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Digging the roots of Bangladesh terror is never hard
Shahid Islam
 
Wars and insurgencies are triggered by perceptive or real sense of insecurity and vulnerabilities of the warring parties. While might became the currency to decide the ultimate outcome of conflicts since the 30 years long religious war in Europe in the 15th century, asymmetric warfare is the most preferred tool in this post-modern era.  Insurgents these days are hardly defeated. They must be negotiated to neutralize. Politics should be open to all.
Full Story
Shahid Islam
 
Wars and insurgencies are triggered by perceptive or real sense of insecurity and vulnerabilities of the warring parties. While might became the currency to decide the ultimate outcome of conflicts since the 30 years long religious war in Europe in the 15th century, asymmetric warfare is the most preferred tool in this post-modern era.  Insurgents these days are hardly defeated. They must be negotiated to neutralize. Politics should be open to all.
These days, it seems the incidents of terror attacks in Bangladesh ebbs and flows with remotely controlled command. Earlier, BNP and its allies were blamed for the bus bombing and other acts of terror during 2013-14. This led the BNP to stay in-door, hushed, and watch who does what. An ambiance of calm prevailed for a while, only to see the virus resurfacing. While the government once again blames the BNP and the Jamat for being at the helm of the recently observed terror activities too, evidence hardly supports such assertions.
 
Who does it?
What can be surmised from the spates of recent terror incidents is that the law enforcers are killing some of the earlier arrested militant suspects by making them suicide bombers and staging fake attacks in which they die, while the security targets they are reported to have hit remain mostly casualty-free. Crossfire killings have been replaced by orchestrated suicide bombing.
Another observable fact is the nature of weapons being displayed by police that are reportedly being used by the alleged militants.  Most of them are crude homemade bombs blasted in Shab- e- Barat fireworks by fun-loving kids. Compared with the Gulshan or sholakia incidents, recent incidents are non-event by ferocity, dimension and the skill and the capability demonstrated by the militants. Innocent people are victims of political power play.
Does that mean Bangladesh doesn’t have Islamic militants bent on turning this country into a sharia state? Not at all. International terrorism, especially the Islamic offspring of it, is a product of some sweeping and appealing ideology, often generated by the aggrieved victims of the power-wielding nations that seek full control of global resources and their flows. In the age of social media, external environment poison internal discourse, narrative, and actions of militants to a large extend.
 
External ambiance
There is no evidence that citizen of Afghanistan or Iraq did anything subversive to the USA, yet, the USA crafted fake rationale to invade those countries in 2001 and 2003, respectively. The outcome is the military and economic bankruptcy of the invaders, utter destruction of the nations attacked, and the creation of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and regrouping of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In South Asia, rise of Hindutva and the consequent fear created in the minds of about half a billion Muslims in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh had contributed largely to the rise of Islamic fanaticism in the region. Moreover, ultra-rights of the USA, France, Netherland, Germany and India stoked the fire further.
Little known to the world is a fact that is deterring the US-baked Iraqi forces from recovering the city of Mosul even after over four-month long incisive, hard-hitting offensives.
Our investigation shows, the IS in Iraq is mostly composed of, and led by, the former members of the Iraqi army. They are fighting door to door, street by street. Members of professional armed forces are not supposed to turn insurgents unless they are convinced of serious wrongdoing on their nationhood by external enemies.
 
Drift of Bangladesh
Bangladesh is gradually drifting toward a scenario in which injustice caused to the nation’s vital interests by imposing lopsided agreements and treaties are deemed as virtually rendering the country into a colonial backyard of India. Some may think there’s nothing wrong about it, as Dhaka was ruled by Delhi for centuries. But sizzled by the aroma of independence, Bangladeshis are more intent on living like a good neighbour, under rules of law, respectful of each other’s sovereignty.
Besides, Bangladesh is surrounded by two nations where Muslims are facing genocide in Myanmar, and the Hindu fanatic BJP party led by Naredra Modi is acting as a facilitator to put on power more people who’re anti-Muslim. Why not? If the USA can put Donald Trump to power, India too can follow suit, or vice a versa.
Imagine the impact of such external change of variables on the internal dynamics of Bangladesh politics. For instance, lately, Modi appointed Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh chief minister, whose political mindset can be gauged from many of his utterances, one of which goes: “There have been 450 riots cases in western UP in two-and-a-half years of Samajwadi Party because the population of a particular community is rising manifold. Why there are no riots in Eastern UP? You can easily understand. In places where there are 10 to 20 per cent minorities (Muslims), stray communal incidents take place.  Where there are 20 to 35 per cent of them, serious communal riots take place, and where they are more than 35 per cent, there is no place for non-Muslims.”
 
Demagogy sprouts militancy
Uttar Pradesh is home to about 200 million population, an estimated 30 percent of whom are Muslims. Muslim predominant Bangladesh is bound to react on such communal agenda-mongering.
And, statements like this proves Modi and his associates are using racial and communal politics to further their political agendas, unbeknownst that their demagogy is handing down inspiring recruiting tools to the likes of the IS, al-Qaeda, Taliban and others.  Bangladesh’s drift toward radical Islamism has much to do with how its big neighbour India moves.
Besides, the phenomenon of Islamic militancy surfaced a nouveau since the 1940s when Palestine and Kashmir found themselves colonized while the post-World War Two global politics witnessed decolonization everywhere. The reaction stirred by such global and regional hegemony of some powers had galvanized radical minded Muslims to redress their grievances. The trend is on the rise and ubiquitous. The root causes must be addressed first before fighting them. They’re in every locality, every suburb, in every nation.
 
