|Tathagata Satpathy ex-MP|
By Tathagata Satpathy, ex-MP
IT’S SOME surprise that one of the assassins of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stayed in India, hiding his identity, for some 20 years before he was finally brought before law and executed in Bangladesh two days ago. Big question is what this high-profile assassin with Pakistani links was doing here. Abdul Majed was arrested in Dhaka a week ago and subsequently hanged. This should be a matter of satisfaction to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. This, also to the extent that bringing all the assassins of her father and founder leader of Bangladesh was part of her election promise. Meanwhile, the question of Indian intel failure looms large when such exposés are made.
Some of the assassins, part of the military coup, are still at large and are said to have taken refuge in other nations after Hasina took power in the mid 1990s. Majed himself had coursed through Libya and Pakistan among other nations before he ended up in Kolkata. It should be a matter of curiosity as to how such a key member of the conspiracy against Banga Bandhu Mujibur Rahman managed to remain in India without the intelligence agencies getting any wind of his presence. Some reports hint that he had finally been traced by help from Indian agencies. If there were flaws in the security apparatus here in the delay in locating him, it must be taken seriously. It speaks of the weaknesses of the intelligence system of India. It may not be appropriate to speak of the weakness of the system in Bangladesh itself which failed to know of Majed’s presence here because it is finally they who traced him out.
India’s security cover in the eastern sector is not as strong as in the western side or the northern borders. Serious attention was being paid to plugging the loopholes and bridging the gaps along the porous eastern border started only in recent years. This helped in the large-scale, uninterrupted flow of Bangladeshis into India. With the economic situation improving there, the recent times also saw a reverse migration to Bangladesh from India. Alongside came reports of several illegal activities springing from the other side of the eastern border. Seizure of counterfeit Indian currency from Bangladeshi infiltrators was a regular event. Smuggling in of narcotic substances too was going on. Also, Pakistan reportedly used facilities in Bangladesh with less security cover, like ports, to send in counterfeit currency and even terrorists to India via Bangladesh. All these only meant India needs to be more alert along the eastern borders. The intelligence apparatus unfortunately is found wanting in ensuring the security of the nation.
Notably, there is some hide-and-seek from the side of the Indian authorities in relation to the reports that Majed stayed here for 20 years undetected. This is a serious matter also in the context of the good relations India maintains with Bangladesh under Sheikh Hasina as prime minister of that nation. Her rival and opposition leader Khaleda Zia has recently been released from jail after serving a long prison term since 2008. Age may not be on her side, as she’s 74. Since her conviction was on corruption charges, it might not be easy for her now to challenge Hasina, a good friend of India just as her father was. As long as Hasina remained strong in Bangladesh, hope is that China, not Pakistan, will be unable to use this predominantly Moslem nation as a springboard to play games against India. The same is not true of Khaleda Zia. Bangladesh’s good relations with India are a central guarantee to peace in the geopolitical region.
Ever since the driving out of Pakistani rulers from what was east Pakistan till 1971 and ushering in of a new nation by the Mukti Bahini of Mujibur Rahman with great help by India under Indira Gandhi, many positive opportunities to cozy up with Bangladesh have been wasted. There are new under-currents, with China using its economic clout to endear Bangladesh, which could be prescription for a lot of trouble.
Under the circumstances, Indian intelligence would require to maintain higher alert in the eastern sector. The reports about the presence of Majed, undetected, for so long are not a reassuring signal. With the execution of Majed, five of the total 12 participants in the coup are still at large. Their whereabouts are not fully known, and some of them are suspectedly in Canada and the US. It should be in India’s interests too to help locate these ex-military officials and get them extradited to Bangladesh at the earliest. -IHN-NN
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