The government has undoubtedly been successful in its anti-militancy operations. Over the last few years, the law enforcement agencies have caught many militants. Many of the militants have been killed in the encounters and their dens have been destroyed. The government’s zero-tolerance policy towards militants has been praised at home and abroad.
But the shortcomings and discrepancies in the anti-militancy operations have been revealed in a series of Prothom Alo reports. The concerned persons may be happy to bask in the ‘success’ of the operations, but they are not all that eager when it comes to conducting the cases against them. In the case of any crime, punishment must be ensured. But many of the militants are slipping out through loopholes in the law and the legal proceedings are weak. Then again, many militants are let out on bail, going back to their old ways and radicalising others.
Militancy-related cases are supposed to face speedy trial, but in reality these drag on for years. After long terms in jail, they cannot take up normal lives. Their families and communities do not accept them. So there is always that fear that they will simply go back to their militant ways.
Global experience shows that tackling militancy is not an easy task. As religion is involved in the issue, it is very easy to dupe people. So alongside legal action, efforts have to be made to counter misinterpretation of religion, to offer a counter narrative.
While in prison for long terms, the militants must be closely monitored and in this regard, deradicalisation is of utmost importance. It is through this that they can be motivated away from regrouping with militants upon their release. Indonesia, Malaysia and such countries have been successfully conducting such programmes. At the conference of police chiefs held in Dhaka last March, International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research director Rohan Gunaratna also stressed this issue of redacialisation in prisons.
Alongside care from the family and the community, the former militants who return home from jail also need state supervision. But the government has no integrated or long-term plans in this regard. RAB did pay some young former militants in the northern region Tk 500 thousand each to rehabilitate them and some of them have taken up studies. But such programmes are isolated.
Rather than isolated programmes, the government needs to take organised and integrated programmes inside and outside of the prisons to rehabilitate the militants. The shortfalls in the legal processes must be addressed. Successful anti-militant operations are not enough. Militancy must be removed from the very roots.