Militants training in the hills: Constant surveillance required

The report that a new militant outfit Jamaat-ul-Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya is conducting training in the remote hills in the camp of the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) is very alarming.

In the past, these militant groups took support from like-minded people. But currently they are getting help from different communities. The KNF is mainly a leftist ethnic militant group.

It was said at a RAB press conference last Monday that 55 young people left their homes in the name of 'Hijrat' from 19 districts of the country to join the new militant group Jamaatul Ansar. A list of full names and addresses of 38 of the 55 was also released. Many of these youths who are 'missing' are in KNF training camps in remote areas of Bandarban.

Information obtained from the 12 people of Jamaatul Ansar who have been arrested in the last one week, revealed the location of the training centre.

It is believed that more than 50 members of Jamaatul Ansar are still there. There have been a few who realised their mistake and voluntarily returned home.

Prothom Alo reports, Jamaatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya was formed on the initiative of some leaders of the banned three militant organisations Ansar Al Islam, JMB and Harkatul Jihad. They started organising in 2017 but decided the name of the organisation in 2019. In the past, various militant organisations in the country tried to establish hideouts or camps in the hills.

However, there was no information of religious militant groups taking training in the hideouts of hill armed groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts before. The training of these militants in the KNF camp started at the beginning of this year. They have been given training in AK-47 rifles, locally made firearms, explosives (IED) and ambushes.

After coming to power, the Awami League government announced zero tolerance against militants. After the Holey Artisan tragedy in 2016, many militants were nabbed in a series of raids by law enforcement agencies. Earlier, many militants were caught and their hideouts were busted. It is evident from the migration of youth from different places and the operations of training camps in remote hills that activities of militants have not stopped yet.

There is no scope for complacency with the temporary success in countering militancy. Continuous surveillance should be maintained. The families and the society also have responsibility. Again, the government should also remember that the problem of militancy will not be solved by just using force or raids.

Their source of funds and weapons at home and abroad should be stopped. If we cannot destroy the ideology which incites youth to militancy the possibility will always be there. Rehabilitation programmes of the government should also be strengthened so that the youth who are caught can return to a healthy and normal life in the future.