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02 Jan 2003
(Extracted from Lieutenant Colonel Thakur Kuldip S. Ludra's 'The Serpent Strikes' Volume I and Developed further by 'Chanakya')

Recently, the Indian Foreign Minister had made a statement in the Parliament that the Bangladesh was acting as a launching pad for the Inter Services Intelligence Operations against India. It was the first time when such an accusation has been made by the Indian establishment. Of course while the Bangladesh Government has denied it Begum Hasina Begum has stated that during her regime she had resisted any such attempt by the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence Directorate. Thereby accepting the accusation and also giving a lie to the Government of Bangladesh's statement.
Bangladesh is juxtaposed against India in a manner that it is surrounded, in the South by the Bay of Bengal and barring the Chittagong Hill tracts, by India on all the other three sides. The southern edge of the Chittagong Hill tracts is abutting onto the Arakan Coast or the Rikhne State of Myanmar.

Bangladesh was originally a part of the Bengal Province of India, before the Independence. Its first avatar was as East Pakistan, one of the five provinces of Pakistan. It comprised of East Bengal and the Sylhet District of Assam. While a part of Pakistan, it had the major part of the population, while area wise, it was just about one fifth of the total area. Thus, while constituting the majority, it hardly had any contribution towards running of the national affairs.

In 1971, the matters came to a head and with Indian contribution and assistance it gained her independence. In 1972 Mujib-ur-Rehman became the Prime Minister. In January 1975, he assumed the post of the President, but, on 15 August 1975, he was assassinated in a right wing coup, led by some army majors. After a brief period of instability, Major General Zia-ur-Rehman took over. In June 1978, in the elections, Zia-ur-Rehman became the first elected President of Bangladesh. On 30 May 1981, he was assassinated and political instability recurred, till Lieutenant General Ershad took over on 24 March 1982 and declared martial law. After a brief period of stability and some degree of economic success, the agitational atmosphere recurred and agitation for restoration of democracy started.

On 15 October 1986, Ershad was re-elected as President and the martial law was repealed on 10 November 1986. In December 1990, General Ershad was deposed and arrested after a popular uprising. In February 1991, in the general elections, Bangladesh National Party led by Begum Khaleeda Zia-ur-Rehman came into power with Begum Zia-ur-Rehman being elected as the Prime Minister. In June 1996, in the general elections, Awami League won a majority and Begum Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Mujib-ur-Rehman, became the Prime Minister. Five years later the situation had reversed with Begum Hasina Wajed once again in the opposition while Begum Khalida Zia, General Zia-ur-Rehman's widow, was back in power. However this time around she had two Right Wing highly fundamentalist groups, Jamait-e-Islami- Bangladesh and Islami Oikya Jote, with her on the band wagon.

The first thing that strikes any visitor, or who studies the Bangladesh scene is the burgeoning population and the population density. In an area of 143999 square kilometres the population was 133.4 Million (1). The population density works out to 1025 per square kilometre. This burgeoning population has its own problems. First of course, is the poverty, that is being further perpetuated by lack of education. The total literacy in the year 2000 is only 41% (2). The female literacy is down to 29.9% (3).

This burgeoning and largely illiterate and as such unproductive population is being seen as a burden for the nation, that Bangladesh would like to shed. In this connection it would be worthwhile to refer to an article by Sadeq Khan, published in Holiday (A Dacca Weekly) dated 18 October 1991 (4). The main trends of this formulation by Sadeq Khan are:-

