Sunday, September 7, 2008

Special drives start in 13 dists to nab extremists before polls

Outlaws, Islamist militants active again in 18 groups in northern, southern districts

Police and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) have launched special operations in 13 northern and southern districts as intelligence reports said outlaws and Islamist militants have become active again in 18 groups ahead of planned upazila and parliamentary elections.

The law enforcing agencies have started the operations with a list of some 1000 outlaws and about 500 Islamist militants in hand, sources said. Of them, 350 outlaws and 150 Islamist militants are in Rajshahi division.

Their numbers may be more as all the outlaws and militants could yet to be identified, sources in the law enforcement agencies said. The operations are going against both the outlaws and militants simultaneously.

The special operations to dismantle the militant outfits and outlaws' organisations were taken following recent investigations into their activities and analysis of previous killings by them, the sources said. The investigations said they may become active again before the upazila and the parliamentary polls.

Among the outlawed groups, Purbo Banglar Communist Party's Red Flag and People's War factions and Sramajibi Mukti Andolon are most active in Rajshahi, Naogaon, Natore, Pabna, Sirajganj, Meherpur, Kustia, Jhinaidaha, Chuadanga districts, the investigations revealed.

The rest 15 outfits are active in Rajbari, Barisal, Faridpur and Khulna districts.

Outlaws were used by political leaders in previous elections. A section of dishonest politicians maintain secret links with outlaws and use them against opponents during election. "Outlaws or any other criminals will not be allowed to influence the polls. 

We must achieve some good results (in action against outlaws) ahead of the elections", said a senior official of Rajshahi divisional police.

Alongside the operation, campaign has also been launched in outlaw-infested areas to allay fear from minds of people and to motivate them to help law enforcers to flush out the criminals. 

As part of the campaign, inspector general of police Noor Muhammad and Rab Director General Hassan Mahmood Khandkar visited Bagmara recently and sought cooperation from locals.

Strength at police stations and outposts has been increased and vigilance strengthened, the sources said. 

Security at jails has been tightened so that the arrested top outlaws can not contact their cadres outside. 

The steps will also include engaging special intelligence units to identify outlaws, their patrons, shelter providers and sources of funding. 

Political leaders suspected of patronising outlaws in the past and beneficiaries of previous murders of politicians are also under watch, they said.

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