Bangladesh fails the Chetia test
The charitable explanation of Bangladesh’s refusal to hand over Anup Chetia, a leader of a terrorist organisation wanted in India, is that it is doing so to show that its government is using the opportunity to score political points by thumbing its nose at India. The sinister explanation is that the Bangladesh government is intentionally sheltering anti-India terrorists and insurgents in order to use them as a coercive foreign policy tool, a la Pakistan.
Either way, Bangladesh has gained nothing by refusing to hand over Chetia. It has only reinforced the growing perception that Bangladesh, especially under the leadership of Begum Khaleda Zia, is not only apathetic to India’s security interests, but also is actively undermining it. If Bangladesh sought retribution for India’s scuttling of the Dhaka SAARC summit, it has chosen the wrong issue to do so.
Anup Chetia is being defended by the same ‘non-governmental organisation’ that last spirited away Sanjit Deb Burman, another terrorist leader wanted in India. He disappeared soon after the Bangladeshi government handed him over to the NGO. That scenario may play itself over in Chetia’s case.
There cannot be any sympathy for a country or a government that harbours terrorists and conspires in their escape from justice. Bangladesh would do well to realise that it cannot expect to get away looking like the aggrieved party just because it is smaller in size. It has only itself to blame if the consequences of its latest irresponsible act come back to haunt its relations with India.