That although Bangladesh is a very densely populated country, the question of lebensraum, or living space for the people of Bangladesh has not been raised as a moot issue.
That by the first decade of the 21st century, the population of Bangladesh would have expanded so much that the problem of lebensraum or living space would be grim.
That no amount of population planning or family planning would alter the situation.]
That Bangladesh, which is a small country, will not be able to face the challenge alone.]
That colonial exploitation of Bangladesh, in the 18th and the 19th Centuries destroyed its traditional technologies and means of production. Consequently, the country was reduced to the level of a survival agricultural economy, wherein the birth of an extra hand (resulting in cumulative growth of population) in the family was welcome as an asset.
That, besides religious bias in favour of large families, colonial rule and neglect has contributed immensely to the growth of poverty in Bangladesh. As such there is no hesitation on the part of Bangladesh to seek equitable sharing of responsibility, from the developed world, to sort out its problem of over population and lebensraum.
That like globalised free markets (Which are so much in fashion these days) there should be globalised manpower or labour markets to enable over populated nations like Bangladesh to shift hordes of surplus population to under populated regions of the world, to escape the forthcoming over population catastrophe.
That it is unlikely that Bangladesh would ever be able to settle its ever-increasing population, either through planned urbanisation or reclamation of coastal land areas.
That since Bangladesh will not be able to tackle its problem of over population, a natural outflow of population is inevitable towards the sparsely populated lands of South-east, in Arakan Regions and North-east i.e., Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura. (Emphasis added)
That Bangladesh should develop such technologies and skills that would facilitate emigration and earn for the émigrés a warm welcome rather than resentment.
With each passing year with her loss of coastal regions, as a result of erosion, her problems are going to only increase. This will be further exacerbated as the global warming continues unabated. Something, for which she blames the West! (With some justification.)
This has led to a clash of Interests vis-à-vis India. With her growing population Bangladesh has no other option but to get rid of as large part of population as possible. The only place where they can go to is into India. While not so badly off as Bangladesh, India is herself groaning under the weight of her ever-growing population. Thus while Bangladesh would like to push her excessive population into India, the latter does not want any part of it. Hence the clash!

The immediate fallout of the conditions in Bangladesh and the mindset of the powers that be in Bangladesh has been, so far as India is concerned, two fold, viz.: -

To meet the growing population, and in line with its Islamic Fundamentalist approach, there have been increased incidents of harassment of and atrocities against the minorities, particularly the Hindus (which include the Buddhists). This has resulted in their fleeing Bangladesh in large numbers. The fleeing of Chakma Tribes, from the Chittagong Hill Tracts is just a part of the problem. All the international pressure from within the South Asian Association For Regional Co-operation group, and in the United Nations Organisation have failed to make the Bangladesh Government relent on this issue. Notwithstanding, all the lip service that is paid to the concept of the return of the Chakmas, to assuage the feelings of the international community. While Sheikh Hasina's Government had eventually relented to take back the Chakmas, the return of Bangladeshi Hindus just does not arise, because their initial presence and subsequent leaving the country is not accepted by the Bangladeshi authorities. Yet, the percentage of Hindu population has fallen from 28% in 1941 to 10% in 1991 (5). Even in the case of the Chakmas how many have actually returned neither goverment iss willing to state.
In line with the official thought, the Bangladeshi Muslims are being encouraged to migrate into India both, towards the Northeast, into the 'Seven Sisters' and to the West, into West Bengal and Bihar, going right upto Delhi. Subsequently, whenever this topic of migration is raised, the Bangladeshi officialdom just refuses to even accept that these people ever existed, or ever lived in Bangladesh. According to Mr Advani, the Home Minister of India, any thing between 10 to 12 million Bangladeshis are already in India(6). Today they have reached a level well above 20 Million or more than 2% of the Indian population.
It would be pertinent to quote Dr Panigrahai on the subject. Writing in the Hindustan Times of 10 January 1993, under the heading, 'Question of Identity' (7). He writes, "Census reports of 1991 observes that where the density of population in the country rose by 51 persons per square kilometre, West Bengal recorded a quantum increase of 151 persons per square kilometres. In eight West Bengal districts, the population growth rate is very high."

Besides the demographic aggression by Bangladesh, the major factor that is vitiating the relationship between the two countries is the damming of the Ganga at Farrakha. In fact the problem is a direct fallout of the ever burgeoning population whose need for water is ever increasing, just for domestic purposes, even if per capita requirement is kept constant. With increase in population, leave alone for agriculture, industry will also require additional water. The Farrakha Barrage has been built by India to ensure that even during the dry season, enough water flows down the Hooghly, to ensure that it does not silt up and that Hooghly is open through out the year for shipping. Something vital for the Calcutta port. Bangladesh, on the other hand states that by diverting the water, Bangladesh is being starved of water and a large part of Bangladesh is being converted into a desert. This point is, really speaking, a legacy from the time when this region was a part of Pakistan. The mindset then was that any thing that benefits India must be questioned.

That the quantum of water going into Bangladesh has been reduced cannot be questioned. That is a statement of fact. That with her growing population there is an ever-increasing need for water is also a fact. But what is important is the legality and the moral justification. Ganga River System is, primarily, an Indian system with the bulk of its water originating and transiting through India. India, as such has every right to use the water of Ganga for her benefit. The problem with Bangladesh is that she is not prepared to use the alternative means, i.e., diverting a portion of that inland sea, Brahamputra. Besides, Farrakha gives Bangladesh a handle to use against India.

In 1975 India had agreed to give between 44,000 to 66,000 cusecs of water. However, in 1977 it had been amended to 34,000 cusecs as against 32,000 cusecs for India(8). To a degree this problem has been sorted out in 1997, as a result of a treaty whereby India has guaranteed to provide a fixed minimum of water (35,000 cusecs) even during the dry spell to Bangladesh. In the final analysis India has had to compromise while Bangladesh has got what she wanted.

In spite of having got her independence with India's assistance, the question is why the antagonism towards India? Of course, there is the age-old adage-- 'There are no permanent friends in international relations, there are only interests'. It must be realised that apart from a very short spell from beginning 1972 till August 1975, when Mujib-ur-Rehman was assassinated, this region first as East Pakistan, and later as Bangladesh, has been antagonistic, if not actively hostile through out.

Initially, the inspiration came from the Pakistani approach to India. The mindset that developed during that period continues. The thought process, and as such, the approach to mutual problems remains the same. In addition, the new concept of finding justification for large scale pushing out of Bangladeshis requires an unsympathetic attitude towards India. What is worse is, that according to most analysts the things are not going to improve. The attitude of antagonism is in-built in the Bangladeshi mindset. It is best exemplified by Sheikh Hasina Wajed's attitude, when she was in the opposition, to the Indo-Bangla Treaty of Friendship of 1972, which was signed on the insistence of Sheikh Majib-ur-Rehman. Yet his own daughter, Sheikh Hasina Wajed called it an Indian imposition on Bangladesh, or rather a charter of slavery (9). India must realise that it is a matter of clash of Interests. When Interests clash any excuse is good enough to exacerbate the animosity.

In fact, it was the actions of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehamn himself that set the pace for Fundamentalist Islamisation of the Bangladesh society. To quote Mr. J N Dixit:-
"….a metamorphosis in the social and political scene of Bangladesh had occurred first because of Mujib's own lack of conviction about transforming his country into a genuine secular democracy and, second, because he had consciously allowed re-induction of Pro-Pakistan and anti liberation elements into Bangladesh's politics, civil services and armed forces. (Emphasis added). He adopted such a strategy in order to reduce the influence of political leaders and armed forces personnel who were actively involved in the freedom struggle. My assessment is that he hoped to ensure supreme power for himself by counter-balancing and playing of these two groups against each other in the domestic political process. With the passage of time Bangladesh became an [de facto] Islamic republic. It must not be forgotten that the first step in the direction was taken by Mujib himself, who attended the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) Summit Conference in Lahore in 1974. Whosoever came to power in Bangladesh had to fulfil two stipulations for surviving in power: first that he or she should maintain a certain amount of distance from India and second, the person should confirm the Islamic identity of Bangladesh" (10) (emphasis added)

These attitudes, on the part of leaders is automatic reflection of the fundamentalist approach that has permeated the psyche of the people. Having got freedom from the tyranny of Pakistani fundamentalist approach, this psyche has driven her back into the arms of Pakistan, where the two jointly revel in their hatred of India. With her fundamentalist anti-Indian attitude, her next obvious step was to step into the Chinese camp. China has been only too glad to accept her overtures as this brought her a step nearer to encircle India. Thus with Pakistan, Aksai Chin, Tibet, Myanmar and Bangladesh, the encirclement of India by Chinese interests is complete. In addition, with the berthing facilities and surveillance facilities in Coco Islands, Hyungyi Island off the Irrawady Delta, as well as other islands and ports on the Myanmar Coast, China is in a position to threaten India, all along the latter's East Coast, while the complete Indo- Gangetic Plains, in fact all India, North of Vindhayas is under direct threat from China and her two South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) allies. With the induction of Ghauri, taken at its face value, the threat has permeated even South of Vindhayas, with the Bombay High well within the threatening range of the missiles of this trio.

With Bangladesh actively subscribing to the Pakistani Muslim Fundamentalism, the next obvious step had to be the permission to the latter to use the Bangladesh soil for operations of the Inter-Services-Intelligence Directorate of Pakistan. In this connection it would be pertinent to draw the attention of the reader to the following: -

Lieutenant General Narinjan Singh Malik, stated that the Inter-Services-Intelligence Agency is said to have launched a new organisation called the United Liberation Front of the Seven Sisters. In this organisation, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, United Liberation Front of Assam, the Bodo Security Force and the Peoples Liberation Army of Manipur, along with other tribal groups, are the key participants (11).
The United States Republican Research Committee on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, has indicted Pakistan's Inter-Services-Intelligence, together with Bangladesh and Burma(Myanmar) of aiding and abetting terrorism in North-eastern States of India (12). The report reads as follows:-
'The report, which is the work of years of research and analysis of trends by the task force covering various aspects of Islamic terrorism and its overlapping relationship between various terrorist groups and published in February 1993, has indicated towards the growing clout of the Pakistan's ISI in spreading militancy in the North-eastern States of India-----. "The Burmese Government has agreed to patronise our revolutionary front with all the forces under their command to revolt against the Indian Government" admitted Bhorot Singh, the PLA leader, while hiding in Bangladesh, the report added. He also admitted to having already established contacts with Pakistan Army for support to wage a war against India, in 1991. Indeed, the financial and military assistance provided by Pakistan, via Dhaka, enabled the Manipur insurgents to acquire such weapons as AK-47 and RPGs, the report added.'
Major General Madhok, while writing in the Indian Express wrote, 'ULFA---.It is now operating from bases in Bangladesh.----" (13)
"Convergence of Strategic Interests of Pakistan and Bangladesh, as a result of brainstorming session, between Bangladesh Institute of Strategic Studies and Inter Services Intelligence Directorate," wrote Sunday. (14)
Prakash Singh, a former Director General of the Border Security Force, has also made the same points while writing for the Indian Express. (15)
According to Lieutenant General Narinjan Singh Malik, as mentioned in sub para (a) above, the Nagas have started recruiting migrant Muslims, under the instigation of the Inter-Services-Intelligence. Is there any wonder that since 1961 the Muslim population has increased twenty times. From less than 1000 it has gone upto 20642, in 1991. (16)
The latest reports indicate the following locations where camps are being run for and by Hizb-ul-Jehadi-Iskami a militant offshoot of Jamait-e-Islami : - (17)

