Hasina vows to crack down on religious militancy

January 29th, 2009 - 11:54 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 29 (IANS) “Militants have no religion,” Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said, adding it was wrong for anyone to think that action against them was an attack on Islam. She reiterated her government’s resolve to coordinate action with other South Asian nations, a media report said.

“Whenever action is taken against militants, it is described as an attack on Islam. But it is not right. The militants have no religion and operate beyond boundaries,” she told the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) Wednesday.

“Tough actions must be taken against militants as they act against humanity and religion,” Hasina said, replying to queries from lawmakers during the question hour.

Her government would not hesitate to take stringent measures to curb militancy in the country, New Age newspaper said.

Hasina said she has directed the authorities of religious educational institutions to keep their institutions free from extremism.

She had also asked the intelligence agencies to remain alert against militants.

“I have already directed all ministries and the authorities concerned to find out the militants’ patrons, financiers and sources of illegal arms and ammunition to root out militancy,” Hasina said during the first question-answer session in the ninth parliament.

Terming militancy a major problem in her country, Hasina said she had asked the authorities concerned to take necessary steps to form a South Asian Anti-terrorism Taskforce in line with her party Awami League’s (AL) election manifesto for curbing cross-border terrorism.

The terrorism issue is on top of the agenda of Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who will be here next month.

The lawmakers of the ruling AL-led alliance welcomed the premier’s replies by thumping desks, The Daily Star newspaper said, noting that the opposition walked out of the house before the proceedings began.

Religious extremism and militancy gained ground during the regime of then prime minister Khaleda Zia (2001-06) when individuals like Bangla Bhai acted with impunity against religious minorities.

The Zia government took action after an international outcry and banned some of the outfits.

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