Thursday, January 27, 2011


I don’t know whether Felani’s father was rich or poor, or what sort of safety net he had for his daughter. I only know that all of his earthly struggle, love, and concern were erased by a single barbarous act. I only know that now, as this far-off brother of mine walks home from his labours searching for blessings, the absence of his little girl’s hand will permanently remind him that he was not strong enough to protect his own trusting little angel from the cruel indifference of this world.

Frank Domenico Cipriani

January 25, 2011, 7:41 amRecent killings of children in both the United States and Bangladesh have moved me. When I can’t wrap my mind around what can happen in this world, the order and structure imposed by verse can help clear my mind. Therefore, I have enclosed a poem at the bottom of the write-up.

We Americans have about one image that we can keep in our head about a country at a time. The one many of us have of India is that of Gandhi, peacefully leading a march to the sea to make salt. We tend to think of India as a spiritual, non-violent land. Perhaps that’s why so many people I’ve mentioned it to here are shocked by India’s border killings of innocent Bangladeshis, especially the girl, Felani. It doesn’t fit with the image we in America have of India.

How can any nation justify such abuses of basic human rights, especially a nation that, because of its colonial history, should understand the sufferings of the oppressed? I suppose you can counter, “Well, how can the United States, alleged proponent of liberty, ever support repressive regimes?”

Granted, we are guilty of our own forms of hypocrisy. Our hands aren’t clean either. Still, we the individual citizens of any nation have the right and the duty to stand up and say something when we hear of atrocities, wherever they occur. First and foremost, I am a father and a family man. I have a 15-year-old daughter. That gives me an emotional bond with Felani’s father that I can’t dismiss silently. I must respond, and perhaps keep responding, until this senseless slaughter is just an unfortunate chapter in the history of India. A father of one child is the father of all children. The sons and daughters of Bangladesh are my sons and daughters as well.

I know India and Bangladesh are going to address these matters. India promises within the next few months to “resolve these matters”. This is a positive step forward, but it does not bring back the dead, or answer the question as to how a government steps over the line from a misplaced sense of superiority into a callous disregard for human life. No high-level talks should have to be conducted for governments to prescribe to some very basic level of human decency, especially among friends and neighbours. Those who perpetrated and ordered these acts are criminals, and those who, to this point, condoned these acts should be brought to justice. Felani was not the first innocent child to die.

The Killing of 15-year-old Felani by Indian Border Guards & hellip An American Father Responds.

Mahatma, help me make some sense
Of slaughtered children on your fence
Your nation stained, your image scarred
By Sahib Death, the Border Guard.
On the wire, mournful cries
Of parents rise into the skies
The bullets steal a nation’s youth
While politics obscure the truth.
If madness and mistrust increase
If we can slay our men of peace
Can killing children be that hard,
For Sahib Death, The Border Guard?

I hear a father’s cry of grief
Of agony beyond belief
And wonder what a monstrous thief
Could snuff a light so bright, so brief?
Our tears and rage won’t make us blind
We can’t be violent, kill in kind
For we’d grow soulless, damned and hard
As Sahib Death, the Border Guard.
Back here, we’ve suffered tragic ends
The work of madmen, not of friends.
My nation mourns the rare events
That happen daily on your fence.
At least we know each precious soul
Has eluded death’s patrol,
Has reached a land which can’t be barred
By Sahib Death, the Border Guard.
Descendants of the dead who fell
Into a distant Martyr’s well
Belay the murd’rous disregard
Of Sahib Death, your border guard!

Beloved readers, I have said it before. Bangladesh, from this “Martian” perspective, to quote aladin’s article of last week, is a nation of colour and energy. I could do a whole piece on how people use colours to decorate that which is most important to them, our street signs are colourful, our advertisements are colourful, our cars are colourful. Even our gas stations are colourful. In Bangladesh, looking at the photographs of the election queues, it seems that the people themselves are the most colourful element on the landscape. Everyone is so brightly, so lavishly dressed. What this means to me is that yours is a nation that subconsciously understands and celebrates its people above all else. When any of this colourful number, especially children, has her life brutally cut short, I feel it a world away.

This article originally stopped at the end of the poem. My editor emailed me to ask if this was really all I had to say. As I did research on this issue, read the story about that 13-year-old boy shot dead across the border during a shouting match with an Indian border guard a few years back, or this girl who was shot and left to die on the fence, at the age of 15, I had no words. My youngest daughter is 15, and my youngest son is 13. They are the elements of my life that I would dress in bright colours. Every parent worries about their children’s futures. I know, only from an American perspective what it is to burrow through the couch to find change to buy milk, or use a newspaper and some sphagnum moss as a diaper, and even how your ears burn when the nice person next to you in church gives you money because they see, as a new and struggling parent, that you need the money. And you face it all, you struggle and you fight, because you are a father and you do it for the sake of your child. Of all the ways to identify yourself: nationality, religion, race, party, or social class, above everything else, parenthood has the power to transform the way you live your life. It is a universal identifier. We, the fathers of the world, belong to a common brotherhood.

I struggled in the early years of fatherhood because my wife and I were still students, and students are universally poor. Here in American want is often just a temporary condition for the soon to be middle-class. This is a puddle that evaporates within a few years, and though my family walked the tightrope all those years ago, we were never without the safety net of my own father, if we really needed help. I never had to risk being shot by foreign soldiers, allies at that, to put bread on the table.

But I imagine a Bangladeshi father on the day his daughter dressed to go with him and arrange the particulars of a marriage with a husband in India. I imagine how a tear might have caught in the father’s throat to see his girl dressed up, grown and engaged to be married, how it would pain him to part with her, especially since he would eventually be separated from her new family and from his grandchildren, by a national border. I imagine the memories Felani’s dad would have of his little girl’s childhood, the struggles, the dreams, the prayers that all fathers have for their cherished daughters, who, no matter how old they get, we fathers permanently regard as loving, big-eyed seven year olds. I know the thought that sometimes goes through a father’s head. “In my youth, I dreamed big dreams that didn’t come true, but I have this wonderful child. If this was the trade, my dreams for in exchange for her life, I got the best of the bargain.” I know the memory of the soft hand of a ten year old girl, holding her father’s own rough, calloused hand, telegraphing through her warm fingers her absolute faith and trust in her father’s protective strength. I know the secret prayer of all fathers that God make them worthy of that trust. We see a horrible picture of a girl on a fence, but I see the father, present for her 15 years, for every stroke of the hairbrush, for every wiggly baby tooth, worrying, dreaming of a safer, happier life for his daughter.

I don’t know whether Felani’s father was rich or poor, or what sort of safety net he had for his daughter. I only know that all of his earthly struggle, love, and concern were erased by a single barbarous act. I only know that now, as this far-off brother of mine walks home from his labours searching for blessings, the absence of his little girl’s hand will permanently remind him that he was not strong enough to protect his own trusting little angel from the cruel indifference of this world.

Honestly, there are no words.

- Frank Domenico Cipriani writes a weekly column in the Riverside Signal called “You Think What You Think And I’ll Think What I Know.” He is also the founder and CEO of The Gatherer Institute &mdash a not-for-profit public charity dedicated to promoting respect for the environment and empowering individuals to become self-taught and self-sufficient. His most recent book, “Learning Little Hawk’s Way of Storytelling”, is scheduled to be released by Findhorn Press in May of 2011.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Lt Col Mohammad Ziauddin, Dhaka's first Brigade Commander and one of Bangladesh' s brightest officers, wrote a small article titled " Hidden Pride of Freedom Fighters".


 It was prominently published in the front page in the Holiday on August 20 , 1972.


 The article dealt with the demoralized state of the freedom fighters ( FFs) due to a sorry state of the nation, a nation they fought and gave blood to liberate from the Pakistani occupants.

He also challenged then government to tell the people what the 25- year secret pact with India contained, hinting that Bangladesh subjugated itself to be a kind of vassal state to its big neighbour.

It was a bombshell to the Awami League government. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was in Moscow on a medical trip, but the news reached him immediately.

Everybody waited for him to return and deal with the matter. When Sheikh Mujib returned home, Ziauddin was summoned and asked to apologise; and then everything would be forgiven and forgotten. A undaunted Ziauddin declined.

He was dismissed from service unceremoniously.

Out of frustration, Ziauddin joined Siraj Sikdar's Sarbahara Party.

Later, however, he fell out on ideological question and lived a secluded life, only to surface after August 15 , 1975. Army Chief Safiullah was in tears while taking drubbing in plentiful from Sheikh Mujib.