Political ethics
All politics are local, in the final analysis. Donald Trump and Narendra Modi are playing to the gallery of their own audience. That they are global and regional leaders is so shameful when compared with Roosevelt or Nehru. Not only ethics of politics had died, ethnicity has become the yardstick to judge where one stands.
That is why the election of an Islamic Brotherhood leader like Mohamed Morsi in Egypt is not liked by global bigwigs who conspired and dethroned him by using the country’s army in 2013, while election of Hindu fanatic Modi in 2014 has been modelled as a showcase for democracy. In Bangladesh, election is not even allowed to take place by putting hurdles on fair and inclusive electioneering.
Then there are exceptions to what one might think as norms.  Donald Trump’s Muslim ban includes countries that had done no harm to the USA while, according to US intelligences, the Saudi born attackers of the two hijacked planes that had struck the USA on the so called 9/11 relax in another world, seeing that their country is not in the list of the Trump’s banned states. That Saudi Arabia chose to lead a Sunni coalition against the Shittes under the US dictates is reason enough to exclude it from any form of reproach or rebuke. For, unless the Sunni and Shitte fight, Muslim world may change the global balance of power, so goes the rationale inside many operations rooms in the West.
 
Shattered global order
In the past, the West had done many good things to impose peace on the warring universe. The creation of the League of Nations, and then the UN, are citable examples. That the UN had last week subverted a report of its own that had equated Israeli policies against the Palestinians as apartheid is an example of the existing global system’s pauperization to the brink. The UN Undersecretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary, Rima Khalaf, who had a major contribution in researching and the making of the report, resigned in protest.
However, as each country’s situation is somewhat unique, Bangladesh is playing with fire by disseminating wrong message to the world that it too is a victim of terrorism. That message is percolating every corner of the globe. If the aim of the AL-led regime is to cling onto power by citing security-related obstacles to holding an election, or uproot certain group of political activists under such pretexts, a state of emergency has to justify such an adventure. To the contrary, if the drama is a routine stunt of some fertile minds of the security labyrinth, it’s not playing well in the public gallery and, such extra judicial killings must not be allowed any further.
 
Paradise lost
It’s worth reminding that nations can get sucked into bigger conflict if policies are not tuned to meeting the changing dynamics of a weird world order. Until recently, Turkey was as peaceful as it could be under an Islamic regime led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now it’s a case of paradise lost.
The New York Times reported in August 2016, quoting a Turkish media, that only thing the Turks agree is that the ‘coup aimed at removing Erdogan was stirred by the USA.’ The report said, “An American academic and former State Department official had helped orchestrate a violent conspiracy to topple the Turkish government from a fancy hotel on an island in the Sea of Marmara, near Istanbul. The same newspaper, in a front-page headline, flat-out said the United States had tried to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the night of the failed coup.” The coup plot aside, Turkey is bleeding profusely under recurring terror attacks of inhuman magnitude.
Bangladesh has only one choice to spare itself from the terror scourges destroying almost all other import Muslim nations. It must remove from its decision making mechanism the conspirators who do not mind if one of the country’s arrested citizens is forced to become a suicide bomber and die to prove that the militants are alive and kicking. To ensure that, the security forces and the incumbent regime must stop thinking people are foolish and they are doing something great to save this nation. After all, death of a single innocent is a death too many, and, one day, the retribution of justice will spare none.

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India prepares new war plan for Bay of Bengal
South Asia Monitor Report
 
India goes for new war plan to counter increasing threat in and around Indian Ocean including Bay of Bengal. India’s war doctrine, till now, hinged on a possible two-pronged adversarial scenario keeping Pakistan and China in mind. A move is underway to make a three-pronged war doctrine involving Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.  Meanwhile, the Indian Navy ended its month-long exercise across Indian Ocean to test combat readiness in late February.
Full Story
South Asia Monitor Report
 
