They were vendors who used to sell various products on the streets of Kolkata. But, in guise of vendors they carried out recce. They learnt about details of particular areas. Alongside, they collected fund and recruited members for their militant organisation which they belong to. Kolkata police claimed this after nabbing three militants of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) a few days ago. What police have informed? Arresting three JMB militants from the MG Road area adjacent to Haridebpur police station at about 2:00 PM, the Special Task Force (STF) of Kolkata police identified them as Naziur Rahman alias Joyram Bepari, Rabiul Islam and Mikail Khan. Incidentally, the three are inhabitants of Gopalganj district in Bangladesh. Police recovered a hand-written diary, a mobile phone set and some Jehadi documents from their possession. It has been known that these people used to assist the militants. Basically, their duty was to collect fund and members. Although it was a small incident, I like to discuss the topic in a greater perspective.
The perspective is the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan that witnessed a fresh emergence of Taliban militants recently. An effort is underway to form a government in Afghanistan. Pakistan is reportedly assisting the rise of Taliban radical forces secretly. In the past, there was a time when the Talibani administration was basically controlled by Pakistan. Even, fund was allotted for Taliban in the budget of Pakistan. The amount was also formally allotted in the budget for promoting the Taliban government. Today, after so many years, militant activities are again on the rise in the sub-continent. But, earlier, militant activities were carried out by Pakistan-supported Talibani militants, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and various Talibani militant wings. They used to enter Kolkata via Pakistan and Bangladesh through the eastern coastal belt. From Kolkata, they went to New Delhi and later scattered in different parts of India. But, presently, the militants are changing their route. This time, instead of going to Bangladesh, they enter India first.Because of increased vigilance in Bangladesh, it has now become preferable to enter through Punjab frontier. It is even more convenient through Kutch frontier of Gujarat from where they scatter to different parts of India. It is necessary to understand as to why the militants have changed their route. When Daud Ibrahim fled to Pakistan after Mumbai blast in the 90s decade, Indian intelligence became active enough to contain militancy along the western coastal belt. They laid security nets in the entire area. At that time, the ISI, the Intelligence of Pakistan, changed their strategy. Instead of infiltrating through western coast, they changed the route towards the eastern coast. They did it finding the Indian intelligence extra active along the western coast. So, they chose the eastern coast to enter India via Pakistan and Bangladesh to carry out their militant activities in Indian north-western states.
Pakistani intelligence even engaged in creating an umbrella in the Indian north-eastern states by giving financial support to ULFA and other terrorist organisations. Later, for decades together, a joint coordination of information was maintained between Indian north-eastern region, eastern India and Bangladesh. Since ascension to power as the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina never gave indulgence to militancy; rather she arrested some militants and handed them over to India. She has skilfully succeeded in differentiating Islam and militancy.
Following scraping of Article 370 in Kashmir, the Indian administration and its armed forces played an active role there. But, later, a new module of the IS was detected. The new module was found in Srinagar, Anantnag, Bandipora, Baramulla and different places where five persons have been arrested in this connection. Nine others are being interrogated. The Intelligence Bureau of NIA and the espionage organisation are working in close coordination with each other. There, Pakistani militant, Huzaifa al-Bakistani, also In-Charge of the IS’s Khorasan wing, operated a digital portal. Through him, the IS used to carry out online publicity on radicalism. As per claim of intelligence personnel, the wife of Huzaifa is a Kashmiri. She is an inhabitant of Srinagar and the daughter of Ayjaz Ahmed Ahenga. In a US drone attack in 2019, Huzaifa was killed in Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. Being a member of the IS, Ayjaz was also arrested by the espionage team recently. The digital magazine remained shut after death of Huzaifa. Again that has been brought into operation.
Jahanjeb Samiwani and his wife Hina Bashir were arrested by police from Delhi in March last year. Police have brought an allegation against them that they are members of IS’s Khorasan wing. During unrest against the citizenship bill, they carried out publicity in favour of radicalism. Once Jahanjeb and Hina used to live in Malaysia. They maintained link with the IS members of India and other parts of the globe. And, they operated the digital magazine.
The US intelligence is helping India in this regard. About Kashim Khorasani, the US intelligence stated about usage of double VPN by him. As to why, he could change his location within hours. Of late, it has been learnt that the digital magazine is being operated by Umar Butt alias Habib Umar Nisar from Achhawal of Kashmir. From this incident, it has been clear that militant activities resurfaced in an area stretching from Kashmir to South India. And, they first enter India instead of Bangladesh. From India, they go to Bangladesh where they try to explode bombs and carry out subversive activities. But, there remains a question: what is their objective of carrying out militant activities in Bangladesh.
I have time and again written about the importance of the geo-strategic location of Bangladesh. Despite various problems, Bangladesh still remains as a friend of India. Bangladesh’s economic growth is a matter of jealousy for Pakistan. Pakistani Taliban are out to crumble the economy as well as the prosperity of Bangladesh. At the moment, it is their main objective to put the small country in an awkward position by carrying out militant activities. If Bangladesh is kept under pressure then, militants believe, it will be compelled to tilt towards them. Hopefully, Sheikh Hasina and her government are aware about the conspiratorial moves. But, not only the government or the premier, the people of Bangladesh should be conscious enough in this regard. Both the people of Bangladesh and India should get united on this issue. Terrorism should be dealt with unitedly. When Bin-Laden carried out terror activities in the US, it became active. The US army activities can be noticed in Pakistan. But, when that Pakistan carries out militancy in Kashmir then the US remains indifferent. Such a dual policy is not at all acceptable. With the same mentality, India must have to treat Bangladesh. There is no place of ‘My Terrorism’ or ‘Your Terrorism.’ We all fall victims to terrorism. Mostly, the commoners get victimised. We are yet to know when we shall be able to get rid of terrorism. The civilised mankind has no alternative, but to strive.
The writer is a senior journalist based in New Delhi
Translated by Z. A. M. Khairuzzaman