Free Press Journal

Sheikh Hasina saved by Indo-Bangla intelligence


sheikh hasinaIn this photograph received from the Prime Minister's Office on July 2, 2016, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina delivers a television address to the nation almost 24 hours after armed attackers stormed an upscale restaurant in a bloody siege. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Prime Minister's Office" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pleaded with Islamist extremists to stop killing in the name of religion July 2 after 20 hostages were killed in a siege at a Dhaka restaurant. "Islam is a religion of peace. Stop killing in the name of the religion," Hasina said in a televised address to the nation in which she declared two days of mourning. / AFP PHOTO / Bangladesh / STR

It is heartening that Indian intelligence, in cooperation with Bangladesh’s National Security Intelligence has thwarted a plan by a section of that country’s Special Security Force to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in much the same way that Mrs Indira Gandhi had been killed by her own guards on October 31, 1984. Indeed, we have come a long way from 1971 when Bangladesh’s first prime minister Mujibur Rahman and much of his family were butchered in the wee hours of August 15, 1975 with Indian intelligence not getting wind of it.

While Sheikh Hasina, like her father Mujibur Rahman, has been well disposed towards India, there are Islamic fundamentalists within and sinister forces, including Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that inspired the attempted coup about four weeks ago. Intercepts suggested that six or seven personnel of the SSF which guards the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, were preparing to attack Hasina on August 24. Their plan was to attack her as soon as she would step out of her office for an evening stroll. The attack was being coordinated with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants. According to the plan, JMB jihadis were supposed to trigger a series of explosions around Hasina’s office to divert the attention of the other security guards, and to provide an escape route to the assassins.

The plan was foiled after a joint team of Indian and Bangladeshi intelligence officers intercepted the communication between JMB militants and the rogue SSF guards. As soon as the conversation around the conspiracy was intercepted, Hasina was advised to stay put at a location outside her office in Dhaka, where she had gone for a personal meeting. Following this, her loyal guards formed an inner ring around her.

The rogue men were nabbed right after this, paving the way for Hasina to return safely to her office. JMB, an internationally recognized terror group, has taken responsibility for many bomb blasts in Bangladesh and aims to replace democratically-elected government with Islamic State. It is now emerging that JMB was working in collusion with ISI. This is believed to be the 11th assassination attempt on Hasina since she took charge in January 2009. Not only must deterrent action be taken against the conspirators, there is need for heightened vigil to thwart any future attempts.