India goes for new war plan to counter increasing threat in and around Indian Ocean including Bay of Bengal. India’s war doctrine, till now, hinged on a possible two-pronged adversarial scenario keeping Pakistan and China in mind. A move is underway to make a three-pronged war doctrine involving Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.  Meanwhile, the Indian Navy ended its month-long exercise across Indian Ocean to test combat readiness in late February.
A key landmark change in India’s current war doctrine may now be underway with another front — to counter the increasing naval threat from the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal — being factored in to move to a three-pronged war doctrine, the Indian Defense News reported in late February.
The top-secret proposal has sparked off due to recent developments in the Indian Ocean region which has become a hub of military activity where ships and submarines of many nations prowl.
Reports already speak of a nuclear Chinese submarine having docked in Karachi harbour in May last year and then being spotted by satellites in the Malacca Straits in June. Chinese subs have also been spotted in and around Gwadar port in Pakistan which is the key entry point to the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“It was learnt from reliable sources that the proposal was actively deliberated and considered in the annual combined commanders’ conference held in the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun from January 21,” the report said.
Besides Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, Air Force Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa and key commanders from the three forces, the meet was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, till then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval among others.
The proposed doctrine is in the drafting stage now under the aegis of the Integrated Defence Services headquarters. Subsequent to its framing, the doctrine will be deliberated upon and all stakeholders consulted before it is finally approved and adopted as a doctrine.
Besides the armed forces, the NSA will also have a key word. There is, therefore, a feeling in relevant circles that the military assets in the southern part of the country need to be geared up, a region that has been relatively neglected with the armed forces mainly focused in the eastern, western and northern fronts.
In October, last year, India said that its defence forces would be restructured into the ‘theater commands’ like China. Now, a three-pronged doctrine will result in creating and re-positioning military assets in an unprecedented scale.
Another core item discussed was the importance and need for a separate unified aerospace command. This proposal acquires significance in the light of China making rapid strides in space-based warfare, the IDN report said.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy ended its month-long Naval exercise called ‘Theatre-level Readiness and Operational Exercise’ (TROPEX) ended in late February. The aim of the exercise, which was carried out across the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea and the North Central Indian Ocean, was to test the combat readiness of the combined fleets of the Navy, the Air Force, the Army and the Coast Guard.
Over 45 ships from both the Western and Eastern Naval Commands, five submarines including the nuclear-powered Chakra, 50 Naval aircraft, 11 ships from the Coast Guard, troops from the Army and 20 aircraft from the Air Force including Su-30s and Jaguars participated in the exercise from January 24 to February 23.

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The problems of the judiciary need to be solved

Faruque Ahmed
 
Chief Justice (CJ) Surendra Kumar Sinha’s observation last week in the city that corruption and terrorism are spreading because the judiciary can’t work properly is a serious allegation to explain how and why growing lawlessness is now gripping the country.
His next observation that certain vested quarter in the government is giving misleading message to the head of the government that judiciary is rival to the government is creating misgivings between the government and the judiciary in one hand and to widen the gap between the legislative and the executive branches of the government on the other.
Full Story
Faruque Ahmed
 
Chief Justice (CJ) Surendra Kumar Sinha’s observation last week in the city that corruption and terrorism are spreading because the judiciary can’t work properly is a serious allegation to explain how and why growing lawlessness is now gripping the country.
His next observation that certain vested quarter in the government is giving misleading message to the head of the government that judiciary is rival to the government is creating misgivings between the government and the judiciary in one hand and to widen the gap between the legislative and the executive branches of the government on the other.
PM being misguided
Speaking at a function of Judicial Service Commission at Judicial Administration Training Center in the city last week S K Sinha has apparently spoken out of desperation as he explained how judiciary is facing challenges and working under severe pressure. Many tend to believe that the CJ is clearly suggesting that the Prime Minister is being deliberately misguided by certain vested interest group.
The CJ’s comment that the failure of the justice system to try cases timely and freely is causing deterioration of the rule of law and the absence of rule of law is spreading unbridled corruption everywhere while terrorism and militancy are rising its head in the country making the nation unsafe.
Talking about how the vested interest groups are holding back an independence of judiciary to work, Mr. SK Sinha has rightly pointed out that dates for issuing the guidelines on the separation of the judiciary from the executive were extended at least 65 time since the judgment in 1999 and yet the attorney general sought time again as the law ministry has failed to come up with it on the latest schedule date on January 15. The apex court has extended time again.
The judiciary was officially separated in November 2007.  But the disciplinary rules for lower court judges are not finalized till now. For several years, the SC has issued multiple rulings, asking the government to issue a gazette notification on the finalised rules.
 
Judiciary’s independence blocked
Meanwhile, the government had drafted the rules and sent those to the apex court for its opinion on May 7, 2015 but the Appellate Division declared the government’s draft rules to be in contradiction with the verdict in the Masdar Hossain case because the draft was similar to the Government Servants Discipline and Appeal] Rules, 1985.
The SC, after revising the draft rules sent those back to the law ministry and asked the government to issue the gazette notification by November 6 last year. On the other hand, the government repeatedly sought time without issuing the gazette notification.
On December 8 last year the Appellate Division summoned two secretaries of the Law Ministry the next day for failing to comply with its November 14 order. But the two secretaries appeared before the court on December 12 with a gazette notification issued by the President that stated that there was no need to notify the rules in the official gazette.
It is clear from the CJ’s narratives that a section of the government is determined to hold the independence of judiciary under the control of the executive branch of the government and they are not ready to issue the gazette to give functional independence to Judiciary.
It is from this perspective the Deputy Commissioners in the districts bring pressure on the Prime Minister at every annual conference to give them the power of magistracy, which otherwise is an attempt to exercise judicial power by people of the executive branch.
 
Judiciary isn’t anti-administration
SK Sinha said “If everything goes on in accordance with the Constitution and existing law; if the judiciary can work independently, the level of corruption and terrorism will decrease. A vested quarter is misguiding the head of the government giving wrong message with an intention to create a gap between…. ,” he said.
The CJ said “Some little problems existing in the judiciary are not properly placed before the head of the government, rather these are placed with wrong interpretation, along with a campaign that the judiciary is an opponent to the administration.”
Pointing that about 300 posts of judges have fallen vacant, he said: “We send letters to the government about the vacancy but do not get administrative cooperation. It’s a lower tier of administration, which sends misinterpretation to the government high-up.”
“I hope that those who are in the administration and deal this issue will not give wrong reports to the head of the government.  I’m urging them to give correct information in a bid to ensure a sound and good relation between the judiciary and executive branches.”
Now the administration is getting incorrect message. It is said that judiciary is the rival of administration. But it is a wrong conception. In each government’s tenure, there are excessive responses over some maters. Here, the judiciary plays the role to control such activities.  If not so, the judiciary would still remain under the administration….. But the judiciary has been separated as it could give judgment without any pressure and partisan interest.”
 
