The verdict of January 31 (2014) on the alleged arms smuggling to ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) that was detained at Chittagong Port in 2004 dismayed not only the independent analysts but also the political scientists as well as judicial, military and intelligence experts. The verdict that awarded death sentence to two former ministers, DGs (Director General) of DGFI (Directorate General of Forces Intelligence) and NSI (National Security Intelligence) and nine others, including ULFA’s incumbent military chief Paresh Baruah, also surfaces a question whether the sovereignty of Bangladesh, a country surrounded by India almost from three sides, is mortgaged to India, as the case as well as the verdict suffers from various loopholes and entirely serves Indian interest. They opine arms smuggling throughout the world is a common phenomenon what India itself officially did and does to disintegrate and destabilize all of its eight neighboring countries, including Bangladesh.
Observers opined the entire episode of 10 trucks arms smuggling case though might have some merit, but its process of investigation and pattern of verdict suffer from many shortcomings. Most of the accused who were tried and awarded capital punishment were not involved in the deal. Moreover, none ever heard that death sentence could be awarded for arms smuggling if the accused even could have been caught red-handed on the spot of detaining the arms at Chittagong Port. It is alleged that the formation of charge sheets, process of prolonged investigation, repeated inclusion of new accused, alternation of the investigation officers, repeated reschedules of submitting the investigation report, and the pattern of verdict shows that the entire judicial process was heavily influenced and manipulated by India through its ally the incumbent government of Sheikh Hasina to suit India’s policy and interest. Through such manipulation not only 14 persons were awarded capital punishment, but also proved that Bangladesh is a safe haven of anti-India elements, what is entirely beyond truth.
To justify the unprecedented verdict she argued that Bangladesh is a sovereign country and its soil couldn’t be used for the terrorists of the neighboring countries. While she utters such word she forgets that India in its soil harbors the terrorists and the secessionists of its neighboring countries.
Military experts opine that the verdict of death sentence to the generals for alleged smuggling of arms to ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) indirectly indicates that heavily influenced and minimized our sovereignty to procure the verdict, as India badly needed such one what is unprecedented in the contemporary world.
A genuine question surfaces whether India, for which Sheikh Hasina argues justifying the verdict, follows the same policy or possesses the same spirit that its soil must not be used for the terrorists and secessionists of its neighboring countries. The reality is that India walks contrary to the line what Sheikh Hasina preaches. India uses not only its territory but also uses its all agencies against Bangladesh. Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is part and parcel of Bangladesh since time immemorial. Bangladesh is not an occupation power in CHT. But India being a friendly country since 1973 strives to cede CHT from Bangladesh. With this end in view, India motivated Manabendu Larma to float a separatist group Parbatiya Chattagram Jano Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) and its military wing Shanti Bahini (SB).
Later India provided money, shelter, training, arms to SB to fight against Bangladesh. Asoka Raina, an Indian journalist in his book Inside RAW Today: The Story of India’s Secret Services (Bikas Publishers, New Delhi, India, 1981, pp. 86-87) presented relevant documents in this regard. He wrote, the RAW operatives closely assisted the Chakma guerrillas. The Chakmas after the change of the government in 1975 contacted the RAW. They offered to infiltrate among the Mizo rebels and pass information to the Indian government in lieu of asylum. This offer was accepted by the then Indian government.
Ashoke Biswas in an article published in The New Nation (August 31, 1994) of Dhaka wrote: The RAW was involved in training the rebels of Chakma tribes and Shanti Bahini to carry out subversive activities in Bangladesh.
In this context let me quote an Indian journalist and BBC Correspondent Mr. Subir Bhaumik. In an interview to Dhaka-based fortnightly news magazine Probe (Vol. 1, issue 4, September 1-15, 2001), he said, “You will see in my book, Arom 1975-1990, the RAW backed Shanti Bahini. …… In 1976 after Shanti Bahini went underground, their people had gone for training in India. Mind you, the rank and file was trained in India. —— There was a clear indication given to Mr. Larma that India was prepared for up to 50,000 guerrillas. Train them, arm them and equip them.”
With this end in view, India opened in Tripura and Mizoram, even at Chakrata near Dehradun. Tribid Chakma, an SB cadre, disclosed at a press conference held at National Press Club of Dhaka in September 1994 informed that SB terrorists opened 25 camps of which he could recollect the names of nine sites viz., Sabrum, Silachari, Boyal Para, Kadamtoli, Dayek, Barachari, Ralma, Trimagha, and Ratannagar. He informed that some most trusted ones were trained at Dehradun.
A defunct English Weekly of Dhaka Friday (June 3, 1998) informed, “The attempt of M. N. Larma to negotiate a settlement with the Ziaur Rahman government failed as the armed wing of the PCJSS was compelled to initiate armed operation under Indian pressure in 1976.” It was also disclosed later that India out of apprehension developed anti-Larma faction in PCJSS and on December 10, 1983, gunned down him along with his eight other comrades outwardly by Pritikumar faction. Indian government took no action against Pritikumar Chakma, rather allowed him to stay in India even after the signing of the so-called peace treaty.
