Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Targeted Massacre of Minorities in Assam

South Asia is really going to the dogs or so it appears these days. When we thought that we had seen enough of a pogrom directed by the Rakhine extremists and Burmese authorities against the Rohingyas of Arakan state of Burma (Myanmar), we are forced to witness yet another massacre of unarmed civilians in the state of Assam.

Assam, located next to Bangladesh on the north-east corner of India, has a long history of recurring violence targeting minority Bengali-speakers. In 1983 Nellie massacre when Indira Gandhi ruled India, the pogrom, carried out with crude weapons in a matter of a few hours, left some 5,000 people dead. The killers didn’t even spare young babies.

At the heart of Assam's troubles is a debate over the "infiltration" by outsiders, which has led to ethnic tension between the state's so-called indigenous population and Bengali-speaking people who have settled there for generations. Overlooked in this debate is the fact that all these territories were once part of British India with people – both Assamese and Bengali – living on either side of today’s border that separates Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan/ East Bengal) from the state of Assam in India. The Assamese were mostly illiterate people and so many Indians (mostly from the province of Bengal) were brought in to work as engineers, doctors, administrators, clerks, railway workers and other government related jobs. Many of the Bengali-speaking famers were also brought in to boost rice production in the area, especially around the ‘chars’ (river islands). Having lived there for generations, these so-called migrants are as Indian (in today’s parlance) as the ethnic Assamese or the tribes-people in the state.

Unfortunately, the ensuing change in demography, rivalry for land, dwindling natural resources and livelihood, and intensified competition for political power between the ruling party and the separatists has added a deadly force to the issue of who has a right to Assam. It is all about xenophobia. Successive Congress governments have used Assamese/Bengali Muslims as little more than a vote bank without recognizing their rights.

After the Nellie massacre and 1983 elections, India's federal government tried to placate local sentiments by signing an accord with the All Assam Students Union (AASU) in 1985 which was leading the pogrom against the Bengali-speaking settlers there. The hard-line Assamese, however, later described the 1985 accord as a "betrayal" and decided to wage an armed campaign against India to secede from India.

Twenty nine years after the Nellie massacre, a group of the separatist United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) is now negotiating with Delhi, asking for more concrete protection for indigenous populations against what they falsely describe as "relentless illegal migration from across the border".

The Bengali-speaking people in Assam have also become more assertive these days with the formation of the Assam United Democratic Front under a charismatic leader which seeks to protect the rights of minorities and their periodic ousting from settlements through violence. In 2011, it emerged as the main opposition to Assam's ruling Congress party, winning three times the number of seats won by regional Assamese parties and the Hindu nationalist BJP, which promotes Hindutva.

It is this emerging political prowess of the Bengali people in Assam which is being exploited as a boogeyman by the ruling Congress party and the Hindu extremists to promote or be indifferent to periodic rioting that engulfs the region. Four years ago, the Indian Army had to be called in to stop blood-letting. More than 100 Bengali Muslims were killed in one such raid at Bansbari, a makeshift camp for displaced Muslims in 1993.

The latest pogrom has affected four districts of western Assam, where the Bengalis (mostly Muslims) are pitted against tribes-people such as the Bodos, Rabhas and Garos. In Kokrajhar, the Bodo heartland, Muslims are regularly attacked by Bodo separatist rebels and this periodically erupts into full-scale riots. This latest conflict has left about 40 dead (all Bengali-speaking Muslims) and displaced tens of thousands.

As noted by Indian political commentator Aijaz Zaka Syed, “As usual, Muslims were caught in the deadly games of the Congress and assorted separatist groups. Our Hindutva benefactors added fuel to the fire by raising the specter of invasion by Bangladeshi Muslims. The same drama is being re-enacted today with consequences that could be even deadlier. Yet unlike in the past, this conflict isn’t communal or religious in nature. It’s an economic struggle for the land and dwindling natural resources.”

In this latest pogrom, entire villages have been burnt down while the state administration remains curiously clueless and indifferent. Delhi insists Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi is “monitoring the situation” and doing everything possible to restore peace. “This is little comfort to the community, though, which increasingly lives in fear, worrying the worst may be yet to come. Gogoi is yet to visit the affected areas. Not even a flying, whirlwind tour for the cloistered satrap,” writes Syed.

If the local Assamese administration and the federal Indian government are serious about the well-being of Assamese/Bengali Muslims as well as other communities living in Assam, they should take steps to cool down this simmering volcano that erupts from time to time. Lasting peace in Assam cannot happen when xenophobia is promoted. Period!

BY :  Dr. Habib Siddiqui. >>> E Mail

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why is Assam burning?

Most editors are failed writers, argued T S Eliot. By the same logic, television hosts must be failed politicians and activists, I guess. Every time I watch folks like Bill O’Reilly of Fox News and Arnab Goswami of Times Now, I am reminded of the Spanish Inquisition.

While O’Reilly has spawned around himself an alternative universe of his own where Islam is out to capture the West and America and the shadow of Islamist terror is lurking in every nook and corner, our own answer to Murdoch’s hatchet man likes to think he’s holding his own court every night where he has to tackle the formidable challenges facing the great democracy with his profound wisdom and vision and come up with instant solutions.

With his full court in attendance and the whole nation dutifully watching and listening to him, Arnab is the judge, jury and executioner as he rails and rails against the usual suspects. It’s an endless treat to watch the Times Now host as he addresses the nation from his pulpit with the choir earnestly nodding in agreement, and angrily demands answers from the politicians – usually the prime minister himself, no less.

Forever outraged, our hero truly thinks he is God’s gift to mankind and has been sent down to watch over the national interests. And everyone is accountable to Arnab Goswami. While he finds something or the other to be outraged about every night, nothing gets him going like the never-ending shenanigans of our Western neighbours who are apparently forever plotting against Mother India. If it’s not Pakistan, then it’s Indian Muslims or “international Islamist terrorists,” who deserve his outrage. In any case, as far as he is concerned they are all one and the same!

The latest to provide grist to the Times Now mill is the unfolding mayhem in Assam, the Indian state bordering Bangladesh. Scores have been killed in attacks largely targeting Muslims and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes. While the state government blames both sides-Bodo tribesmen and Bengali-speaking Muslims – for the violence, the majority of the victims are once again Muslims.

Entire villages have been burnt down while the state administration, as is our tradition, remains curiously clueless and indifferent. Delhi insists Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi is “monitoring the situation” and doing everything possible to restore peace. This is little comfort to the community, though, which increasingly lives in fear, worrying the worst may be yet to come. Gogoi is yet to visit the affected areas. Not even a flying, whirlwind tour for the cloistered satrap.

There are reports of totally deserted villages and total absence of security forces in the troubled areas. While police are patrolling urban areas, it’s free-for-all for marauding mobs in interiors.

Assam has a long history of recurring violence targeting minorities. However, what remains forever seared in public memory is the 1983 Nellie massacre when Indira Gandhi ruled from Delhi with her famous iron fist. The pogrom, carried out with crude weapons in a matter of a few hours, left 1,819 people dead. Independent sources suggest the toll was as high as 5,000. The killers didn’t even spare young babies.

As usual, Muslims were caught in the deadly games of the Congress and assorted separatist groups. Our Hindutva benefactors added fuel to the fire by raising the spectre of invasion by Bangladeshi Muslims. The same drama is being re-enacted today with consequences that could be even deadlier. Yet unlike in the past, this conflict isn’t communal or religious in nature. It’s an economic struggle for the land and dwindling natural resources.

In the end, it’s a humanitarian tragedy, and which is how it should be viewed. People hadn’t even recovered from the havoc wreaked by one of the worst floods in history when they were driven from their homes by people with whom they have lived for decades.

Even Arnab Goswami opening the discussion on Assam began by arguing that no one should “communalise” the issue. Yet, this is precisely what he and his guests ended up doing. Instead of showing some sympathy for the victims and what they have just been through, all Muslims are there condemned as “Bangladeshi infiltrators.” Indeed, the nation is warned of “thousands of international Islamist fundamentalist terrorists with heavy weapons invading from across the border.” Not surprisingly, there was no one to present the other side of the storym except for a state minister who kept mumbling, “I don’t disagree with you.”

In fact, listening to the finger-wagging television pundits you would think the entire Northeast has been taken over by Bangladeshi infiltrators and Pakistani terrorists and Delhi and thousands of its security forces and intelligence agencies haven’t the faintest idea.

Extreme as it is, Times Now – from the Times of India stable – is hardly an exception. There are many out there who routinely tap into this reservoir of hatred and our deep-seated fear of the Other.

Is this how responsible media should function? What’s the difference between this scaremongering and the Nazi demonisation of Jews? As journalism students and rookies, we were told ad nauseam by our teachers and editors that the media’s job is to inform, educate and act as a watchdog of society. A journalist’s job is to speak the truth and report facts as truthfully as possible and let people draw their own conclusions. The media’s job is to stand up for the weak, not join the witch hunt.

Many from my tribe routinely quote C P Scott, the legendary editor of The Guardian, that comment is free but facts are sacred. How many of us really believe in it, though? How many of us pause and ponder before passing off blatant lies, innuendos and our prejudices as facts, endangering lives and putting an entire community in the dock?

If I had been one of those watching that Times Now “debate,” I would have probably rushed to join the bloodthirsty mob rampaging across Assam to teach a lesson to the “international Islamist terrorists,” as Arnab calls those fear-stricken, bruised and battered people running for their lives with their humble belongings.

But all this is in a day’s work for television pundits and journalists. Who gives a damn who killed whom and what havoc your words wreak in an already inflamed land, as long as you have your TRPs up and your audiences suitably agitated. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? So what if Assam has always had a large Muslim population, as much as 30 percent, and most of those being terrorised as “outsiders” have been there for ages, since long before the Partition?

Of course, given the porous and indistinct nature of the India-Bangladesh border, it’s possible some Bangladeshis might have now and then crossed over to this side. But as Congress leader Digvijay Singh points out, there has been a similar movement of migrants from the Indian side as well. With the Bangladeshi economy doing well in recent years, people have been moving to work in Bangladesh. Besides, weren’t we all part of one country not long ago?

The BJP has a point when it claims all this is a result of the Congress’s vote bank politics. Indeed, successive Congress governments have used Assamese Muslims as little more than a vote bank without recognising their rights.

If it were serious about the well-being of Muslims as well as other communities, it would have taken steps to cool down this simmering volcano that erupts from time to time. There’s no peace where there’s no justice. Muslims, or for that matter any other community, need no special treatment. They just need what’s their due. Recognise everyone’s rights and give their due. That’s the only way to lasting peace in Assam.

Source : 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Separatist groups add fuel to Assam fire

As the North-East State is rocked by ethnic violence, insurgent groups from across the borders and their allies here must be strongly prevented from fanning the flames.

By all accounts, the law and order situation in Assam has deteriorated to such an extent that governance in accordance with the Constitution of India is in peril. The nation, which was a shocked witness to the unimpeded molestation of a teen-aged girl in one of the main thoroughfares to the State capital, Guwahati, for more than half-an-hour earlier this month, now has to see large-scale rioting, arson and murder ravaging Kokrajhar and Chirang districts, with violence spilling over the neighbouring district of Dhubri. Over 50 people have already been killed and around 2,00,000 have flocked to refugee camps.

The State Government’s utter inability to control crime and large-scale civil disorder, which these two developments underline, is shocking and deplorable enough. What makes the situation most alarming is the fact that Assam and some other States of north-eastern India have a history of insurgency fuelled by Pakistan and Bangladesh under the various military regimes and the Government headed by Begum Khaleda Zia. Things have improved considerably since Bangladesh’s present Awami League Government, headed by Sheikh Hasina, came to power in January, 2009.  She has demolished the camps and sanctuaries that insurgent groups had established in Bangladesh and ended the support and assistance they received from the Government in Dhaka. Pressure from her Government had even driven principal leaders of insurgent groups into positions from where Indian security forces could arrest them easily.

Among those arrested are Arabinda Rajkhowa, chairman and founder of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom, the latter’s ‘deputy commander-in-chief’, Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign and finance secretaries, Shashadhar Choudhury and Chitrabon Hazarika respectively, vice-president Pradeep Gogoi, and publicity chief Mithinga Daimaray. The ULFA and other insurgent groups, however, have by no means been crushed. Their foreign patrons continue to be active. The opponents of Ms Sheikh Hasina, routed in the last general election in Bangladesh in December 2008, are once again flexing their political muscles.

There have been reports for quite some time that Islamist fundamentalist groups, several of them linked to the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, have been active in the State for more than two decades. A report by Surajit Talukdar and Swapan Kumar Paul of Newsfile in The Pioneer of November 6, 2003, listed as many as 15 of them. These included Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Muslim United Tigers of Assam, Islamic Liberation Front of Assam, Islamic Sevak Sangh, Muslim Security Force of Assam, Muslim Liberation Front, Muslim Liberation Tigers of Assam, Muslim Security Council of Assam, Muslim Security Force, Muslim Tiger Force, Muslim Volunteer Force, United Reformation Protest of Assam and Adam Sena.

Each of these groups has a distinct role. The Islamic Sevak Sangh helps terrorists and potential terrorists to cross the India-Bangladesh border while the HuJI in Bangladesh organises their training in Bangladesh and Burma. The Muslim United Liberation Front of Assam and the People’s United Liberation Front of Manipur, which is also active in south Assam and which has incorporated the Manipur-based Islamic National Front, have been campaigning to set up an ‘Islamic homeland’ which will be ruled by sharia’h law and Islamic values and enforce the Islamic dress code. It would include parts of north-eastern India, Burma and Bangladesh. Significantly, the MULTA and the PULF have been expanding their activities among the Muslim populations of Nagaland and Meghalaya where tensions have been simmering dangerously for quite some time.

The Taliban-Al Qaeda-ISI link is most clearly manifest in the case of the HuJI, which the US Department of State designated in March 2008 as a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organisation’. The most sinister of all the organisations mentioned above, it has a pan-Islamic network. The unit active in Assam is an extension of the HuJIB. In Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror, Rohan Gunaratna states, “The Bangladeshi authorities now believe that Al Qaeda had founded it.” Most significantly, he further states, “The group also operates in north-eastern India in tandem with several small Islamist groupings. Osama is said to have sent his private secretary to attend a meeting of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami in Bangladesh to draft a strategy to intensify their violent campaign in that region.”

It is significant that Gunaratna states that the HUJIB was formed in 1992 to recruit volunteers to fight in Kashmir and Afghanistan. Begum Khaldea Zia was then the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Indeed, the activities of the HUIB and other Islamist groups in that country received massive support from Bangladesh when Begum Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party was in power in two stints from 1991-96 and 2001, the second time as the overwhelmingly dominant partner in a coalition Government in which the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh exercised an influence far in excess of its parliamentary strength. Pathologically anti-Indian, it has been the matrix of all fundamental terrorist organisations in Bangladesh like HUJIB, Hizbut Tawhid, Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh and the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh.

The Taliban-Al Qaeda-ISI-linked terrorist organisations active in north-eastern India have been active among the region’s Muslim population. The latter has been rapidly growing in number since Independence in 1947 because, more than anything else, of the growing influx from Bangladesh. This is a problem which the Congress Governments at the Centre and Assam have allowed to grow untrammelled largely because of vote-bank politics. In fact, both appear to have connived in the process as evidenced by the enactment of a pathetically weak Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act of 1983 ,which was set aside by the Supreme Court in 2005.

The first priority in the present instance is obviously the immediate restoration of law and order. This will require firm and scrupulously even-handed action against both Bodos and Muslims engaged in murder, looting, arson and rioting, and their leaders. That done, both the Centre and the State Government will have to unearth and destroy the Taliban-Al Qaeda-linked secessionist terrorist network in north-eastern India.

 Bangladesh’s cooperation will be crucial to the success of the effort both to do this and stanch flow of illegal migrants. Fortunately, Bangladesh has now a Government which is friendly towards India. While securing its assistance, India must also address Dhaka’s concerns. It is a shame that New Delhi has not been able to sign the Teesta water sharing treaty with Bangladesh because of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s opposition.