That was the frustration of freedom fighters in August 1972.

In the next 3 years, Bangladesh went through far more difficulties and miseries.

It saw the creation of a dreadful Rakkhi Bahini, experienced the enforcement of a rigid Emergency Rule, had to endure a one-party rule of BKSAL, succumbed to a one-man dictatorship through 4 th constitutional amendment, witnessed the loss of half a million lives in a man- made famine, a highly corrupt political and administrative machinery made Bangladesh the ' International Basket Case'.

Defection team:

Those who know Ziauddin will recall his principled mind.

A Sargoda Public School product, he was one of the few officers who defected Pakistan Army in the west and took the hazardous journey through India to reach the liberation war front in the east.

His defection team included Major M A Manzur and family (later Major General, and killed in Chittagong following the assassination of President Ziaur Rahman), Major Abu Taher (later Lt Col and hanged after the Sepoy- Janata Revolution on November 7 , 1975) and Capt Ghani Patwari (Later Col). Reportedly, Ziauddin did not accept any Indian money as salary or uniform during the war, except which was necessary for survival.

I recalled the story of Ziauddin to remind some of our FFs that they seemed to have lost their pride and orientation. Why did they have to shed so much blood to get rid of the Pakistanis in 1971?

Balance sheet:

They remember how the big neighbour came in open arms to welcome them and provide everything they needed to continue their war of independence in 1971.

That support was essential and the Mukti Bahini certainly felt grateful about it.

After the independence, when Sheikh Mujib and the Awami leadership were euphoric in praise of India, Maulana Bhashani cautioned, "It was India who should be grateful to us, not the other way around".

India should check its balance sheet what it gained in the war in 1971 and in the creation of Bangladesh.

After the surrender of Pakistanis on December 16 , 1971 , Indians were taking away all the Pakistani arms and military equipment, most of them very sophisticated and acquired from the US and China.

It appeared odd to a small time freedom fighter, a captain, somewhere in Sylhet.

He told an Indian colonel that those weapons now belonged to Bangladesh.

The colonel replied: firstly, Bangladesh didn't need any armed forces, and secondly, India would be there to help should there be any need.

The captain thought the colonel said that in jest.

He responded that Mukti Bahini was grateful to India for the suport it provided to it during the war, and that Bangladesh would not like to remain dependent on India for its defensive needs for ever.

Indian colonel did not seem to like the remarks of the young captain, and replied, "Let the politicians bother about that. I am doing my duty only" .

He continued his work of taking inventory of the Pakistani armament. Major M A Jalil, Barisal area Sector Commander, tried to stop the Indians from taking away Pakistani surrendered armaments and equipment.

He was arrested and court- marshalled by the new Bangladesh government on some flimsy charges. Jalil perhaps violated the terms of the 25- year friendship treaty with India. Some may argue that Indian subjugation is preferable because it is big, strong, powerful, economically better, technologically advanced and surrounds us from all sides, including from the sea.

Is that what our FFs thought when they fought for an independent Bangladesh? If so, then why this hide- and-seek game? Let them openly declare Bangladesh the 29 th state of India, the thing RAW has been toiling on for the past few decades.


This is not the question to a coterie of our FFs alone. This applies to our so-called intellectuals, journalists, artists, politicians and others who think that our future and salvation lies in the lap of our big neighbour.

Forget the waters of Ganges and 53 other rivers, don't bother about the ongoing construction of barrages and dams across our borders, forget Talpatti, forget Berubari, forget the oil- drilling rights, forget the artificially created CHT problem, forget the Bangabhumi issue, forget the wire fencing along the border, forget BSF killings and encroachments, forget your security, ignore all its routine interferences in our internal matters. Let the people suffer and go to hell, as long as they get the money and a VIP treatment abroad, its fine! These are our persons and the supposed sole authority and spokesmen for Bangladesh! We need to watch them and their designs.

Source :

Farakka's Vicious Aggression

Add caption

1. Farakka Barrage project looked innocent:

Farakka is a hangover project not seriously taken up earlier until by independent India since 1949 , that is immediately after Indian partition and Pakistan founded in two parts, the West in northern British India and East in East Bengal. Though the founding of the new innovative state of Pakistan was founded through popular votes of the people and in consensus agreement of the three main parties then involved active in Indian politics- the British, the Congress and the Muslim League- the powerful actors the British colonialist and the caste ridden elitist Brahmanist Congress had set their targets very much at the beginning to dismember Pakistan and eat that up at some opportune moment. The first target being East Bengal for many vulnerable reasons against East Bengal, such as, its geographical location almost encircled by big India and economic over dependence on West Bengal and bigger Indian merchants and businessmen. The set hidden target being so, India’s Farakka Barrage Project just 11 miles up from the agreed international land border across the mighty river Ganges/ Padma must have had the additional hidden agenda for hegemony and throttle East Bengal in the down stream flowing through East Bengal ( East Bengal/East Pakistan) to the Bay of Bengal. Apparently the project for control and diversion into the river Bhagirathi to flash out and keep fit for deeper draught vessel into the Haldia river port near Calcutta looked innocent and of big utility to India.

2. Pakistan kept on objecting then off:

Although Pakistan since almost the beginning in mid August 1947 had leadership crisis, India had both experienced and more efficient leadership and continuity of old colonial administration obtained almost intact, Pakistan had kept on objecting to erecting the Barrage across river Ganges in upstream for that was taken to affect adversely the water flow along the Padma in the down stream through East Bengal to the Bay of Bengal. That is why almost no substantial progress of the work was made in nearly two decades. But as soon as East Pakistan was in political turmoil in late 1960 s the project got a quick accomplishment. Whether there was any close connection between the Jalao Porao or put on arson and burn- of East Pakistan mainly engineered by Sheikh Mujib’s six point ‘ autonomy’ formula launched in mid 1966 need be looked into depth. Soon in midst of the anarchy and chaos, civil war in 1971 , secession and independence of East Pakistan naturally left Bangladesh on its own in all matters and so the Farakka matter, as well.

3. Advantage taken by India and Delhi:

The friendly governments of Delhi and Calcutta took the best advantage of the period of turmoil of Bangladesh and completed the Farakka Barrage construction left only to just begin its operation. Even so, they could not do so unilaterally because the Ganges/Padma happened to be not only India’s river but also of sovereign Bangladesh’s that made it a serious matter for water sharing subject to rules, regulations and norms of international river waters under several statutes. However, India took another advantage of close friendship with Dhaka to get the barrage operation for diverting and withdrawal of water at the upstream. They had little difficulty in making Dhaka agree to their programs that they did in May 1975. Even so, the operation was meant for ‘40 experimental days’ and to get things viewed for adverse effects in the down stream. Unfortunately the top leader’s fall from power in mid August 1975 that kept things ahead not only in uncertainly but also hardening of Delhi’s attitude to Dhaka on all matters.4. Prelude to 1977 water treaty:

Bangladesh was no match in anything with bigger India. The changes of government in Dhaka through army coup and counter coup one after another, the national army being in the driving position and General Zia to the top, was unpalatable to India that made things very difficult for Dhaka to move ahead. But the people were united and so were the people for the due share of water down the Farakka Barrage. On 16 May 1976 the oldest and the most experienced politician and mass leader Maolana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani organized and led a road march of hundreds of thousands of people towards the Indian border nearest to the Farakka point. Obviously the procession was stopped at the border by Indian security forces. He addressed the rally there and asked India to give our share of water or face serious other consequences. The threat on behalf of the huge mass of people gathered there produced some result that made the 1977 water sharing agreement for five years possible with minimum guarantee clause of 34 ,500 cusecs of water to be released at the Farakka point for Bangladesh’s needs.

5. President Zia killed in May 1981:

Once President General Zia was killed, many alleged the killing by Indian Intelligence R&AW operatives and under Indian PM Indira Gandhi’s direct planning and order, the water sharing for three years set had passed. The renewal of the agreement was not made. Bangladesh suffered for loss of everything of life and economy due to lower quantum of flow. There was nothing except a MOU made in 1982 , India arrogantly refused to make any agreement to enjoy scope to withdraw water unilaterally at will until the 1996 treaty that in fact unfortunately flouted rules and norms of international water sharing bodies like Helsinki Rules or treaty conditions that existed for other river waters elsewhere like the Nile, Danube, Indus Water between India and Pakistan, etc.