Judiciary held hostage: CJ
He also cautioned: “Don’t think that only judiciary is being affected for giving such wrong reports, instead the government itself getting hampered. The main object of government is to maintain law and order perfectly. And to maintain law and order, it needs proper trial of criminals. If the trial is not held timely, the criminals will come out of jail getting bail and again will get involved in crimes.” He blamed a few persons for harming judiciary saying, “History says some persons of our own judiciary are causing harm to the judiciary since Pakistan tenure. Only a few are responsible for such situation.”
It is no secret that on March 15, the CJ had expressed unhappiness over the matter with  Attorney General Mahabubey Alam during the proceeding of historic Masdar Hossain case, known as the case of separation of the judiciary from the executive, after it came up in the daily cause list of the Supreme Court for 65 times.
“The institution [judiciary] has to be protected. But the judiciary has been held hostage by the non-issuance of a gazette notification…I wonder how long would this go on! Is there any government in the country? How much time do you [AG] need to issue the gazette notification? There is an issue of fair play by the government.  Everything is going on as usual. But the judiciary has been held hostage,” he wanted to know from the chief law officer of the government.

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Concerned over sudden rise of militancy
Shakhawat Hossain
 
The growing presence of militant activities and bizarre police actions is frightening the people again with new uncertainty as they are trying to forget the shock and the fallout from the attack on the Hole Artisan Restaurant that killed 29 people at Gulshan last year. People are also facing overzealous police actions in full fighting gear.
Full Story
Shakhawat Hossain
 
The growing presence of militant activities and bizarre police actions is frightening the people again with new uncertainty as they are trying to forget the shock and the fallout from the attack on the Hole Artisan Restaurant that killed 29 people at Gulshan last year. People are also facing overzealous police actions in full fighting gear.
Last year, people had witnessed police raid at a militant den in Kallyanpur in the city. Moreover, police and RAB also claimed to have killed several masterminds behind the rising militancy in the country including the leaders of the Gulshan attack. But why the danger is not subsiding and rather on the rise again is still a big question.
 
Militant den busted
People also witnessed a bizarre debate in the wake of the rise in militancy in the country whether or not we have the presence of IS operatives in the country. A recent SITE Intelligence Group video post showed a Bangladeshi origin IS militant, who is highly educated and came from Chittagong, has died in Iraq while carrying out a suicide attack. It is not sure whether they have contacts with local militants in Bangladesh while the government is claiming that there is no IS presence in the country.
Five persons, including a woman and a toddler, were killed in a police raid on an extremist den located at a two-story building at Sitakunda in Chittagong on March 15. The police also launched another operation in Chittagong late in the same night, said Chittagong police range deputy inspector general Shafikul Islam. The police were yet to identify the deceased but suspected that the four adults were members of a faction of Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which were earlier led by Canadian-Bangladeshi Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, killed along with two others in an operation in Narayanganj on August 27, 2016.
Site Intelligence Group claimed that Tamim was an Islamic State operative in Bangladesh while Bangladesh counter-terrorism officials said that the faction was inspired by Islamic State. Police recover huge explosives from Sitakunda extremist den. Two of the militants who blew themselves up in their hideout in Sitakunda were identified as cousins who went missing from Mirpur in 2016. Investigators said Rafid Al Hasan and Ayad Hasan went missing on August 9, 2016 last year from their Monipur residence in Mirpur, were among the four died in the bomb blast.
 
Mismatch in statements
Just after one night, an unidentified youth was blown up in a suicide bombing at an under-construction installation of the RAB at Dakkhin Khan in Dhaka on last Friday, prompting authorities to reinforce security at airports and other key point installations. The IS reportedly claimed the responsibility for the suicide blast at the RAB office in Dhaka that also injured two RAB men, IS-run Amaq News Agency reported. The Middle East-based Amaq news agency made the announcement on SITE Intellegence Group website hours after the attack.
A man, who was detained by the RAB last Friday as a suspect of RAB office attack at Ashkona, died in a hospital. The victim was identified as Hanif Mridha, a resident of Amragachhia village of Amtali upazila in Barguna. Airport police inspector Ezaz Shafi said RAB-1 members picked up Hanif from a bush beside Munmun Kabab shop near Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 4:15pm on Friday. Hanif died at Kurmitola General Hospital 1:25 hours after his arrest and an unnatural death case was filed in this connection with the police station at1:35am early Saturday, the inspector said.
While Hanif Mridha who, Rab claimed died in its custody hours after being detained near last Friday’s suicide blast spot at the capital’s Ashkona, his family alleged that he was actually picked up by a group of people claiming to be detectives in Narayanganj’s Siddhirganj on February 27. His friend Sohel Hossain Montu, who was accompanying him at that time, was also picked up, and he still remained missing, Hanif’s family and friends claimed on Sunday. Hanif’s brother Halim Mridha said he filed a general diary with Siddhirganj Police Station on March 4, stating that the two were held in Siddhirganj on February 27.
 