Friday, July 27, 2012

INDIA INTENSIFIES BORDER GUARD : Delhi goes slow on land swap deal

While Dhaka presses Delhi for quick ratification of the land swap deal signed between the two countries, the latter instead is going ahead to construct more border outposts and complete the fencing to check cross-border infiltration. 
India also failed to stop killing of unarmed Bangladeshi citizens along the border in spite of repeated protests and commitments made from the highest level. Bangladesh shares about 4,095 km border with India.
India’s Border Security Force (BSF) has killed 151 Bangladeshi nationals in different frontiers during the current tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government since January 2009, the country’s home minister Shahara Khatun said told the parliament last month.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) meeting between India and Bangladesh held at the Foreign Secretary level earlier this week in Delhi, Bangladesh underlined the need for India to show some urgency in getting the deal finalised without further delay.
The day-long discussion was led by Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai, and his Bangladesh counterpart, Mohamed Mijarul Quayes.
According to an Indian press report on Wednesday, Bangladesh was unhappy over the delay in implementation of a number of decisions taken during the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the two countries including the sharing of water of Teesta river.
While impressing upon India to ratify the land swap transfer deal, the Bangladesh Foreign Secretary said that it cannot be seen that the agreement is not implemented. This would create mistrust between the two neighbours, he said.
The deal has to be ratified by both the Houses of the Parliament in India. While BJP has been opposing the deal since the beginning, the Trinamool Congress, an ally of the Congress Party, too has opposed the deal.
New Delhi, meanwhile informed the Bangladesh delegation that the process of internal consultation has begun on the issue. “We are in the process of working out internal consensus,” said the official spokesman of Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
Meanwhile, New Delhi has sanctioned construction of 383 additional Border Out Posts (BOPs), besides ordering reduction of distance between outposts to 3.5 Km along the Indo-Bangladesh international border.
The additional BOPs were among a total of 509 BOPs sanctioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs, including 126 outposts along Indo-Pakistan Border.
The work is targeted to be completed by 2013-2014, Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram said, adding that the BOPs are now provided better communication and infrastructural facilities.
The increased number of BOPs will help in effective monitoring of the border, said Chidambaram, addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee here last Tuesday.
Chidambaram, meanwhile, informed the Indin MPs that the Government was exploring the use of modern technology in border management by proper fencing, flood lights and other new technologies available in this field. He further stated that the experiences of advanced countries are also being studied for better border management.
The Minister said that adequate resources are being provided and low cost technology and better management is being explored for better management.
According to Indian Home Minister, the fencing is helping a lot in checking infiltration but the fence also requires repairs wherever it is damaged.

Should Bangladesh believe Myanmar

Bangladesh once again noted with hope a pledge of Myanmar when the latter recently apprised the former to take back all registered and unregistered Rohingya Muslim refugees from the country. The pledge came through Myanmar’s newly appointed envoy to Dhaka, who in contrast to his country’s president said all Rohingya now staying in Bangladesh would be taken back after proper verification.

A few days back Myanmar President Thein Sein while talking to Mr Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Yangon said his country was unwilling to take back the Rohingyas ousted over the past decades. “We have noted the pledge, but wondering how we can believe it, when Myanmar had failed to verify particulars of some 21,000 Rohingya refugees since 1998,” a senior official of the Bangladesh foreign ministry said.

The number of these registered refugees in two camps at Kutupalang and Nayapara under Cox’s Bazar district swelled to more than 30,000 early this year as Myanmar did not take them back despite of repeated pledges and promises. The registered Rohingya refugees at the camps are the remnants of 250,000 Rohingya who had fled into Bangladesh in late 1991 following persecution under the then military regime in Myanmar. Most of the refugees that had crossed into Bangladesh in late 1991 and early 1992 were repatriated from some 20 refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district until 1998.

Meanwhile the Rohingyas alleging communal persecution continued to cross into Bangladesh and so far nearly 400,000 of them, dubbed as local people as economic refugees, have anchored in squalid shanties scattered in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban districts. Had Bangladesh authorities not taken adequate steps to seal border during the communal riot in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state in June hundreds of thousands more would have been fled into the country – a traditional safe haven for the Rohingya Muslims. Though the stance of Bangladesh is a bit harsh in humanitarian view, impoverished Bangladesh is really unable to take the burden of more Rohingyas.

The newly appointed Myanmar Ambassador Myo Myint Than while meeting Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on Wednesday once again pledged like his predecessors that all registered and unregistered Rohingya refugees would be taken back after proper verification. A couple of days ago officials said Bangladesh was likely to seek intervention of the United Nations to get rid of the burden of refugees if Myanmar continued to delay in taking back Rohingyas from the country.

The relevant authorities started mulling for the UN intervention as a recent statement of Myanmar President Thein Sein suggested that his country was not willing to take back the Rohingyas ousted over the past decades. Bangladesh hoped that the UN would find a solution acceptable to both the countries and the relevant communities in the restive Rakhine state. Officials further said Bangladesh wanted to live in harmony with all its neighbours and at the same time also wanted that no issues having roots in another country should continue to harm it.

Herding Rohingya Muslims into refugee camps or their deportation to another country could be the only solution for the violence hit Rakhine state, the Myanmar President told the UNHCR in Yangon on June 12, according to a website of Myanmar presidential house. “We will send them (Rohingyas) away if any third country would accept them. This is what we are thinking is the solution to the issue,” President Thein Sein told UNHCR Antonio Guterres.

Communal violence between ethnic Buddhist Rakhine and local Muslims, including the Rohingyas, swept the state in June, forcing tens of thousands to flee as homes were torched and communities ripped apart. Some 80 people, mostly Rohingyas, were killed in the violence. Among the Muslims, Rohingyas are majority, while there are a smaller number of Muslims who were converted from Buddhism and other religious groups.

“The statement has shocked us, because following the observation of the head of the state of Myanmar, there may not be any scope left to send back hundreds and thousands of Rohingya refugees to their ancestral home from Bangladesh,” said a senior official of the foreign ministry. The statement of Myanmar president not only exposed Myanmar’s intentions not only to repatriate Rohingya refugees from abroad, but also to expel those still residing inside the country, according to a political analyst. Despite repeated pledges there was virtually no repatriation of more over tens of thousands of Rohingyas who had been pushed in to Bangladesh over the past years, another official of the home affairs ministry said.

If the expulsion of Rohingyas continues, it will keep on harming Bangladesh, as it is linked with Rakhine state along a 300-km long porous border through hills, rivers and maritime boundary, the official said. President Thein Sein, who had previously favoured a reconciliation between the communities during the riot between Muslim Rohingyas and Buddhists in the Rakhine state told the UNHCR that the Rohingyas were not welcome in Myanmar. “We will take responsibility for our ethnic people but it is impossible to accept the illegally entered Rohingyas, who are not our ethnicity,” he told Antonio Guterres.

The former junta general said the “only solution” was to send the Rohingyas — which number around 800,000 in Myanmar and are considered to be some of the world’s most persecuted minorities — to refugee camps run by UNHCR, western media reports said. During the June mayhem Bangladesh sealed its border and pushed back hundreds of Rohingyas who sought shelter fleeing Rakine state. The June violence sparked early in the month after a Buddhist woman had allegedly been raped and murdered in Taungup of Rakhine state, formerly Arakan until 1989.

Subsequently on June 3, a mob of hundreds of people attacked a bus, believing the perpetrators were on board, and beat 10 Muslims to death. The violence further escalated when police shot dead two Rohingya youths during a Friday protest at Maungdaw near Bangladesh bordrer on June 8. Although security forces have quelled the worst of the unrest, tens of thousands of people still remain in government-run relief camps with the UN’s World Food Programme reporting that it has provided food to some 100,000 people.

According to Chittagong-based Arakan Historical Society (AHS), Myanmar has been cleansing Rohingyas from Arakan since 1948, when Muslims were in majority. “Even in 1960s the Rohingya population in Arakan was around 2.0 million and now they have reduced to some 800,000, after most or the Rohingyas migrated to different countries including in the Middle East,” said Mohammad Rais, a leader of AHS. Meanwhile, following the June violence and floods in Myanmar, President Thein Sein cancelled his scheduled July 15 visit to Bangladesh.