6. Hasina made an agreement in December 1996 for 30 years with no guarantee clause:

Shaikh Hasina on assuming the position of PM in 1996 for the first time through indecent and immoral league with the Jamaat and the Jatiya Party leader imprisoned Ershad for high degree corruption, made a high sounding agreement for 30 years. The additional suicidal clue was ‘ dependent on availability of water’ at the Farakka point, being other mass withdrawn at points still up in the stream caring nothing much less taking consent of Bangladesh. It sounded high but having no clause for minimum guarantee for the down stream flow during the leanest season (April-May) it remained suicidal for Bangladesh for all encompassing adverse effects due to non availability of water for basic sustenance of lives, economy and environment. For thirteen years India has been even more aggressive not only in matters of Farakka but also in matters of Teesta, its seven tributaries, and now newly started Tipaimukh Barrage in the upstream of Surma and Kusiara that flow down to the Meghna another big river of Bangladesh. This is certain to have ill fate of Farrakka’s adverse effects on one fourth of the country in the south west region just as one third of Bangladesh in the south east of Bangladesh due to the Tipaimukh Multi- purpose Barrage. Hasina says as also her own men in top administration that the Tipaimukh would be so done and operated that it would do no ‘ harm’ to Bangladesh That was what the assurance she has got from Indian PM Monmohon Singh, but unfortunately nothing in written much less in document of treaty. Pity for Hasina for the harsh reality is that they cared little for written documents possibly for their bigness and bigger muscle power, how could Delhi be trusted for verbal sweet words!

7. Questions to ponder and to rise:

On the Farakka March’s 34 th anniversary this year on the 16 th May some pertinent questions have been raised by some quarters. The points are- (1) whether Bangladesh must raise the issue at the United Nations for arbitration for the quantum of water; (2) whether Bangladesh must seek for compensation to India for the huge loss incurred during the lat 35 years of the barrage operation at the upstream against lives, economy and environment; (3) whether Bangladesh must make enumeration of losses incurred in terms of money ( I made a calculation of loss in 2008 March that came to a figure of 49 lakhs crores, in May 2010 it might rise further 3 lakhs crores making the total as of now at 52 lakhs crore Taka that comes to US$ 7 , 400 billion at the current exchange rate) and seek the amount for the compensation from India; (4) whether comprehensive plans for joint development of river water sources in the Himalayan region for augmenting water flows through construction of dams in the upper region and for water management sharing with other neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India be pursued for the total river basin as a unit in a cooperative approach, (5) whether, in case all the above four options unrealized satisfactorily, Bangladesh must opt for military option, the brief and the most likely would be bombing by our Air Force at the Farakka installations proper and so ensure natural flow of water in the downstream to Bangladesh.

8. Strength of the spine:

Bangladesh has no strong spine to take up the 5 th option against mighty India. But a sniper action should not be ruled out. The Padua/Roumary battle in 2001 had been a good lesson for India. One would point out though that since the 25-26 February massacre of the 57 commissioned army officers in matter of hours in the capital city Dhaka in the well secured BDR HQ must have taught the army that how much deeply helpless they could be in face of India sponsored massacres meekly eaten up here for weaker spine and personal lust for power hungriness and as such any probable air attack on the Farakka Barrage installations could be countered with mightier attacks. The further issue that caused worry is that they have gained additional moral strength by dismissing at some one’s will many other senior army officers in addition to those faced the judicial murder of five in late January 2010 due only to vengeance and hardly for upholding rule of law that have had additionally chilled the spines of Bangladesh army. Otherwise India would have had chilled her spines, I can confidently guess. 9. Pakistan’s instance:

India played havoc with Pakistan in the initial years and soon after the Kashmir war in October 1947 in that India had stopped all canals in the upstream in order for Pakistan to get lost in the lifeline for agriculture through irrigation in the Pakistan part of the Punjab that developed long before the British period, loss of drinking water supply and huge damage to environment. But Pakistan’s spine though relatively weaker then even so India got to the table and made 10 years treaty permitting Pakistan exclusive rights of full three rivers’ waters- Sind, Jehlum and Chenab, and India secured similar rights of another three – Ravi, Beas and Sutlej for her. On expiry of the ten year period the treaty was renewed forever that runs till today. The World Bank though made the mediation Pakistan’s spine was an important factor to force India to sit down across the negotiating table and their leaders Ayub and Nehru in September 1960 did the formal signing. Again Pakistan had the Army General with stronger spine in leadership and Nehru the founding leader of independent India and top boss of the Congress party. We experienced President General Zia had a stronger spine that made the 1977 treaty with guarantee clause for minimum flow during lean season for five months (January to May) at 34 ,500 cusecs.

10. 1996 treaty clauses flouted consistently by India:

The treaty made by Dhaka in 1996 with weaker spine facing Delhi’s stronger one and cunning sweet words obviously fell flat and Bangladesh has not in the last 13 years got the due share agreed then unfairly though agreed for Bangladesh in the agreement. It is very much clear that unless the spine is made stronger there is in store all sufferings, misfortune and misery continuing for 35 years of water aggression now against Bangladesh not only for the Indian Farakka Barrage but also for the Teesta’s Gazaldoba, Tipaimukh Dam etc, that is, in all 53 common rivers unfortunately Bangladesh geographically positioned in the down stream of the Indian location being in the upstream that must bring along in future many other for the country due mainly to spineless rulers running the country. May I say at the end that unless one is deeply aware of the aggressive and hegemonic attitude of the Indian rulers against the smaller countries in the region one must fail to understand the common river waters downstream flows and sharing in its proper perspective.

A Book Review - BDR Massacre: Target Bangladesh

BDR Massacre: Target Bangladesh by M. Z. Abedin, 184 pages, Hard Bound, Published by Eastern Publishers, London, Price Tk 350 , US$ 10 /-, July 2009 : A Review:

The book BDR Massacre: Target Bangladesh by journalist Mohammad Zainal Abedin is all about the massacre of the unprecedented and horrendous in history of the killings of Bangladesh Army senior officers, nearly five dozens, on the 25- 26 February 2009 perpetrated in ‘mutiny’ by the worst brutes from among the BDR Jawans (foot soldiers). Possibly this is the first of such book that covered the mayhem in some available detail. The author has introduced himself as the former student leader and a 1971 freedom fighter of the genre of the present ruling party, Bangladesh Awami League (BAL), but claimed to have left the party for every kind of evils and corruptions he had experienced in the body, then took to teaching and journalism. He had some other books; the noted one was on the Indian Intelligence Service, R&AW that won him a prize of honor in 2007 of the LISA (London Institute of South Asia) . For some time he edited and published a Bengali weekly EKALER KATHA until he left for the USA for residence there along with his family in 2007. The book under review here consists of four main chapters, a few photographs of the Army officers killed, a foreword and author’s own explanation. The book is dedicated to the memory of the Bangladesh Army officers killed in the BDR Headquarters on the 25-26 February 2009 that rightly gives his feelings about the unfortunate dozens. The foreword by Professor Mahbub Ullah has warned rightly the readers of some ‘pitfalls’ in the work. Even so, he has encouraged all to read it through.
Cunning Big Brother:

The title of the book has indicated what the author in the book had in his view in pointing out to the machination of the well-known BIG BROTHER (India) of Bangladesh in the mayhem. He had some circumstantial evidences but not all to substantiate his thesis, possibly because, the cunning CHANAKYAN had been so crafty all along in the past history that many had been outwitted and so are still now. The motive for help of ‘ paratroopers’ offer of Delhi to the PM Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh just at the onset of the mayhem on the 25 th February curiously has not been explored in necessary detail.

Vulnerable Bangladesh:

The harsh reality is that Bangladesh has its own geographical vulnerability virtually encircled almost on all sides by the mighty regional power having nearly 4 ,200 km common border. Being thus advantageously situated, why should India care for any military threat from Bangladesh? Why should the Bangladesh Army be of any worth cognition so far as military engagement is concerned? The Baraibari or Padua fight of early 2000 between the border guards of the two countries, BDR and BSF, could have been nothing of show of military strength or any of major engagement between the two sides. There is no comparison of the armed strength and arsenals of the two sides, much less the existence of any nuclear one that Bangladesh does not have but India has many. All these questions and underlying points would certainly and clearly state that India had no good reason for the mayhem whatsoever against the Bangladesh Army or the BDR.

