| Khaleda Zia: On Delhi radar
New Delhi, Aug. 23: India has offered to help Bangladesh identify those responsible for Saturday’s grenade attack at a Sheikh Hasina Wajed rally that killed the former Prime Minister’s personal bodyguard and 18 others.
The offer is an attempt to keep up the pressure on the Begum Khaleda Zia government and ensure that it investigates the incident properly and acts against the attackers.
South Block, which has been closely watching developments in Dhaka, has expressed concern over the rise of Islamic fundamentalist forces and the failure of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party government to keep law and order from deteriorating.
Hasina has openly accused the BNP of involvement in the attack. There have been a number of attacks on leaders of her Awami League in the last few months. A number of leaders have been killed but the authorities have not been able to make even one arrest.
United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have spoken to Hasina over the last two days to convey their concern and offer all help.
This evening, Veena Sikri, India’s high commissioner in Dhaka, said Delhi was willing to help Dhaka in investigations to identify the culprits. Sikri had been invited by Bangladeshi foreign minister Morshed Khan to a briefing on the attack along with envoys from Pakistan, Britain and the US.
“The foreign minister told me that the country is faced with a crisis as the attack was against democracy. The government is looking into the matter with all seriousness,” Sikri was quoted as saying. “India too attaches highest priority to the investigation of the attack which we condemned. India is ready to help Bangladesh in finding out who is behind the attack.”
India had also offered help when police seized a huge cache of arms at Chittagong port last April. As before, the offer is an attempt to ensure the probe does not run out of steam in a few days and the guilty are brought to book.
“All of us must join in condemning such incidents which represent a direct attack on the fabric of democracy that the people of Bangladesh are striving to weave for themselves,” Sikri said.
India does not want to offend Dhaka with its response, but senior South Block officials have made it clear they are unhappy at the way BNP regime is handling matters.
The attack on Hasina comes within weeks of her visit to India. She arrived in Delhi on a private trip, but met many senior UPA leaders. South Block made it clear that the courtesy shown to her was not an exception and was instead part of the treatment accorded to visiting Opposition leaders. However, the meetings did not go down too well with the Khaleda regime.