However, he is expected visit Bangladesh after Ramadan. But the date has not been fixed yet. Bangladesh won a verdict of International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS) over a maritime dispute with Myanmar in March this year. The verdict ensured Bangladesh’s sovereignty over its exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ethnic riots sweep Assam, at least 30 killed

Police shot dead four rioters in Assam on Tuesday as security forces struggled to contain ethnic fighting that has killed at least 30 people and left riverside hamlets ablaze, forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

Rioting between Bodo tribespeople and Muslim settlers has raged for days in a region near Bangladesh. Some victims died of machete wounds, said aid workers who has seen the bodies.

Police opened fire on rioters burning property in the Bodo-dominated Kokrajhar district, killing the four, police inspector general S.N. Singh told Reuters. Police found four more bodies in a neighbouring district.

"More and more villages are being burnt by attackers this evening. Violence started again in the evening after a brief lull," said a district civil servant, who asked not to be named.

Earlier on Tuesday, hundreds of men armed with spears, clubs and rocks attacked an express train passing through Kokrajhar, injuring several passengers. In another incident, several people suffered bullet wounds and others were injured in a stampede when police fired to disperse a gang of 400, a senior police official said.

Soldiers and federal paramilitary troops patrolled Kokrajhar town and outlying areas on armoured vehicles mounted with machine guns. Some police complained they were ill-equipped to deal with the riots, despite government assurances more security reinforcements were travelling to the region.

Rival mobs have spread to rural areas in three districts, targeting hamlets along river banks and in the jungle. About 500 villages have been destroyed by arson, said police.

Ringed by China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, India's northeast is connected to the rest of the country by a narrow land strip called the chicken's neck. Home to more than 200 ethnic and tribal groups it has been racked by separatist revolts since India's independence from Britain in 1947.

In recent years, Hindu and Christian tribes have vented strong anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment against Bangladeshi settlers. The Bodo tribe has clashed with Bengalis in deadly riots several times since the 1950s. Thirty years ago, about 2,000 people, mainly Muslims, died in riots in Assam.

The latest violence was sparked on Friday night when unidentified men killed four youths in Kokrajhar district, police and district officials said. In retaliation, armed Bodos attacked Muslims, suspecting them of being behind the killings.

Hagrama Mohilary, the leader of the tribal council governing the region, warned that former separatist rebels had joined the violence to protect Bodo villages. He called for the rebels, who are officially observing a ceasefire, to lay down their arms.

Bodo tribes shot at Muslim villages close to the border with Bhutan on Monday night, a senior police officer who asked not to be named told Reuters. He said no casualties had been reported.

Assam's chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, told TV network CNN-IBN he hoped the situation would be under control within two days. He said about 30,000 villagers have fled their homes and taken shelter in relief camps, but local officials said the numbers were at least twice that.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticised Gogoi for not stopping the rioting and Prime Minister Manomhan Singh called the chief minister asking him to do everything possible to halt the violence. The Hindu nationalist BJP has in the past been accused of fanning religious conflicts.

Tribal leader Mohilary said relief camps were overcrowded and short of food and medicine because roadblocks across the region had stopped supply trucks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

If Burma won’t take them why won’t you, Bangladesh?

The calamitous ordeal of the Rohingya community of Myanmar has received woefully inadequate media coverage over the years despite having been declared one of the most hectored, tyrannized and aggrieved tribal minorities in the world by the United Nations. This observable fact can be unswervingly attributed to the thought-out recalcitrance of the media oligopolists to underlining the copious atrocities being committed against Muslims in different parts of the world in general as part of a ploy to legitimize the ongoing war on terrorism.

For decades these ill-fated people have been shunned, browbeaten and subjected to ghastly physical and emotional abuse by the Government of Myanmar which indefatigably maintains, the fact they are Muslims who verbally communicate in a local dialect of Bengali is reason enough to believe they are illegal Bengali immigrants. This unsubstantiated assertion is effectively countered by the veracity of the centuries-long existence of this specific ethnic group in the Arakan region. Conversely, the Government of Bangladesh contends the Rohingyas are native to Myanmar with no ties whatsoever to Bangladesh.

This insalubrious predicament has resulted in the denial of citizenship and insufficient access to basic rights and privileges including food, shelter and education to the Rohingyas by the central government of Myanmar. The former are vituperatively subjugated in different ways some of which include absolute and unwarranted exclusion from the larger Buddhist communities, forced toilsome labour, prohibition from working in either the private or the governmental sector and/or enlisting in either the police or the armed forces. There is also a severe restriction on each family from having more than two children by virtue of Burmese law.

Be that as it may, in spite of all obstacles and adversities the Rohingyas have managed to placidly dwell in synchronization with the Buddhist Rakhines in the Arakan region. While many have fled to countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Pakistan to escape oppression, the bulk of the younger generation has relocated to the adjacent state of Bangladesh which is currently home to an estimated 300,000 Rohingyas. Since Bangladesh is indigent, over-populated and bereft of resources, the Bangladeshi government has finally banned Rohingya fugitives from entering into the country. Therefore the majority of dispossessed Rohingyas is now apprehended by the Bengali border security personnel while attempting to cross over and is afterwards battered and discarded into the UN refugee camps situated alongside the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 Rohingyas currently reside in these camps. Those fortunate enough to have lived through the tribulation seek refuge in villages located at a convenient distance.

It was not until recently that the troubles of the Rohingyas spiraled out of control. The incident which led to the mass genocide and ethnic cleansing of this already heinously maltreated race was the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by three Rohingya males. Immediately afterwards the local Arakanese Buddhist population in cahoots with the political leadership and law enforcement officials of Myanmar retaliated by brutally assaulting, torturing, raping and murdering scores of innocent Rohingyas including men, women and children while concomitantly annihilating their homes and businesses.

The recurrent violence and blood-shed have compelled large numbers of Rohingyas to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh in boats and fishing trawlers some of whom are reported to have been ravaged by freebooters whilst on the way. Nonetheless, the Bangladeshi government is reluctant to accommodate more of them in lieu of the aforementioned reasons and the emphatic denial of Burmese citizenship to the Rohingyas. Consequently they are forced to retreat to their native soil wherein they are more than likely to be victimized by the vicious local Buddhist inhabitants.

The refusal of the Bangladeshi Government to open its borders for the Rohingyas irrespective of escalating global pressure and scrutiny has sparked a furor within and outside the country as this conduct infringes upon more than just a few international UN laws pertaining to refugees. According to a recent survey conducted by The Daily Star the overpowering majority of the general public of Bangladesh, as opposed to the government, is in favour of the Rohingyas being granted safe passage into the country. Many of these individuals have displayed auspiciousness candidly by forming and/or joining different support groups for the Rohingya populace on face book and other social networking sites.

Given the dourness of the wretched plight of our Rohingya brothers and sisters it is vital that all Muslim nations should conjointly endorse this worthy cause by pressing for Bangladesh to open its borders for them, in turn, pledging munificent moral and financial contribution for their subsequent rehabilitation. Additionally they should ensure the Bangladeshi government that each in its own right and individual capacity is agreed upon sharing the burden by offering to allow and to accept into its domain as many Rohingya refugees as possible. This enterprise is bound to profoundly assuage if not completely resolve the misery of these tormented, destitute and vulnerable souls.

Do you think Pakistan should take up the plight of Myanmar's Rohingya immigrants at the global level?


