Wednesday, September 14, 2011

India trying to help Hasina remain in power

Bangladesh prime minister Shiekh Hasina with Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh in Delhi
R DUTTA CHOUDHURY

THE GOVERNMENT of India has decided to extend as much help as possible to Bangladesh to strengthen the hands of the Sheikh Hasina led Awami League Government in the interest of having a friendly neighbour as the present Government in the neighbouring country already extended help to India in dealing with insurgency.

Highly placed official sources in New Delhi told ‘The Assam Tribune’ that though the fundamentalist groups are still active in Bangladesh, they are not allowed a free run as was the case in the past. The effort on the part of India is to extend help to Bangladesh so that the present regime stays in power, sources added.

Sources pointed out that though India's relations with Myanmar improved considerably in recent times, China has virtually taken control of the economy of that country and there is urgent need for India to have at least one friendly neighbour and in this regard, India has been maintaining cordial relation with Bangladesh.

Sources further pointed out that during the tenure of the previous regime in Bangladesh, the militant groups of North East were having a free run and even operated camps in that country, while, the anti-India fundamentalist forces also had strong bases. But the situation has changed completely after the Awami League Government came to power as leaders of different militant outfits were apprehended and handed over to India. Some of the members of the militant groups of North East are still staying in Bangladesh, but they are not allowed a free run.

But the fact remains that fundamentalist forces are still active in Bangladesh and militant groups like the HUJI still have strong bases and there is need for India to take necessary precautions to prevent elements of such groups from sneaking into India to indulge in acts of violence.

However, sources admitted that there are some major drawbacks in the efforts to maintaining good relations with Bangladesh. As every firing along the international border causes hue and cry in Bangladesh and puts the Government in an embarrassing position, the Government has directed the personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) to use lethal weapons only when it is absolutely necessary. The personnel of the border guarding force are being provided with non-lethal weapons in phased manner to deal with infiltrators and smugglers.

Sources admitted that the instruction of not using lethal weapons may create confusion in the minds of the personnel of the border guarding force as they will find it difficult to decide when to use lethal weapons and when to use non lethal weapons. Moreover, normally small groups of BSF men go out for patrolling and it will be difficult for them to carry both lethal and non lethal weapons, sources pointed out. The BSF is already facing shortage of manpower and it will also not be possible for the force to send out large groups carrying both lethal and non lethal weapons for patrolling along the international border.

First published in the Assam Tribune, Guwahati, September 11, 2011