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Twisting arms: Weapon caches belong to whom?

M. Shahidul Islam

It’s a thoroughly confusing spectacle that no one cherishes to see ratcheting up further. Discovery of huge caches of arms in areas that are mostly in the proximity of India or Myanmar borders is getting publicized in the Bangladesh media as the armoury of the political Islamists while, in reality, the operations netting such arms fulfils the commitment of Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB) toward neighbouring Myanmar and India, according to an investigation.
That also explains why the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which borders both Myanmar and India, have been made a no go zone since early this year, making it mandatory on foreign visitors and tourists to obtain permission from the Home Ministry before visiting the region.

Full Story

M. Shahidul Islam

It’s a thoroughly confusing spectacle that no one cherishes to see ratcheting up further. Discovery of huge caches of arms in areas that are mostly in the proximity of India or Myanmar borders is getting publicized in the Bangladesh media as the armoury of the political Islamists while, in reality, the operations netting such arms fulfils the commitment of Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB) toward neighbouring Myanmar and India, according to an investigation.
That also explains why the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which borders both Myanmar and India, have been made a no go zone since early this year, making it mandatory on foreign visitors and tourists to obtain permission from the Home Ministry before visiting the region.

Arms twisting
Investigation shows the arms cache discoveries are evolving into a classical arms twisting game aimed at blaming one particular indigenous group for the crime of some foreign separatist outfits.
For years, the government in Dhaka has been under pressure to locate and dismantle about 35 armed camps of Northeast Indian separatists group which the BSF claims are still operating from within Bangladesh. It’s highly repugnant that the arms caches being discovered are reported to India as the sincerity of the Bangladesh security forces in doing the Indian bids as per mutual commitments while, curiously, the publicity within the domestic media claims the caches belonging to the political Islamists.
This propaganda is too detrimental to national interest. Fact is: During a November 17, 2014 meeting of the BGB and the BSF, the BSF once again provided a list of 35 camps, allegedly run by suspected separatists from Assam, Tripura and Mizoram, according to a reliable source.
The source claimed that the Indian-identified separatist camps inside Bangladesh include camps run by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT).

Terror fear overblown
Ironically, this trans-national affair is being used for internal political dividend making amidst the nation’s virtual spasm spurred by the prolonged blockade and strike. What is forgotten is that the image of the nation is being sullied globally with such false reporting that aim at blaming the political Islamists and the 20- party opposition compact as terrorists comparable to the global jihadists.
The hyping up of the fear of Islamic terrorism has been a hot-cake-type global fashion commodity especially since the 9/11 attacks in the USA. In Bangladesh, however, no major attacks have yet been reported on the country’s law enforcers by militant and armed Islamist outfit of any denomination. The gravity of the crisis relating separatist activism in neighbouring Indian states has, however, forced the BSF to hold an emergency meeting with the BGB on November 17, 2014, after what the source said, “some terrorists have taken shelter in the jungles of neighbouring Myanmar.”
The meeting was held in Tamabil, Sylhet, and attended by the Inspector Generals of the three BSF frontiers in Northeast India - Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Cachar. Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam share a sprawling 1,880-km border with Bangladesh.
Since then, the BGB has been acting on locating and dismantling those specified camps, which is palpable. But branding the weapon caches found as the armoury of the political Islamists entails danger for Bangladesh’s national security. The scheme is detestable and needs to be stopped forthwith.

Facts and fiction
The crisis has already attained a higher trajectory following reports that cross-border operations by political Islamists have been spotted at the Bangladesh-West Bengal borders too, and that some influential stalwarts from the ruling Trinomul Congress party of West Bengal were being investigated for aiding and succouring the political Islamists in Bangladesh.
Following a series of discoveries of sophisticated armaments at the Sylhet forests since early this year, a general pattern also emerged, according to Bangladesh intelligence sources, that the political Islamists were gearing up for an armed showdown with Bangladesh security forces.
But the thesis itself is replete with spurious reasoning and fallacious conceptuality. Not only the Islamists in Bangladesh are as yet less prone to waging an armed struggle, a similar spectacle emerged since April 1, 2004, which proved thoroughly wrong, following the seizure of 10 truck load of arms from the Chittagong port. As is being done now, the consignment was publicized in the global and local media as the weapons destined for the political Islamists, who were trying to stage what the Time magazine said a ‘green revolution’ in Bangladesh.
Subsequent investigations, however, found the consignment belonging to the separatist ULFA outfight of Northeast India and the media ended up with eggs rubbed on their faces. Yet, two of the intelligence chiefs of the country were convicted in the case for allegedly aiding the Indian separatists in using Bangladesh as the conduit for arms shipment to Indian separatists groups. Besides, India had erected barbed wire fences along most of its 4,096-km border with Bangladesh since that incident.

Classified report
If anything, Bangladesh borders are an oasis of peace in comparison to the turbulence witnessed in other Indian borders. In a classified report prepared by Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in late 2013, around 513 arms were shown as seized from the international border abutting Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal and China during 2009-2012. 
The report showed 130,127 kg of narcotics too having been confiscated from the borders, excepting the Chinese borders. The input for the report came from the BSF, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Assam Rifles.
The report showed the Indo-Myanmar border topping in arms smuggling incidents, with a total 180 arms seized (around 35%) during the reported period, followed by the Indo-Bangladesh borders where 173 arms seizure occurred during the corresponding period (2009-2012).

Myanmar hits back
Prior to that report, as border forces of Bangladesh and India beefed up joint patrolling along Myanmar border to curve what they called increased cross-border arms and drug smuggling, Myanmar found the aggressive BGB-BSF patrolling threatening and recoiled by staging an incident in late May 2013 in which intense gunfights occurred between BGB and Myanmar forces. Mizanur Rahman, a BGB soldier, was found kidnapped first and then killed in that incident.
Amidst heightened tension, Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on May 31, 2013 that the first incident on May 28 involved Myanmar troops and “two suspected armed Bengalis in yellow camouflage uniform who entered into Myanmar territory in Maungdaw Township.”  The statement added, “One was killed and the other fled into Bangladesh.”
Myanmar also mobilized forces at the common borders, in response to which Dhaka said, “The deployment of forces at the borders by Myanmar violated a 1980 agreement. So the forces should be withdrawn.”

Tension eased
During a high-level meeting in Nay Pyi Taw from June 10-12, 2014, attended by Myanmar Police chief Major General Zaw Win and the BGB director general Major General Aziz Ahmed, the two sides agreed to open several liaison offices, step up measures to combat smuggling of methamphetamines (deadly drug known as Yaba) and share intelligence on armed groups operating in the area.
At the meeting the Myanmar side agreed to share information concerning the activities of the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) while Bangladesh’s Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement that the “Bangladesh side agreed to look further into the matter of the RSO.”
Despite the RSO being suspected of operating like a militant outfit to liberate Myanmar’s Muslim predominant state of Arakan, the allegations remain mostly unsubstantiated. Experts say the outfit has been inactive since the 1990s while a concerned diplomat of the Bangladesh Embassy in Yangoon told The Myanmar Times in June 2014 that the BGB had found no evidence of RSO activity in the border areas.
Following such track records of bilateralism, the blaming of and rounding up helpless religious students from bordering areas in Bangladesh for allegedly waging a jihad against the autocratic AL regime does not quite sound credible.


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Crying wolf is not helping lawless governance

Sadeq Khan

If the purpose of declaring the schedule of Dhaka City Corporation election after decadal delay and its bifurcation (along with Chittagong City Corporation election as well) was meant to create a diversion of public mind and of geo-political watchdogs, both government and non-government, from the ongoing unrest and law & order situation, the strategy has impacted not with a bang but a whimper.

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Sadeq Khan

If the purpose of declaring the schedule of Dhaka City Corporation election after decadal delay and its bifurcation (along with Chittagong City Corporation election as well) was meant to create a diversion of public mind and of geo-political watchdogs, both government and non-government, from the ongoing unrest and law & order situation, the strategy has impacted not with a bang but a whimper.

