Two top leaders of outlawed Jamaat-ul-Mujahedeen Bangladesh have reportedly been staying in Indian state of West Bengal to operate militant activities, a leading Indian newspaper reported on Thursday.
Times of India in its report said the JMB men – explosives expert Jahidul Islam alias Boma Mizan and Salahuddin Salehin, who heads the JMB’s operations in the Mymensingh-Sylhet region, have been staying in Bashirhat of West Bengal.
The report said "Both Mizan and Salehin were arrested in Bangladesh, but escaped after the JMB attacked the prison van carrying them in February this year. Mizan was sentenced to 20 years in prison in May this year. In 2010, he was sentenced to 37 years in prison by a court in Bangladesh."
"Bangladesh has claimed that Mizan and Salehin are controlling the activities of the JMB in Bengal. Mizan may also have been in charge of making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Burdwan and other parts of the state. Both of them are hardcore jihadis and their primary aim is to carry out an attack in Bangladesh and free JMB chief Saidur Rahman who has been in custody since 2010," said a source in the Union ministry of home affairs.
Bangladesh has also claimed that the two have a free run along the international border and they cross over whenever they feel like. Both Mizan and Salehin are known to enter Bangladesh, hold meetings and take part in JMB programmes before slipping back into India. The Border Security Force (BSF) claims that they have heard of Mizan and Salehin, but aren't aware of their whereabouts. Senior BSF officials have also informed the MHA that cross-border movement can't be effectively checked unless zero-line villages are relocated.
In the South Bengal Frontier — from the Sunderbans to Malda — there are 30 villages that fall within 150 yards of the Indo-Bangla border. Where the border fence exists, these villages are beyond the fence. There are 29 more villages, parts of which are within 150 yards of the border. These 59 villages have a population of nearly 11,000 and these pose a tough challenge to effective border management; the BSF has made it clear. The proposal for relocation has been taken up on several occasions but the state government hasn't provided necessary assistance.
What the BSF wants to do is to create a 'buffer' zone on the Indian side of the border that will remain uninhabited. For this, villages will have to be relocated. While the Centre is ready to bear the cost of relocation, the process can't start without assistance of the state government. The BSF admits that thousands of people cross over to India from Bangladesh illegally every year.
"Most of the zero-line villages are in the districts of Nadia, Murshidabad and North 24-Parganas where most of the infiltration occurs. Things have been bad in the last few years with the Centre ordering the BSF to use minimum force against smugglers and infiltrators. The criminals got emboldened after coming to know that BSF personnel on duty are armed with pump-action guns that shoot pellets and have been forbidden from using lethal weapons. There were clear instructions from the MHA not to use lethal weapons, even if this meant allowing people to cross over. A border guarding force can't operate effectively with such restrictions in place," the officer added.
The entire 2,216.7km border that West Bengal shares with Bangladesh hasn't been thoroughly fenced. A primary reason is that part of the border is riverine.