India Gains Most:

There are other issues, as well. India need not invade Bangladesh for she has been having since after 1971 all advantages that she wished to accrue. India dominates Bangladesh in politics, culture and above all in economy. The latest official figure in balance of trade in favor of India runs in nearly 3 billion US$. The unofficial figures, run still higher that occur as regular feature through all sorts of illegal trades like smuggling along the porous borders, land, river and sea waters not only for normal goods but also of illegal sale of items like arms, illegal drugs etc. The vulnerable economy of Bangladesh continues to face threats from much bigger Indian economy since the last four decades now that India continues to accrue benefits from, no matter if the BDR and the Army is more efficient or not. Unfortunately, these points have not been addressed in the book that made it one - sided view of things in drawing his conclusion in somewhat tunnel vision way.

Hasina and Moin:

The other amazing point was that the two days killings and massacres went on almost uninterrupted not only in full knowledge of the PM of Bangladesh and her Army Chief but also of their curious inaction and a sort of playing with lives of nearly five dozen senior and brilliant army officers. How come that Mr. Abedin did not throw enough light on this very vital and crucial point? What the writer would say if anyone would doubt his siding with these two persons, in particular, in his putting all blames on India?

Hide and Seek:

The hide and seek game the government has, in fact, been playing as were clear from the partial report made public and not the whole of it and still claiming ‘success’ in handling the mayhem should substantiate the point that the writer might have put his effort to isolate the two figures as mentioned here giving all blames on India that can not be beyond skepticism. No sensible person in the know of political dynamics can be oblivious of the fact that Hasina in particular in her heart of heart has a burning desire to punish any army men whenever she would have any scope to do so, particularly after the th August victorious army coup of 1975.

Politics for Reprisal:

One may recall here, a verbatim quote of Hasina made public by London based Octogenarian BBC Bengali Service journalist Mr. Serajur Rahman, ‘AMI RAJNITI GHRINA KORI KINTU PITRIHOTYAR PROTISHODHER JONYO RAJNITIIE ESHECHI’ (I hate politics but just only to take revenge of my father’s killing I have taken on to politics)’. That she is after the blood of the th August 1975 heroes is no secret that she wish deeply to finish this time as all evidences are clear to any body keeping track of facts surfacing. Soon after she took the Chair of the PM in 2009 she has already cleaned off the general administration, law enforcing agencies, education, etc from all her ‘undesirable’ lots and replaced with the party men and women. She has then on put her ugly hand on the army, as well. Many brilliant senior officers have already been sacked and removed at her free will for she is the Defense Minister, as well. Should not the skeptics doubt that she enjoyed playing with the valuable lives of the five dozens army officers in the mayhem for her sadist pleasure?

Not Army but Militia:

Hasina’s father under direct tutelage of the Indian R&AW raised the Rakkhi Bahini somewhat in fashion of Militia he had in the 6 Point autonomy formula aiming then in independent Bangladesh ultimately replace and drop the country that twice warned her few years ago of misdemeanor. Justice Shabuddin after leaving the position of the President of the country in late 2001 had a statement published in the daily Independent on the th January 2002 may speak well about her mentality of vengeance and of a clear psychopathic case. In making response to her calling Shahabuddin a ‘ betrayer’ he retorted, “ Did I give any undertaking that the victory of the Awami League would be ensured in the election (2001) ’?

Rentu and Hasina:

Even though some of the facts about Hasina’ s abnormal behavior as mentioned in the Rentu’s autography AMAR FANSHI CHAI may be questioned, but the fact has been proved beyond doubt from many other sources that she is really a psychic case, and so possibly had her sadist pleasure in the BDR massacre. I would feel that by leaving Hasina off from the actors of the BDR massacre by the author, he lacked in his perceptional dimension that need be corrected.

Supplementary and Complementary:

So far as India’s likely involvement in the mayhem was concerned, it was supplementary and complementary to Hasina’s perception of gains and sadist lust for revenge. India has a game plan in Bangladesh that according to Indian retired Bengali General Shankar Roy Chowdhury is part of the GREAT GAME in the region that Hasina is well placed in Dhaka to play very effectively for Delhi, when and how is a different matter. But one may look back and ponder coolly that for what Hasina had been motivated, trained and fully groomed for during her full protection she had been under the powerful Central Indian Intelligence Agency, the R&AW, and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India for long six years during August 1975- May 1981. May be the writer would in future bring out a revised edition of the book giving attention to the ‘ pitfalls’ sooner than latter for the issue he has taken on to address is really a very important one for the safety, security and sovereignty of Bangladesh that his commitment to patriotism, I would suppose, would very much demand.

BY :  Dr.M.T. Hussain.

Mujib Agreed To Release All POWs To Save Bhutto

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in his conversation with Henry Kissinger said that he had agreed to the release of all prisoners of war (POWs) because he wanted to save Bhutto from military intervention in Pakistan. "I have done it intentionally. If I had not done this the military would again have come to power in Pakistan," Sheikh Mujib added. The then Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said this to the then US Secretary of State Dr Henry Kissinger during his visit to Bangladesh on October 30 , 1974 at 5.30 pm at Prime Minister's Secretariat in Dhaka. The content of the discussion remained a classified document at the State Department until October 11 , 2007. The document was released for public on February 14 , 2009. The discussion between Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Henry Kissinger clearly explained under what consideration Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had to release the POWs. Henry Kissinger visited Bangladesh on his way to visit India prior to the visit of the then President Ford of the USA to India. Kissinger was in Bangladesh to study the possibility of President Ford's visit to Bangladesh as it is evidenced from the document. During the discussion the then Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr Kamal Hossain, Foreign Secretary Fakhruddin Ahmed, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Ruhul Quddus, Economic Secretary to Prime Minister Dr M Abdus Sattar, another officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abdul Bari represented Bangladesh side. On the American side Ambassador Boster, Assistant Secretary of State Atherton, Robert Oklay of NSC, Ambassador Robert Anderson and Deputy Assistant Secretary Laingen represented the United States. Henry Kissinger appreciated Sheikh Mujib for his farsightedness. Sheikh Mujib said to Kissinger that Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto during his visit to Bangladesh did not agree to share the wealth, and even did not say anything about the repatriation of the Biharis. Bhutto only agreed to set up diplomatic relations without giving anything. During the discussion Mujib repeatedly requested for help and painted a gloomy picture about the famine situation in Bangladesh. Mujib said, "I have set up 5303 food kitchens and we feed 100 , 000 people everyday." Sheikh Mujib also sought Kissinger's help to set up diplomatic relations with China at that time. With an oblique reference to India he also pointed to Kissinger not to discuss with them about Bangladesh. " When you deal with Bangladesh you are dealing with us and not with someone else," Mujib said. The spirit of the discussion can only be understood if any one goes through the document. The text of the discussion between Prime Minister ?ujib and the Secretary of State Henry Kissinger of the US is as follows. Prime Minister ? uji? (Mujib): I am grateful to you for finding the time to come here. THE SECRETARY ( Kissinger): You were kind enough to invite me. Mujib: I am glad you could see the love and affection of my people. It is sometimes very difficult to understand our position. Mujib: Once I can associate the issues and personalities of a country by visiting the place, it tells me a great deal that will be helpful to me in the future. It is particularly so when I am received as warmly as I was here. Mujib: We can't give you too much comfort in physical arrangements here. Kissinger: You have been very helpful and the guest house is extremely comfortable and pleasant. We reviewed with your Foreign Minister this afternoon a wide variety of problems. I would be happy to talk about whatever issues interest you most. We reviewed international events and I indicated in what areas we want to be helpful. The progress and development of Bangladesh are matters we have very much in mind. Mujib: You know our stand on these things. Who doesn't know you? As far as I am concerned, I can perhaps discuss Sub-continental matters. Kissinger: That would be very interesting for me. Mujib: I don't like to go into a great deal of background. If you review the history of our pre- independence period, however, you will find that ( the then) East Pakistan earned as much as 75 per cent of Pakistan's foreign exchange. I was a member of the National Constituent Assembly in 1956. You know that background.

Kissinger: What was the population then?

Mujib: In 1947 the population of this area was about 40 million. Again, I don't really like to go into the background of our troubles. But it should be remembered that it was the soil of Bangladesh that suffered in 1971 and not that of Pakistan. I showed Bhutto, when he was here this summer, some of the evidence of this.