Mr. Samiran Dewan, the Chairman of Khagrachari Hill District Local Government Council in a press conference, held India responsible for providing shelter, money, training, and arms to the SB. He alleged the inner motive of SB was not to gain political and financial concession but to materialize India’s geopolitical designs. (The Daily Inqilab, Dhaka, November 12, 1989).
Last, but not least, India in a bid to internationalize the CHT issue financed and manipulated so-called Chakma conferences in Amsterdam (1968), Hamburg (1987), New York (1992) and The Netherlands, Kolkata, and Bangkok (1997) where Indian tribals were branded as the dwellers of CHT.
To create international pressure on Bangladesh India using its stooges persuaded about 70 thousand CTH tribal people to India. These so-called refugees, when tried to flee away from India, were detained in camps under BSF supervision. (For further information regarding India’s role in CHT, interested readers may go through to my book: The Chittagong Hill Tracts: A Victim of Indian Intervention, Eastern Publications, 16 Silvester House, London, EI 2JD, UK, 2003).
India imposed an undeclared war on Bangladesh violating the Indo-Bangladesh Cooperation and Friendship Treaty signed on March 19, 1972 by Bangladesh Founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman & Indira Gandhi what clearly guaranteed that one country would neither allow the terrorists of the other to use its territory nor encourage any activity subversive to the internal peace and security and territorial integrity.
Sheikh Hasina didn’t seek an explanation of why India violated the treaty in 1973 floating PCJSS and later SB to cede a one-tenth portion of tiny Bangladesh territory. Rather she during her first term as prime minister endangering the sovereignty and integrity of Bangladesh signed the so-called peace treaty with the Chakma traitors; though India still dates backs the same traitors and India would let loose them whenever patriotic forces form the government in Bangladesh. Later it was uncovered that she did such deed being coveted by Indian assurance of winning a Nobel Peace Prize for her. It simply proves that Sheikh Hasina can undermine the interest and sovereignty of Bangladesh for her own sake.
If she had the minimum sense of patriotism she would never have signed so-called peace treaty defying the suggestion of the then military officials. She would have tried the traitors for killing 35 thousand Bengali speaking people in CHT. Rather spending state money she nurses Shantu Larma for the last 18 years though he represents none in CHT.
On the other hand, Indian government using the Kolkata-based Bengalee Hindus who left for India after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 raises a demand to create a so-called Hinduland comprising one-third portion of Bangladesh in its South-Western region. Sheikh Hasina never protested such heinous and hegemonic activity of India.
After all these records how Sheikh Hasina mainly to please India could accuse not only our army personnel but as if, the whole nation for smuggling arms to ULFA. Why Sheikh Hasina should take the responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of India whilst India is desperate to not only disintegrate Bangladesh but delete its total existence from the world map? We didn’t create or help ULFA or others. They wage their struggle of their own. Their logic and reasons of the armed struggle are more genuine and acceptable than ours against Pakistan. Our forefathers to get rid of Hindu exploitation and suppression voluntarily united with the people of West Pakistan to form a Muslim homeland. We created Pakistan. West Pakistanis didn’t compel us to forcibly join them. On the other hand, what India did in case of SEWA? India manipulatively annexed the SEWA region against the will of the local people who are ethnically, historically, culturally, geographically, linguistically, above all psychologically differ from rest of India. So their struggle enjoys genuine reasons and deserves support from all quarters who believes in liberty, freedom of choice, self-determination, above all, humanity.
On the other hand, the region was never a part of India before the British government manipulatively Assam in 1826. The local people aspired that the British prior to their departure would return their homeland to them as independent State like all other former British colonies. But their aspiration nipped in the bud, as Gandhi and Nehru through intrigues and false assurances, above all manipulation, persuaded the outgoing British government to annex SEWA to India in 1947 showing no respect to the hopes and aspiration of the local people.
Nonetheless, the Nagas of the Naga Hill District (now Nagaland) declared its independence on August 14, 1947 challenging its annexation by the British to India. Indian armed forces attacked Naga Hills and ousted the independent government of Nagaland led by Phizo, but the resistance of the Nagas persists despite martial law-like rule since then to date. Later in 1949 India under gunpoint forced the King and Queen of the Princely States Manipur and Tripura respectively to merge their Princely States to India and interlinked them to Assam.
But to materialize its divide and rule policy India divided the region into seven States: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland. In no time, SEWA people found India a worse ruthless colonial occupant to that of the British. It not only began to exploit the region but also infiltrated the Indian mainlanders, who captured the land, job, and all other facilities depriving the local people. India without striving to win the heart the Northeasterners initiates to suppress them using brutal power. India deployed over 4, 00,000 regular armed forces, other than para-militia, police, and other auxiliaries and intelligent agents in the region who let loose reign of terror where murder, extra-judicial killing, secret killing, killing is planted crossfire, abduction, missing, rape, human rights violation etc., became very common and normal affairs what the local people never experienced during the British period. So they have a logical reason to strive to free their region from India.
