A front-page report in Tuesday's Kolkata edition of The Times Of India ought be be cause for deep alarm. The report said that there has been a three-fold increase in the number of terrorists belonging to the Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) and the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) entering Bengal, Assam and Tripura in 2016 as compared to 2015. The report, quoting central intelligence sources, said an estimated 2010 HuJI and JMB terrorists have infiltrated into these three states in just one year (2016).
The newspaper report also stated that the Union Home Ministry had written to the governments of the three states asking them to step up vigil along the international border and trace out the terrorists. The varying responses of the three states serve as an eye-opener and also provide the reason why such infiltration has occurred and why Islamic terrorists have found shelter in these states.
Top state officials in Bengal and Tripura, ruled respectively by the Trinamool Congress and CPI(M), dismissed the intelligence report and indicated that the MHA alert was nothing but scare-mongering. They also said that there was no need to launch any hunt against HuJI and JMB terrorists since none existed in the two states!
Assam, where a new BJP-led government is now in power, has taken the alert and advice with the required alacrity. Assam's Additional Director General of Police in charge of the state's Special Branch, Pallab Bhattacharya, admitted that there had been a spike in these terrorists entering Assam last year. The police officer said that 54 JMB terrorists have been arrested in Assam over the past few months.
It must be noted here that till mid-2016, the Congress had ruled Assam and the BJP-led government took a few months till nearly the end of last year to settle down and effect a change in governance. It was only well into the later half of last year that the Assam police started coordinating with the BSF to step up vigil along the Assam-Bangla border to prevent entry of any more Islamic terrorists and tracing the ones who had already entered and were being sheltered in Assam. Till then, the Assam police and the state administration (under the Congress government) had pretty much looked the other way and even been complicit in sheltering Islamic terrorists from Bangladesh, quite like the present administrations in Bengal and Tripura.
It is unfortunate, and downright dangerous, for the Trinamool Congress government in Bengal and the ruling Marxists in Tripura to say that HuJI and JMB terrorists have not infiltrated into the two states. The lid on the JMB's insidious presence in Bengal was blown off with the blasts in Bengal's Burdwan on October 2, 2014. The blasts were caused by two bombs going off accidentally at a house where JMB terrorists were staying. The house, owned by the Trinamool Congress leader, was also being used to make sophisticated explosive devices. The NIA, which probed the blasts, unearthed links between the JMB terrorists in Burdwan with international terror networks.
The reasons behind the Trinamool and the CPI(M) governments in Bengal and Tripura acting in denial is not far to seek. Both actively cultivate minority vote banks and benefit from Muslim votes. And the Trinamool as well as the CPI(M) believe that the support of Islamic hardliners who aid and shelter terrorists from across the border is crucial for their political existence. These two parties feel that Islamic hardliners are best positioned to deliver the votes of the Muslim community to them. That is why the turn a blind eye to the dangerous activities of these Islamic hardliners.
But the primary issue here is that the action, or the inaction, of the Trinamool and Marxist governments in Bengal and Tripura is posing an extremely grave threat to national security. The HuJI and JMB are linking up with other Islamic terror groups in India and Pakistan and it is only a matter of time before this alliance between Islamic terrorists spells serious danger for India.
At the same time, the HuJI and JMB terrorists who find safe shelter in Bengal and Tripura pose a serious threat to the Sheikh Hasina regime in Bangladesh. Prime Minister Hasina has bent over backwards to accommodate India's concerns and provided a lot of concessions to India, including permission for passage of goods through Bangladesh to the land-locked North Eastern region of India. She has been urging New Delhi to take action against HuJI and JMB terrorists hiding in India. To disregard this urgent request by a friendly country would jeopardise India's interests in this region and would amount to an act of betrayal by India. India's foreign policy cannot be allowed to be held hostage by Mamata Banerjee in Bengal and Manik Sarkar in Tripura.
It is, thus, high time that the Union government reads the riot act to the Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M). The chief ministers of these two states have to be told in no uncertain terms to act in national interest and crack down not only on HuJI and JMB terrorists, but also Islamic hardliners within their own states. Not to do so would amount to being anti-national, and anti-national regimes cannot be allowed in states.
Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.
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