Sunday, August 21, 2005

Fear of Dhaka in fanatic grip

Bangladesh’s polity is going through a pacy transition from moderate Islam to extreme fanaticism, says a study by an intelligence outfit for the Indian security establishment.

This is evident in the rapid growth of a number of fundamentalist outfits over the past 10 years.

The blasts across 63 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts last week and other acts of violence in the recent past are worrisome for India. Because Bangladesh is situated between the Indian mainland and its northeastern region, the activities of fundamentalist outfits will transcend the border either by design or by accident, the study says.

The rise of fundamentalism in Bangladesh is attributed to the persistence of Islamic policies by successive governments despite the restoration of democracy in 1991. Extreme poverty was driving people in the hinterland towards fundamentalists who promised change. Plus, an unguarded approach from the sea near Cox’s Bazaar is being exploited by international organisations to establish bases in Bangladesh.

The study notes that since the US began its “war on terror”, there are reports of al Qaida moving activists into Bangladesh. In July 2003, an estimated 100 Taliban and al Qaida cadre were given shelter in the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation with its base in Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Read the full story The Telegraph .