Rise of Terrorism in Bangladesh


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

Terrorism is a daunting problem in today’s world. In Bangladesh, the risks and vulnerabilities created by terrorism have become a serious threat to national security.

Terrorism has become a threat to life, the economy and political and religious pluralism in Bangladesh. Religious assassinations, political violence and bombings in public places of festivity, entertainment and worship, have stunned the country.

The word “terrorism” generates a variety of different and sometimes contradictory meanings depending on the political and socio-cultural context. Constant changes in the manifestations and motivations of terrorism compound this confusion.

A rational description for terrorism could be “a systematic employment of violence and intimidation to coerce a government or community into acceding to specific political demands.”

In the South Asian regional context, terrorism is a serious and growing threat to regional security. South Asia has a violent history of terrorist incidents. Most internal security crises in South Asia have had a cross-border dimension, and many are inter-related.

Compared to the other South Asians states, terrorism in Bangladesh is relatively new, and is a largely home-grown phenomenon. Bangladesh has witnessed a sharp rise in terrorism since the mid-nineties.
Over the last two decades, a number of militant groups have established their presence through violent acts of terrorism in Bangladesh.

As a result critical sectors in Bangladesh, including energy, transportation, law enforcement, information technology, finance and public health, have all become increasingly vulnerable to terrorist activities.

Political terrorism largely stems from unhealthy competition to retain/gain power at any cost. This is the most dangerous form of terrorism in Bangladesh. The competition for political support has caused the cost and repercussions of this kind of terrorism to be largely ignored by mainstream political parties. This ignorance and inaction not only further exacerbates the issue, but perhaps even promotes political terrorism by signalling tacit acquiescence.

Religious terrorism, using violence in the name of religious ideologies, has seen a sharp rise in the country. In all its manifestations, it is one of the most serious security challenges currently confronting Bangladesh.

Anti-state terrorism constitutes acts of terror directed specifically against the government and state institutions and officials. An example of this is the case of the Sarbahara party, the objectives of which include overthrowing the existing establishment and reconfiguring state ideology.

Ethnic terrorism in Bangladesh is rooted in the quest of indigenous minorities to protect their lands from encroachment and to safeguard their own ethnic identity.

This can result in terrorism arising from conflicts in interest between majority and minority groups in a region, which may both resort to violence to further their political agendas.

 The consequences of terrorism are catastrophic. This is particularly true when certain terrorist groups have geographical protection, financial support and international networks to support their activities.

An example of this is some of the militant groups in Bangladesh, which are aided by Muslim extremist organisations.

The Bangladesh police and other law enforcement agencies can also be blamed for the rise of terrorism because of their corruption and political partiality. There are regular complaints regarding human right violations by law enforcement.

In addition to this, inefficient border management on both the India-Bangladesh and Bangladesh-Myanmar borders facilitates the movement of terrorists and the proliferation of organised crime.
Political parties, policy-makers and the civil society have so far failed to chalk out a proper plan to combat terrorism. The government has, on certain occasions, directly or indirectly employed military forces to combat terrorism, but that has only had positive effects in the short term.

A set of congruent policies is necessary to combat terrorism in Bangladesh. The incumbent government should also take initiatives to reduce economic inequality.

Counter terrorism instruments must be diversified. Counter terrorism should be pursued at the structural and political level, which requires development and reform of political institutions and law enforcement agencies.

Overall, to combat terrorism in South Asia, there needs to be a critical examination of the various terrorist threats in South Asia with a view to developing a comprehensive regional strategy for future action.

To this end, a comprehensive South Asian Counter Terrorism Strategy is essential, and should be created on the basis of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.

Clearly, terrorism is a key issue in both South Asia as a region, and in Bangladesh as a nation.
A strategy to combat terrorism must be well-researched, integrated and comprehensive and the will of the government and the policy makers is essential.



Wednesday, 04th Jan 2017, 06:28:35 AM

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