Rise of militancy: Poverty, western interest, govt's denial help strengthen militancy

It was March 31, 2004. The villagers of Bagmara witnessed hundreds of people wearing green alkhalla and jobba (a type of robe) were marching the village roads carrying traditional weapons like swords, machetes and sticks. A big man cladding a T-shirt and carrying sword on his shoulder was leading the procession. The big man is none but Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, the supremo of JMB.

bdnews24.com
Published : 5 Jan 2006, 12:00 PM
Updated : 5 Jan 2006, 12:00 PM
Abu Sufian
BDNEWS Writer
Advisory: This is the last (4th) installment of a 4-part series report. Each part is an independent report
Dhaka, Jan 6 (BDNEWS) - It was March 31, 2004. The villagers of Bagmara witnessed hundreds of people wearing green alkhalla and jobba (a type of robe) were marching the village roads carrying traditional weapons like swords, machetes and sticks. A big man cladding a T-shirt and carrying sword on his shoulder was leading the procession. The big man is none but Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, the supremo of JMB.
Like outlawed Sarbahara party, the villagers of Bagmara were introduced with another terror group, JMJB, who killed about two-dozen people and maimed many after their first appearance.
Since 1999, a number of reports relating to armed training of youths in Dinajpur, Tangail, Mymensingh, Khulna, Rangamati, Satkhira, Natore, Dhaka, Kushtia and Chittagong by the militants were published in different dailies.
But the government repeatedly denied the reports and termed the reports false.
Even the Prime Minister, and other top BNP and Jamaat leaders ruled out the emergence of any militancy in Bagmara despite publication of a number of reports and photographs in different national and international dailies.
Considering the statements issued by the BNP high-ups as indirect backing to their acts, the JMB fast spread their activities across the country, especially in the poverty-stricken areas.
By cashing the endless poverty, JMB first took extremist-prone Bagmara in Rajshahi, and Atrai and Raninagar in Naogaon as their 'testing grounds'.
Bagmara, which is mainly a wetland, was an abode of 90 per cent landless people. It was an ideal place for the extremists who could exploit the poor in one hand and on the other extort the landlords.
The activities of Sarbahara Party increased in the '90s when Dr Mizanur Rahman Tutul was leading it. Killing, robbery, rape and kidnapping were regular incidents in the areas. None dared to do anything without the help of the extremists and, even, political parties could not win their elections without their support.
Therefore, all the political parties became dependent on them. Meanwhile, they became involved with the internal clashes over the recruitment of the extremists.
A local newsman said, "During that time, there was not a day without killing in Bagmara, Atrai and Raninagar."
On February 6, 2004, the outlawed extremists murdered Sabbir Ahmed Gama, nephew of Ruhul Kuddus Talukdar Dulu at Naldanga.
After his killing, the followers of Gama torched the entire Ramsa Kazipara village on February 8, 2004.
Locals alleged that Gama was a ringleader of Sarbahara Party and killed by his rivals.
A week after the brutal killing of Gama, the outlawed murdered Juba Dal leader Pakhi at Puthia, the constituency of BNP lawmaker Nadim Mostafa. The killings sparked off a huge uproar and confusion in the area, and among the extremists.
Taking this political instability, the JMB appeared in the scene and let loose a reign of terror at Bagmara, Atrai and Raninagar.
Interest of Western countries on natural resources:
Many think that JMB has not been created overnight itself but it's a creation of certain quarters with the long-term aim of deriving benefit from their subversive acts that would create a chaotic situation in the country.
Left-leaning politicians alleged that USA's patronisation helped emergence of extremists in Bangladesh.
Mujahidul Islam Selim, general secretary of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) told BDNEWS that not only in Afghan war, imperialist forces encouraged the zealots to curb the liberation movements in the sub-continent.
Describing the emergence of the fundamentalist forces here, Selim said: The long-drawn conspiracy of imperialist forces was behind the emergence of bigots.
The imperialists patronised the bigots to destabilise the country so that they could loot our huge natural resources including Gas, oil, Uranium, coal and diamonds.
The USA had encouraged the Pakistani youths for Jihad washing their brains in the madrasas. The USA with the supports from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait published books against Soviet Union in late 80s and encouraged the Pakistanis to fight in Afghanistan War in the name of Jihad.
The books distributed among the madrasa students of Pakistan were printed in USA, according to a report of South Asia Analysis Group.
The Bangladeshi youths came close to the Harkatul Jihad members and joined the Afghan war when they went for higher studies in Jameyatul Ulumil Islamiah Allama Yusuf Bin-Nuri Madrasa, Jameya Ashrafia Madrasa and Jameya Farukkiha Madrasa in Pakistan.
Meantime, hundreds of other youths also joined the Afghan war from Bangladesh directly.
The JMB had started recruiting the suicide squad members since the USA invasion in Iraq. They distributed leaflets in the country urging the people to join to the Mrityunjoy, acronym of suicide squad of JMB. About 1200 youths joined the squad then.
The JMB conducted a six-day campaign from April 6 to 11 in 2003 in the capital under the very nose of the authorities in front of National Press Club.
Government's statement in favour of JMB and JMJB:
When newspapers started reporting on the activities of Bangla Bhai and JMJB in the northern region about a year ago, the government outright rejected the reports. Even the media was blamed for creating such a 'fabricated' character.
The government high-ups, ruling coalition leaders and high police officials had repeatedly denied the existence of Bangla Bhai and JMJB, brushing aside the newspaper reports and interviews of the militant leaders.
"We don't know officially about the existence of the JMJB. Only some so-called newspapers are publishing reports on it. We don't have their constitution in our record,
" State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar
said on January 26.
Ruling coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer and Industries Minister Matiur Rahman Nizami on July 22 last year said, "Bangla Bhai was created by some newspapers."
He also accused newspapers of having links with Bangla Bhai. "If they (newspapers) do not have any relations with him (Bangla Bhai), then how do they publish exclusive interview of Bangla Bhai," the Jamaat ameer told a press conference.
"Police have nothing to do if there is no existence of the so-called Bangla Bhai. Whom should they arrest?" said Nizami on June 22 last year while exchanging views with reporters of national dailies at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.
BDNEWS/1756 hrs
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher