Bangladesh fears militant attack on jailed VIPs

March 30th, 2008 - 12:49 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, March 30 (IANS) Security has been beefed up in jails across Bangladesh as authorities fear attacks on VIP prisoners on the first anniversary of the execution of Islamist militants’ top brass. Banned Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)’s supremo Abdur Rahman and his deputy Siddiqur Rahman alias Bangla Bhai were among the six executed March 29 last year for killing two judges.

The executions were carried out in four different jails after President Iajuddin Ahmed rejected their mercy petitions.

The country’s jails have since been filled with a large number of people being tried for corruption. The number had crossed 200,000 last year and included about 200 former ministers and lawmakers.

“There are many VIP prisoners inside the jails. They (militants) might carry out attacks on them or create a situation that might lead to untoward incidents,” Deputy Inspector General (prisons) Major Shamsul Haider Siddique was quoted as telling private television channel Ekushey TV Saturday.

Inspector General (prisons) Brig. Gen. Zakir Hassan however told The Daily Star newspaper that they do not have any such information. He added that strict security was always maintained for VIP inmates.

After taking office in January last year, the caretaker government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed launched a drive against the Islamist militants, even though many of them have regrouped and found new leaders, media reports said quoting intelligence agencies.

The former government of Begum Khaleda Zia (2001-06) banned the JMB and Harkatul Jihad Islami (HUJI) after public outcry at home, international criticism and threat of sanctions by the US Congress.

However, these groups received support from sections of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its coalition partner, Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s largest Islamist political party, New Age newspaper said Sunday.

“Aided by a few ruling alliance leaders, lawmakers and ministers and members in local administration and police, the vigilante gangs of the outfit killed more than 200 people and carried out bombing attacks between 2000 and 2005.

“The outfit killed at least 22 people and injured scores in Rajshahi, Naogaon and Natore in the name of ridding the northern districts of the ultra-Left Sarbahara and Purba Banglar Communist Party operatives in 2004. The militants carried out a series of blasts August 17, 2005 to set up Islamic rule,” the newspaper said.

While six of the JMB top brass are executed, the execution of 27 other operatives of the militant outfit, sentenced to death, is yet to be carried out as they all have appealed against the conviction.

The law in Bangladesh allows for trial and appeal at various stages right up to the Supreme Court, with provision of seeking mercy from the president.

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