It was them Indians that did it

Another one on the whipping boy

It was after Bangladesh went through the motion of appointing a judicial commission to investigate last year’s attack on a opposition political rally that it concluded, darkly and obliquely, that while it was ‘impossible to identify’ the people who carried it out, a ‘foreign power’ nevertheless was involved. After duly pointing its finger at India in this manner, the Bangladeshi government’s investigations effectively came to a stop.

But this year, even this procedure was dispensed with. At a press conference in New Delhi, Maj Gen Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, chief of Bangladesh Rifles, pointed out (via Secular-Right) that the culprits of this year’s nationwide series of blasts had links to, well, a neighbouring country.

Asked which neighbouring country he was referring to, he said: “It is you, it is you I am telling, India.” [Reuters]

Criminal elements in India, according to Gen Chowdhury, had collaborated with local counterparts in order to carry out the blasts. The question must surely have been posed to create a controversial headline. That he fell for it shows the Bangladeshi establishment’s predisposition to blame their toughest problems on India and let the matter end there. Furthermore, he was only repeating the accusations first levelled by Bangladeshi Minister Motiur Rahman Nizami, who pinned the blame on the Indians even before the echoes of the blasts had died down.

It is a small matter therefore, that the Bangladeshi government has been forced to acknowledge the role of radical Islamic groups and go through the motion of rounding them up. The hunt for a conspiracy theory though is proceeding faster than the hunt for the terrorists. Mr Nizami’s Jamaat-e-Islami party is not without its sympathies for the bunch that the government — of which it is a member — is going after. In the words of the Bangladesh government, the Jama’tul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is responsible for the attacks. It may not be surprising, although it remains to be proven, if the JMB has links with criminals and terrorists on the Indian side of the border. But it is altogether a different thing to insinuate that the attack was actually masterminded by Indian criminals. Even if niceties such as the burden of proof are set aside in favour of Gen Chowdhury, it has long been India’s case that Bangladesh’s less than co-operative attitude towards tackling terrorists and their camps in its own territory is the primary reason why they continue to exist. The natural thing for Gen Chowdhury to do therefore, is to actually cooperate with India, instead of talking about the need to do so.

What The Acorn wrote almost exactly a year ago with regard to the attack on Sheikh Hasina is as relevant in this case:

Under the deeply divided political atmosphere in Bangladesh, a report that insinuates much but tells nothing does a deep disservice to the Bangladeshi nation. If Bangladesh suspects foreign involvement, it must have the conviction to publicly point fingers and back its allegations up with facts and evidence. It is unfortunate that a body charged with digging out the truth has ended up fueling the very conspiracy stories that it was asked to destroy.

The India must ask the Bangladeshi government to confirm that this is indeed its official position, and if so to substantiate it with facts. If not, perhaps Dhaka should ask the likes of Gen Chowdhury to exercise the care and diligence that is par for the course of international diplomacy.

Tailpiece: Why bother about facts when you have ‘circumstantial reality’? Or, how India is responsible for everything that went wrong in Bangladesh, including the tendency to blame India for everything that went wrong in Bangladesh.

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