Bangladesh po­lice give vil­lagers bam­boos to fend off mil­i­tants

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

DKAKA—Po­lice in west­ern Bangladesh said Fri­day they have armed vil­lagers with bam­boo sticks and whis­tles in an ef­fort to de­ter rad­i­cal mil­i­tants from at­tack­ing peo­ple of mi­nor­ity faiths.

Of­fi­cers said they wanted to em­power peo­ple to act against mil­i­tants who have killed dozens of sec­u­lar ac­tivists, Hindus and other mi­nori­ties across the coun­try in re­cent years.

The move comes af­ter a Hindu pri­est was found slaugh­tered in a rice field in west­ern Bangladesh, the lat­est in a se­ries of grue­some mur­ders tar­get­ing sec­u­lar cam­paign­ers and re­li­gious mi­nori­ties in the mainly Mus­lim coun­try.

“We want to change the sce­nario. We want the peo­ple to be cau­tious, safe and united against mil­i­tancy and other crimes,” said Eh­san Ul­lah, po­lice chief in the west­ern dis­trict of Magura, which has a large Hindu pop­u­la­tion.

Ul­lah said the sticks and whis­tles were aimed partly at rais­ing morale among lo­cal peo­ple.

“Al­most all re­cent (mil­i­tant) at­tacks took place dur­ing a time when roads were empty and the lo­cal com­mu­nity was busy with farm­ing or asleep,” he told A F P.

Po­lice de­nied the scheme could be open to abuse, de­spite con­cerns from some hu­man rights ac­tivists that the move could trig­ger mob lynch­ings.

The ISIS group has claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the Hindu pri­est’s mur­der and other re­cent at­tacks.

But au­thor­i­ties in­stead blame home­grown mil­i­tant groups and say ISIS and other in­ter­na­tional group have no pres­ence in Bangladesh.

Last Fri­day the po­lice launched a crack­down on mil­i­tant groups in Bangladesh in the wake of the vi­o­lence, ar­rest­ing more than 11,000 peo­ple in re­cent days.—Agen­cies

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