Indian Agency Uncovers Anti-Bangladesh Plot

By Altaf Ahmad
2015.03.31
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150331-IN-BD-Burdwansuspect-620 Suspected Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh member Sahanur Alom (center) is produced at a court in Guwahati, India, Dec. 6, 2014.
AFP

A banned Bangladeshi extremist group, which was plotting to overthrow Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government, has established a network in northeastern India that is trying to recruit young Indians, according to India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Twenty-one suspected Indian and Bangladeshi members of a Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) cell in India were part of a conspiracy to topple Bangladesh’s government through “violent terrorist acts and replace it with hard-line Sharia Islamic rule,” the NIA said Monday as it brought terrorism and other charges against the 21.

The “effort of recruitment, radicalization and training of vulnerable Indian youths was undertaken by members of JMB for preparing a large group of Indians based on their common religious and linguistic identity, primarily in the Indian states bordering Bangladesh, to join the JMB and utilize them for the movement to overthrow the existing democratic government in Bangladesh,” the agency said in a news release.

Thirteen of the 21 suspects are in Indian custody, but the eight others, including three Bangladeshis, are on the run.

“We are taking necessary steps regarding the absconding Bangladeshi suspects,” Abu Hena Md. Rahmatul Munim, an additional secretary at Bangladesh’s Home Ministry, told BenarNews on Tuesday.

Bangladeshi law enforcement officials had helped the NIA make some of the other arrests, he added.

Those in custody include a Bangladeshi, Sheikh Rahamatullah (also known as Sajid or Burhan Sekh), and two women, whom the NIA identified as Gulsona Bibi and Alima Bibi.

JMB expands to India

The NIA says it uncovered the Indian JMB cell through an investigation that stemmed from an accidental bomb explosion at a rented house in Burdwan, a district in West Bengal state, on Oct. 2, 2014.

The bomb went off, killing two suspected JMB members, including Sakil Gazi, a Bangladeshi national and alleged mastermind of JMB’s “bomb-making module,” according to the NIA.

The probe “has revealed that JMB has established a network in India, primarily in the states of West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand,” the NIA said. “Its activities in India primarily included recruitment, radicalization and training of vulnerable youths in a systematic and organized manner.”

“A network of terrorist training camps at selected madrassas and other hideouts was found to be in operation, where selected youths were indoctrinated into the violent jihadi ideology, as well as trained for violent action by using explosives and firearms,” the NIA added.

Its news release, however, did not make clear how the alleged cell planned to attack the Bangladeshi government.

At press time, it also was not evident whether Indian law enforcement officials had fully dismantled the JMB network.

Nationwide bombing spree

It is likely that the NIA’s case against the accused is solid because the agency is known for building water-tight cases in investigations connected to national security, said Baban Kumar Sharma, a lawyer at the Delhi High Court.

“The NIA is a highly competent organization in dealing with terror-related cases,” Sharma told BenarNews. ”It hardly leaves any lacuna in such cases before filing the charge sheet, whether in terms of conducting an investigation, collecting evidence, and during the trial.”

The Islamist JMB first made headlines back home in Bangladesh in 2005, by mounting a series of bombings in 62 of the country’s 64 districts.

Also that year, JMB murdered two judges in the southern district of Barguna.

Police arrested several JMB leaders in connection with those slayings. In 2007, seven of the suspects, including JMB chief Sheikh Abdur Rahman, were hanged for the judges’ murders.

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