Youth shot dead
Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Huji) was killed in police firing during a raid. An unidentified youth was shot dead by the Rapid Action Battalion as he reportedly violated battalion members’ signal at a checkpoint during his motorcycle riding in the calm area at Khilgaon in Dhaka early last Saturday. Battalion officials said that the young man, aged about 25, in sweater and jeans, was carrying explosives in his backpack, which the battalion later seized and exploded.
In yet another incident, an alleged member of banned militant outfit in Brahmanbaria’s Kasba upazila was killed early on Friday last.
Besides, a suspected Huji member was arrested in Mymensingh hours later. Deceased Tajul Islam Mahmud alias Mama Hujur, 45, is a resident of Sadullapur village in Habiganj’s Nabiganj upazila Counterterrorism officials suspect that “Neo JMB” militants have built their hideouts in Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban and Rangamati districts apart from Chittagong. “The militants have set up dens in those areas as it would help their safe movement through the sea. A plan to recruit Rohingyas could be another reason,” an official of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the DMP said.
In the wake of such attacks and threat by militant outfits, the authority concerned issued a red alert for all international airports and all 68 jails in the country. Security has been tightened at all key points in the capital and many other parts in the country, including bus terminals, launch stations and railway stations. From police headquarters to police stations, the number of law enforcers has been increased everywhere. Members of law enforcement agencies have been put on high security alert to maintain law and order situation.
 
Controversy over raids
Apart from these occurrences, controversies have emerged among ordinary folks about anti-militancy raids of the law enforcing agencies across Bangladesh. Now the point is why such questions are arising. A resident of Dhaka city said on condition of anonymity that it is questioned whether innocent people are being victimized in such raids. Another person said the attack in Ashkona might have been dramatized. These questions are becoming more conspicuous following the death of suspected militants in all these raids. The suspected militants should have been kept alive for proof, another person remarked.
However, law enforcers have dismissed these controversies. They have frequently stated that they raided the real dens of militants and have been able to destroy militants’ network through such operations.
Of course there is no doubt that militants are active in Bangladesh.  Attack on Holey Artisan Café and killing bloggers are glaring instances of militant activity inside the country. Besides, several Bangladeshi youths were reported to have left for Syria and Libya to join Islamic State (IS).
Detectives fear further militant attacks in the capital and elsewhere in the country as around 400 listed militants, including sacked Major Zia, Saleheen, Boma Mizan and Musa, still remain untraced. Many of the fugitive militants are experts in bomb making, throwing high-powered grenades and firing sophisticated arms, detectives said. Some suicide squad members, including female activists of banned militant groups are also on the run, they said.
 
Suspects on the run
According to the police record, a total of 318 cases were filed on charges of militant attacks and attack attempts across the country in which over 1,000 persons were accused in last three years. Of them, about 325 accused, who managed to get bails from the courts, have gone into hiding and still remain undetected, intelligence sources said.  The runaway militant activists include 67 JMB men, 38 Ansarullah Bangla Team men, 52 Hizb-ut Tahir men and 32 Harkat-ul-Jihad men. Besides, members of militant outfits Neo JMB and Ansar-ullah Bangla Team are reportedly are changing their techniques to avoid the surveillance of law and order forces. Several intelligence departments have conveyed this information to concerned authorities.
Some women who were recently arrested have confessed that they support the militant attack on Holey Artisan Café. They believe they are doing jihad. These women are also prepared to give away their lives for radical ideology, police officers have informed.
 
The writer is a freelance journalist

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Trump and the last chance for resistance

Chris Hedges
 
The crawl toward despotism within a failed democracy is always incremental. No regime planning to utterly extinguish civil liberties advertises its intentions in advance. It pays lip service to liberty and justice while obliterating the institutions and laws that make them possible. Its opponents, including those within the establishment, make sporadic attempts to resist, but week by week, month by month, the despot and his reactionary allies methodically consolidate power.
Those inside the machinery of government and the courts who assert the rule of law are purged. Critics, including the press, are attacked, ridiculed and silenced. The state is reconfigured until the edifice of tyranny is unassailable.
Full Story
Chris Hedges
 
The crawl toward despotism within a failed democracy is always incremental. No regime planning to utterly extinguish civil liberties advertises its intentions in advance. It pays lip service to liberty and justice while obliterating the institutions and laws that make them possible. Its opponents, including those within the establishment, make sporadic attempts to resist, but week by week, month by month, the despot and his reactionary allies methodically consolidate power.
Those inside the machinery of government and the courts who assert the rule of law are purged. Critics, including the press, are attacked, ridiculed and silenced. The state is reconfigured until the edifice of tyranny is unassailable.
Tyranny’s incremental expansion
Alexander Solzhenitsyn in “The Gulag Archipelago” noted that the consolidation of Soviet tyranny “was stretched out over many years because it was of primary importance that it be stealthy and unnoticed.” He called the process “a grandiose silent game of solitaire, whose rules were totally incomprehensible to its contemporaries, and whose outlines we can appreciate only now.”
Czeslaw Milosz in “The Captive Mind” also chronicles the incremental expansion of tyranny, noting that it steadily progresses until intellectuals are not only forced to repeat the regime’s self-praising slogans but to advance its absurdist dogmas. Few ever see the tyranny coming. Those who do and speak out are treated by the authorities, and often the wider society, as alarmists or traitors.
The current adminis-tration’s budget proposes to give the war industry, the domestic policing agencies, the fossil fuel industry, Wall Street, billionaires and the national security and surveillance agencies more than they could have imagined possible before the election. These forces, as in all fascist states, will be the pillars of the Trump regime. They will tolerate Donald Trump’s idiocy, ineptitude and unbridled narcissism in exchange for increased profits and power.  Despots are often buffoons. Appealing to their vanity and ego is an effective form of manipulation. Skilled sycophants can play despots like musical instruments for personal advancement.
Trump, like all despots, has no real ideology. His crusade against Wall Street, including Goldman Sachs, and the billionaire class during the presidential election campaign vanished the moment he took office.
 
‘Despots demand absolute loyalty’
He has appointed five former Goldman Sachs employees to high posts in his administration. His budget will bleed the poor, the working class and the middle class and swell the bank accounts of the oligarchs. He is calling for abolishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for Arts and the cutting of programs that provide legal service to low-income people and grants to libraries and museums. If Trump’s budget is approved by Congress, there will not even be a pretense of civil society. Trump and his family will profit from his presidency. Corporations will profit from his presidency.  Wall Street will profit from his presidency. And the people will be made to pay. Despots demand absolute loyalty. This is why they place family members in the inner circles. The Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, whose vanity rivaled that of Trump, and Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein filled their governments with their children, siblings, nephews, nieces and in-laws and rounded out their inner courts with racists, opportunists and thugs of the kind that now populate the White House.
“President Trump’s point man on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is a longtime Trump Organization lawyer with no government or diplomatic experience,” reads the opening paragraph of a New York Times article headlined “Prerequisite for Key White House Posts: Loyalty, Not Experience.” “His liaison to African-American leaders is a former reality-TV villain with a penchant for résumé inflation. And his Oval Office gatekeeper is a bullet-headed former New York City cop best known for smacking a protester on the head.”
 
Militaristic diplomacy
Despots distrust diplomats. Diplomats, often multilingual and conversant with other cultures and societies, deal in nuances and ambiguities that are beyond the grasp of the despot. Diplomats understand that other nations have legitimate national interests that inevitably clash with the interests of one’s own country. They do not embrace force as the primary language of communication. They are trained to carry out negotiations, even with the enemy, and engage in compromise. Despots, however, live in a binary universe of their own creation. They rapidly dismantle the diplomatic corps when they take power for the same reason they attack intellectuals and artists.
Trump’s proposed cut of nearly 29 percent to the State Department’s budget, potentially eliminating thousands of jobs, is part of the shift away from diplomacy to an exclusive reliance on violence or the threat of violence. The militarization of the diplomatic corps, with the Central Intelligence Agency and military intelligence operatives often taking over embassies, especially in conflict zones, began long before Trump took office. But Trump will deal the coup de grâce to the diplomatic corps. Despots replace diplomats with sycophants with no diplomatic experience, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who promise to impose the despot’s will on the rest of the world.
The dismantling of a diplomatic corps has dangerous consequences. It leaves a country blind and prone to wars and conflicts that could be avoided. Leon Trotsky called Josef Stalin’s foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, who negotiated the disastrous 1939 Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact that left the Soviet Union unprepared for German invasion, “mediocrity personified.”
 
Bannon’s Armageddon
The other signatory of the pact, Joachim von Ribbentrop, was a former champagne salesman. Ribbentrop, as Molotov did with Stalin, parroted back to Adolf Hitler the leader’s conspiratorial worldview.  Ribbentrop, again like Molotov with Stalin, knew that Hitler always favoured the most extreme option. Molotov and Ribbentrop unfailingly advocated radical and violent solutions to any problem, endearing themselves to their bosses as men of unflinching resolve. This is what makes Steve Bannon so appealing to Trump—he will always call for Armageddon.
There are three institutions tasked in a functioning democracy with protecting the truth and keeping national discourse rooted in verifiable fact—the courts, the press and universities. Despots must control these three to prevent them from exposing their lies and restricting their power. Trump has not only attacked the courts but has also begun purges of the judiciary with his mass firing of US attorneys. The Trump White House plans to fill 124 judgeships—including 19 vacancies on federal appeals courts—with corporatist lawyers such as Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch who are endorsed by the reactionary Federal Society. By the time Trump’s four-year term is up, Federalist Society judges could be in as many as half of the country’s appellate seats.
Trump has continued to attempt to discredit the press. During his rally in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, he told the crowd, “Some of the fake news said I don’t think Donald Trump wants to build the wall.  Can you imagine if I said we’re not going to build a wall? Fake news.  Fake, fake news. Fake news, folks. A lot of fake.” He went on to say in an apparent reference to the reporters covering the rally, “They’re bad people.”
 
