Deradicalisation to eliminate militancy
Like developed countries, as part of a soft approach to eliminate militancy, Bangladesh is going to start an institutional deradicalisation process.
Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) has taken steps to form a "special deradicalisation unit" to deal with such issues. The specialised unit will work to bring back those who got involved in extremism into normal life.
Col Tofail Mostafa Sarwar, additional director general (operation) of Rab, disclosed the initiatives of the elite force at a views-exchange meeting yesterday at Rab Headquarters in the capital.
According to the official, a special committee has already been formed consisting of Rab members, academicians and religious scholars in ad hoc basis. Such committees will eventually get an institutional format in the coming days. A draft working plan has also been prepared in this regard, said ADG Tofail.
Rab officials also spoke about the five stages of getting involved in extremism. Primarily, a person becomes a sympathiser, then a supporter and then transforms into an activist in the third stage.
Afterwards that person becomes an extremist and finally a terrorist after taking an oath of allegiance from the leadership of the outfit, they added.
The elite force's special unit will work towards bringing back people into normalcy through deradicalisation, especially those who are at the first three stages.
Explaining the process, ADG Tofail said they will make certain the sympathisers and supporters realise that if they follow any militant outfit or get close to them, they will be arrested. Later, the team will work for "incapacitate" that person's activity, he said.
The unit will then work for disengagement so that the person does not meet or communicate with his/her associates, said the ADG, adding that during this period, the special unit will tackle the issue with patience and perseverance.
Rab will also work for rehabilitation of these people following successful deradicalisation. A person will receive financial support or job, whatever they need, for social integration.
According to sources, seven militants surrendered to Rab after the deadly café attack in 2016. Rab brought those militants into normal life through counselling under the government's rehabilitation project. As the pilot project saw success, Rab is now working to give it a permanent shape, said officials.
Col Tofail Mostafa said they are working towards a more holistic approach. "People across the country will be able to avail the service after we launch it successfully," he added.
The specialised units -- anti-terrorism unit and counter terrorism and transnational crime unit -- are also working for deradicalisation and rehabilitated many youths through counselling and group meetings with guardians, according to officials.
Saiful Islam, deputy commissioner of CTTC unit, told The Daily Star yesterday that they have initiated such process last year. The unit already rehabilitated eight persons as a part of deradicalisation, he added.
Mohammad Aslam Khan, special superintendent of ATU, said they too have similar rehabilitation process. But it is now halted due to the pandemic, he added.
The special superintendent said they have a plan to give the deradicalization process an institutional shape in the coming days and are working towards it.