Nilpahamari, opposite Jalpaiguri. This is also the Regimental Centre of Saidpur Regiment. Here cadres are being trained for infiltrating into the Indian Security Forces, preferably the Army or the Border security Force.
Rajshahi. Here a sleeper cell of Al Quaida was formed in December 2001 within weeks of the fall of Kandhar.
Sylhet. There are three prominent madrassas which are acting as transit camps, as well as safe havens for Fundamentalists being inducted into Assam and Tripura. These madrassas are located at Raniping, Kazir Bazar, and Munshi Bazar.
Brahman Baria has one centre exclusively for infiltration into Tripura.
Rangamati has one training centre in the Rangamati Islamic Centre Madrassa, for infiltration into Mizoram.
There are four camps located in Chittagong,
There are another 4 camps located in Bandarban.
There are another three camps located in Cox's Bazar which act as receiving depots for moving in of weapons from Ranong and move out of heroin, on its way out to Macau, Hongkong and the West.
Dacca, which is the epicentre of Hizb-ul- Jihadi-Mujahideren where there are 7 such madrassas located under their tutelage.
Some of the other centres are:-
Habiganj. Opposite Tripura
Mymensingh. Close to Manakchar the Islamic Fundamentalist Centre in India
Khagrachari. In the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Sherpur. A hundred kilometres from Ingrez Bazar in West Bengal.
Maulvi Bazar. Opposite Tripura.
Netrokona. Close to Mymenshingh
Sunamganj. Opposite Dawki in Meghalaya.
Under the circumstances stated above, any Indo-Bangladesh confabulation or meeting would automatically get converted into a slanging match without meaningful action emerging out of it, unless India agrees to the Bangladeshi demands. This has already been proved when Mr I.K.Gujral accepted partly, the Bangladeshi demand on Farrakha waters. Bangladesh's antagonism can be gauged from her attempts to create a Muslim Grouping of Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia, mainly against India. (18). That the other two were not willing then, does not preclude Bangladesh's intention to create a grouping, which was antagonistic to Indian interests.

It is this congruity of interests that has brought Pakistan and Bangladesh together in a ganging up against India. Facing a basic problem of lack of resources both military as well as economic, Bangladesh has done the obvious. It has become a tool in the hands of the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate. In fact its own Intelligence Agency has been created on the same lines as its original mentor the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate and has been named the Joint Services Intelligence Directorate. According to reports 70% of the Pakistani Embassy officials are Inter Services Intelligence operatives (19). Along with the Intelligence Directorate of Defence Services of Myanmar, these three are acting as parent organisations, for all terrorist activities in Northeast India.

In fact, it must be realised that the Inter Services Intelligence has always been interested in the Bangladeshi psyche. Even as the Pakistanis were being driven out of East Pakistan, what was later to become Bangladesh they were infiltrating into the Mukti Bahini. While the bulk of the Mukti Bahini were freedom fighters the Inter Services Intelligence were able to infiltrate a sizeable number who were essentially their agents. They included: -

Colonel Mohammed Abdul Aziz Pasa.
Lieutenant Colonel Khondaker Abdul Rashid.
Major Ahmed Sharf-ul-Hussain.
Major A K M Mohiuddin Ahmed.
Lieutenant Colonel S H M B Nur Chowdary.
Lieutenant Colonel Sharif-ul-Haque.
Captain Abdul Majid.
Risaldar Moslemuddin.

It were the men mentioned above who were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Banglabandhu Mujib-ur-Rehman. According to Mr Khan Shamsur Rahman, the Bangladeshi ambassador to India it was apparent that the Inter Services Intelligence was involved in the plot to assassinate Banglabandhu Mujib-ur-Rehman. Yet so strong is the communal hold of the Inter Services Intelligence on the Bangladeshi psyche that it has been successful in converting any number of the Bangladeshi bureaucracy and the political leadership into toeing their line. The end result has been that in spite of Mujib-ur-Rehaman's own daughter, Sheikh Hasina Begum having been elected to the position of the Prime minister, she had failed to break the shackles tying Bangladesh with Pakistan and particularly the Inter Services Intelligence.