Dissent and terrorism
The attacks on universities, which will be accelerated, are on display in the budget proposal. The Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Education, the Commerce Department, the National Institutes of Health, the Energy Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs all give grants and research money to universities.
Colorado State University, for example, gets about 70 percent, or $232 million, of its research budget from federal sources. In February, Trump suggested he might attempt to cut federal funding for universities such as UC Berkeley. His comment was made after a riot at the California school forced the cancellation of a speech there by the far-right ideologue Milo Yiannopoulos, who has called Trump “Daddy.”
A university will of course be able to get corporate funding for research if it casts doubt on the importance of climate change or does research that can be used to swell corporate profits or promote other business interests. Scientific study into our ecocide and the dangers from chemicals, toxins and pollutants released by corporations into the atmosphere will be thwarted. And the withering of humanities programs, already suffering in many universities, will worsen.
It will be increasingly difficult to carry out mass protests and civil disobedience. Repression will become steadily more overt and severe.  Dissent will be equated with terrorism. We must use the space before it is shut. This is a race against time.
 
The looming tyranny
The forces of despotism seek to keep us complacent and pacified with the false hope that mechanisms within the system will moderate Trump or remove him through impeachment, or that the looming tyranny will never be actualized. There is an emotional incapacity among any population being herded toward despotism or war to grasp what is happening. The victims cannot believe that the descent into barbarity is real, that the relative security and sanity of the past are about to be obliterated. They fail to see that once rights become privileges, once any segment of a society is excluded from the law, rights can instantly be revoked for everyone.
There is a hierarchy to oppression. It begins with the most vulnerable—undocumented workers, Muslims, poor people of colour. It works upward. It is a long row of candles that one by one are extinguished. If we wait to resist, as the poet C.P. Cavafy wrote, the “dark line gets longer” and “the snuffed-out candles proliferate.”
 
Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.
© 2017 TruthDig

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Trump and cricket, lovely cricket

Mumtaz Iqbal
 
If US President Donald Trump played cricket, he would be a spinner.  His mastery of spin crosses all boundaries. Most probably he’d be a leg spinner, bowling unbelievable googlies like Aussie Shane Warne— whose Prime Minister Trump yorked first ball! Trump’s uncanny ability to bowl wrong ‘uns has stumped opponents and his team, especially the wicket keeper (harassed press secretary Sean Spicer).
Full Story
Mumtaz Iqbal
 
If US President Donald Trump played cricket, he would be a spinner.  His mastery of spin crosses all boundaries. Most probably he’d be a leg spinner, bowling unbelievable googlies like Aussie Shane Warne— whose Prime Minister Trump yorked first ball! Trump’s uncanny ability to bowl wrong ‘uns has stumped opponents and his team, especially the wicket keeper (harassed press secretary Sean Spicer).
Two prototypes of the kind of batsman Trump could be are imaginable. He could be a deft leg glancer like England’s Indian test player Prince Ranjitsinghji (Ranji, after whom India’s Ranji Trophy competition is named). Or he could be a big hitter like Sri Lankan opener Mahela Jayawardene, the terror of one day international (ODI) bowlers. Which type is Trump? (Comparing Trump to Victor Trumper, the legendary stylish Aussie batsman renowned for his glorious cover drives, would outrage cricket purists!)
First, leg glancer. Ranji’s extraordinary supple wrists enabled him to glance the ball sizzling off his toes to fine leg for four. Trump shares this gift in trumps. Any embarrassing issue is glanced off his bat. Since the outfield is wet, the ball does not travel to the boundary.
Two such examples are Trump’s spurious claims of three million false voters and that Obama wire tapped him. The first one was buried after some hullabaloo that a special commission would investigate it.
The second suffered greater ignominy. Both the US Senate and House Intelligence Committees on Thursday 16 March 2017 found no evidence of wire-tapping, not to mention UK’s spirited denial (“nonsense,” “ridiculous”) on 18 March that its Cheltenham boffins spied on Trump Tower. FBI Director Comey confirmed this conclusion on 20 March.
Trump’s unrepentant. On wiretapping, he claimed disingenuously on Wednesday 16 March when interviewed by his favourite TV channel Fox (Foxy?) News that by wire tapping, he meant the panoply of surveillance methods spooks use and that some interesting news would be forthcoming in the next fortnight. If the past is any prologue, we may have to wait longer than two weeks for these “interesting news.”
During net practice (pre-electioneering), Trump behaved like a super Jayawardene, bragging about his ability to hit the bowlers out of the stadium.  One such boast was that, if elected, he would institute a “total and complete ban on Muslims till our leaders can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Trump keeps his word. He issued an executive order on 27 January 2017 banning Muslims from seven Muslim countries from entering the US. When this was put on hold by a federal judge in Washington state, undaunted Trump issued a revised executive order on 6 March 2017. Two federal court judges in Hawaii and Maryland, respectively, ruled against it. Apoplectic Trump will appeal the umpires’ decisions to the MCC at Lords (Supreme Court).
Instead of a batting-friendly plumb wicket, Trump self-created a sticky one—the result from being his own groundsman— when he opened the innings. He can now only hope that rain will stop play and give him a breather. “When Ranji passed out of cricket,” wrote the Times of London’s peerless cricket correspondent and music critic Sir Neville Cardus, “a wonder and a glory departed from the game forever.”
Trump is unlikely to get this epitaph. Wonder, possibly; glory, probably not. It’s questionable whether he’s playing cricket at all, or even knows its rules. What rules he conjures up is not cricket. It’s more the Mad Hatter’s Party in Alice in Wonderland, with things getting “curiouser and curiouser” daily.
It’d be surprising if Trump’s neophyte performance and tiresome tweets—and prospects of more of the same—do not generate inexorably slow but sure disenchantment amongst Selectors (Republican stalwarts and Trump supporters). Like an incompatible Catholic marriage, they are stuck with each other till at least 2020 without annulment or divorce. The fortunes of the bride, groom, US public and a flummoxed world arguably depend upon whether a modicum of marital bliss is established.
 