Albeit a number of weighty candidates of the ruling party and its obliging pet parliamentary opposition are afield trying to warm up public interest in the scheduled city polls, the voters are showing no signs of enthusiasm, terribly oppressed and insecure as they are under the pincers of police raj and life-threatening extortions on the one-hand and months of opposition bomb-throwing transport blockade on the other.
The agitating 20-party opposition alliance leaders have modified their routine hartal programme last week in the second spell of 48 hours ahead of the National Day. Instead of hartal, countrywide protest demonstrations against abduction, extrajudicial killing, mass arrests and trumped-up criminal cases implicating 20-party leaders and supporters have been announced by the agitating opposition movement. That led to media hype that the mainstream opposition party BNP and its allies would join the coming city polls and move away from their “ineffective”, now 11-weeks old, transport blockade programme.
But public confidence in the electoral exercise under the incumbent set-up is far from restored, and their lack of interest as yet in the city polls campaign remains apparent in street conversations and in television pictures, for all the supporting crowds put up on show by ruling party candidates. Nor has the BNP as yet decided whether to participate or to back any candidate of their choice in the supposedly non-party local Sof Chittagong.

Bidders for militancy
And so far as the “ineffectiveness” of the on-going 20-party agitation is concerned, contrary to the propaganda of the ruling coterie, the sustained movement has created a deep impression, both within the country and without, of the “ineffectiveness” of the government. The mainstream opposition is indeed progressively being perceived as more consistent in their demands and “resilient”, and the government leaders as desperate “bidders” for militancy by crying “wolf”, “wolf” to hang the 20-party opposition by giving it a bad name, and to save its usurped power. As a commentary in The Wall Street Journal of March 23 observes (abridged):
“A heavy crackdown on antigovernment protesters in Bangladesh has been fuelling anger and fear within the country’s opposition movement, creating an opening for militant extremism to take root here, rights advocates and others say. More than 100 people have died since January, when supporters of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its ally, the Jamaat-e-Islami, took to the streets to call for early elections. Police have arrested thousands of activists and banned the opposition groups from holding demonstrations. The opposition has defied that ban, leading to clashes across the country.
“As police respond to the violent protests with tactics that critics allege include stifling political speech and carrying out extrajudicial killings, rights advocates fear that militant groups could be better positioned to attract new recruits from among embittered opposition sympathizers in this country long known as a bastion of moderate Islam. ‘If democracy is undermined, militancy could rise’, said Shahdin Malik, a civil-rights lawyer in Dhaka. ‘There is very little political space for dissent right now.’
“The government denies that it is curbing political speech or carrying out extrajudicial killings. Mohammed Nasim, a senior minister who often acts as a government spokesman, said the administration would allow ‘peaceful and democratic’ political activities but would crack down on ‘anarchy and terrorist activities.’ The Inspector General of Bangladesh’s national police, Shahidul Hoque, said security forces only open fire in self-defence.

Militants outside could take advantage
“If all avenues of political discourse are closed, Islamist parties that are part of electoral politics here could renounce the political system and become our Taliban’, said Badiul Alam Majumdar, the secretary-general of Citizens for Good Governance, an advocacy group that campaigns for transparency in government. ‘Militant groups from outside could also take advantage of the upheaval.’
“Bangladesh’s political turmoil is rooted, in part, in the highly contentious re-election of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last year. Ms. Hasina scrapped a provision in the constitution that required an interim government to take over during elections. The opposition then boycotted the polls, accusing Ms. Hasina of authoritarian tendencies. Opposition groups have called on her to step down and allow new elections. For her part, Ms. Hasina has referred to BNP leader Khaleda Zia, as a ‘terrorist’, and her aides have compared the BNP, which has long been regarded as a centrist political party, with the militant group Islamic State for trying to impose a nationwide blockade of road, rail and river transport to press its demands.
“As the government has sought to curb upheaval, local and international rights groups say they see a pattern of deaths among people being held by police or during what security forces describe as encounters with people they claim are terrorists or criminals. These deaths, they say, amount to a form of illegal execution.
A former police inspector general, Nurul Huda, declined to speak directly about alleged extrajudicial killings. But, he said, ‘the demands on the police forces to maintain public order have increased disproportionately due to the current turmoil. When the police are overstretched, civil liberties and due process sometimes suffer.’

