Dhaka, March 30: Dhaka’s new army-backed government today sent Delhi its most reassuring signal yet by hanging the who’s who of Bangladesh’s rising Islamic militancy that has been linked to several terror strikes in India.
The six executed included the militancy’s most terrifying face, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh chief Bangla Bhai (in picture). The other big name was Shaikh Abdur Rahman, supreme commander of Jamaat-ul Mujahideen.
The executions are the latest in a series of moves by the two-month-old regime that should ease the tensions that marked Delhi-Dhaka relations during Khaleda Zia’s tenure as Prime Minister.
Among these are the graft arrest of Khaleda’s son Tarique Rahman, seen as anti-India, and the nod for a long-stalled cross-border passenger train.
The pre-dawn hangings stunned the militants by turning against them a technique they had used to carry out the country’s highest-profile terror attack.
In August 2005, militant groups had jointly bombed 63 of the country’s 64 district headquarters almost simultaneously, ensuring the government couldn’t react effectively.
Today, the administration hanged their leaders in four jails spread across the country to deny possible protesters a single rallying ground.
The six, convicted of the killing of two judges in 2005, said they wanted an Islamic state and had targeted the courts because they are run by secular law.
The rise of hardline Islam in Bangladesh has been a source of concern for Delhi, which believes that the country, under the pro-Pakistan Khaleda regime, had become a militancy hub that made full use of the porous Indian border. Terror trails from India often lead to some point in Bangladesh.
Thirty-plus Bangla Bhai has been a headache for Delhi. He ran a parallel government in parts of northern Bangladesh, issuing fatwas for men to grow beards and women to wear burqas. His 10,000-strong cadre tortured and killed communists, often in public, and targeted Awami League members while Khaleda’s police looked the other way.