India Steps Up Anti-Militant Vigilance on Bangladesh Border

Jhumur Deb
2017.03.24
Guwahati, India
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170324-IN-border-620.jpg Indian Border Security Force personnel take part in a routine patrol near the Indo-Bangladesh frontier on the outskirts of Agartala, the capital of Tripura state, Feb. 9, 2017.
AFP

Indian security agencies have intensified patrols along the Indo-Bangladeshi border following intelligence inputs from Bangladesh that more than 3,000 Muslim militants have crossed into India during the past 24 months, a senior border official said Friday.

There has been an unprecedented surge in infiltration by suspected Bangladeshi militants to escape the wrath of the Bangladesh government’s crackdown on Islamic extremism following last year’s terror attack at Dhaka’s Holey Artisan café that left 20 hostages dead, the official said.

“We have confirmed information that as many as 3,500 suspected Bangladeshi extremists have entered India in the last two years. A large majority of them have crossed over after the café attack,” the Border Security Force (BSF) official told BenarNews on condition of anonymity.

“We received intelligence from our counterparts in Bangladesh about many top leaders of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) crossing over into India. A large number of these extremists have entered India through the border with the northeastern states of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura,” he said.

Bangladeshi authorities have blamed Neo-JMB, a faction of JMB, for the overnight siege at the café on July 1and 2, 2016 – Bangladesh’s deadliest terrorist attack, which was claimed by Islamic State. Since the attack, Bangladeshi police and security forces have killed at least 48 suspected militants in raids and shootouts.

The Times of India recently reported infiltration by suspected Bangladeshi extremists increased three-fold in 2016 compared with the year before.

Bangladesh and India share a 4,096 km (2,545 mile ) porous border that cuts through five Indian states, including 262 km (162 miles) in Assam, 856 km (532 miles) in Tripura, 180 km (112 miles) in Mizoram, 443 km (275 miles) in Meghalaya, and 2,217 km (1,378 miles) in West Bengal.

“We believe these extremists have set up several bases in India and have established contacts with linkmen in major Indian cities. They are actively engaged in recruiting cadres to strengthen their base in India,” the BSF official told Benar.

In January, BenarNews accessed a classified intelligence report which claimed extremists from JMB and HuJI were collaborating to launch a series of attacks in India.

“[T]he secretary of JMB, Iftadur Rehman, has entered India on Jan. 12 on [a] fake passport and has established contact with linkmen in Assam and West Bengal. He is also scheduled to visit Delhi,” the report said.

“There are reports that the combined team [of JMB and HuJI] is planning big attacks in major centers in India,” it added.

Almost 60 JMB members arrested: Police

New Delhi has directed police in the northeastern states that border Bangladesh to step up a vigil to thwart infiltration attempts and possible attacks on Indian soil.

“Although we still don’t have the names or photographs of the suspects, we have received orders to strengthen security along the India-Bangladesh border. Police have been directed to maintain close coordination with various intelligence agencies,” Pallab Bhattacharya, Assam’s additional director general of police (ADGP), told BenarNews.

Two highly trained suspected JMB members were nabbed from Assam’s Nalbari district last month, he said, adding that the state police had arrested nearly 60 members of the outfit since October 2014.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is the ideological mentor of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed a resolution earlier this week accusing West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress of shielding Islamic extremists.

The resolution, titled “Growing jihadi activities in West Bengal is a security concern for the country,” says: “The population of [West] Bengal’s Hindus was 78.45 percent in the first census in 1951, and is 70.54 in the last one.”

“The resolution clearly states that the ruling party in West Bengal is promoting jihadi violence and communal elements to important berths,” Jidhnu Basu of the RSS told NDTV.

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