Independent investigation needed
“Abul Bashar, a 32-year-old Jamaat-e-Islami activist, says he has been afraid to spend the night at his home for more than a year, fearing police would kill him if they arrest him. Mr. Bashar says he is wanted by police on suspicion of participating in firebomb attacks. He denies any involvement in the attacks, which he said happened in his hometown in central Bangladesh while he was in Dhaka: There’s no law, no protection for us. People have lost friends, brothers and have been driven from their homes. They’re getting desperate.”
A more out right condemnation of the government’s failure to uphold civic rights was issued by Human Rights Watch in its March 17 statement: “The Bangladeshi authorities should immediately order an independent investigation into the enforced disappearance of Salah Uddin Ahmed, spokesperson and joint-secretary of the opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP). Ahmed was last seen on the evening of March 10, 2015 when, according to an eyewitness, he was taken away by men identifying themselves as belonging to the Detective Branch of the police. The government has denied involvement or knowledge of his whereabouts.
Despite complaints to the police by Ahmed’s family members and the filing of a case with a court by Ahmed’s wife demanding that the government produce him in court, Ahmed has not surfaced. On March 16, the Inspector General of Police, responding to a Dhaka High Court order, reported that the various security services under his control had not detained or arrested Ahmed. The court found there was little evidence to show that the police had conducted a serious investigation, but then adjourned the hearings until April 8.

History of failing to investigate
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch said: The Bangladesh government has a history of failing to investigate the enforced disappearance of opposition members. Ahmed’s forcible disappearance needs a credible and independent investigation. This should happen urgently, since by April 8 it could be too late.
“Human Rights Watch and other groups have documented enforced disappearances in Bangladesh, largely by members of the security forces since at least 2007. In 2012, BNP leader Elias Ali also went missing, and the authorities have failed to determine his fate. In May 2014, Bangladesh authorities ordered investigations of members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) for their role in the abduction and apparent contract killing of seven people in Narayanganj, but only because of intense media scrutiny. RAB officials had earlier denied their role, but were exposed after the corpses, drowned in a lake, accidentally floated up.
Ahmed’s disappearance comes in the midst of an ongoing violent stand-off between the government and opposition parties, which began in early January 2015. Since then, over 150 people have died and several hundred have been injured, largely when defying opposition enforced blockades known as hartals. The government’s response has been to arrest thousands of opposition members across the country. The current wave of violence in Bangladesh is a continuation of a longstanding disagreement between the government and the opposition surrounding the conduct of national elections held in January 2014. Several hundred people were killed or disappeared before and after those elections.
“Ahmed’s disappearance is part of a larger pattern, unfortunately, the denial of any involvement by the Bangladesh government, and its refusal to take meaningful action to investigate, is also part of the same pattern of behaviour.”
Crying wolf wolf is hardly helping to improve the government’s credibility. Its denial of gross malfunction and wrong-doings are equally failing to gain credence.


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Will mayoral elections sort out political crisis?

Faruque Ahmed

BNP-led opposition parties’ initial decision to take part in mayoral elections scheduled for later next month during the present political stalemate may turn out to be a game changer to allow the parties to make an exit from the prolonged crisis which has almost put the wheels of the nation to a grinding halt.

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Faruque Ahmed

BNP-led opposition parties’ initial decision to take part in mayoral elections scheduled for later next month during the present political stalemate may turn out to be a game changer to allow the parties to make an exit from the prolonged crisis which has almost put the wheels of the nation to a grinding halt.

But it is too early to say whether parties will avail of the exit window or the mayoral election may further deepen the political crisis by way of ruling party’s manipulations of the election adding more fuel to fire that now kills scores of people daily and burns private and public properties all over the country. 

