IDSA Publication Discusses Religious Extremism And Terrorism In Bangladesh

September 14, 2012

New Delhi: The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) publication ‘Return from the Precipice: Bangladesh’s Fight Against Terrorism’ throws light on the complex phenomenon of religious extremism and terrorism in Bangladesh and the North Eastern Region of India. Authored by IDSA Scholar, Dr Anand Kumar, the book starts by discussing revival of Islam-based politics in Bangladesh and goes on to highlight the success of the present Sheikh Hasina government in taking actions against terror groups and its likely impact on counter-terrorism in South Asia, especially Bangladesh.

The image of Bangladesh of being a ‘moderate Muslim country’ was tarnished at the turn of the 20th century. The country known for its Sufi Islam was witnessing a spurt of Islamic radicalism. The radical elements in Bangladeshi society which had grown in strength were trying to purge the social, cultural and religious life of the people. Terrorism which was an offshoot of this Islamist extremism however constituted just one strand of the terror challenge in Bangladesh, and largely threatened the democratic and political stability of the country. For India it translated into occasional terror attacks in various parts of the country.

While delineating the threat posed by Islamic radicalism to Bangladeshi politics and by Indian insurgent groups to Northeast India, the book also focuses on their sources of terror finance.

It marks an advance over other works on the same topic as it discusses the actions taken by the Sheikh Hasina led Awami League government to counter terrorism. In the past the governments in Bangladesh not only denied the presence of Islamist groups within their territory, they also vehemently protested whenever India raised the issue of Indian insurgent groups using Bangladeshi territory for attacks in Northeast India. In the absence of cooperation on the issue of countering terrorism, the problem largely remained in the realm of speculation.

As the Bangladesh government begins to cooperate with India and the wider world, many aspects of the problem have become known. The book also makes an assessment as to what extent Bangladeshi cooperation has helped counter-terrorism activities - especially in the Northeast of India.

The author tries to analyse the developments in Bangladeshi politics which took a very different course after the murder of Bangabandhu. This book highlights the attempt of certain forces in Bangladesh to consciously foster a culture that is different from the composite Bengali culture that is common to both countries, so that a different Bangladeshi identity could be created. India never questioned the existence of Bangladesh or its sovereignty, but elements hell bent on creating differences followed certain policies that actually vitiated bilateral relations between the two countries.

The ‘E’ version of the book is available on IDSA website: