I am not scared of assassination threats: Hasina

December 22nd, 2008 - 12:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 22 (IANS) Former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina has said she is not scared of any assassination threats, reacting to intelligence reports that terrorists were planning to kill her.Hasina, now in the midst of a countrywide campaign for parliamentary polls due Dec 29, said at a rally Sunday: “You have already read in newspapers about the apprehension of attacks on me. I am the daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and I am not scared of any threats.”

Hasina, who now heads the Awami League, and her sisters were the only ones to survive the mass murder of her family, including their father and then president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in a military-backed coup in August 1975.

Security and intelligence agencies last month warned Hasina of possible attempts on her life by extremist groups including the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) and Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the Daily Star newspaper said. It said that the Special Security Force (SSF) had assumed responsibility for her security.

An Indian TV channel recently reported that Indian intelligence agencies had warned Bangladesh that a six-member suicide squad of the banned HuJI had been trained to assassinate Hasina, Bangladeshi media said. It added that an officer of Pakistan’s spy agency ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) had trained the HuJI men for two months at Kaliganj in Bangladesh’s Satkhira district.

Hasina said her life was under threat “since a certain quarter is afraid of the mass surge in favour of boat, her party’s electoral symbol, ahead of the parliamentary election”, The Daily Star reported Monday.

She blamed her political rivals, who are also in the poll fray.

“Terrorists attacked me time and again and the BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party)-Jamaat alliance government patronised the attackers,” Hasina said while addressing a poll rally at Tangail.

Home Adviser (minister) Maj Gen (retd) M.A. Matin Sunday assured that the interim government had taken “the highest possible measures” to ensure Hasina’s safety.

“Inshallah there will be no attack,” he told reporters.

He said that the government was well prepared to tackle any situation during the elections.

Hasan Mahmud Khandaker, director general of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), said they were investigating the threat reported by an Indian television channel, which quoted unnamed Indian intelligence officials.

The editorial reactions of Bangladeshi media to the reported assassination threat was mixed, but all emphasised on providing fool-proof security for Hasina. There have been at least three attempts on the life of Hasina in the last decade.

Bangladesh Today, an English language daily, felt the report was “far-fetched”, but in an editorial said that the army might use it “to declare martial law”.

“What is expected of the security forces at this hour is the highest degree of professionalism to nip violence in the bud for the success of the election and sustenance of the democratic process,” said The New Nation newspaper.

The Daily Star pointed out in its editorial Monday that Hasina had “barely escaped” death at a rally Aug 21, 2004 when 22 of her senior party colleagues were killed.

“It is, however, good news that the Special Security Force (SSF) has taken due cognizance of the threat and put in place foolproof security arrangements for Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda Zia and other top leaders,” the newspaper added.

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