The importance of Bangladesh for Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence is manifold. Firstly, it provides a base for Pakistani terrorist and intelligence activities right close to the target region. Secondly, it provides storage place for all the wherewithal, money, weapons and so on, which Pakistan requires for maintaining an insurgency in this area. Thirdly, Bangladesh provides a safe haven for the insurgents operating in India. It also provides training areas, and place for rest and recuperation, as well as medical facilities. Fourthly, Bangladesh provides the insurgents, operating in India, the facility to contact rest of the world and place before them their point of view. Fifthly, Bangladesh provides the transit facilities for weapons supplies which come in mainly from the ASEAN group of countries with Ranong as the port of enshipment and which are off loaded at Cox's Bazar, before being either stored or moved to the insurgents, be they be in India or Myanmar. To further augment her efforts, the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate has created an organisation called Islami Inquilabi Mahaz. The Islami Inquilabi Mahaz also has close links with Jago Mujahideen, headquartered in Dhaka. The aim is to train militants and terrorists from the North-eastern States of India. This organisation also provides safe haven, funds and logistic support for covert operations in India. Sixthly, Bangladesh is a major entrepot for the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate's Drug routes from the Golden Triangle, particularly Myanmar, because of its contiguity and from Thailand and Cambodia through the trawlers. Operations Leach and Operation Poorabh are two classic examples where the Proclivities of Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence have been highlighted. The details are given below: -
"'It had been found that the Myanmar insurgents, who, incidentally Mr George Fernandes had been sponsoring and was in fact their main source of inspiration, were working in close collaboration with the Indian insurgents and were running guns and other weapons regularly by means of ships and trawlers from the Thailand ports, to various ports along the Myanmar Coast from Ranong, in Thailand on the Myanmar Thailand Border, on the Southern tip of the Tenasserim Coast, South of the Gulf of Martaban, right upto Akyab on the Rikhine Coast, just South of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. However, the main entrepot was and still is Cox's Bazar where the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate along with the Joint Services Intelligence Directorate of Bangladesh have set up a close, inter linked network for supply of weapons to the Indian Insurgents in the North-east.

On 11 February 1998, a major gang of international gun runners, supplying weapons were intercepted, by a joint operation mounted by the Coast Guard, The Navy, the Army and the Air Force. Earlier the Indian Intelligence agencies had infiltrated into this gang which mainly consisted of the Arakan Army. The main persona was Lieutenant Colonel Grewal of the Military Intelligence who had established contact with these gunrunners in Thailand in January 1998, after a visit to Myanmar. Incidentally, this appears to have been confirmed by the National United Party of Arakan the political wing of the Arakan Army or the Arakan Revolutionary Front. The Arakan Revolutionary Front is, incidentally, a Rohingiya organisation operating against the Myanmarese government. It was the Myanmar Government crack down on the Rohingiyas, all Muslims, which had led to a massive inflow of these Rohingiyas into Mizoram and through Mizoram into Bangladesh, some years back.

Essentially 'Operation Leech' was a sting operation of the Indian Army to get to the root of the arms being supplied to the insurgents. Lieutenant Colonel Vijay Grewal visited Myanmar and established contact with the Arakan Army and the National United Party of Arakan. From there he went with Kim Maung the foreign affairs in-charge of National United Party of Arakan, to establish contact with Saw Tun a senior member of the Arakan Army's military committee and possibly in-charge of weapons acquisition. The two stayed in Bangkok from 8-10 January 1998. The two then after arranging the supply of weapons came back. Fresh contact was established when Saw Tun visited Delhi on 5 February 1998, possibly at George Fernandes's house. George Fernandes at that time was not the Defence Minister.

On 8 February m1998, 43 of the members of the Arakan Army sailed out of the Thai waters in two speed boats laden with weapons. They were to head for the Land Fall Island, the Northern most island in the Andaman and Nicobar Chain of Islands. From the Land Fall Island they were to proceed to Cox's Bazar, in Bangladesh, from where the arms were to be sent to the insurgents in the Arakan Hills. (This is the first question that neither the Arakan Army nor the critics of the Army operation have been able to answer. Why Cox's Bazar? If it was meant for the Arakan Army, the entire Arakan coast is wide open so is the Tenasserim Coast. But then it sells if the Indian Media in a self-flagellation mood flagellates the Indian establishment, particularly the Armed Forces. It proves their liberalism.)

