Terrorism in Bangladesh
WITHIN days of the attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Air port, terror has struck again. This time a group of half-adozen gun-wielding zealots stormed a restaurant frequented by foreign tourists and diplomats in an upscale neighbourhood of the Bangladesh capital Dhaka. Twenty-eight people, including foreigners, six terrorists and some policemen, were killed as Bangladesh forces ended the 10hour-long hostage drama.
Of late, Bangladesh, which is officially a secular country, has seen a spike in incidents of religious violence, which targeted secular bloggers, atheists, gay activists and Hindu and Christian priests. But the latest act of mass murder represents a dramatic shift from the previous incidents of individual violence. The tell-tale imprint of transnational terror groups is quite palpable in the episode, though the claim of the Daesh taking responsibility for the act is being discounted at the moment. That Bangladesh has been on the boil was evident for quite some time from an increasing frequency of incidents of religious violence. But the Sheikh Hasina government has been consistently underplaying the incidents by portraying them as isolated acts orchestrated by political opponents and local extremist groups. The Friday night incident should be a wake call for the Hasina regime, which has been in a state of denial. The brutality and organised nature of the Dhaka mayhem nails the official complacency and refusal to acknowledge the threat posed by religious militancy. Reports say gunmen separated foreigners from locals, took them upstairs and hacked them with machetes. Nothing can be gorier than this and the ideology that was behind this barbaric act must be resisted with all the might one can muster. A Muslim majority population with a significant minority inclined towards extreme religious views is an ideal fertile ground for extreme religious groups to thrive. The Sheikh Hasina regime should sit up and take note of the looming danger and adopt a pro-active approach to combating religious extremism. — Khaleej Times