KOLKATA: Analysts in India are worried by the turn of events in Bangladesh where violence during Durga Puja celebrations has left four dead and fear this to be part of a larger conspiracy to destabilise the Sheikh Hasina government there. While the Bangladesh government has been swift in clamping down on a series of attacks that started in a couple of towns in Comilla district of Bangladesh, strategic analysts and former Indian ambassadors feel that there is need for caution given the renewed rise of Islamists emboldened by the establishment of Taliban rule in Afghanistan. “This is a worrying development and requires cautious handling. It is also an attempt to destabilise the democracy and communal harmony which the Sheikh Hasina government has brought about,” said Ambassador Pinak R Chakravarty, former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh. “A conspiracy by a fundamentalist organisation backed by Pakistan is apparent. The Bangladesh government has to neutralise these elements,” he said. The Bangladesh prime minister has in a meeting with Hindu leaders already promised stern action against perpetrators of the attack, and several suspects have been arrested. Police there have indicated that the spark to the violent attacks, a Koran found in a Puja tableau, was planted by miscreants in a planned conspiracy. “We have reason to believe that this is part of a larger conspiracy by elements inimical to both India and Bangladesh. Islamist forces seem to have been emboldened by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan,” said Shantanu Mukharji, a former IPS officer and security analyst who has served as National Security Advisor to Mauritius. Bangladesh has in the past cracked down on hard-line Islamist terror groups like the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and arrested or gunned down in fire-fights its leaders and cadres. The Taliban had recruited large numbers of fighters from Bangladesh in the 1990s who formed the core of extremists who later plagued that nation in the last two decades. The Bangladesh government has in recent years also hung several Jamaat-e-Islami leaders who were involved in war crimes against civilians during that country’s war of liberation against Pakistan in 1971. The Jamaat-e-Islami had collaborated with the Pakistani Army in the 1971 genocide. Ambassador Pinak Chakravarty said, “Smarting from the blows delivered by the War Crimes Tribunal, this is their (Islamists) way of exacting revenge which could destabilise their government and ties with India.” Many analysts believe that these elements emboldened by the Taliban victory will again try to destabilise the Sheikh Hasina government. “We have to worry about the future. While Sheikh Hasina has been extremely effective in her tackling of terror groups, we must have a programme of de-radicalisation for the future and also see to it that we cooperate with the Bangladesh government in tackling a common menace,” said Ambassador Sarvajit Chakravarti, member of the think tank Research Centre for Eastern & North Eastern Studies. Added Sreeradha Dutta, who heads the South Asia Neighbourhood Studies Centre of the Vivekananda International Foundation and is a former Director of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata: “There is a need for vigilance and realisation that events in the two countries are interdependent.” Hasina, who has been the target in the past of several coups and assassination attempts, in her statement on Thursday too has warned that India should remain vigilant and said nothing should happen in the larger neighbourhood which could impact Bangladesh, without stating what she was alluding to.
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