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BD-India sign marine navigation MoU
SAM Staff
 
India and Bangladesh, as part of a regional cooperation initiative, signed a MoU on Aids to Navigation (AtoN). Under the agreement, India will advise Bangladesh on AtoN capacity building for the overall marine navigation development of the South Asian region.
International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requires nations all over the world to provide AtoN in their waters as per international norms and guidelines for the effective and safe navigation of vessel traffic. Lighthouses, DGPS, beacons, navigational and mooring buoys are some of the main instruments deployed for navigation in the sea.
Full Story
SAM Staff
 
India and Bangladesh, as part of a regional cooperation initiative, signed a MoU on Aids to Navigation (AtoN). Under the agreement, India will advise Bangladesh on AtoN capacity building for the overall marine navigation development of the South Asian region.
International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requires nations all over the world to provide AtoN in their waters as per international norms and guidelines for the effective and safe navigation of vessel traffic. Lighthouses, DGPS, beacons, navigational and mooring buoys are some of the main instruments deployed for navigation in the sea.
Directorate General of Lighthouses & Lightships (DGLL) is the authority in India responsible for management and setting up of AtoN in India’s oceanic territory.
According to the MoU, DGLL India will organise training programs for the AtoN management and technical personnel of Bangladesh.
On the behalf of Indian Ministry of Shipping, DGLL will also advice the Ministry of Shipping, Bangladesh in matters like Chain of Automatic Identification System and Vessel Traffic Service.
The training programs will be designed according to modules designed by international AtoN regulator IALA (International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities).

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Indian Army Chief to visit Dhaka
Special Correspondent
 
Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat arrives in Dhaka on March 30 on a two-day visit to discuss bilateral defence cooperation with top Bangladesh officials. He would be visiting Dhaka ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s tour of India scheduled for April 7 to 10 when the two countries are expected to ink a comprehensive defence cooperation deal.
However, well informed sources said that the defence deal is likely to be a memorandum of understanding (MoU) rather than a full-fledged agreement strictly bearing on both sides.
Full Story
Special Correspondent
 
Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat arrives in Dhaka on March 30 on a two-day visit to discuss bilateral defence cooperation with top Bangladesh officials. He would be visiting Dhaka ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s tour of India scheduled for April 7 to 10 when the two countries are expected to ink a comprehensive defence cooperation deal.
However, well informed sources said that the defence deal is likely to be a memorandum of understanding (MoU) rather than a full-fledged agreement strictly bearing on both sides.
Media reports from Delhi said India is preparing the deals keeping eyes on ‘comfort level’ of Bangladesh government. Gen Rawat will fly to Dhaka from Kathmandu on invitation of his Bangladesh counterpart Gen Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq.
Though it is treated as a return visit by the Indian army chief after Gen Belal’s September 2015 India visit, in reality he is coming here to firm up the defence related deals prior to Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Delhi visit.
At least 30 agreements, (MoUs) and documents focusing on projects in the areas of connectivity, ports, infrastructure and energy are on card. Sources said 18-20 deals have already been finalized and ready for signing.  The fact that Gen Rawat will call on President Abdul Hamid, PM Hasina along with top officials of the armed forces to cement the defence relations with Bangladesh indicates the special significance of the visit.
Former Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar made a visit to Bangladesh on Nov 30-Dec 1 last year – the first ever by any Indian defence minister – to initiate the defence related deals apparently to counter Chinese influence on Bangladesh military establishments.
Media reports quoting foreign ministry source said Dhaka and New Delhi are going to sign a MoU on bilateral defence cooperation on April 8 and there is nothing contentious in it. It was assured that it will not be a threat to Bangladesh defence and sovereignty. It’s unlike the umbrella defence agreement that was signed with China and the compliance of  MOUs is not mandatory.
The sources say Bangladesh and India has a mechanism to cooperate in security and fefence matters. The proposed MoUs would help the two neighbours to enhance cooperation enabling their forces to fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
The armed forces of the two countries already collaborate in many areas, but there is no such bilateral deal. The new deals will create institutional framework for existing cooperation mechanism.
Indian media reports say Delhi has made clear that signing of the agreements are expected on the lines of cross-border cooperation between the two countries’ defence agencies. Any deal to supply defence equipment is unlikely.
The proposed defence deal takes issues at “comfort level” for Bangladesh and no element in it will be included that may not be suitable to its needs.
The proposed defence line-of-credit will exclusively be used to buy equipment needed for UN peacekeeping operations, anti-land mining vehicles, medical and disaster relief efforts and search and rescue operations etc.
However, New Delhi is ready to collaborate with Bangladesh’s defence forces to set up manufacturing and service centers for the common defence platforms that both countries possesses, like Russian defence hardware, the Indian sources said.

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