Arsonists turn into secret killers
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday hinted that BNP-Jamaat men had links with the recent secret killings and the government had substantial evidence in this regard.
These two parties have changed their tactics and started attacking some “soft targets,” following public wrath for their arson attacks early last year, she added.
But the perpetrators would be brought to book and the intelligence and law enforcement agencies were working to track them down, Hasina told a press conference at the Gono Bhaban in the afternoon.
It was held to brief journalists about the outcome of her recent visits to Bulgaria, Japan and Saudi Arab.
Earlier in the morning, the PM made similar remarks in parliament.
The BNP refuted the allegations. Its Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir claimed Hasina's statements were meant to cover up the real incidents and harass his party men.
Jamaat leaders could not be reached for comments.
At the press conference, Hasina said the nature of the killings and the identities of those arrested so far substantiate that the assailants had links with the two parties.
The reason behind the secret killings is to create a wave of tension globally to depict Bangladesh negatively and to create panic among people, Hasina said.
"Those who tried to destroy the image of Bangladesh and block its advancements are behind this," she said, dismissing the claim of a section of people that the government statements accusing the BNP and its ally Jamaat for these killings were politically motivated.
Over the last two years or so, suspected militants have attacked and killed university professors, writers, publishers, secular bloggers, gay rights activists, foreigners, policemen and members of religious minorities, including Shia and Sufi Muslims, Christians and Hindus.
At least seven people have fallen victim to such target killings since May 1 alone. They include the wife of a police superintendent, a Christian trader and a Hindu priest.
Reportedly, terror group Islamic State claimed responsibilities for many of the past attacks. But the government maintains the group has no presence in the country, and squarely blames the opposition parties for those.
The PM said those who found no BNP-Jamaat link with these secret killings were in fact out to save militants and encourage their activities. She asked the people only to look back to see what the two parties did in the past.
"Our stance on it [killings] is very tough. The government is not sitting idle. We are doing whatever is necessary.”
Hasina, also president of the ruling Awami League, said law enforcement agencies already arrested the culprits involved in some of the recent killings, and the rest would surely be nabbed.
She noted those who killed people in the name of Islam never actually believed in Islam. "Islam is the religion of peace. Allah is the sole authority for the last judgement.”
World leaders at the G-7 Outreach Meeting as well as the leaders of the three countries she visited recently praised Bangladesh's unequivocal role against terrorism and militancy, she said. “But some of our people misguide their ambassadors in Dhaka to explain the situation differently.”
'SURELY, I'VE INFORMATION'
Asked if the BNP-Jamaat was being blamed to save the real culprits, Hasina said, "Surely, I have information when I talk about it. I cannot share all the information for the sake of investigation."
About the death toll (some 127) in the recently concluded UP polls violence, reportedly the deadliest to date, the PM said killings during elections were nothing new. “What happened this time is surely not acceptable to us.”
Replying to a question, Hasina said the diplomatic ties with Pakistan will remain. “I never believe in snapping all sorts of relations with another country.”
Of late, different quarters have intensified their call to cut ties with Pakistan in the wake of its reactions to the war crimes trial.
About Islamabad's concern over the trial and the execution of some top war criminals, the PM said it only proved they were Pakistan's agents during the war.
'WON'T SPARE THEIR MASTERS'
Earlier in parliament, Hasina said if the killers were planning to bring about a massive change in the country through these secret killings, they were wrong and that their dream would never come true.
Those who carried out arson attacks in the name of movement in 2013, 2014 and the first three months of 2015 are now engaged in target killings, she added.
“We won't spare their masters whoever they are. They'll be awarded the toughest and highest punishment,” she warned.
Turning to SP Babul Akhter, whose wife was stabbed and shot to death in Chittagong on Sunday, Hasina said this police officer was engaged in containing terrorism skillfully.
"His wife was brutally chopped and shot dead in broad daylight in front of their child. I would like to say one thing that the style of these secret killings was the same."
She added, “Once a blow comes from their [killers] side on the family members of the other side [law enforcers], then blow comes from the other side, too. How can they [killers] forget this?"
About the association of Bangladesh with the Saudi initiative of forging a security alliance, she said it was aimed at protecting the Muslim world from militancy and terrorism. So far 40 countries have joined it.
"I have assured the Saudi King of Bangladesh's steadfast stance to cooperate with any initiative against terrorism and militancy and extend all support, including military assistance, to ensure protection of the two holy mosques of the Muslims."