India without shunning its policy of colonial exploitation and ruthless repression accuses Bangladesh of the ongoing armed resistance, though Bangladesh has to play there. India fenced almost entire of its border with Bangladesh and deployed huge forces along the border. It is not the fault of Bangladesh if the freedom seekers of Assam and other regions, being chased by the Indian forces, sneaked into Bangladesh territory to save their lives. Once such terrified people enter any territory to avert sure death, no responsible human being could hand over such fleeing people to their adversaries. Such move contrasts to Bangladesh Constitution though she to maintain Constitutional continuity clung to power through holding India-prescribed pre-arranged election overwhelmingly boycotted by the Bangladeshis. Sheikh Hasina violating our Constitutional bindings handed over the key freedom fighters of SEWA to Indian authorities. Our Constitution says that Bangladesh is committed to extending its support to the liberation struggle of the oppressed people anywhere in the world.
Did India ever arrest, not to speak of prosecuting any anti-Bangladesh elements, or provide all-out support to them or those Indian officials and ministers who instigate those toadies? Critics say, Sheikh Hasina, cries for the territorial integrity of India, but not for that of Bangladesh. If their assumption was fallacious she would have demanded the trial of those who were and are responsible for imposing secessionist wars on Bangladesh. Did India arrested or tried its RAW officials for their involvement in arming the terrorists of Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka while Sheikh Hasina justifies the arrest and trial of DGFI and NSI Director Generals? These questions need to be answered.
These questions indicate we cannot deter or oppose the freedom-seeking people of our neighboring regions if we even refrain from extending our cooperation towards them. We cannot accuse or hang any of our common people, not to speak of Army Generals to serve the hegemonic interest of such country that for the last 43 years didn’t allow us to remain in peace even for a day. Before hanging General Rezzak Ul Haider Chowdhury or any other Bangladeshis, all the current and former officials of Indian intelligence agencies and all others who led and lead Indian governments need to be tried and hanged for arming the Chakma insurgents and imposing war on Bangladesh. How 14 people could be hanged for their alleged involvement in foiled arms smuggling to ULFA though the accused claimed they were not involved in it.
In a statement (Ulfa-i/C003B/14) issued on February 1 (2014) ULFA Chairman Dr. Abhijeet Asom ventilated the same spirit. He recalled the freedom fighters of Bangladesh claimed that none of accused other than one RAW agent was involved in the smuggling deal. Let me quote the text of ULFA Chairman’s Statement: “The United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) has taken note of the recent verdict on the case of the Ten Truck Load of military hardware seizure at Chittagong, by a Special Court of Bangladesh. The court has pronounced the death sentence on my Vice Chairman and Chief of Staff in absentia on that case.
Major General Paresh Asom’s (earlier known as Paresh Baruah) involvement on the procurement of Arms was for defensive purposes in fighting a low-intensity war imposed by the Indian State against the freedom-seeking people of Assam. While respecting the judiciary of Bangladesh, I would like to reiterate in strongest term that he is a freedom fighter, I would urge the Nation of Bangladesh to remember how the Agartala Conspiracy was branded on the father of your nation and the raison d’être of your freedom fighting force, The Mukti Bahini in your own freedom struggle. Every member of my organization convicted by the courts of Bangladesh needs to be looked at with this reflection in mind. They are no lesser individuals than your liberating militia during the 1971 war of your Independence. The ULFA[I] is THE MUKTI BAHINI of Assam in the same vein. People of Assam will remember the unjust actions on the members of my organization by the Bangladesh establishment at the instigation of our enemy, the Indian State.
We contend that the external intelligence establishment of India, The Research and Analytical Wing (RAW), is the catalyst in maligning and instrumenting convictions on my members. In doing so, in the latest verdict in question, a number of Bangladesh nationals have also been convicted who used to hold high parliamentary position viz Lotfuzzaman Babar as Home Minister and Matiur Rahman Nizami as the Minister of Industries in your previous government. Most of these convicted persons are innocent in the case of the arms shipment in Chittagong. Only person we believe is guilty in the case is Ex-NSI Director Wing Commander Shahabuddin who acted at the behest of RAW for his self-interest. The rest are innocent victims of a deep conspiracy engineered by the Indian Agency and the establishment of your country is simply acquiescing In light of this statement from the Chair of ULFA[I], the Bangladesh Judiciary should review the verdict through a due process of the law of the country and let the innocent ones go free.”
Under such situation how such trial and verdict should get acceptability and legality? If the allegation were as genuine one, still the accused didn’t commit any crime, as India did and does the same against Bangladesh and it’s all other neighboring countries. Indian arms are smuggled to Bangladesh almost daily. On the other, for any genuine arms smuggling, none was ever awarded the death penalty by any Court in the contemporary world.
So Sheikh Hasina, why should have such unreasonable accountability to India? Bangladeshi people cannot bear her such accountability. It is imperative to find out whether Sheikh Hasina abandoning the interest, even minimizing the sovereignty of Bangladesh servers for Indian interest.