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Myanmar : Violent Religious Bigots Seek Shelter

Fighting continues in the tribal north. For the last decade, there have been ceasefire deals that tend to collapse into a period of heavy combat followed by another ceasefire. The Shan, Kachin, Wa and some smaller tribes maintain armed and organized militias which can delay, but not stop army movements in the sparsely populated north. The militias do prevent the government from maintaining regular control of the tribal north. This pattern has persisted since the 195os because of corruption and ethnic tension between the northern tribes and the more numerous lowlanders. About a third of 58 million Burmese belong to various minorities and most of them are in the rebellious tribes of the north. The current ceasefires in the north are still broken when the army moves troops around and tribal militiamen open fire because they suspect the soldiers are up to no good. The troops have, in the past, regularly entered villages and engaged in looting and rape. The tribes don't forget this sort of thing. 
Decades of Burmese broken promises makes negotiations difficult, but the tribes are anxious to get access to teachers and medical care, as well as trade with the south. So the peace negotiations regularly alternate with periods of violence. The lowland Burmese have never had control of the tribal uplands. In fact it was the British colonial troops that gained some control over there tribal areas, and then made them part of post-colonial Burma in 1947. Britain had taken control of Burma in 1885, ending a thousand years of independence. During that thousand years the lowland kingdoms did not control the tribal areas most of the time. The British policy up north was to keep the peace and not exercise a lot of control over. That suited the tribes, who retained a lot of autonomy and were able to trade with the more advanced (in terms of economy, education and so on) south. The British encouraged trade with the tribes and brought peace and prosperity for over half a century. After 1947, the lowland Burmese sought to impose the control of their corrupt government which was eager to exploit, and not help, the independent minded tribes. That led to over half a century of perpetual rebellion.
Ethnic and religious violence, that was particularly intense last month, continues in the northwest ( Rakhine State, the northwestern coast just south of Bangladesh) but at a reduced level. There have been several hundred casualties, most of them Moslem and thousands of buildings destroyed. This has displaced over 40,000 people. The Moslems and Buddhists have never gotten along and there's always been some tension. Until recently, the military government suppressed any open talk of these tensions. But since the elections last year, there's been more freedom of the press and that has included more public discussion by Buddhists about how much they dislike the Rohingyas. 
Rakhine State has a population of 3.8 million, with about 800,000 of them Moslems, mostly Rohingyas. These are Benglais, or people from Bengal (now Bangladesh) who began migrating to Burma during the 19th century. At that time the British colonial government ran Bangladesh and Burma, and allowed this movement, even though the Buddhist Burmese opposed it. Britain recognized the problem too late, and the Bengali Moslems were still in Burma when Britain gave up its South Asian colonies after World War II (1939-45). 

Bangladesh has refused to take these Moslems back as Bangladeshis, and the Rohingya have come to consider themselves a separate group. Burma never let the Rohingya become citizens, which helped stoke tensions between the Moslems and Buddhists. Bangladesh has long had too many people, and illegal migration to neighboring areas has been a growing problem. In the 1990s, an outbreak of violence led to over a quarter million Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh. Some 28,000 are in refugee camps in Bangladesh, another 200,000 live outside the camps in Bangladesh and some are in Thailand, where they are considered economic migrants, and thus illegal. This year Bangladesh changed its refugee policy and refused to accept any more Rohingya, considering the refugee camps an unfair burden caused by Burmese refusal to absorb the Rohingya in their territory. This has led to Burma creating heavily guarded camps for these displaced Rohingya. Aid workers call these camps prisons, but the Burmese want to limit the movement of Rohingya who consider themselves at war with Buddhists. No Hindus, Christians or Buddhists in this region have fond memories of Moslems, who have been around for over a thousand years as invaders and violent religious bigots. These memories are sustained by the current wave of Islamic terrorism around the world. The UN is trying to get Burma to absorb the Rohingya, but the Burmese believe that absorption is not practical and these Moslems must move to a Moslem country (preferably Bangladesh, where they came from.) The Burmese resent the UN interference and have arrested some aid workers who are helping the Rohingya.
As part of a deal with India, Burmese troops moved into areas near the Indian border where Indian rebels groups have long maintained camps. But none of the camps have been shut down yet. When the camps are shut down, India will respond with economic aid and investment deals. 
China continues to expel tribal refugees (Kachin) from Burma. The Chinese do not want a lot of these refugees because their refugee camps tend to become bases for armed Kachin and smugglers. 
July 10, 2012:  The United States has lifted some of the economic sanctions imposed on Burma (because of its decades of military rule). The new elected government is showing signs of dismantling many aspects of the military dictatorship. That said, the new government is still full of retired generals. While these guys talk of changing their old dictatorial ways, the reforms are not coming quickly. The U.S. lifted some sanctions because the government replaced some hardline generals with some less hardline ones. The problem is that all these senior army officers stick together and the new democracy initiative is seen by many as an army scheme to get out from under all the sanctions and revive the economy while not threatening the wealth and power the army leaders have built up in the last half century. Burmese reformers are pressuring the retired generals to allow more change. This sometimes irritates the generals, like the growing tendency among Burmese to call their country Burma. The generals have insisted, for decades, that the country be called Myanmar. But because the generals were so hated, most Burmese saw "Myanmar" as another name for oppression and military dictatorship. Most Burmese prefer "Burma", which harkens back to better times. 
July 9, 2012: Police and soldiers raided a methamphetamine lab in Shan state, seizing $3.7 million worth of meth (in pill form) and raw materials. This included 73 kg (161 pounds) of the pills ready to be smuggled into China or Thailand. Heroin and meth production has increased in the last few years as a way for the tribes to raise money for weapons and other military supplies. The government has pledged to shut down drug production by 2014. That is unlikely to happen, but the police and soldiers can do a lot of damage.  
July 4, 2012: In the south, along the Thailand border, police arrested 80 Thais and accused them of illegal logging. There's a lot of this going on along the border, and those arrested belonged to a gang that apparently did not pay bribes to the right people. Police also seized bulldozers (for creating roads) and heavy trucks (to carry out the logs), as well as heavy duty saws. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

RWB concerned at illegal arrest, beating of journos

Reporters Without Borders, an international organisation that advocates press freedom, expressed concern at the illegal detention and serious mistreatment of Bangladeshi journalist Mutafizur Rahman Sumon of news site, who remains behind bars.

Sumon, 28, was arrested on 13 July in Dhaka. He must be freed immediately and be given medical attention for injuries suffered at the hands of authorities, the Paris-based rights body said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday.

“We demand that the government investigate the arrest and mistreatment by security forces,” Reporters Without Borders added. “These actions cannot go unpunished.”

The arrest was prompted by Sumon’s campaign against impunity for crimes against media workers, the organization said, in declaring its support for the campaign, it said.

Sumon was leaving a computer store when officers in civilian clothes from the Detective Branch of the Bangladesh Police forced him into their vehicle.

“According to the Crime Reporters Association of Bangladesh and members of Sumon’s family, the police, commanded by Inspector Motlab Hossain and took Sumon to a secret location. He was held there for three days, during which time he was beaten, threatened, and deprived of food and sleep”, the statement said,

Colleagues and relatives who have visited Sumon in prison are gravely concerned for his health, it mentioned.

Sumon, according to his uncle, linked his arrest to his participation in several demonstrations by media workers protesting the absence of progress in the investigation of the double murder of Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi, husband-and-wife journalists who were killed on 11 February, according to the RWB statement.

In another disturbing development, correspondent Ayaz Azad of the daily Dainik Jaijaidin was attacked on 14 July by machete-wielding students of the Chhatra League (student branch of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League) on the campus of Islamic University in the Kushtia district of southwest Bangladesh. The journalist was hospitalized for injuries to his shoulders, it said.

Bangladesh ranked 129th out of 179 countries on the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Suicidal foreign policy isolates Bangladesh Further

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni recapitulates the urgency of protecting the interest of the country by denying shelter to the ill-fated Rohingyas, a marginalized Muslim community of Myanmar who urgently need to enter Bangladesh to avoid sure massacre in their homeland. She is desperate in claiming that considering the far-reaching interest of the country Rohingyas will not be allowed shelter in Bangladesh. But the same foreign minister either handed over or assisted to handover some basic strategic keys to India that are inseparably related to the existence of Bangladesh.

She and her colleagues utterly failed to comprehend the blunder while surrendering those keys. The basic reason is that avoiding the internationally accepted norms they define everything on the basis of their own choice and interest. Many terms like friendship, democracy, independence and sovereignty, even freedom fighters and pro-independence and anti-independence forces, and so on are defined in different way suiting their interest. The critics opine these peculiarities are the revelation of digitalized ambiguities.