Govt. uneasy?
Reports said BNP high command’s positive responds towards mayoral polls in the two big cities following the Election Commission’s (EC) announcement of the election schedules has reportedly become cause of uneasiness to the government forcing it to take up fresh political calculations about the strategy. 
In fact, the ruling party has so far planned the mayoral election to divert people’s attention from the ongoing blockades and hartals to a new electioneering climate. But in doing so it is equally committed to keep the mayoral electioneering inclusively within the ruling establishment.
But the scenario invariably changed with BNP led opposition’s move to join the polls. The ruling party is also facing rebel candidates to create tension within the party high command while rivals are engaging in verbal fights. But BNP is still weighing out the risks and opportunities of joining the polls in the light of the ongoing movement demanding parliamentary election.
It is very interesting to note that the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed announced the election schedule after consultation with  Inspector General of Police (IGP) AKM Shahidul Haque who came to see him at his office on March 18 accompanied by Metropolitan Police Chief Asaduzzaman Miah.
The IGP told reporters after the meeting that they have advised the CEC to hold the mayoral polls to two Dhaka city corporations and Chittagong city corporation  by April 30. He justified the timing saying that Pakistan cricket team is scheduled to visit Bangladesh in early May, so it will be comfortable for police to arrange  security if the elections take place before. He also said a congenial atmosphere for elections now prevails in the country and police are ready to give security.
But what hits an impassionate observer here is that the CEC had held consultation with police chiefs as to when it may be convenient to provide security to the polls. Police have also given their right advice. But why he does not at the same time feel necessary to consult the opposition is the more pertinent question.

Poll date & opposition
The CEC has not contacted the opposition sitting on a constitutional post toknow of their mind and move accordingly. The police chief said congenial atmosphere prevails, but what the opposition thinks about it when their prospective candidates and senior leaders and workers are either in jail or on the run.
It is true that mayoral elections are not party based elections, but everyone knows it that the three city corporation elections are even more crucial to the ruling party and the opposition and the elections would be run accordingly right from candidate selection to ensuring their victory. But it appears tricky to many as to why the EC avoided consultation with the opposition before announcing the election schedules or even after it.  The government may avoid the opposition, the EC can’t.
Now question arises how the opposition will be integrated with the election process if the EC is not taking the move.  The point is that if the government and the EC are receptive to the opposition’s participation, there will be hardly any problem to give the opposition their democratic space to run an unhindered election campaign. But if there is any visible gap and that is here, who will overcome it. Then the real troubles may start rolling.   
It is to everyone’s knowledge that the opposition would demand an even playing field, release of their leaders and workers and removal of charges against their prospective candidates to take part in the polls. The question is: will the government make such concessions to the opposition, will the EC try to use its neutral stand to make the polls free and fair. 
There may be many other demands like deployment of army to supervise the polls or opening the BNP central office to coordinate the electioneering process. Reports said a team of BNP minded professional may visit the CEC on Wednesday to know how he is going to build the trust in the opposition that they will get free election environment without government intervention.

EC to ensure even playing field
People believe that it is the responsibility of the CEC and police may also make sure that the opposition will not be subjected to arrests and other harassment.  Much of BNP’s final decision may depend on how the CEC would remove oppositions concerns.
BNP standing Committee member Lt Gen Mahbubur Rahman has said the party is considering taking part in the polls not to leave the elections without challenge. If they keep away, they would become isolated from voters; if they take part it would prove the popularity of the party to electorates.
The opposition’s participation will also expose the ruling party politics whether they want a real election or a stage managed polls like the January 5 2014 parliamentary election. Not only people at home but the international community will adjudge the entire situation on how the government and the opposition will behave through the electioneering process. 
BNP sources hinted at the possibility that they would go for the polls so long it remains a free and fair electioneering process without violence. But if the government comes out to overtake the process, the opposition would immediately withdraw. It may then only deepen the existing political crisis.
So BNP’s decision is part of a strategic move and whether or not it would work as a harbinger for change will equally depend on how the government would use it as a game changer for better or worse. The nation is on watch.


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DCC polls: For a stronger AL dominance

Mohammad Ali Sattar

At long last we have, on our agenda, the Dhaka city corporation polls. After a long eight years in hibernation, the city dwellers has risen up (?) to the news that their time has come to take part in choosing a city father, whops, fathers! We now have two units inside one Dhaka.
So we are going to have two heads leading the North and the South.

Full Story

Mohammad Ali Sattar

At long last we have, on our agenda, the Dhaka city corporation polls. After a long eight years in hibernation, the city dwellers has risen up (?) to the news that their time has come to take part in choosing a city father, whops, fathers! We now have two units inside one Dhaka.
So we are going to have two heads leading the North and the South.

