising drives.
The ultimate aim of the JMB was to destabilise the Hasina government immediately and establish an Islamic regime in Bangladesh, comprising the bordering areas of India with Muslim concentration.
The JMB even transformed some madrasas, based in Murshidabad, Malda and Nadia districts of West Bengal into their hideouts, where new recruits were trained about the improvised explosive devices, use of small arms and practices of jihad. Similar to the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the JMB also hates democracy, liberalism, socialism and even secularism. With over 10,000 fulltime and 1, 00, 000 casual cadres, the JMB resorted to disruptive activities in Bangladesh and also started transferring a huge portion of terror funds to India through messengers taking the advantage of the porous border between India and Bangladesh. During Begum Khaleda Zia’s term as the Bangladesh Prime Minister starting on 2001, the JMB received political patronages as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led government had allies in two hardliner Islamist political parties namely Jammat-e-Islami and Islami Oikyajot. Till the end of Khaleda’s term in 2006, the JMB expanded its strong network across the country.
The JMB received international media attention with its serial blasts with low intensity bombs at over 300 locations across Bangladesh including the Dhaka city on August 17, 2005 killing two persons. The terror group claimed the responsibility for the bombings through leaflets where it was written (in Bangla), “We are the soldiers of Allah. We have taken up the arms for implementing Allah's law…It is time to go for Islamic laws in Bangladesh…. There is no future with the man-made laws….”
The Bangladesh government had already banned the JMB and its security forces arrested almost all the important leaders of the terror outfit. Many JMB activists also got killed in encounters and six top leaders namely Maulana Abdur Rahman, Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, Abdul Awal, Khaled Saifullah, Ataur Rahman Sunny and Iftekhar Hasan Al-Mamun were tried and executed in 2007.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Hasina recaptured political power after the general election held in 2008 and following the heat, the JMB started shifting their hideouts to West Bengal. But everything was almost normal as the West Bengal police were ‘clueless’ about the growing network of JMB in their State until the blast in Burdwan that killed two suspected terrorists namely Shakil Ahmed and Sovan Mandal alias Abdul Karim.
Initially reluctant to take the matter seriously, the West Bengal police was under pressure to start the investigation. Soon the NIA was authorised to probe into the Burdwan blast with the probable foreign terror links. In fact, the change of leadership in New Delhi with the nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charges as the Prime Minster had changed the ambiance. Very soon the NIA succeeded in arresting Masood Rana alias Sajid, a Bangladeshi national, who featured in the NIA list carrying a reward of Rs ten lakh. The investigative agency also arrested another wanted terrorist named Amjad Ali Sheikh, a supplier of explosives to JMB.
Recently an NIA team led by its director general Sharad Kumar visited Dhaka seeking more details about the JMB activities in that country. The Hasina government, which is understood as friendly to India, agreed to share all relevant documents relating to the JMB to the visiting NIA team for the interest of both the neighbouring countries.
Another breakthrough came for the NIA with the arrest of a Burmese terrorist on November 17 from Hyderabad. Suspected to be a Rohingya Muslim and identified as Khalid Mohammed, the Burmese national was picked up by the NIA in connection with the Burdwan blast. Khalid is said to be a bomb expert and staying in Hyderabad with forged documents. —NJ Thakuria from Guwahati