Political Assertion of Radical Forces in Bangladesh: Impact & Implications for India
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On 28 April 2013, VIF welcomed Gen. (retd) Shankar Roychowdhury PVSM, AVSM former Chief of the Indian Army, Amb. Satish Chandra, former Deputy National Security Advisor in the Chair, Shri DC Nath, President Patriots Forum and Shri Vikramjeet Banerjee, advocate Supreme Court of India, as key speakers for a highly engaging discussion on ‘Political Assertion of Radical Forces in Bangladesh: Impact and Implications for India’. Shri Ajit Doval KC, Director VIF, welcomed the distinguished audience and speakers, and pitched critical questions which needed to be addressed.

Dr. Anirban Ganguly, Research Fellow, VIF, began the session with a presentation on: “footprints of radicalism”, capturing latest incidents of violence that have happened in West Bengal (WB) and Bangladesh, depicting a clear trend of growing radical assertion by Islamist organizations in the region. Shri DC Nath followed it up by assessing the socio-political scenarios in WB and Bangladesh. In WB, Shri Nath asserted that it has been the middle class, “Bhadra Lok” which has been enjoying greater socio-politico leverage over the rest since Independence. Shri Nath recommended for an early need to engage with the “Bhadra Lok”, in order to dissuade them from nourishing Islamic radicalization, as they nourished leftist revolution in the past.

Gen. Roychowdhury presented a very succinct view of the ground scenario in Bangladesh. Analyzing the growth of Jamaat-e-Islami, he highlighted the fact that the followers of Jamaat continue to believe that the 1971 war should not have happened and are those who support the Jamaat’s goal of Islamic radicalization. While Jamaat’s influence has grown rapidly in the rural areas and among the uneducated class, Sheikh Hasina led- Awami League (AL) government, however, still has popular support among the educated, middle class and upper class of the Bangladeshi society. And while the AL Government is attempting to stop radicalization of the society, Gen. Roychowdhury expressed his disappointment at the Indian Government and the West Bengal Government for allowing 16 Islamic organizations to hold a huge rally in protest against the Bangladesh War Crimes’ Trials.

Shri Vikramjeet Banerjee highlighted events that depict the growing trend of radical assertion in West Bengal. The main trends that Shri Banerjee traced out from these events were: growing clout of Islamic parties, expansion in support of Islamic organizations, increasing Islamic demands and the Government accommodating them. He clarified that Muslim economic demands have nothing whatsoever to do with Islamic political demands. Amb. Satish Chandra summarized the entire discussion, drawing out major points of agreement. He came strongly in support of the Shabag movement in Dhaka and called for preserving the liberal space in the Indian polity. An animated Q & A session followed the discussion.

Event Date 
April 28, 2013
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