Vol. 5 Num 33 Mon. June 28, 2004  
Front Page

Bangla Bhai men come back with abduction
8 families in Naogaon robbed, houses vandalised

Islamic militants tied to vigilante commander Bangla Bhai abducted two women and a child in Bagmara in the northwestern district of Rajshahi on Saturday morning in their latest violent activity that came after a one-month lull.

The abduction coincided with militants' announcement that Bangla Bhai, chief of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), would break cover on July 1 after weeks of hiding.

The operatives kidnapped 33-year-old Safinun Nahar, her mother Shahida Begum and 3-year-old daughter Suborna from their Raipura village, as they came back from Rajshahi city to visit their home that they left in fear of vigilante attacks.

Bangla Bhai's men demanded money in illegal tolls from Safinun's husband Abdul Barik and threatened him with death in failure, scaring him into leaving his village in April with his family to stay in the northwestern city.

The militant outfit is blamed for a series of killings and abductions in vigilante action in the northwest since April 1, the latest episode of atrocities that grabbed the media spotlight.

The JMJB cadres in their April operations demolished the house of Awami League leader Abdus Sobhan Chowdhury at Kalapara in Bagmara, who later left the village to stay in Rajshahi city.

Bangla Bhai's operatives operating under cover of so-called peace committee looted valuables from eight families in an indigenous people-inhabited village in Raninagar in Naogaon Saturday before vandalising their houses. The looters announced that they would auction off the rest of the property.

Many indigenous and poor Muslim families in Lakkhikhola village sent their daughters to other places after a threat from the JMJB operatives of raping young girls.

Witnesses said an armed gang of 30 led allegedly by Alamgir Hossain Ranga, Akhter and Firoz launched the attack on the houses of Ananda Marandi, Ramdulal Marandi, Anil Beshra, Raban Murmu, Sukumar Murmu, Abdus Salam, Nizam Uddin and Kalam to extort Tk 40,000.

"Ranga, Akhter and Firoz threatened to rape our daughters in public if we don't leave home," said Jaleshwari Murmu, who suffered injuries in the attack.

After the looting, the JMJB men forced other villagers to sign a piece of paper to brand the victims as outlaws, locals alleged.

Talking to The Daily Star, a villager said asking not to be named: "They wrote later in the paper that villagers attacked them (the victims) as they supported outlaws." Locals did not file any case fearing further attacks by the JMJB men.

Identifying himself a JMJB operative, retired police constable Enamul Haq told reporters that he had never found such anarchy created by outlaws in the area before.

"Many Juma'atul Mujahedin operatives who were active in the area a few months ago have worked with the JMJB and are now working with the peace committee," he said.