Gen. Farman Ali's order I showed him, for example, the order issued by General Farman Ali that " the green land of Bangladesh must be painted red". That was an instruction to his forces. I have that and showed it to Bhutto. We thought the Pakistanis would be generous. But I must be frank with you. Pakistan seeks only diplomatic relations with us. Nothing else. We did our part. We released all the POWs. But then when we want to discuss a division of assets they say nothing. We did not ask for a concrete assurance of assets but we ask that they give us some idea of what could be done. But when Bhutto came, he didn't agree to anything. He only spoke of diplomatic relations. I have got 75 million people who have nothing. I have nothing from the Pakistanis; they have the planes, the ships, the reserves. Kissinger: I talked to Aziz Ahmed following our last meeting in New York. ?? referred to your unwillingness to consider the problem of shared liabilities. Mujib: But I have already assumed responsibility for the liabilities! W? made an agreement on this with the creditors. But why can't I get some assurance on assets?

Bihari issue:

And then there is the question of the Biharis. These people opted for Pakistan! Now they (Pakistan) refuse to accept them. There are problems in doing this in Karachi, I know. But there should be no problem to absorb them in the Punjab. I have no land; only 75 million people. How long will it be before other countries do something to help us on this? Kissinger: Are they in camps now? Mujib: That is almost the case. We have to give them rations. Those who have opted for Bangladesh can stay here. I have given them jobs. Kissinger: Are you proposing to permit the Biharis to stay if they want? Mujib: Yes, 400 , 000 of them. But another 300 ,000 opted for Pakistan. That is my point. I have no hatred in my heart. I have no quarrel with anyone. I want peace with all countries. I cannot ask that other countries go on helping us indefinitely. I have set up 5 , 303 food kitchens and we feed 100 , 000 people every day. Our problems are very difficult and the floods this year made things worse. Kissinger: This is obviously a very important reality that you are describing. We talked this afternoon about possibilities in the area of international flood control measures. Did you want me to speak to Bhutto about some of these things? Mujib: You are welcome to do so. But one should not only talk; one should assist! They should know that people are dying here; they have land and can be helpful. As for flood control, that is important. We have been suffering for a long time. For the big rivers we have the Joint River Commission with India. Kissinger: What causes the floods the rivers or the sea? Foreign Minister [ Kamal] Hossain: There are two aspects of the problem. This year it was the rivers. But in 1970 , it was a tidal bore from the sea. Mujib: If we could only control the rivers, it would be helpful through embankments and small projects. In five years, if we can mobilise our resources, we can cope with the food problem. Of course we need also to deal with population planning. Kissinger: Are you reclaiming land from the Bay of Bengal?

Mujib: Yes, a total of 200 square miles in one area will be available next year. Kissinger: Will you settle people there for cultivation? Mujib: Yes, we must do it. I thank you very much for the 150 ,000 tons of food grains and the 100 ,000 additional tons you are providing now. Kissinger: It is essential in the present situation. Mujib: We need one or two years more of food support. I need massive assistance to make my country self- sufficient. We need help in raw materials for our industries. We need better prices for our jute. Kissinger: You seem to get hit from all sides. Mujib: We have a fertiliser factory now being built with Japanese support. We have experts coming from Japan and the UK to assist in our fertiliser plants and especially to look into the plant which recently suffered an explosion. We don't blame anyone for this. ?e?t?inl? not the Japanese who are our good friends. The UK experts will also help us. Until they have done this the facts are difficult to come by as to this explosion. We can be self-sufficient in urea production. We are also getting some additional fertiliser factory help from India. Ambassador Boster: The US is also helping in this area, with a $30 million loan for the Ashugan Fertiliser Factory. Kissinger: That is the real way to deal with the food production problem. We and others can help, but the real effort must be made by your country. Mujib: We are not sitting idle. We are producing food from our own land. We have a compulsory procurement effort underway to get reserves. Kissinger: Are you trying to build up your stocks? Mujib: We need to build a buffer for emergencies.

Foreign Minister Kamal Hossain: It is essentially an anti- hoarding measure. Kissinger: I told the Foreign Minister earlier that I am giving a major speech next week at the World Food Conference in which I will describe our overall approach to the food problem. Thereafter we will try to better organize ourselves within our own government. What we need to do is not simply provide help in food but also, and perhaps more important, assist with technology and fertiliser so that other countries can grow more food. Ambassador Boster will be following up with you on this after my speech.

For China's recognition:

Mujib: Unfortunately we are not getting any assistance or recognition from the Chinese. Kissinger: I have the impression, however, that this will come along. Mujib: We are waiting and ready for relations. Kissinger: They may prefer to wait until Pakistan has established relations with you. Mujib: That might be. They are a big power and it is up to them. Unfortunately many of my people are dying every day. In part because Pakistan has taken everything from me. We have no problem with good Pakistan-US relations. You can be a friend with everyone. China too can do what it wishes. Kissinger: May I repeat your views to the Chinese regarding your desire for better relations? Mujib: Of course. I know Chou en-Lai. He came to Dacca at one time and I went there as the head of a delegation from Pakistan in 1957. I was there in 1952 also. He came here in 1956. That was a turning point in our relations with China at that time. Kissinger: That was an astonishing turn of events. I never thought at that time that Pakistan and China would become so close. Mujib: Chou en- Lai got a very good reception when he visited Pakistan the first time. Kissinger: I told your Foreign Minister earlier that I thought the Chinese could establish a very good relationship here. President Ford very much appreciated meeting you in Washington. You bamboozled him! Mujib: I liked him very much. He was very frank. Kissinger: He gave instructions thereafter to us to see what we could do further to help on food for Bangladesh. Mujib: Please give him my warm regards. He would be welcome to come to Bangladesh. He can come here when he goes to India.

Reference to India:

Kissinger: Yes. When he comes to India he could come here too. However, we don't think we need the permission of India in any way in our dealings with Bangladesh. Mujib: That is right. When you deal with Bangladesh you are dealing with us and not with someone else. I'd like you to see the food camps we have set up. My people are dying from hunger. The cattle are dying. I have to feed my people and I must give them jobs. This comes on top of our rehabilitation effort. We face very serious problems. Kissinger: Our problem is that we no longer have food surpluses. Five years ago we did and were in a position to make long-term projections. Now we need to wait until each year's crop is in before we attempt any projections. Mujib: I know you have great difficulty in this respect. Kissinger: But Bangladesh has very high priority with us.

No help from Pakistan:

Mujib: Pakistan gives us no help. They are not prepared to give us any ships or to share their reserves. Nonetheless, we have tried to make do on our own. Kissinger: Obviously you have made progress in improving your position. Mujib: We have done something in three years. We have restored communications, repaired roads, restored bridges and resumed cultivation. We've done something! Kissinger: I know. And world inflation trends make things very difficult for you. Mujib: Will you have some tea? Bananas? Kissinger: I am trying to reduce. Mujib: The Pakistanis also destroyed my banana trees. Kissinger: Has your climate changed in any way? Mujib: I don't know but we faced serious problems in the flood this summer. Seventeen districts were underwater. I have very fertile land and can produce wheat and rice. And we are already self- sufficient in sugar this year. Kissinger: We have problems in our own Congress on aid matters. We have Congressional elections next Tuesday. Of course, we don't predict that the Administration will win a majority of the kind you did in 1970 ! Mujib: Don't get that many seats! You see what happened when I ( did). The Pakistanis came and destroyed my country and they arrested me. ?? five- year old understood it perfectly; she said to me later, " Don't ever stand for elections again!" My country suffered a tidal bore, civil war, cyclones, and full-scale war. That' s what I get for my election results! Kissinger: I assume that does not mean you intend to avoid elections for a while! ?? own desire and that of President Ford is that we should do the maximum to help Bangladesh. On food, we can certainly do some more in the second half of fiscal 1975.

Mujib: Please don't forget other things like flood control so that we can grow more food. Population growth is difficult for us. Kissinger: That is happening everywhere. Mujib: But your people are educated. We have no variety of life. We have developed an overall health plan. And this will help. I expect to go to Egypt on fifth of this month for four days. Kissinger: I may be there about the same time. I am trying to find out what went on at Rabat. Mujib: You are doing your best. Kissinger: I like Sadat. Do you? Mujib: Very much. Kissinger: Do you like Assad? Mujib: I like him too. He is a dramatic person. Kissinger: It's not that Bangladesh's leaders are without colour! Mujib: We have had a long struggle and gone through catastrophic times. Twice the Pakistanis tried to kill me but I came out alive. Your government helped. Kissinger: We did apply pressure although we didn't know exactly where they were keeping you. We made many representations.

