The Indian establishment must back the Bangladesh Supreme Court’s decision to reject an appeal challenging Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia’s indictment in a graft case involving a charity named after her slain husband and former president Zia-ur Rahman. Allegations against Zia and members of her right-wing party suggest that large sums of money was misappropriated through various charities during the BNP’s reign between 2001 and 2006. If found guilty, Zia could face life imprisonment.
New Delhi’s approval of the court’s decision must arrive in light of the recent revelations after the October 2 bomb blast in Burdwan, where two suspected members of the Jamaat-ul-Bangladesh (JMB) terror group were killed. A subsequent probe by the National Investigation Agency has reportedly unearthed a vast JMB terror network that had spread its tentacles across West Bengal. It was during Khaleda Zia’s tenure that Bangladesh had witnessed the rise of the JMB on its soil, despite constant denials by her regime.
The arrest of key JMB leaders back in 2010 by Bangladeshi authorities had also proven beyond doubt that a close relationship existed between the BNP’s political allies, the Jamaat-e-Islami and the JMB. Both groups have stated their desire for an Islamic state based on Sharia law. However, since the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League took office in 2009, Dhaka has taken stringent action against the terror group and its affiliates.
The Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina, declares itself to be a secular party that is protective of minority Hindus and Buddhists. Under such circumstances, New Delhi’s cooperation with Dhaka on the recent revelations in Burdwan was another step towards cementing not only greater cooperation in tackling terror-related activities, but also strengthening diplomatic relations based on shared secular values.
The recent developments have come alongside reports about the Jamaat’s role in the atrocities that were committed on thousands of innocent citizens during Bangladesh’s fight for independence in 1971, in cohorts with Pakistan. After the Dhaka-appointed War Crimes Fact Finding Committee indicted a number of Jammat leaders for the deaths of three million people during the war in 1971, the curtains are falling fast on extremist groups.