After the mayoral polls outside Dhaka and the huge convincing victory of BNP backed candidates was a very good reason for the Awami League government to keep Dhaka polls on hold. The government just could not afford to give away Dhaka to the opposition.

Politics getting murkier
A win in Dhaka by BNP and its allies would mean a weak underpinning for the government. A BNP mayor and his team would pose obstacles to the government programs and that have been the major concern of the government.
So it thought convenient NOT to hold any elections in Dhaka as long as the AL contenders or government don’t feel comfortable.
Dhaka city administration was cut into two to neutralize Sadek Hossain Khoka’s grip over the city as the mayor. With the slicing of the administration Khoka involuntarily lost his chair.
Now apparently after having things in control, the government thought it right to bring about the polls issue and try introduce a new wave of political activities in the city that will also ripple across the country.
The government has been over working to weaken the BNP led movement. It has been doing whatever possible to negate the opposition acts. Most of the major BNP leaders are either on the run or behind bars.
Nothing really is happening actively in the BNP front. Or should we say, they have been either muted or gagged in such a way that there seems to be genuine silence that has fallen over the party, for now.
Only Begum Zia seems to be alive and kicking. She is under regular bludgeoning. It’s been strongly rumored that Begum Zia will also be taken into custody any time now. Or she may be pressed in such a way that she will tire out of this movement and succumbs to the pressure for a conciliation with the incumbent.
Well that will only be decided by the time. No one really is able to comprehend the future, as it has been regularly getting murky.
Situation turned graver and leaders are one more time scared by the sudden vanishing of Salauddin Ahmed, a senior BNP leader and a former member of parliament. It’s been nearly two weeks now; there is no news of his whereabouts. This is another cause of concern for the opposition political leaders and activists.

Will BNP be allowed to contest?
Amidst these conditions, come the DCC polls. We already have contestants in the fore. We know almost all of them by their faces and backgrounds.
There are hassles and back door parleys in the parties to make up the final list. There are self declared independent candidates willing to spend money and muscle to test their ability (if not popularity).
More names will be added in the fray if and when the polls finally take place. In that event, we shall have new leaders in the North and South. Awami League backed candidates are likely to win, if BNP and allies do not contest.
But there has been talk that BNP might join the fray. Why not? However there’s a reasonable concerned by a large number of party insiders and common supporters that BNP candidates will be, in anyway, ousted from the contest.
So there is no use participating. They think that the AL backed candidates will never concede defeat to the BNP contenders. The government machinery, law enforcing agencies, and the election commission might dole out favours to the government backed contenders, so they believe.
So there might even be violent acts by party supporters from both sides, but eventual losers will be BNP and allies, either by force or by so called legal means.
The AL backed contenders’ victory is a foregone conclusion. So what’s the point in allowing the government and Awami League to brag?
They will tell the world that at last the weaklings have realized their mistake and have participated in the polls under this government. They will bring up many more issues and instances to show that BNP are the actual losers.
BNP has strong contenders and likely to win if the votes are genuinely held, so say the local government experts. Mirza Abbas and company are confident of their success. More names are likely emerging for the BNP.

Is it a gimmick or real
It is reported that Begum Zia has given her nod to participate in the city polls.
If that is so, this will not go well with the government backed individuals and the Awami League will not take it in good stead.
By now we have witnessed how the party and now the AL led government has been trying to keep the BNP outside the polls. It has succeeded whatever reasons may be.
If, for AL, BNP is the threat why would it like to bring in BNP to fight? It’s simple .The party (BNP) which has huge prospect to win will not be welcomed in the fray. Why should the AL government invite trouble and face defeat, just when it can keep BNP at bay?
Now when BNP candidates will come in to partake they are like to face all sorts of obstacles. One on hand, most of them are in the wanted list of the police and on the other many new cases will be instituted to keep them away.
So there are chances that strong and prospective candidates of BNP are likely to drop out or may be forced out of the contest.
See the situation of the elected mayors of other cities. All five BNP mayors are either on the run or behind bars. They are not being allowed to carry out their duties. Public representatives are not allowed to run the public office!
So in all likelihood, even if BNP candidates win the polls, they will not be allowed to carry on in their offices. Prior to that one is true to presume that, in the first place, no BNP contenders will be allowed to win.
So this poll too, ought to be an all AL affair. With the new AL backed mayors in the seats we shall have new twist in politics, for sure. A stronger AL dominance might be the new scenario.