On the way to the Land Fall Island, in an act of piracy, these arms runners captured two Thai trawlers, and with these four boats, with a total of 79 men they reached the Narcondum Island at 7 P.M on 9 February, 1998. Expecting a rousing reception by the Indian Military Intelligence! The next morning that is 10 February 1999, Khasing Raza the Commander-in-Chief of the Arakan Army and the leader of the mission along with Pado Mulway (in-charge of the Arakan Army's Marine operations), Colonel Thein Aung Khyaw (a member of the National United Party of Arakan, Captain Myint Shwe (of the Karen National Army) and Pho Cho, the pilot of the boat moved towards the Land Fall Island at 10 A M and reached the Land Fall Island the same evening. The Burmese claim that they were received with a lot of bonhomie and five bottles of rum were opened (only five bottles for at least ninety--- 73 Burmese and the rest Indian reception party?) They also unloaded their speedboats to display their weapons.

On 11 February 1999, a naval ship took up position to the North of the Land Fall Island, close to the island. The six top members of the Myanmarese, including Khaing Raza, Saw Tun and Pado Mulway were taken away to, ostensibly, meet a senior Indian leader who had come to meet them. They have not been seen or heard of since. The rest were arrested.

It would be of interest to the readers that three months later after Operation 'Leech', on 31 May 1999, the Indian Armed Forces in Operation 'Poorabh' had intercepted two Thai vessels. These vessels had with 50 Kilograms of Heroin along with another large consignment of weapons headed for Cox's Bazar, the destination for all consignments meant for the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate. The heroin was obviously meant for onward despatch to the United States of America and the other flesh plots of the West, where just a kilogram of heroin can get upto a million dollars, so essential for financing Pakistan's arms purchases. The same report from the Cabinet Secretariat has also indicated that from Operation Leech on 11 February till April 1998 five consignments of arms meant for the insurgents in the North-east India, went through from Ranong, on the Thailand- Myanmar Border to Cox's Bazar." (20)

The above will give an idea of the importance of Bangladesh in the operations of the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate, to further its objectives to sustain the insurgencies in India, particularly the North-east. Cox's Bazar is an open arms bazaar for supply of weapons to the insurgents in Myanmar as well in Indian Seven Sisters. Linked with it is Myanmar for so far, surprisingly, Myanmar has felt that her interests would be better served by remaining antagonistic to Indian interests, yet insurgents in Myanmar are being supplied by the Inter Services Intelligence, in return for Heroin which is abundant in Myanmar.

This heroin is then routed into India as well as Nepal through Bangladesh, who is another major transit point for move of heroin by the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate from Thailand as well as Myanmar. In fact it must be realised that Inter Services Intelligence has acquired, more or less a monopoly in the supply of Heroin to the Western Markets. The routes are many and multifarious.

The Inter Services Intelligence has an enormous stake in ensuring that Bangladesh retains its Fundamentalist characteristics to the extent that she is even willing to strike in the country which she has considered her ally. This has become necessary as with the election of Sheikh Hasina Wajed the antagonism against India had become somewhat subdued. On 26 January 1999, The Bangladesh Police arrested five men with links with the extremist Islamic Group Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami. The arrested included a Pakistani, an Afghan, a South African Muslim, and two Bangladeshis, who had attempted to assassinate Shamshad-ur-Rehman a known Bangladesh poet and the Bangladeshi Ambassador in India at the time of assassination of Mujib-ur-Rehman.

According to the assessment of the Global Intelligence, this attempt along with the plans to assassinate another 27 Bangladeshi intellectuals and Islamic strikes right across India was a part of larger conspiracy targeting India. It was in this connection the arrest of Sayed Abu Nasir takes on significance. Nasir had been arrested in Calcutta before he could carry out his plan to blow up the American consulates in Calcutta and Chennai.. The group included four Egyptians, a Sudanese and a Myanmar Muslim, had crossed into India in October 1998. The plan had apparently been funded by Osama Ben Laden and prepared by the experts at the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate.