93 ,000 Pakistani soldiers:

Mujib: If I had been killed, the 93 , 000 Pakistani soldiers in Bangladesh at that time would have been in serious trouble immediately. But I have forgotten all of this. I want peace in the subcontinent; just as you acted after your war in Germany. We want Pakistan to cooperate. Kissinger: So the major issues are the assets and repatriation questions? Mujib: Nothing else. It's up to Pakistan. I have nothing in hand. Bhutto knows what the Pakistanis did to us. I showed him evidence that General Farman Ali tried to "paint the green of Bangladesh red", a quotation which we found as an order by Farman Ali to his forces. Kissinger: What did Bhutto say?

Mujib: He was astonished and showed it to all his friends sitting here in this room. Kissinger: Aziz Ahmed told me in New York he wanted you to assume responsibility for liabilities, too; not only to consider the assets issue. Mujib: But I have done that, for all visible projects in Bangladesh. Everything else is in Pakistan. Kissinger: Was it a deliberate Pakistani policy to keep the East Wing backward? Mujib: Yes. We were colonised for 25 years! That was on top of 200 years in the ?ritish period. Ayub's offer to Mujib at RTC Kissinger: When did you decide you wanted independence? Not at first, I think. You could have been Prime Minister of Pakistan! Mujib: Of course. Ayub offered this to me at the time of his Round Table Conference (RTC). I was for a long time a leading political figure in Pakistan. Kissinger: Can Pakistan overcome its current political problems? Mujib: Force won' t do. The army is from the Punjab. They can't keep the Baluchis down. But Bhutto is a politician and he will try to deal with it in that way. I hope he will do it. I have agreed to the release of all the POWs because I wanted to help Bhutto. I have done it intentionally. If I had not done this the military would again have come to power in Pakistan. Kissinger: That was farsighted of you. Mujib: A leader should lead his people and not let the people lead him. With help I have resources in my country to build a strong economy. I have gas, limestone deposits, and we are working to control the floods. We have signed contracts with American companies to search for oil in the Bay of Bengal. Kissinger: If you find oil, you can join OPEC! Mujib: I have natural gas to sell now. We can use this to make fertilizer and develop other resources. It is not that we do not have resources. We have them. We could produce three times the food we do now. Kissinger: But population control is obviously also very important. Mujib: I have to educate my people for this. We are still recovering from the wounds of the war. Let me repeat how glad I am that you have come to Bangladesh. When the President comes we hope you will come with him. We will make a treat for him; we can show him Bengal tigers! I have always wanted friendship with the US. I said that as soon as I came out of prison in Pakistan. Kissinger: You have show great generosity of spirit.

Malice towards none:

Mujib: That reflects our overall policy of friendship to all and malice towards none. Prime Minister and Secretary at this point went to a separate room and met briefly with the press.

India Backed Shanti Bahini, Burmese Rebels: Book

Indira Gandhi was voted out of power in 1977, just when India's external intelligence organisation, R&AW, was preparing to substantially step up its backing for the Shanti Bahini, says Subir Bhaumik in his just-released book "Troubled Periphery:Crisis of India's Northeast".

Bhaumik, a journalist and academic researcher for three decades, has provided graphic details of the R&AW's involvement in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and Burma's Kachin Hills in his latest book. But he makes it clear the "orders came right from the top" and were not operations generated by the agency.

"The immediate provocation for the Indian sponsorship of the Shanti Bahini guerrillas .. was the military coup that killed Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and many members of his family. To Indira gandhi, this coup was a political defiance of India .

"Within a week of the coup, senior R&AW leaders arrived in Tripura's capital Agartala with a clear brief for their subordinates: Get
those Chakma leaders who want to fight Bangladesh."

Bhaumik's findings is based on detailed interviews of Shanti Bahini guerrilla commanders and R&AW officials and the book is replete with such references.

One Shanti Bahini leader tells Bhaumik about the quality of Indian training.

"The Indian training was intensive and tough as the instructors had served with military units in Nagaland and Mizoram. The leadership element of the course was gruelling and involved war games and dummy attacks.

"The instructors would observe how we went about the attack and whether we had absorbed the theoretical lessons. They would severely admonish us if we were found lacking. They always reminded us of the maxim that you bleed less in war if you train well in peace."

Indira Gandhi's election defeat in 1977 saved Bangladesh, then grappling with mutinies and domestic unrest, from huge trouble, suggests Bhaumik.

"Just when the Shanti Bahini were told to prepare for the big push forward and that India would support a strength of 15000 guerrillas came the news of Mrs Gandhi's election debacle and the Congress defeat...

"It is not clear how far Mrs Gandhi wanted to go and it is possible that, after the liberation of Bangladesh, she could see the value of a successful foreign campaign could boost her dropping popularity back home.

"But her defeat changed the course of events . The R&AW plans to intensify the guerrilla war in Chittagong Hill
Tracts were put on hold when Morarji Desai took over as Prime Minister. The R&AW topbrass were categorically told to lay off from CHT."

Bhaumik's book says the support to Shanti Bahini was resumed when Mrs Gandhi came back to power--but by then, the Bahini was in the throes of a fratricidal war that led to the assasination of its chief M N Larma.

It says that R&AW's Agartala station chief at that time, Parimal Ghosh even resolved this fratricidal conflict by drafting an agreement between the two Shanti Bahini factions.

Ghosh in 1971 was close to General (then Major) Ziaur Rahman and operated under his pseudonym Captain Hossain Ali.

As a BSF officer, he fought at the Shuvapur bridge with the Mukti Fauj.

Bhaumik also details how the R&AW won over the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and started giving them weapons -- just to ensure they would not back any Northeast Indian rebel groups anymore.

The man instrumental in this operation was one of the most successful R&AW operatives , B.B.Nandi, who had also served as their station chief in Dhaka.

During Nandi's tenure as station chief at Bangkok, he developed close links with the Burmese underground groups, specially the Kachins.

Bhaumik says that Nandi even planted a R&AW communications team at the KIA headquarters in the early 1990s, from where they monitored the China-bound movements of the northeast Indian rebels .

After retirement, Nandi became a fierce critic of the R&AW and the Indian government when Delhi started befriending Burma's military junta and the BNP-Jamaat combine in Dhaka.

Bhaumik's book , published by Sage, details the major issues of conflict in northeast India -- land,language, leadership, ethnicity, ideology , religion -- and offers a policy framework for resolving the crisis.

It says the region suffers from severe "democracy and development deficit" and argues that a secular and democratic Bangladesh and a truly federal and democratic Burma is crucial to the stability of India's Northeast. 

Ulfa Arrests : Whither Sovereignty???

With the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) already in place ensuring people's access to information from public authorities as a right guaranteeing transparency and comprehensibility, the incumbent government agencies and operatives including some ministers seem to obscure and obfuscate vital matters concerning national sovereignty in contravention of the RTI Act's affirmed legal provisions.

When info or disclosure is held back, it spawns wild conjectures leading to labyrinthine enigma of confusion --- much to the nation's chagrin, and even peril. Contravening the RTI Act the government's smokescreen over the issue of the recent arrests and handing over of the clandestine terror outfit members of the 'seven sisters' states of India is being viewed as a great faux pas.

Recently the Indian media have credited the Bangladesh law enforcing agencies regarding the arrest of no less than three major leaders of the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom ( ULFA), including its chief Arabinda Rajkhowa, since November 1.

The Detective Branch ( DB) of Bangladesh police arrested Arabinda in the capital on December 1.

The DB also arrested the chairman of the National Liberation Front of Tripura, Biswamohan Debbarma, along the border at Kamalganj, some 160 km northeast of Dhaka.

These four persons were handed over to the Indian authorities, according to the Indian media report. Reportedly, some high officials of the Bangladesh law enforcement agency in question have confirmed the arrests and subsequent handover, but the government has swung between silence and total denial, which engendered hearsay and speculation, thus making people concerned as well as disturbed.

What is more, there is no extradition treaty between the two countries. Extradition denotes delivery of a person, suspected or convicted of a crime, by the state where he has taken refuge to the state that asserts jurisdiction over him. Its purpose is to prevent criminals who flee a country from escaping punishment.

However, international law does not recognise extradition as an obligation in the absence of a treaty. Whilst the Indian media broke the news of the arrests of the ULFA leaders in Bangladesh and subsequent handover to the Indian authority, Dhaka remained tight-lipped over the subject. The foreign minister evaded reporters' question relating to Rajkhowa's arrest. As expected, the government's secretiveness at that time caused doubt as to whether it was involved in covert operations.

Afterwards the home minister, Sahara Khatun, stated that the ULFA chief "was not arrested in Bangladesh" and the news given in the Indian media report was incorrect.

