Bangladesh’s terror elements cross over to Bengal for safety
Porous borders, similarity with local population in language, dress, food habits, practices and linkmen create a matrix that offers a safe haven to these elements in Bengal.india Updated: Dec 02, 2017 20:40 IST
Dotted with lush green fields, ponds and bamboo groves, Gacha is a deceptively idyllic village of North 24 Parganas district of Bengal.
Located on the Bangladesh border, about 75km from Kolkata, it is now under the scanner of security forces since some Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) elements took shelter here before their arrest from Kolkata on November 21. “Samsad Mian, Riazul Islam, Sahadat Hossain, Mohammad Aftab crossed a porous border and took shelter in the village for a few days,” said Muralidhar Sharma, deputy commissioner of Special Task Force, Kolkata police.
ABT, a banned outfit of Bangladesh, has links with al Qaeda and was accused of killing a few bloggers. Porous borders, similarity with local population in language, dress, food habits, practices and linkmen create a matrix that offers a safe haven to these elements in Bengal.
“Every day, around 15,000 Bangladeshis enter Bengal and go back through the borders. About five years ago, this figure could have been around 5,000. Some come for work. But a large section among them are criminals or terrorists,” BJP Bengal general secretary Sayantan Basu said. “Bangladeshi infiltrators settling down in Bengal has stopped in the past five-six years. The new trend is infiltrators entering the state, staying here for some time, engaging in insurgency and illegal activities and going back again,” claimed Basu.
Villages such as Gacha offer the first crucial link. An officer of the Border Security Force contingent posted at Ghojadanga border pointed out that stretches covering around 1.5km in villages such as Gacha, Akahrapur, Itinda and Uttarpara are totally unfenced.
Sitting at Gobardaha camp near Joypur border, BSF commandant RK Kanojia said, “We are trying our best. We have increased vigil in the area, especially night patrolling despite infrastructure problems”.
North 24 Parganas and Nadia have vast stretches of borders without fences. “Infiltration is not a problem unique to Bengal. But unfenced borders make the problem more acute,” said former commissioner of police, Gautam Mohan Chakraborty.
The free movement of terror elements across the border was confirmed by National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the 2014 Burdwan blast case in which two people died following an IED blast in a rented house. The agency said Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (banned militant outfit) members infiltrated and established a network in Nadia, Burdwan, Murshidabad and Birbhum districts. They carried on indoctrination in madrasas, imparted training in weapons, made IEDs at rented houses and took them back to Bangladesh. The gang that looted a church and raped an aged nun on March 14, 2015 at the border town of Ranaghat came and went back to Bangladesh several times.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel B K Sahay, a former military intelligence officer, also pointed to the crucial role of linkmen.