On 9 January 1999 Syed Mohammed Nur-ul-Afsar, a man with 'Libyan Connections' was arrested in Chittagong on charges of smuggling in firearms and explosives. According to the Bangladesh Police, Afsar had travelled to Libya a number of times to acquire skills in handling explosives. He then visited Czechoslovakia (sic) in June 1998 to purchase a large number of automatic weapons and explosives, which he then shipped to Bangladesh. The significance in these episodes is the importance of the Inter Services Intelligence being able to forge a connection and unity between such diverse nationals as Egyptians, Sudanese, Libyans, Afghans, Myanmar and even Indians. And the target is India.

As the government, under Sheikh Hasina started realising the implications of the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate her government started to gradually pull back from the closeness that had developed between the two countries. This was not to the liking of Pakistan. Their unhappiness was reflected in the attempt made to assassinate Sheikh Hasina. On 24 July, 2000, minutes before she was to address a public gathering at Kotalipara, in Gopalganj 76 kilograms of explosives were recovered from the site. Minutes later another explosive device was discovered at the helipad used by her (21). The main suspect was Mufti Abdul Hannan a leader of Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami, who had been trained in Pakistan. It is believed that Hannan had taken part in operations in Afghanistan. It is also believed that it was he who had assembled the improvised explosive device to be used. While Mufti Hannan is still absconding along with number of his associates. However, while some of his associates. Including his brother, Motiar Rehman had been arrested, after the election of Begum Khaleda Zia, there has been a loud silence on this front..

The general reading in the Intelligence circles is that Pakistan is gradually weaving a web round India which will act as a series of bases for launching operations into India. According to reports Pakistan has been offering large amounts to individuals to help further their Interests in Bangladesh and its relations with India. One such is Hasnat Abdullah who is the Chief Whip, who had been appointed the Chief negotiator for the Chittagong Hill tracts Accord with India, who disclosed himself that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence Directorate had offered him a huge amount to scuttle the talks and the agreement.(22)

Bangladesh is also finding the returning Mujahidin who had participated in Afghanistan becoming a security threat. These Mujahidin with their close links with the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate and flush with money and weapons from the same source have developed into a major threat to Bangladesh and its society. The best way to handle them as per the Bangladeshi authorities is to divert their attention to wards India.


World Development Report 2003, Table 1 on page 234
Human Development Report 2002, Table 3, page 158.
Human Development Report2002 Table 22, on page 234
Extracted from Demographic Aggression Against India, by Baljit Rai, pages 11 to 15
Demographic Aggression Against India By Baljit Rai page 47
Mr. Advani, as reported by the Indian Express of 10 May 1998, page 7, in an article titled, 'Move afoot to deport illegal immigrants, says Advani'
Dr Panigrahai in the Hindustan Times dated 10 January 1993
Times of India of 6 July 1995 in an article titled 'India, Bangla Agree to Test Waters of Old Dispute'
Mr. J N Dixit, in Indian Express, under the title, 'Optimum Accommodation' (Date not known)
Mr J N Dixit in his book 'Liberation and Beyond, page 249, as quoted by Mr. Jaideep Saikia in his article 'The ISI Reaches East: Anatomy of a Conspiracy'
Indian Express, Chandigarh edition, of 23 December 1993.(The editorial)
Chandigarh Newsline a Chandigarh Supplement of the Indian Express of 23 June 1994, under the title 'ISI Promoting Terrorism in the North-east: US Report'.
Major General Madhok under the column FOCUS in the article, 'Proxy War in the North-east' in Indian Express of 11 April 1994.
Sunday of 7-13 August 1994.
Indian Express of 6 April 1994, in an article titled 'Emerging War Clouds'.
Census of India 1991 ibid
India Today of 09 December 2002, page 52-53 and Hindustan Times of 1 December 2002, page 1
J.N.Dixit in his article titled, 'Cracks in SAARC' in the Indian Express of 16 August, 1994
Indian Express of 28 September 1998, page 1, ibid.
This author's Defence of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, page 65 and 66
Somnath Batabyal writing in the Week of 13 August 2000, page 47
Somnath Batabyal ibid.

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