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Indian Maoists take advantage of BJP’s Hindutva programme

Shamsuddin Ahmed

Hindutva programme of the BJP government in India alienating progressive and secular forces and has also provided new opportunities to the Maoists and insurgent groups in the northeastern states fighting for independence.
CPI (Maoist) general secretary Ganapathy has directed the party cadres to take advantage of ‘Hindutva-fascist’ agenda to unite the secular and progressive forces and extend support base in urban areas to strengthen the protracted people’s war. The directive came in a rare statement of the Maoist leader recently issued through the Maoist bulletin and carried by a section of the Indian media.

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Shamsuddin Ahmed

Hindutva programme of the BJP government in India alienating progressive and secular forces and has also provided new opportunities to the Maoists and insurgent groups in the northeastern states fighting for independence.
CPI (Maoist) general secretary Ganapathy has directed the party cadres to take advantage of ‘Hindutva-fascist’ agenda to unite the secular and progressive forces and extend support base in urban areas to strengthen the protracted people’s war. The directive came in a rare statement of the Maoist leader recently issued through the Maoist bulletin and carried by a section of the Indian media.

Maoists have intensified activities
The statement said the ruling BJP is pursuing a Hindutva-fascist agenda in various forms and imperialist policies. This has alienated progressive, secular and patriotic forces. CPI (Maoist) should take advantage of the situation and intensify guerilla warfare. The enemy (government forces) employed some tactics to counter their movement.
Maoist cadres should adopt tactics that will give them the advantage, to counter the superior forces of the enemy by mobilizing forces opposed to Hindutva programme and intensifying the guerilla warfare.  A crucial factor in building up and developing the guerilla war will be the deepening of the mass base.
The directive of the Maoist leader came in the wake of government claim that the Maoist movement has been tamed and scores of disillusioned activists surrendered in lieu of cash award and promise of lucrative employment. Ground report said a lull in Maoist activities except stray incidents of ambush of security forces in Orissa, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala and Telangana leaving a few security personnel killed and dozens wounded since January this year.
Born in Telangana as Gopal Rao and a science graduate, Ganapathy started career as school teacher. He joined the Naxal movement at its end and succeeded in uniting Maoist factions into the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in 2004 which was soon outlawed. The party gained momentum with support from the deprived, utterly poor and neglected adivasis living in forests of central India and low caste Hindus across the country. Guerilla war of the red rebels inflicted heavy casualties to government forces. The entire leadership of Chhattisgarh Congress was annihilated in an ambush. The motorcade of the state Congress leaders out for state election campaign was caught in landmine blasts leaving about 30 dead including a former central minister.
Two and a half lakh paramilitary forces deployed, in addition to state police, failed to end the Maoist insurgency spread in 22 out of 29 states of India. The Indian government has admitted that the Maoists have posed the gravest threat to internal security of India.

Rs 1.5 cr reward on Ganapathy
The government announced a reward of Rs.1.5 crore for information leading to the arrest of Ganapathy. He is believed moving from heavily guarded hideouts in deep forests in central India to the insurgency-prone northeast bordering China. The Maoists have extended bases in upper Assam and joined hands with insurgency groups of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Tripura who have long been fighting for independence from India.
Reports say the Maoists are now carrying out Bolshevisation campaign, directed by Ganapathy - Bolshevise the party, its armed wing and the mass organisations. It would take some more time to complete it and only then can we assess the success of re-moulding our party into a Bolshevised party, said Ganapathy in a statement.
It was the Bolshevik party of Russia that ushered in socialism for the first time in the world. On the other hand, the Chinese Communist Party model is also very important to the Maoists because China and India have a lot of similarities. It is necessary to know and imbibe the qualities of Communist Party of China (CPC) that helped it make a successful revolution and build socialism in a country with semi-colonial, semi-feudal backward where peasantry is the majority by developing the PPW line and building a people’s army, a successful united front and establishing liberated areas.
The CPC, since its formation, made continuous efforts to strengthen by taking Bolshevik as a model. Some analysts, however, say century old Bolshevik style of movement is unlikely to succeed today. The mind and living style of working class and peasants have now undergone radical changes.
The Indian government leaders are worried at the Maoists’ inroad into cities and urban areas. The war on red terror is no longer limited to remote jungles in far off districts as the urban Maoists have become a clear danger.

Govt. worried about Maoists tactics
Maoist front organizations, functioning far from their strongholds in the jungle tracts of central India, have succeeded in penetrating urban India and have managed to give a slip to intelligence agencies for some years. The government is now planning a crackdown on them.
Government admits that some128 organizations have links with the red rebels. These organizations carry out over ground agitation activities in an attempt to expand the mass base of the party and prepare the stage for armed insurrection. Many of f these front organizations are based in urban centre and provide logistical support to the movement ensuring fusion between over ground and underground activities.
They are responsible for recruitment of educated youths who go to field areas to keep the movement alive and play the role of ideologues.  Several organizations in Delhi and the National Capital Region have been identified as Maoist front organizations. Hem Mishra, a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, was arrested by the Maharashtra Police recently for allegedly helping the Maoists.  Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba, belonging to the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), was also arrested by Maharshtra police on allegations of supporting the Maoists.
Intelligence officials said these groups are working with an objective to enter the cadres of workers’ associations and work from within and motivate them to carry out violent protests. Their cadres work in different layers. The modus operandi of some of these groups is aimed at provoking violence. Starting from distributing material related to the Maoist ideology to holding rallies, they finally want to penetrate into protest demonstrations and trigger violence.


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Border issues not insurmountable barrier between China, India

Wang Shang in Beijing

With China and India’s resolution to tap into the vast potential of bilateral cooperation, border disputes will not become an insurmountable barrier for securing the overall stability in the region, as both nations are capable of keeping the disputes under control.

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Wang Shang in Beijing

With China and India’s resolution to tap into the vast potential of bilateral cooperation, border disputes will not become an insurmountable barrier for securing the overall stability in the region, as both nations are capable of keeping the disputes under control.

Although the border disputes between the two countries do stir up tense and concerns, the two sides’ frequent meetings have shown that China and India would like to see their border issues resolved via diplomatic channels.
On (last) Sunday, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi arrived in New Delhi to start a three-day visit for the 18th round of boundary talks between India and China, the first one since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power in May 2014.

Enhancing mutual trust
In the meetings, both sides reiterated their willingness to honor agreements reached in previous talks, to enhance the mutual trust, as well as to focus on dialogue and control mechanism over possible future border issues.
Despite all the difficulties, the border talks continue to register progress and the disputes have been brought under control. Mechanisms such as regularly scheduled border talks, military hot-lines and designated meeting areas deep in the Himalayas are installed to prevent unexpected incidents from flaring into warfare.
The boundary negotiation between China and India, as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it, is in the process of building up small and positive developments. “It’s like climbing a mountain: the going is tough, and that is only because we are on the way up,” Wang said.
While diplomatic infrastructure has helped keep things calm, both countries have more to gain by increasing trade and cooperation, as cross-border cooperation is far more common than frontier standoffs today.
The world’s two most populous nations, despite their differences, share mutual benefits in so many areas that they are made natural partners in many different areas.
Reputed as a global factory and a global service provider respectively, China and India enjoy great economic potential for cooperation in investment, financial services and high technologies.
Both sides should seize opportunities, remove barriers and strengthen the positive momentum for the advancement of China-India relations.

High-level visits
High-level exchanges, especially Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to India in 2014 and Modi’s planned visit to China later this year, powerfully contribute to improving mutual political trust and consolidating the foundation of bilateral relations.
Cooperation, including those in culture, railway and industrial parks construction, has also been broadened.
Moreover, China and India can cooperate and coordinate closely within regional frameworks to accelerate economic development and jointly strive for a larger say for emerging economies in international organizations that have been dominated by developed economies.
Some of the world’s highest mountains lie between China and India, but the connection between the two ancient civilizations have never been severed by their height.
As the Himalayas has not stop the ancient Chinese and Indians from knowing and learning from each other, existing border disputes between the two great nations will not become an insurmountable barrier to the improvement of bilateral relations.


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