Khatun's statements intend to imply that the Bangladesh law enforcement authorities have not made the arrests. Now, will it not be cogent for the body politic to deduce that the Indian law enforcement agencies were involved in their arrest on Bangladesh soil? Undeniably, it is tantamount to impingement on the country's sovereignty.

What is more, if the Indian media reports of the arrests and handover to New Delhi are true, then is the Bangladesh government doing the Indian government's bidding by obeying diktat of a foreign country?

In the absence of an extradition treaty between Dhaka and Delhi -- which will require India to reciprocate by extraditing several hundred Bangladeshi most wanted underworld lords hiding in India for years --- this is not legally or ethically acceptable. Since 1979 India's north-eastern region has been the hotbed of insurgency and fierce armed conflict killing a large number of people.

Over the years about 20 ,000 people have died in Christian-dominated Nagaland alone. The Indian media reports tend to suggest that the Bangladesh government may have already taken a side in the conflict, favouring the Indian government and against the northeast Indian people. In that terrifying decades old strife it will be most dangerous for Bangladesh take any side.

Hence Dhaka must not allow herself to be caught up in the turmoil [in which various parties from Maoists to ISI are said to be the stakeholders] because such an involvement can unavoidably incite and provoke the rebels to open a battlefront targeting Bangladesh and endangering her security. More importantly, the government must not forget the most vital concept of our nationhood -- - sovereignty. The onus is on the government to clarify in detail if it has not compromised the country's sovereignty.

Manipuri Activist Interviewed

With the planned Tipaimukh Dam putting 70 million people "at risk" in northeast India and Bangladesh, people of the region must co-ordinate efforts to safeguard sustainable development in the face of such projects, says veteran Indian campaigner Anastasia Cristalina Pinto. Pinto, executive director of the Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE) in Manipur, told, during a recent visit to Dhaka, the contentious dam also threatens to heighten existing tensions between the Indian government and ethnic groups in Manipur. The CORE focuses on policy research and advocacy on the rights of the indigenous and tribal communities.

Environmental pressure groups in both Bangladesh and Manipur state have been voicing strong concern over the potential impact of the planned Indian dam in downstream areas. The people of Manipur, and other northeastern states, are "justifiably unhappy" with the Indian government's development approach in the region, says Pinto, who has been working for the past two decades throughout India, including the northeast, on the vital role of local communities in sustainable development. India says the dam would not withhold water from Bangladesh as it is part of a power generation project and not intended for irrigation purposes. Pinto said, there were more than 70 million people "at risk" from the project. "Not only in the northeast, but if you take the adjacent regions into consideration." "Where is the international community? Where are the human rights groups, environmentalists and development activists, where are the donors? What are they doing?" She called on the international community to help in "preventative action", not to wait until it was "too late".

 Cumulative impact "Because we are not talking about only one dam; we are talking about the cumulative impact of several such interventions," said Pinto. She mentioned "future dams" along with "proposed uranium mines, the Trans-Asia highways and railways ... to be built in one of the most ecologically and seismically sensitive zones in the world." "There is very little assessment of cumulative future impacts. That is my concern," said the Manipur-based activist. She said the Indian government has estimated just 1300 families will be displaced for the Tipaimukh dam. "But then you calculate the displacement cost of the pan-Asian highway, railway, proposed mines and all the support and ancillary infrastructure that has to come up in order to support these." "Now let's talk about how many people are being displaced." "Let us look at the larger picture, what are the implications of such large scale displacement and reconstruction of environment and physical geography of such a sensitive zone on the outline areas. Nobody has calculated that," says Pinto.

"This is a disaster prone region already, now we are going to multiply that many times. For the last 30 years, this region, from the Bay of Bengal to the Himalayas, has also been experiencing growing impact of climate change. Now we are going to throw all this in to that basket." 'Bangladesh should join us' "I think Bangladesh should try and cooperate with some of us to actually find the way of assessing what is the cumulative impact of this entire development programme taken together. Because nothing less than that is needed." She suggested a co-operative non-government, scientific, bilateral board from northeast India and Bangladesh to assess the cumulative impact of "an entire range of projects" in the region over the next ten to fifteen years.

 "Local people do not want this dam. They have been forced to deal with it. At some point the feat of the government of India becomes like an act of God, which we cannot protest. It is beyond our capacity to do anything more. Because we are a small population already suffering from ... consequences of conflict. I am not saying anything very revolutionary; we have made complaints in this regard to various UN agencies and the human rights mechanism." But, said Pinto, in the last few years international support for the northeast has decreased. "We are not asking the people to make a decision or assessment, we are asking for people to make a truly scientific investigation into the impact of these projects cumulatively taken together on a zone such as the northeast and its outlying areas," said Pintu. 'Heightened tensions' Pinto's concern is also for Manipur's long-standing issues, including armed insurgency by separatist groups and inter-ethnic conflict that have recently come to the fore with protests against the Tipaimukh Dam project. The dam will heighten existing tensions between the central government and ethnic groups in the northeast state, she says. "Of course it will accelerate conflicts. It's not something unique in the northeast where resources become appropriated by corporations or by large projects. Conflicts are escalating and proliferating. In the northeast we already have 106 or 108 armed groups," she told Long-simmering tensions exist between the Indian government and people of the remote northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland, known collectively as the 'seven sisters'. Much of the region, connected to the rest of India by a narrow strip of land known as the Siliguri Corridor, is ethnically and culturally different from the rest of India. The states have long accused New Delhi of ignoring the issues that concern them, plundering resources and doing little to improve their lives. "Conflict is going to increase unless the government of India completely reverses its approach," said the development activist. "Conflict between armed groups in India, conflict between armed groups with each other, all these are going to intensify and multiply due to the kind of development pathways ... being adopted by the Indian government and in collaboration with others governments in the region who are not prepared to say no," she said.

The "Settlers" And "Aborigines" Of Chittagong Hill Tract

The subject of minorities is a very touchy one in any country, especially in nation-states where a national heritage or culture or identity (often dictated by the majority population) defines the characteristic of the state. Such modern concepts of states get complicated if there are other minorities that live in the state, each claiming to be a separate "nation" by virtue of its religion, language, culture, etc.

Bangladesh has about 12% religious minorities, including approximately 10% Hindus, the remainders being Buddhists, Christians, agnostics, atheists and animists. Roughly one percent of the population lives in the high hills, e.g., Jayintia, Garo Hills and Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) districts. Historically the Bengal delta was husbanded by people who resorted to wet cultivation while the people in the hills, who were outside tax collection from ruling authorities, resorted to dry cultivation for their staple food. In the olden days of the Mughal rulers the authority of the state sometimes ended where the hills began. As we all know it was the marauding attacks from the Maghs (Arakanese Buddhists) and Portuguese pirates, which were sponsored by the Buddhist Kings of Arakan that led to Shaista Khan's campaign to re-conquest Chittagong and its hilly districts, ensuring these territories' sovereignty within the Mughal rule. His campaign stopped shy of the present-day Arakan that demarcated itself from Bangladesh by the Naaf River. During the subsequent Nawabi rule of Bengal and British Raj the territorial boundary remained the same, i.e., both those districts remained integral to Bengal and outside Buddhist rules of Arakan, Burma and Tripura.

Unlike the Mughal and Muslim Sultanates of Bengal, the British Raj (especially during the Company era) was more interested about collection of revenue and had little concern about the goodwill of the local people and their legitimate grievances whether or not such taxes were burdensome. It was their heavy handedness that led to the horrible famine of 1769-1773 (corresponding to Bangla Year 1176-1180, and more commonly therefore known as "Chiatturer monontor") killing some 15 million people of Bengal (that included Bihar and Orissa). One in every three person perished in that great famine.

During the British Raj a more drastic and concerted effort was taken to reclaim hilly areas under taxation. In order to increase revenue collection, the Raj created local tribal chiefs in the Hilly districts, Rajas, who would ensure payment of such revenues. For the planes, it had by the 19th century already instituted a similar scheme of collecting revenues from the zamindars (not to be forgotten in this context the Sunset Law), who essentially became the enforcer of collecting such revenues in the form of money or kind (e.g., paddy) from the raiyats - peasants, and petty merchants. That is, the role of the zamindars was similar to a revenue collector in modern times.

