Close aide to PM Modi makes secret visit to Dhaka, RSS turns proactive in Bangladesh

The South Asia Monitor has broken a story of how, on July 24, a close aide to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with two senior intelligence officers, travelled to Dhaka, reportedly on a clandestine mission. Though little is known about the immediate objective of this person’s visit to the Bangladeshi capital, the person’s links with both Modi and his parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), (specifically with the outfit’s Gujarat chapter), has raised questions about the supremacist Hindutva organisation’s role in the months especially before Bangladesh goes to the polls.


Image: AFP

The web portal has withheld the name of the aid stating that “South Asian Monitor is aware of the identity of the Indian PM’s aide but chooses to withhold making it public for legal reasons. The Indian PM’s aide was in Dhaka for two days and is said to have met officials at the Indian High Commission besides some Hindu community members.”

Reliable sources in both India and Bangladesh confirmed the arrival of Modi’s aide who has deep association with the RSS which, over the past two years, has become “very active” across some Indian and Bangladeshi border states and districts, respectively. Elections are due in Bangladesh later this year, in India next year and attacks on the minority Hindi have increased. Media reports suggest that, over the past two years, small batches of Bangladeshi Hindus have been receiving “motivational training” in a camp in Tripura. At the same time, Bangladeshi security officials have received reports that a branch of the Indian National Investigating Agency (NIA), which probes cases of terrorism and fundamentalism, has been established in Barasat in the border district of North 24 Parganas. The NIA officials, the sources said, take “undue interest in Bangladeshi politics”.

Over the same period of time, several small but discrete “Hindutva outfits” sprang up across some Bangladeshi districts, especially those bordering West Bengal and Tripura. The most influential and predominant of such outfits is the Jatiya Hindu Mahajot led by one Gobinda Pramanik who many years ago was among five persons who had garlanded Jamaat-e-Islami amir Ghulam Azam in a public ceremony in Dhaka.

Besides, both Bangladeshi and Indian sources revealed that other similar outfits, such as the Minority Janata Party, led by one Sukriti Kumar Mandal of Dhaka, besides the Bharat Sevashram Sangha (Bholagiri Ashram) and even an international “Hindu consciousness” organisation have, for over a year or so, begun propagating the Hindutva ideology. Although still low-key, the use of these methods is an attempt by the RSS to replicate its style of “education” and political mobilisation in some Indian border states such West Bengal and Tripura where, of late, it has met with considerable success.

The rest of the detailed story may be read here.

According to Odhikar, an NGO, 124 members of ethnic and religious minority communities, especially Hindus, were killed and 1,625 were injured in violent attacks between January 2009 and June 2018. In the same period, 50 Hindu homes were looted while there were 866 instances of attack on temples and damage to idols. Odhikar also recorded 50 cases of land grab. These figures, however, do not represent the true scale of the attacks on Hindus. A Bangladesh Minority Council report concluded that “after 1971, at no time has the existential threat to the Hindu community been as great as it is now”.

According data compiled by the Hindu Mahajot, there were 15,054 cases of atrocities against Hindus, including murder, attempt to murder, arson, looting, damage to temples and idols, land grab, intimidation, forcible conversion, rapes, gang rapes and threat to leave the country among others. In 2017, there were 6,474 such incidents, the Hindu Mahajot has recorded.

A November editorial in The New York Times commented that “The Awami League prides itself on being the party of pluralism in Bangladesh. Local Awami League politicians involved in conspiracy to stir religious violence must face more than suspension from their party. The credibility of Ms Hasina’s government is on the line”.



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