India might have colluded with the US in shielding a Bangladeshi paramilitary force despite its patchy record of human rights abuses and torture, indicates a leaked state department cable released on Tuesday.
“(Indian high commissioner) Pinak (Ranjan Chakravarty) also agreed when the Ambassador (James F Moriarty) argued the Hasina government should not disband the Rapid Action Battalion,” said the cable sent by the US embassy in Dhaka.
RAB as the Battalion is known was being trained by the UK and encouraged by the USA to one day become the Bangladeshi version of the FBI had several human rights issues, which was confirmed by the US in other cables. The US said it was working with the force to take care of this problem.
This cable was sent in January 2009, just a month after the election of the Awami League into power making Sheikh Hasina prime minister of the country for the second time.
The new government, the US embassy cable said, might be opposed to the RAB as it was formed by the previous Bangladesh National Party government of Khaleda Zia, a bitter rival of Sheikh Hasina.
The new prime minister had excellent relations with India, and the US might have tried to leverage this to keep the RAB going, while also reforming the elite force from inside – the cables show the US had plans.
That India had excellent relations with Hasina was not hidden from the Americans.
The cable notes that in his conversation with US ambassador Moriarty, Indian high commissioner Chakravarty “expressed pleasure” at the landslide victory of Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League in the elections.
The embassy notes in the cable that with the Hasina as prime minister the two countries will step up cooperation in the fight against terrorism. India earlier accused Bangladesh of not doing enough.
Bangladesh has long been home to leaders of the terrorist group ULFA and Harkat ul Jihad Islami-Bangladesh, which has been used by Pakistan-based terror groups to infiltrate terrorists into India.