Bangladesh: He spared no one

South Asia Citizen's Wire
A WLUML networker comments that this is, step by step, what happened in Algeria with GIA forbidding music, etc..., GIA armed groups taking 'taxes' from villagers, controlling whole areas and ... scaring the official army and police.
An ice-cream seller in Bagmara, Rajshahi was drawing attention of the public playing folk songs on a cassette player on April 1, 2004.
Bangla Bhai called and asked him why he was playing anti-Islamic songs. Giving the old vendor no time to reply, Bangla Bhai kicked him and asked his men to beat up the "informer of outlaws".

This is a snapshot of how Bangla Bhai started his 'promised operations' to cleanse the country's northwest region of outlaws. In a few weeks' time, he turned to establish a self-styled Islamic rule and started extorting money besides killing those who crossed him.

Bangla Bhai-led Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) extorted huge money from local people terming the extortion zakat and usr [Islamic donations from income and produced crop].

A good number of Bangla Bhai adherents have become rich after they joined the JMJB and many of them are still on the prowl.

His men forced women to stay indoors and wear veils, shut down all cinemas, and extorted huge sums from villagers, who according to them, were not following Islamic rules.

The tyrannical JMJB cadres used to pick up villagers at will and targeted mostly their personal enemies and political opponents of influential locals. They levied and extracted ransoms from the victims' families and snatched a huge number of motorcycles and cellphone sets.

A youth was beaten up at Bhawaniganj Helipad field for his 'offence' of falling in love with a girl.

On May 17, a 300-strong JMJB force backed up by police besieged Shimba and Bhiti villages to occupy a madrasa, declared a 22-day vacation and set up a camp there.

Bangla Bhai branded landowner Jagannath of Baragachha village in Raninagar as an outlaw and demanded a hefty toll.

Refused, his men pulled down Jagannath's house and looted valuables to pay the fare for vehicles they used in the showdown in Rajshahi city on May 23.

The militant kingpin collected members through so-called surrenders of outlaws, who were spared for signing up with the JMJB.

At present, a host of sufferers come forward to describe their plights at the hands of the JMJB militants. But no-one was available to protest against the atrocities during Bangla Bhai's reign of terror.

A retired army personnel, Sheikh Farid, had raised a protest and paid for it in next to no time.

"It's unjust. Why are you torturing people? What Islam are you preaching? " Farid once told a few JMJB men.

A few days later on April 26, Farid, a retired havildar of 43 Bengal Regiment, was abducted and beaten up publicly at Bhawanipur camp.

His cousin Sheikh Sirajul Islam said Farid had enmity with outlaw-turned JMJB leaders Shamsul Huda, head maolana of Bhopara High School, and Azhar Ali Sardar, lecturer of Molla Azad Memorial College.

At Azhar's call, his colleague and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Prof Lutfar brought Bangla Bhai to the camp in the afternoon. Siraj said Bangla Bhai without hearing a word from Farid ordered his men to beat up him.

Siraj said over 20 JMJB cadres including Hemayet Uddin Himu, Abul Master, Salam, Nazrul, Zia, Robin, Mahin and Chhoto Zia tortured Farid, who died of his injuries in Rajshahi on May 1.

A reinvestigation into the case for murdering Farid started yesterday as an additional superintendent of police from Naogaon took villagers' statements.

"We are happy that the investigation restarted. But the appearance of the militants who are still roaming the locality makes us afraid," said Siraj.

by Staff Correspondent, Rajshahi of The Daily Star, March 12, 2006