Ansars being hired to escort diplomats, starts with US embassy

An AGB team started providing escort service to US ambassador Peter Haas on 22 October, 2023.

The government has started providing a paid escort service to the foreign envoys stationed in Dhaka. The US embassy has become first to take the service as it deployed a 16-member unit of Ansar Guard Battalion (AGB) on Sunday, to oversee the overall security of the ambassador.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan confirmed the development to Prothom Alo on Monday, saying they sent a trained unit of AGB to ensure the security of the US ambassador.

Some other embassies also issued letters seeking escort services, he said, adding that all embassies can take the service in exchange for money.

The police were providing escort service to foreign diplomats following the militant attack at Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka in 2016.

Earlier, British High Commissioner Anwar Chowdhury faced a grenade attack in Sylhet in 2004. Since then, the British envoys have been receiving additional escort service in Bangladesh.

In a surprise move on 15 May this year, the government withdrew the police escort service of foreign diplomats, saying that the additional security is no longer necessary given the normal and controlled law and order situation in the country.

Then the foreign ministry assured that the foreign embassies, agencies, and missions can take paid escort services from Bangladesh Ansar. Later, the government formulated an outline for the paid escort service and briefed the embassies in this regard.

An embassy needs to pay USD 300 per month (Tk 33,000) to avail escort service of a trained Ansar member.

According to sources at Ansar, the US embassy and Bangladesh Ansar recently signed a memorandum of understanding on 11 October over the deployment of escort service.

Two officials of Bangladesh Ansar told Prothom Alo that a security expert team from the US embassy has recently visited the Bangladesh Ansar and VDP Academy at Shafipur and inspected the training programmes and capacity of the paramilitary force.

The AGB members exhibited their ability in escorting a VIP during movement, programmes, and other emergencies. Following a thorough scrutiny, the US embassy decided to take the service.

According to home ministry sources, the authorities have prepared the AGB, which generally provides protocol to ministers and state ministers, for providing escort services to the embassies.

If any embassy seeks the escort service, the authorities will send an AGB team to the embassy in exchange for a certain amount of payment.

However, as per the Vienna Convention, it is the host nation's responsibility to ensure the security of the foreign missions and envoys.