Indian Double Game with Bangladesh

By Sajjad Shaukat

Although Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wajid has been fully cooperating with New Delhi by following pro-Indian policies, yet India is playing a double game with the former.

In this regard, in his inteview with the news editors on June 29, this year, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “with Bangladesh, our relations are quite good. But we must reckon that at least 25 per cent of the population of Bangladesh swears by the Jamiat-e-Islami and they are very anti-Indian. We do not know as to why these terrorist elements have a hold on Bangladesh. So, a political landscape in Bangladesh can change at any time.”

On the other side, upset over Singh’s undiplomatic comments, Bangladesh’s Foreign Office summoned the Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka and while lodging protest, asked for clarification of the anti-Bangladesh remarks.

It is mentionable that during his recent visit to Bangladesh, Prime Minister Hasina has assured Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari that she will not allow Bangladeshi territory to be used for terrorist activities against India and will extend full support to India in its war on terror.

Notably, Indian high officials and media have repeatedly been accusing Dhaka that several terrorist organizations like the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), and other similar insurgent groups which are committing various subversive acts in the Northeastern region of India, have turned Bangladesh into their safe haven, while the separatist group, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) is also hiding in Bangladesh. On the other side, it is equally true that Bangladesh never gave the militants liberty to function against India.

In the past, although New Delhi and Dhaka had agreed to combat cross-border terrorism through coordinated patrolling along their frontiers and work closely on issue of Indian insurgent hideouts in Bangladesh and anti-Bangladeshis in India, yet Indian cross-border terrorism in Bangladesh has continued unabated intermittently.

Regarding Indian massacre on the innocent Bangladeshis, Brad Adams wrote in the Guardian, “Over the past 10 years Indian security forces have killed almost 1,000 people in the border area between India and Bangladesh, turning it into a south Asian killing fields…so far, no one has been prosecuted for any of these killings, in spite of evidence in many cases that makes it clear that the killings were in cold blood against unarmed and defenceless local residents.”

In its report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed, “Indian Border Security Force personnel routinely gun down cattle smugglers and other civilians crossing the border with Bangladesh despite negligible evidence of any crime.”

The New York-based rights group in its 81-page, titled: “Trigger Happy: Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border,” disclosed, “The BSF-responsible for guarding against extremists, drug and weapons, smugglers and human traffickers is instead using its muscle to detain, torture and kill with impunity.”

In fact, many of the Bangladeshis who were killed by the BSF over the last decade were poor farmers or laborers taking cattle across the border for trade. Some were hit by aimless cross-border firing or allegedly executed without due cause.

It is surprise to note that Indian security officials publicly admit that unarmed civilians trying to enter India illegally are being killed. Despite the fact, New Delhi has completed building a 2,000 km fence along the border of Bangladesh in order to put up a watch in stopping illegal immigration, smuggling and infiltration, but BSF has continued “a shoot-to-kill policy,” even against unarmed local villagers. And the death toll of the innocent Bangladeshi people has been huge as the killings of these unarmed and defenceless local residents have no end. In this connection, sometimes those people are also shot by the Indian forces, who have not crossed the border, but are near the fence.

It is worth-mentioning that India’s plan for the construction of the Tipaimukh Dam on the river Barak is part of its most dangerous scheme of bloodless warfare, being conducted against Bangladesh so as to further harm all political, economic, financial and social fields of that small country. In the past, India had already started its bloodless war against Dhaka when the latter had refused to serve as satellite state of New Delhi which had played a key role in the dismemberment of Pakistan. For this purpose, India constructed the Farakka dam on the Indian side of the Ganges River to stop flow of water to Bangladesh. Inspite of the protest by Dhaka, Indian rulers used various delaying tactics to resolve the issue of Farakka dam. In that respect, Indo-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) met many a times to settle the dispute, but could not produce any positive results as India also violated various related-agreements by stealing the water, and stopping its flow to Bangladesh.

Particularly, during the era of Sheikh Hasina, an air of confidence has been created between India and Bangladesh and mutual cooperation between the two has increased.

In this context, there are concerns amongst the patriot people of Bangladesh and the opposition parties that the sitting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has a strong tilt towards India.

Nonetheless, India continues infiltration in Bangladesh as Dhaka has old border and water dispute with India, which have always attributed to New Delhi as the latter has been more aggressive in this regard. But some reliable sources suggest that now Ms. Hasina has directed his staff to close the chapter of water and border conflicts with India. Now the Awami League has given transit trade facilities to Bharat—a move which has been resisted by the Bangladeshi patriots for the past several decades. In this respect, a writer has rightly said, “Hasina Wajid again started Honey Moon Period of relationship with India.”

While establishing closest ties with New Delhi, P.M. Hasina Wajid is again giving secular orientation to the country by trying to purge the society from religious touch. For this aim, she has issued instructions for the removal of Islamic books, written by famous scholar Maulana Madoodi. She has also put the local leaders behind the bar, who were protesting against her un-Islamic thoughts. Notably, reaction of the general masses in the country could be judged from the nationwide strike which started on July 10, this year on the appeal of the Islamic parties backed by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), protesting against dropping the words “absolute faith in Allah” from the constitution. The successful strike shut schools and businesses across Bangladesh after bitter clashes between police and protesters, left scores of people injured.

On the other hand, a survey conducted by a local agency pointed out that 98% Bangladeshis are not ready to leave Islamic culture on the name of secularism. They also hate undue interference of India in Bangladesh’s affairs. They are quite aware that under the cover of friendship, New Delhi wants to make Bangladesh its colony. There is no doubt that in the recent past, Indian secret agency RAW conducted a number of subversive activities in Bangladesh like bomb blasts.

Besides, directly or indirectly, RAW applied various tactics and played a key role in helping Ms. Hasina Wajid come to power. First it engineered a judicial coup which allowed the Awami League to win 14 million voters of the opponent parities which were disenfranchised. Then the Jamaat-e-Islami was banned by Sheikh Hasina Wajid.

While the US-led NATO forces have been facing stiff resistance of the Taliban in Afghanistan and are likely to withdraw in accordance with the announced schedule. Even during the interim period, on Indian enticement, the Awami League is opening Bangladesh embassy in Kabul. In this context, on July 31, 2010, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni in Dhaka had said, “we have decided to reopen Bangladesh embassy in Afghanistan,” shortly, explaining that the process has been initiated. However, major aim of India is to involve Bangladesh in Afghanistan not only to sabotage Pakistan’s cordial relationship with Dhaka but also to intensify its anti-Pakistan and anti-China conspiracies.

Returning to our earlier discussion, despite full cooperation with New Delhi by the Hasina-led government, India has been playing double game with Bangladesh.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations


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