On the basis of the utopian digitalized foreign policy the government discovered the interest of the country in denying the Rohingya to enter Bangladesh and push them back what is equivalent to death penalty. The government claims pushing the Rohingyas to the cave of death inside Myanmar it protects the interest of the country. But the same government availing lame excuses forgot the strategic interest of the country when it agreed to provide free naval, road and railway corridors, ports, lands, and even access of Indian Army to Bangladesh. Though these concessions are very crucial to Bangladesh Dipu Monis did so in the name of strengthening and cementing friendship with India.

The inner reason of such one-sided foolish generosity is that India is their personal and party ally, such an ally that openly declared that it will not remain idle if Dipu Monis face any crisis in Bangladesh. India pledges to rescue/ or salvage them. Such report flashes off and on that to rescue Dipu-Monis helicopters, i.e., Indian Air force, are kept ready in Kolkata and Agartala. Dipu Monis never protested such aggressive and defaming official statements and reports. Observers believe such naked assurance is the outcome of those strategically important concessions that were unhesitantly given away to India to keep Bangladesh under Indian grasp. Through such gestures Dipu Monis couldn’t fetch any benefit for Bangladesh, rather seriously compromised the foundation of our sovereignty. Hundreds of instances could be cited to justify how Dipu Monis sacrificed the vital interest of Bangladesh to please their Indian friends. Now the same class denies entrance of the Rohingyas in the name of protecting the interest of Bangladesh. What a sheer mockery it is!

Shelter to the moribund Rohingya Muslims was denied as it will not fetch any returns from any source. So it is unimportant to protect them from sure death. Many analysts who are knowledgeable on the Chanakya (Koutillaya)-policy of India opine that India the former footman of late communism and defunct Soviet Union now leans to America in order to besiege China and impose its (India) supremacy on its neighbouring counties. Observers believe it (India) suggested our policymakers not to shelter the Rohingyas. Its policymakers silently observe the annihilation of the Rohingyas in their doorsteps, as if, nothing happens in Arakan Hills.

Observers believe that India designs to orchestra and prolong meaningless dispute and conflict between Bangladesh-Myanmar to encircle Bangladesh from all sides. The current anti-Rohingya massacre is one of those intrigues. The immediate goal of the present conflict is to isolate Bangladesh further so that Bangladeshi Muslims cannot get shelter in their doorstep Myanmar on the face of any internal turmoil or Indian aggression in the form of rescuing Dipu Monis or crushing the patriots whom the ruling class brands as anti-liberation forces and fundamentalists. It is strongly believed Dipu Monis were asked to deny repeated requests of international community to shelter the Rohingyas in Bangladesh territory.

Observers allege Bangladesh government knowingly undertakes inhuman stand in response to Indian pressure though it is quiet aware that the Rohingya Muslims have little security in their abode. It is the humanistic and moral responsibility to shelter the endangered people irrespective of caste and creed. The inhuman instance that the government sets against the imperiled Rohingyas will be a boomerang, as none of the international community will come forward help us if we ever face such manmade debacle. The far-reaching consequences of government denial to UN, American, Canadian or EU request will isolate us further that may cause our country and people.

Deterrence on the visit of UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) officials to Bangladesh-Myanmar border indirectly brands UN as our rival. Only the future can say what adverse impact it will ascribe on Bangladesh for such unstudied and immature diplomacy. We send thousands of our soldiers under UN Peacekeeping Mission who work in many disturbed regions around the world to deter ethnic violence and political annihilation and restore peace. But we cannot play any meaningful role by providing shelter to the aggrieved and innocent people who standing on our doors and beg and cry to save their lives from communal riots. Rather we make cruel joke with them by providing some food and fuel to ply their boat.

The Non- resident Bangladeshi intellectuals and analysts expressed their deep anguish against the Indian government, the lone ally of the incumbent government that deters it from taking even humanitarian step by providing mere shelter to the Rohingyas in our soil. They alleged that this self-styled fake superpower (?) frequently, pokes its nose into the internal affairs of its neighboring countries, stands ready to rescue its allies in Bangladesh, shelters rebels of Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and sent its soldiers to Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan, didn’t utter single word favoring the Rohingyas, not to speak of providing shelter, because such anti-minority massacre occurs in her soil almost daily. They (intellectual and analysts) opine, India’s evil counseling obstructs the AL-led government that prompted the Dipu Monis to denounce American, Canadian, UN or European Union repeated requests to open our border for the fleeing Rohingyas. It is India that also provokes Myanmar not to construct a road through its territory to facilitate Bangladesh to have direct road connection to China and other Southeast Asian countries, as it will reduce Indian business in Bangladesh. That will also frustrate Indian policy of encircling Bangladesh and keeping it within the Indian radar. Persuading the incumbent Sheikh Hasina government, this self-styled fake superpower though hobnobs with America to encircle China conveys this message to America that it is not ready to allow America to play even minimum role in the region and USA bossing will no longer be entertained. India finds USA middling in this region a threat to her (India) hegemonic aspiration.

Dipu Monis’ allege that international community did nothing in repatriating

those Rohingyas who earlier were sheltered in Bangladesh. So Bangladesh has no room to aggravate the burden sheltering the Rohingyas further. Though such allegation is valid, still we can’t allow the fleeing Rohingyas to be killed once they reach our door. Can we hide our diplomatic failure in repatriating the Rohingyas back who are in Bangladesh for years? Did we hold any meaningful and serious dialogue in any international forum on this issue? How many times we asked China, an ally of both Bangladesh and Myanmar help repatriation of the Rohingyas? Did we raise the issue before UN, OIC, even SAARC or any other international or regional body? It is the outcome of the Indianization of our foreign policy. We don’t have any reliable friend around the world. India is a friend of a particular party or parties, but not of Bangladesh and it (India) relentlessly works to keep Bangladesh isolated from the rest of the world. Can we push back the Rohingya refugees unilaterally without international support? Do we have such influence and ability to persuade or force Myanmar to take the Rohingyas back home? If we do have it, why we utterly failed to do that? If we had such power, Myanmar would have never dared to touch the Rohingyas.

The reality is that we lag behind in all aspects. We don’t have power or international lobbying to compel Myanmar to repatriate its nationals. Still we can’t allow the Rohingyas die keeping our door closed. Requesting the international community to play their due to role in expediting early repatriation of the Rohingya refugees, we could table some preconditions that could strengthen us diplomatically and even financially. Through this we could satisfy all the groups. Our present policy will simply isolate us further. We have become friendless and segregated and isolated us. We can’t say who guides us? Who dictates our internal and external policies?

On the other hand, the international community is puzzled while the Muslim world baffled seeing the unusual happenings inside the country. What type of democracy we are practicing? Seeing the digitalized version and prodigy of democracy that includes willful exercise of power, shackling the political dissents, kidnapping, secret killing, remand, trouncing, culture of contrived cases, accumulation of power to an individual, wrangling between the parliament and judiciary, and so on the international community jeers at us.

Their studied conclusion is: how the incumbent government that was democratically elected by the people denies democratic rights to its opponents, tramples down (under police boot) the opposition activists, fastens the activists with rope like cattle, shackles (on the foot of) the dignitaries, lifts the opponents from the streets and vanishes them forever whose near ones don’t know whether they are alive or dead, allows random killing everywhere - from bedroom to the streets - could shelter the alien Rohingya refugees in its soil, as their death matters little to it (government).

We are being isolated from the rest of the world due to all these reasons and above all, the erroneous foreign policy that closes all doors for us. Our foreign policy confines us to the pound of an expansionist ally. We are friend neither of America, nor China. Japan or Muslim World suspects our sincerity. We don’t attach importance to UN. To what destination we are leading to? Many of our tested allies are no more with us. Those who should have sided with us, now are irritated to us. We are folding ourselves from rest of the world and it seems we are being transformed to the status of Bhutan and former Sikkim. Sikkim withered away from the world map about four decades ago. Neither the king nor the premier of Bhutan needs to go abroad, as he has no function and none feels importance to invite him to visit any country, because the international community knows someone controls and performs the external services of Bhutan. Observers apprehend Bangladesh gradually proceeds to that direction.

