PHOTO : Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni at 2014 Tripura Conclave. TIWN File Photo
The 3rd Tripura Conclave on Friday ( Venue: Sukanta Academy, 3pm) will focus on Cross-border terrorism in Bangladesh and its implications for Northeastern states. Nothing could be more timely. We have watched with alarm the rising curve of jihadi terrorism in Bangladesh and it is time we figure out what it means for us in Tripura and the rest of Northeast.
To say that does not mean Bangladesh is a lost case like Pakistan, which is both a terror-sponsor state and a victim of terrorism. Bangladesh under Sheikh Hasina's leadership is trying to grow organically by tapping its resources and managing its economy in the best possible ways -- unlike Pakistan which survives on three As -- Allah, Army, America-- by playing on its geo-political advantages.
But Pakistan is not only India's problem-- it is also a problem for Bangladesh. Intelligence agencies in Dhaka have picked up tell-tale signs of Pakistani intelligence activity in support of a resurgent jihadi surge that thrives partly on domestic dynamics and partly on the appeal of a global jihad created across cyberspace by the likes of ISIS and Al Qaeda, the former more than the latter.
Two Pakistan embassy staffers in Dhaka have been expelled this year on charges of backing local jihadi groups -- and scores of secular groups like the Sectors Commanders Forum have gheraoed the Pakistan embassy demanding severance of diplomatic ties with Islamabad. Pakistan has opposed the hangings of those found guilty in the 1971 war crimes trials -- because they were part of the horrendous atrocities during the Liberation War in their effort to keep Pakistan united.
Now fresh signs are emanating about new jihadi groups connecting to the likes of ISIS through discreet but definite help from Pakistan's ISI. Ever since the Shahbagh movement demanding punishment of war criminals surfaced in full fury , the Islamist fringe in Bangladesh has been suffering a crisis of existence.
Tripura governor Tathagata Ray, who is one of the few Indian politicians with a very deep understanding of Bangladesh, made this point during a recent interview.
Tripura Governor said the Islamist political dispensation in Bangladesh feels threatened by the way Sheikh Hasina is doing. " So they are desperate and making one final effort to stop her," he said. Which is why the present spate of jihadi activity is targetting secular writers and bloggers , cultural activists and publishers ( to demoralise the spirit of secular Bengali nationalism). They are also targetting Hindus and other minoirities to create complications between India and Bangladesh and they are attacking foreigners to adversely impact the economic development. So this jihadi activity is more political than religious.
India and Bangladesh need to fight this menace together. The need for closer security cooperation between the two countries have never been more necessary.
The Conclave will thus not merely discuss the problem --- it will try to evolve a roadmap for closer India-Bangladesh security cooperation, specially between Bangladesh and the bordering Indian states. The 3rd Conclave will bring together topshots from the security dispensation of India and Bangladesh and from the Northeastern states. A B Mathur , former secretary (security) and now member of National security Advisory Board, will spearhead the dialogue. Governor Tathagata Ray will deliver the inaugural address and Mr Mathur the keynote address.
Commodore Nurul Absar from NSI (Bangladesh) (equivalent of IB India) will enlighten the Conclave about the situation in Bangladesh and strategies to counter the situation. Assam police intelligence chief Pallabh Bhattacharyya and well known security expert Jaideep Saikia will speak on the Islamist threat to Northeast. Saumen Sarkar will emphasis the need to fight radicalism on the cyberspace and possible strategies needed to get that going.