The CHT districts with their deep forests, much like many other hilly parts of pre-modern era India, often became refuges to rebels and revenue- and tax-evaders who would settle (without its true connotation) there to escape from being hunted down by the ruling authority. In 1784 in the nearby Arakan there was a massive genocidal campaign that was steward-headed by the racist Buddhist king of Burma—Bodaw Paya—who had invaded the independent state. Arakan - the land of poets Alaol and Dawlat Kazi - had a significant population of Muslims (commonly known as the Rohingya people) who had lived in the other side of the Naaf River for centuries. [As shown elsewhere by this author, the origin of the Rohingya people of Arakan pre-dates the settlement of the Tibeto-Burman people there]. The genocidal campaign by the Buddhist king led to a mass scale forced eviction and exodus of hundreds of thousands of people of Arakan to the nearby territories of British India, especially to Chittagong and CHT districts of today's Bangladesh. Nearly a hundred thousand people, mostly Muslims, were killed by the Burmese extermination campaign. The Mahamuni statue of Buddha itself was stolen away from the Arakan. Many Muslims were taken as slaves and forced to live elsewhere, e.g., in places like the Karen State of Burma.

Those Rohingya Muslims who were able to save themselves from Burmese annexation of Arakan, like many Magh Arakanese, settled mostly in the Chittagong and CHT districts. The Muslim refugees and their descendants that had lived and settled in those places came to be known by the local name Ruhis, depicting their Rohingya/Arakan origin. During the Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-26, Arakan and subsequently the vast territories of Burma came under the British Rule. The exiled Rohingya/Ruhi Muslims and Maghs of Arakan, and their descendants, were allowed and encouraged to resettle in those territories south of the Naaf River.

While many did return, others remained behind in Chittagong and CHT districts. The British policy and the subsequent process of return of the Arakanese exiles, especially the hard-working wet cultivating Rohingya people, facilitated the cultivation of vast territories within Burma, which had hitherto remained barren and uncultivable. This enriched the coffer of the British Government through collection of revenues and taxes.

Many descendants of the exiled Rohingyas (or Ruhis of Chittagong) would also become seasonal labourers in Arakan.

Today, the bulk of the ethnic minorities that live in the Chittagong Hill Tract districts are the descendants of those fleeing refugees from Arakan who fled the territory during Bodaw Paya's extermination campaign. They are our Chakma and Marma people. (There are two other ethnic minority groups living in the CHT - the Kukis and the Tripuras. The former are also known as the Chins in Burma and Mizo in India; while the latter lives mostly in the Tripura state of India.) Their history to the territory cannot be traced with any authenticity before that historical event of 1784. This does not mean that there was no migration of people over the hills; in fact, there was migration in those days of porous borders where geography was not often attached with politics, state and administration. Like any nomadic people, the hilly people had no permanent settlement to the territory - they moved to and fro between porous borders of today's Bangladesh, Tripura (India) and Burma. Their migration from outside, much like the Ruhis of Chittagong and CHT, cannot be traced before 1784.

Since the British rule of the territories dating back to 1826, many Bengali Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims have moved to the CHT for a plethora of reasons, including administrative jobs, logging, trade and commerce, a trend that was to continue well unto the Bangladesh period with development of industrial infrastructure there.

After the emergence of Pakistan in 1947, the CHT was made part of East Pakistan. During the War of Liberation, its Raja (Tridib Roy) openly aligned himself with the Pakistan regime, thus leaving a strong sense of betrayal and mistrust between the local Bengali or Chittagonian people and the Hilly people. During the war of liberation and in the post-liberation era, many Bengalis were kidnapped and killed by the extremist elements of the Hilly people. [A relative of mine was one such casualty who was kidnapped and later presumably killed, never to be found later.] Crimes of this nature continued unabated making the territory unsafe and insecure. Outside the towns, there was virtually no functioning of the government. The territory became impassable and unliveable for most Chittagonian and Bengali speaking people. They would be kidnapped, and often times killed.

The Shanti Bahini comprising of armed hilly extremist rebels demanded autonomy and they were aided and armed by anti-Bangladeshi forces from outside. With the assassination of Skheikh Mujib, as the political scene changed drastically inside Bangladesh, the Shanti Bahini had a new sponsor - India - to destabilize the country. This led to tense situation between the government of Bangladesh and the Hilly people, leading to the deployment of the BDR and Army. The era of instability persisted during the military-supported governments of Zia and Ershad when hundreds of soldiers and officers died fighting against the rebels in the hills.

After the overthrow of the quasi-military government of Ershad, the situation improved somewhat, especially with the signing of peace treaty in 1997 under the first Hasina administration which stipulated total and firm loyalty towards the country's sovereignty and integrity for upholding the political, social, cultural, educational and economic rights of all the people living in the hilly region. Unfortunately because of its demography and geography, the region continued to see infiltration of arms from outside, which inevitably have gone to forces that are destabilizing the region. Thus, even to this day, criminal hilly gangs who are opposed to the peace treaty and armed by anti-Bangladeshi governments and NGOs continue to harass the local police, BDR and military outposts, and kidnap and kill Bengali-speaking population, including members of the local and foreign NGOs that work on various projects aiming to improve the economic and social condition there.

In the last two decades, the CHT has also seen the incursion of narcotics and harmful drugs from Burma and India. Outside drug-traffickers, the territory has also become a natural hideout for many refugees and secessionist groups from Burma that are opposed to the SPDC oligarchy.

In recent years some NGOs have emerged with ulterior motives that are at odds with aspirations of the people and territorial integrity of Bangladesh. No place offers them a better venue than the Hilly Districts where a sizable number of ethnic minorities live. They want withdrawal of Bangladesh Army that has preserved the territorial integrity. They want enactment of laws that would confine a particular ethnic or religious group into living in enclaves or reserves. They want forced removal of Bengali Muslims and Hindus from the hilly districts. It goes without saying that such demands are unrealistic and are sure recipes for dismemberment of Bangladesh. Their anti-Bangladesh activities are also bolstered by some human rights activists with foreign affiliations whose agenda includes weakening the sovereignty of Bangladesh. Not to be forgotten in this context are also some local players that are opposed to the current government. The latest unrest in the CHT may well fall into their scheme to destabilize the government.

As Bangladesh government renews its pledge for harmony, territorial integrity and stability, it cannot afford to appear weak against forces that threaten its very existence. Any measure that offers exclusion over inclusion, ghettoization over pluralism, discrimination over equal opportunity is undesirable and must be avoided.

As hinted earlier, economics has been a key driver shaping the demography within our planet. And Bangladesh (whose GDP owes much to the foreign remittance of her people working overseas) with scarcity of land is no exception to that grand rule. In the post-liberation period, with the sharp growth of job opportunities within the hilly districts, some Bangladeshis have settled into the CHT. Many hilly people likewise have found jobs in the planes of Bangladesh, away from their traditional homes in the hills. This is quite natural for a country whose constitution allows for pursuit of freedom of movement, employment, economic prosperity and happiness for all. With a high fertility rate among Bengalis and Ruhis, it is no accident that they are a majority in some Hilly districts today.

The Hilly people are aware of these trends and have immensely benefited from the overall economic prosperity of the region. Most of them are against the extremists within their community. They also understand that they are the best protectors and preservers of their language and heritage, something that is becoming rather difficult for small minorities in a global economy of our time. In that balancing act between preserving cultural heritages and ripping the benefits of economic prosperity they would be better advised to follow the American/Canadian Amish/Mennonite example as opposed to that of the Native Americans living in the Indian reservations.

In closing, to qualify as an aborigine a member of an indigenous people must exist in a land before invasion or colonization by another race. More stringent definitions require that the aborigines have resided in a place from time immemorial; i.e., they are the true sons and daughters of the soil. From this definition, the Koori, Murri, Noongar, Ngunnawal, Anangu, Yamatji, Nunga and other aboriginals in Australia, the Maori of New Zealand, the Uyghurs of Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China, the Chechens in Chechnya of Russia; the Siberian Tatars, Khanty, Mansi, Nenets and Selkup people of Siberia in Russia; the Native Indians of the USA and Canada, Eskimos of Canada and few other races in Central and South America are the true aborigines (or more correctly, aboriginals) of our world.

It is not difficult to understand why the British anthropologist T.H. Lewin (1839-1916) did not consider the tribal people living in CHT as aborigines. The brief analysis above also confirms that view. Thus, the Mongoloid-featured hilly people are as much settlers to the CHT as are the Chittagonians/Ruhis and other Bangladeshis living there. Calling these latter people "settlers" while calling the Mongoloid featured Hilly people as the "adibashis" or aborigines would be false and insincere! Simply put: all the people living in the CHT are the adhibashis (residents) there.