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Dhaka probing ISI-Rohingiya terror link, says Bangladesh minister Obaidul Quader

Bangladesh government is worried that the terror elements might sneak into its territory in guise of refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

india Updated: Dec 21, 2017 17:45 IST
Avijit Ghosal
Avijit Ghosal
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Rohingya refugees wash before evening prayers at the Balukhali refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh December 20, 2017. (REUTERS Photo)

Dhaka is investigating whether Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has established any link with Rohingya terror groups, said Obaidul Quader, a senior Bangladesh minister and general secretary of the ruling Awami League.

“We have received intelligence inputs about the ISI’s link with the Rohingya militant elements. We are investigating it,” Bangladesh’s road transport and bridges minister said at a reception organised by the country’s deputy high commission in Kolkata on Wednesday.

According to the United Nations High Commissions for Refugees (UNHCR) over 8.59 Rohingyas have taken refuge in Bangladesh fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where the army has launched a crackdown after the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) reportedly attacked police and army patrols on August 25.

Dhaka is worried that terror elements might sneak into its soil as part of the wave.

Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government earlier blamed Pakistan and its secret service for the terror activities in Bangladesh, including the series of murder of free-thinking bloggers and the attacks on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka in July 2016.

Quader also made no bones about his party-led government’s prickly relations with Pakistan.

“Whenever there is a positive development in Bangladesh, Pakistan reacts negatively. Every time a war criminal of 1971 Liberation War is sentenced, Pakistan makes a negative comment.... They should remember Bangladesh is ahead of their country in all development indicators such as literacy and life expectancy,” Quader said.

“They are ahead of us only in making a nuclear bomb,” he quipped.

On the rights of the minorities in Bangladesh, Quader said the government had a zero-tolerance policy towards any atrocities on them and that it had asked the minorities to put up a resistance against any such attack.

“I tell my minority brothers that they are in no way inferior than our Muslim brothers. They should not suffer from an inferiority complex. I tell them that they are citizens of Bangladesh and have been part of the Liberation War,” he added.

Describing the ties with India as a time-tested one, Quader said the relations between the two neighbours reached a new high during the tenure of Narendra Modi and pointed out how the two countries signed the historic Land Boundary Agreement to exchange enclaves.

“The enclave exchange was extremely important. Prime Minister Modi took an important role in it,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 08:57 IST