Real independence and sovereignty of any country is ventilated through its foreign policy. Many observers of home and abroad allege that our foreign policy fatefully encages to Indian orbit. The international community though doesn’t verbally express, but solidly feels who now dictates Bangladesh. It is our responsibility to reverse the mindset of the international community. We must comprehend this reality that a country in the truest sense of the term can’t remain as sovereign if it is dictated and controlled by foreign guardian. Under such situation a country degrades to merely government and flag-centric.

The government of such country is chosen and changed according to the signal and choice of that regulatory guardian. Trade and commerce, internal administration, even culture and literature of such country are controlled by the same mentor. Whatever it desires, the ruling class remains obliged to provide it. If the ruling elites ever behave disloyally, they are replaced by new ones. The new elites also enjoy the blessing of the mentor and act upon its suggestions. The mentor, suiting its interest and intention uses them as the pawns of chess. It is better to brand them as ‘robot’. We don’t desire to be used as robot of any power. We will formulate our vision exercising our sagacity, prudence and talent. We are to justify that the nation that achieved its independence through unprecedented sacrifice can determine and implement our external policies. It will be fallacious if anyone miscalculates us as robot.

In many countries robot-like human beings appear in different ages. Robot doesn’t possess its own intelligence and conscience. It is nothing but a machine. It acts simply according to the programs planted by its user inside it. Such people could also be compared to parrot. A parrot can only utter whatever it is taught and the parrot-like human being does what its mentors tell. He/she can neither exercise his/her own judgment, nor do what should be done. Such mercenaries and vested interests are turned, as if, to something like handicapped. They serve for the mentors at the cost of their national interest. Due to self-centered sabotage of these handicapped surrogates many independent and sovereign countries in various stages of history reduced to the status of ill-fated Bengal (under British rule), Kashmir, Sikkim, etc., the toadies like Mir Jafar, Sheikh Abdullah, Nur Mohammad Taraki, Haffiz Ullah Amin, Landup Dorjji are documented as hated traitors. We are to remain vigil and act judiciously so that we are not portrayed like those traitors mentioned above. *

BY :  Mohammad Zainal Abedin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bangladeshi ISI agent uses Facebook to trap Lt Col

A Lieutenant Colonel is facing charges of establishing unauthorised contacts on Facebook with a Bangladeshi woman, suspected to be an ISI agent, who had earlier honey-trapped an Indian officer in Dhaka last year. 

The Armoured Corps officer deployed in Suratgarh district of Rajasthan is facing a Court of Inquiry (CoI) for allegedly establishing contacts with the Bangladeshi woman on Facebook, Army sources said here on Wednesday. 

They said the CoI was ordered after the Intelligence Bureau personnel noticed that the officer was regularly in touch with the Bangladeshi woman on Facebook and chatting with her. 

Army sources said the officer had not established any physical contact with the woman and it was limited only in the cyber domain. 

However, reports suggested the officer was honeytrapped by the Bangladeshi woman. He was arrested along with the woman, suspected to be working for a foreign spy agency, from a city hotel in May on a tip-off from the external intelligence agencies. 

The same woman by the name of Sheeba was allegedly involved in honeytrapping of another Lt Col during his posting in Bangladesh and then blackmailed by ISI which reportedly asked him to spy for Pakistan. 

The Infantry officer was doing his Staff College course in Bangladesh's Military Academy in Dhaka. 

The officer was reportedly honey-trapped by the woman whom he had met at a party in Dhaka and was then later approached by agents of Pakistan's intelligence agency. 

Armed with alleged tapes of the officer and the woman together, the officer was asked by ISI agents to spy for Pakistan.


Indian RAW operations in South Asian countries

India’s premier intelligence outfit Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)’s operations against the regional countries are conducted with great professional skill and expertise. Central to the operations is the establishment of a huge network inside the target countries. It uses and targets political dissent, ethnic divisions, economic backwardness and criminal elements within these states to foment subversion, terrorism and sabotage.
Having thus created the conducive environments, RAW stage-manage future events in these countries in such a way that military intervention appears a natural concomitant of the events. In most cases, RAW’s hand remains hidden, but more often that not target countries soon begin unearthing those “hidden hand”. A brief expose of RAW’s operations in neighboring countries would reveal the full expanse of its regional ambitions ( Open Secrets. India’s Intelligence Unveiled by M K Dhar. Manas Publications, New Delhi, 2005).
Indian intelligence agencies were involved in Bangladesh since early 1960s.In fact, the main purpose of raising RAW in 1968 was to organise covert operations in Bangladesh. As early as in 1968, RAW was given a green signal to begin mobilising all its resources for the impending surgical intervention in erstwhile East Pakistan. When in July 1971 General Manekshaw told Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that the army would not be ready till December to intervene in Bangladesh, she quickly turned to RAW for help. RAW was ready. Its officers used Bengali refugees to set up Mukti Bahini. Using this outfit as a cover, Indian military sneaked deep into Bangladesh. The story of Mukti Bahini and RAW’s role in its organisation and training is now well-known. RAW never concealed its Bangladesh operations. Interested readers may have details in Asoka Raina’s Inside RAW: the story of India’s Secret Service published by Vikas Publishing House of New Delhi.

It was partly to put an end to the activities of the ISI in India’s North-East from East Pakistan that Indira Gandhi decided to assist the Bengali-speaking people of East Pakistan in their efforts to separate from Pakistan and achieve an independent State to be called Bangladesh.

The IB before 1968 and the R&AW thereafter had built up a network of relationships with many political leaders and Government officials of East Pakistan.

The R&AW’s role was five-fold: Provision of intelligence to the policy-makers and the armed forces; to train the Bengali freedom fighters in clandestine training camps; to network with Bengali public servants from East Pakistan posted in West Pakistan and in Pakistan’s diplomatic missions abroad and persuade them to co-operate with the freedom-fighters and to help in the freedom struggle by providing intelligence; to mount a special operation in the CHT against the sanctuaries and training camps of the Naga and Mizo hostiles;and to organize a psychological warfare (PSYWAR) campaign against the Pakistani rulers by disseminating reports about the massacres of the Bengalis in East Pakistan and the exodus of refugees.(Role of RAW in Liberation of Bangladesh By B Raman,

An American report confirmed RAW was directly involved in the secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh and is currently engaged in similar activities. RAW has a long history of activity in Bangladesh supporting both secular forces and the area’s Hindu minority masterminding the break up of Pakistan in 1971(

The main objective of the RAW is to create internal trouble in neighbouring countries and take benefit from the trouble that the neighbouring countries face(Machination of RAW in South Asia and Movement of RAW in Nepal/ by Dr Shastra Dutta Pant).

The analysis of Indian foreign policy trends shows that the Indian governments had adopted an aggressive attitude and covert means for attaining its two permanent foreign policy goals: (a) to attain a hegemonic position in South Asia; (b) to play a role in international system based on Kautilyan principles. Indian governments have used intelligence agencies, not only for monitoring the activities of neighbouring States, but also as a covert forward base to achieve its goals and to implement its hegemonic policies in the region. Over the years RAW become an important instrument for promoting the hegemonic influence of India in the Asian region and has also played a significant role in enhancing India’s image as an important international actor. RAW has now acquired the important role of being the covert instrument of Indian national power and will remain decisive actor in furthering Indian interests and future Indian hegemonic ambitions in the region.

Ever since the partition of the sub-continent India has been openly meddling in Nepal’s internal affairs by contriving internal strife and conflicts through RAW to destabilise the successive legitimate governments and prop up puppet regimes which would be more amenable Indian machinations. Armed insurrections were sponsored and abetted by RAW and later requests for military assistance to control these were managed through pro-India leaders. India has been aiding and inciting the Nepalese dissidents to collaborate with the Nepali Congress. RAW: An Instrument Of Indian Imperialism by Isha Khan, (

India has been openly meddling in Nepal’s internal affairs by contriving internal strife and conflicts through RAW to destabilize the successive legitimate governments & prop up puppet regimes which would be more amenable Indian mechanization. Armed insurrections were sponsored and abetted by RAW and later requests for military assistance to control these were managed through pro-India leaders. India has been aiding & inciting the Nepalese to collaborate with the Nepali Congress. For this they were supplied arms whenever the king or the Nepalese Government appeared to be drifting away from the Indian dictates & impinging on Indian hegemonic designs in the region. In fact under the garb of democratization process, the Maoists were actively encouraged by the RAW to collect arms to resort to open rebellion against the legitimate Nepalese governments( RAW The Rascal by Prem Raj

Indian sources, including journalists, have put on record how much before 1971 RAW had established the network of a separatist movement through ‘cells’ and military training camps in Indian territory adjoining Bangladesh. The Mukti Bahini were all in place organisationally to take advantage of the political trouble in 1971 and carry out acts of sabotage against communication lines so that Indian forces simply marched in at the ‘right’ time. RAW agents provided valuable information as well as acting as an advance guard for conducting unconventional guerrilla acts against the Pakistani defence forces.

