Nasrin Sultana Khan
Islamist militants began flexing muscles in Bangladesh right after the end of Afghan war, where thousands of fighters from Bangladesh went and joined the anti-Soviet jihadist forces including Talibans and Al Qaeda.
A number of Islamist leaders and clerics even had gone within the inner circle of Osama Bin Laden. On return to Bangladesh, they began getting organized with the unholy agenda of transforming a secular Bangladesh into a Sharia country or even rogue state like Pakistan.
Rise of Islamist militancy reached an alarming level when pro-Islamist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its coalition government of Jamaat-e-Islami formed government in 2001. Jihadist outfits such as Jamatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) were expanding network under the direct patronisation of BNP led Islamist government. At the same time, there had been sudden appearances of a number of Islamist groups such as Khatmay Nabuwat Movement, Towhidi Jonota, Ahle Hadis etc demanding Ahmadis to be declared as non Muslims or even infidels
These unholy nexus of the Islamist militancy groups established reign of terror throughout Bangladesh. BNP led pro-Islamist coalition government not only appeased and funded these groups, they even exposedly extended support to radical groups like Khatmay Nabuwat and imposed ban on publication and distribution of all religious books of the Ahmadiyya community, defying serious concerns raised by the rights groups, USCIRF and the Western nations.
The entire tenure of BNP led Islamist government saw the dangerous rise of Islamist militancy. During that period, a number of international news media including the TIME magazine published series of reports on this issue.
In 2006, BNP made a foul bid of extending its tenure for a second term through serious manipulation by holding a mock general election to be held under a BNP-Jamaat loyalist interim government. But the pro-democracy and secularist people of Bangladesh under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh Awami League (AL) strongly confronted such evil desire thus saving the country from becoming another Afghanistan.
Ever since Bangladesh Awami League came to power in 2009 through a landslide victory, Bangladesh is attaining tremendous economic progress under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and it is well turn into a middle income nation by 2021.
While Bangladesh is marching towards prosperity, there again is unfortunate but alarming rise of Islamist militancy in the country. According to local media reports, there are several home-grown jihadist outfits on gradual rise, although some foreign media are seeing these home-grown jihadist outfits as ‘Bangladesh chapter’ of Islamic State and or Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
Thanks to the determination of Sheikh Hasina and relentless efforts of her government and the law enforcing agencies for efficiently combating these militancy groups.
Members of Bangladesh Police deserve special appreciation for their excellence in fighting militancy in the country.