Bangladesh is sliding: After look and act, India needs to have a Defend East policy

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Both the civil society and the State in Bangladesh are under attack and the world will be tensely watching how successful can the Sheikh Hasina regime can prove to be in thwarting the sinister project of terrorism which has been undertaken on the soil of our eastern neighbour. [Terror strikes Bangladesh capital]

The July 1 hostage crisis in Dhaka has made it clear that from attacking individuals who dare to harbour liberal thoughts, the elements are now fully prepared to stage coordinated assault on soft targets, a practice which has been repeated in the western world and would leave the Bangladeshi State and its neighbours in South Asia stunned and shocked. [Bangladesh is a bigger threat for India than Pakistan]

 

hasina modi

Bangladesh's stance against terror not yet convincing 

The reaction of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the wake of the terror operation made it evident that her leadership has yet not come to terms to such attacks. It is not that Bangladesh has not seen political violence earlier.

Hasina herself had escaped life-threatening attacks a couple of times but when it comes to an ever-growing shadow of terrorism as an extension of an international menace, the Bangladeshi political leadership is yet to sound convincing. PM Hasina said the terrorists are those who had little concern for human life. That is elementary Madam Prime Minister. Terrorists give a damn to human life. Negotiations don't work. It's either you or me who survive. [Bangladesh's political class needs to show maturity in handling terror]

The same prime minister was not seen taking a strong stand when liberal thinkers were being killed at will by those fanatics and acted only after coming to pressure from all quarters. She was perhaps giving more thought to the political profit-loss equation vis-a-vis the hardliner opposition while thinking of putting a strong foot down even though she kept on speaking in favour of free speech and secularism in her country. [The more Bangladesh faces IS threat, the better it is for BJP in Bengal]

It is the Hasina govt which has indirectly made the militants' hands strong

The ruling Awami League had clamped down on dissent since 2013 and jailed secular minds using a draconian religious rival and it helped her opposition---the more hardliner Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its ally Jamaat-e-Islam.

While Hasina should be backing the country's media and actively pursue killers of the liberal thinkers and turn hard on radical groups, she has just done the opposite and the result is for everybody to see. Bangladesh is doing decently on several other fronts but the political failure can eventually ruin all the good work it has put up in the socio-economic sector.

If Bangladesh fails, India will be extremely worried  

But these failures of Hasina will have a wide implications for India. It is always dangerous to see your neighbour crumble for it can give birth to a vacuum which can be filled with elements who can eventually threaten your own survival.

Let there be cooperation with Dhaka. But let there also be constant vigil

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to ensure that India, which has the longest border with Bangladesh, takes enough measures to sanitise its borders and territory. India's border with Bangladesh has remained vulnerable for it has never drawn attention like the India-Pakistan or India-China ones and this could serioulsy jeopardise the country's interest. It is high time that India starts seeing Bangladesh as a country badly infected by the bug called terrorism and take all stern measures to tackle its spreading tentacles.

India can continue with ties but also keep a vigil on informal relations

New Delhi needs to continue its normal ties with Dhaka but at the same time, it is also very important that it maintains a strong vigilance on people-to-people contacts with the neighbouring country. The cultural affinity between India and Bangladesh makes it more challenging but the former needs to rise to the occasion.

States bordering Bangladesh also need to play their role, especially West Bengal

The states bordering Bangladesh, especially West Bengal, which has a big cultural closeness with the neighbour, need to be taken into confidence in this project.

Assam, where the anti-immigration BJP came to power in May, could take a lead in this but Modi must take Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on board to safeguard India's interests in the east. Our politcians, on their part, also need to beat the temptation to play the populist game of encouraging more illegal migration from the neighbouring country.

Modi needs to strengthen Sheikh Hasina's hands by uniting with her against the terrorism while safeguarding India's interests at the same time. Only this two-pronged approach will help India in tackling the Bangladesh problem.

Bangladesh is facing the biggest threat to its survival since the days of East Pakistan which fought the country's western wing before getting independence in 1971. There could be an Indira Gandhi moment in the offing for PM Modi to sort out the Bangladesh mess. Can he show the way?

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