A Mukti Bahini activist, Zainal Abedin, has written a revealing book which includes his personal experience in Indian training camps, entitled RAW and Bangladesh. It was the post-fall of Dhaka period which exposed the Indians’ true intentions and made Abedin realise that It was evident from the conduct of the Indian Army that they treated Bangladesh as a colony … It is now evident that India had helped the creation of Bangladesh with the aim that it would be a step forward towards the total Indian subjugation. RAW has since been seeking to create Indian dominance culturally, ideologically and economically in Bangladesh. Following the independence of Bangladesh‚ it signed a seven-point secret treaty with India. According to the treaty‚ all types of employees including civil employees appointed during the Bangladesh civil war should be granted permanent status‚ other employees also could be appointed only by the Indian administrative service‚ a certain number of Indian soldiers will continue to remain in Bangladesh despite independence‚ Bangladesh will not have its own army‚ for its internal security‚ it will have only militias from among the freedom fighters who will work under the Indian military command‚ the trade between the two countries will be kept open and free‚ and matters pertaining to foreign affairs will be dealt only after close consultation with the Indian foreign ministry.

The treaty had two main points. India will have its control over foreign and defence matters and Bangladesh would open its market for Indian products. Even after this‚ Indian newspapers continued to lobby for the merger of Bangladesh into India.If European countries can become a united Europe‚ why can’t India go to status-quo-ante‚ or the situation prior to 1947?[31] Such were the views expressed in those newspapers(RAW in the Freedom Struggle of Bangladesh, Shastra Dutta Pant,

In addition, RAW had also created another insurgency outfit, Shanti Bahini. This force comprises the Chittagong Hill Tracts Hindu and Buddhists tribesmen (the Chakmas) and the intention is to bleed the Bengali military and keep the border area tense( India’s unconventional war strategy by Dr Shireen Mazari,

The Chakma guerrillas had closely assisted RAW operatives. They were assisted during and after the liberation War. The Chakmas, after the change of govt in 1975, contacted the RAW. The Chakmas offered to infiltrate among the Mizo rebels and pass on information to the Indian govt in lieu of asylum. This offer was accepted (Inside RAW : The Story of India’s Secret Service, Asoka Raina, Vikas Publishers, New Delhi, 1981, pp.86-87).

In 1975, the RAW was instructed to assist the Chakma rebels with arms, supplies , bases and training. Training was conducted in the border camps in Tripura but specialized training was imparted at Chakrata near Dehra Doon. Shantu Larma’s Shanti Bahini members were flown to Chakrata and then sent back to Tripura to infiltrate into Chittagong Hill Tracts. A RAW office and its operatives at Agartala monitored the progress of the trainees. In 1976, the Shanti Bahini launched its first attack on the Bangladesh force. A new insurgency had been born and India’s secret war in the hills of Bangladesh had begun ( South Asia’s Fractured Frontier, by Binalaksmi Nepram, Mittal Pablishers, New Delhi, 2002, pp-153).

The RAW was involved in training rebels of Chakma tribes and Shanti Bahini to carry out subversive activities in Bangladesh (RAW’s role in Furthering India’s Foreign Policy, The New Nation, Dhaka, 31 August 1994). The Indian intelligence had collaborated the armed rebels of Chittagong Hill Tracts to destabilise the region ( Indo-Bangladesh Relation, Motiur Rahman, daily Prothom Alo, 10 December 2002).

RAW retained a keen interest in Bangladesh even after its independence. Mr. Subramaniam Swamy, Janata Dal MP, a close associate of Morarji Desai said that Rameswar Nath Kao, former Chief of RAW, and Shankaran Nair upset about Sheikh Mujib’s assassination chalked a plot to kill General Ziaur Rahman. However, when Morarji Desai came into power in 1977 he was indignant at RAW’s role in Bangladesh and ordered operations in Bangladesh to be called off; but by then RAW had already gone too far. General Zia continued to be in power for quite some time but he was assassinated after Indira Gandhi returned to power, though she denied her involvement in his assassination ( Weekly Sunday, Calcutta,18 September, 1988 ).

It also unleashed a well-organized plan of psychological warfare and dissension among the political parties and religious sects, control of media, denial of river waters, and propping up a host of disputes in order to keep Bangladesh under a constant political and socio-economic pressure ( “ RAW and Bangladesh” by Mohammad Zainal Abedin, November 1995, RAW In Bangladesh: Portrait of an Aggressive Intelligence, by Abu Rushd, Dhaka ).

RAW continues keeping effective contacts with the political personalities, parties and election process.

The Economist of London recently wrote: ‘Ever since 2008, when the Awami League, helped by bags of Indian cash and advice, triumphed in general elections in Bangladesh, relations with India have blossomed ( ).

A couple of years back an Indian journalist Rajesh Joshi had reported that a political party of a neighbouring country received a fund of Rupees 4.5 crore from RAW( Research and Analysis Wing, India’s premier intelligence outfit) in 1991 but the party was defeated (The Indian Express, 28 April 1991). It may be mentioned here that elections were only held in Bangladesh in 1991 in the subcontinent and AL was defeated in that election. Years later weekly Sugandha had a similar story on 24 April 1996.

Political parties, personalities and various outfits had received Indian fund, assistance, training etc in not too distant past. Some references:

‘The involvement of RAW in East Pakistan is said to date from the 1960s, when RAW supported Mujibur Rahman, leading up to his general election victory in 1970’ (

‘The Bangla Desh Operation began a year before the actual operation was underway. Even when the world did get a whiff of it in the shape of the Mukti Bahani, many remained unaware of RAW’s involvement. By 1968 Indian operatives had already been in contact with the Mujib faction. Meetings convened in Agartala during 1962-63, between the IB foreign desk operatives ( Sankaran Nair) and the Mujib faction’ ( Asoka Raina in “Inside RAW: The Story of India’s Secret Service”,Vikas Publishing, New Delhi,1981. Also in “RAW in the Freedom Struggle of Bangladesh” by Dr Shastra Dutta Pant (

‘ The RAW created ‘Mujib Bahini’, a special force during liberation war. Mujib Bahini was trained at the headquarters of the Aviation Research Center, RAW’s special outfit at Chakrata near Dehradun. The force was headed by Sirajul Alam Khan,Tofael Ahmed, Abdur Razzzak and Fazlul Huq Moni. After the war most members joined Rakkhi Bahini and JSD’ ( Major General Sujan Singh Uban in his “ Phatoms of Chittagong; The Fifth Army in Bangladesh”, Allied Publishers, 1985, New Delhi).

‘Kaderia Bahini’s Tiger Siddiqui , who had contacts with the RAW crossed over the border in 1975.The Indian govt’s support to Siddiqui is reported to have continued via RAW’ (Asoka Raina in “Inside RAW: The Story of India’s Secret Service”,Vikas Publishing, New Delhi,1981).

The Chakma guerrillas had closely assisted RAW operatives. They were assisted during and after the liberation War. The Chakmas, after the change of govt in 1975, contacted the RAW and offered to infiltrate among the Mizo rebels and pass on information to the Indian govt in lieu of assylum. This offer was accepted (Inside RAW : The Story of India’s Secret Service, Asoka Raina, pp.86-87). The Indian intelligence had collaborated the armed rebels of Chittagong Hill Tracts to destabilise the region ( Indo-Bangladesh Relation, Motiur Rahman, daily Prothom Alo, 10 December 2002).

BY :   Isha Khan.