The Big Story: Dateline Dhaka

As the dust clears from the scene of the Dhaka attack, the faces of those who went on a killing spree on Friday become visible. Affluent, well-educated, well-connected, part of the "radicalised" and "impressionable" young set that has become the breeding ground of terror in so many countries. There are conflicting reports about which organisation they owed allegiance to: the Bangladesh government denies an Islamic State link, asserting that they belonged to homegrown terror outfits. Some reports suggest it was the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, which has ties with the Jamaat-e-Islami, others claim it was the Ansarullah Bangla Team, founded by a former army officer charged with plotting a coup against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed. Both are extremist organisations, ranged against the ruling Awami League. Question is, would the youth be driven to the fringe if Hasina had left space for legitimate dissent within the country's political system?

In 2014, Hasina won a controversial mandate in elections where she stood virtually unopposed. Most opposition parties – including Begum Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party, known for its close ties with the Jamaat-e-Islami – decided to boycott the polls. Since then, Hasina has consistently curbed opposition voices, placing Zia under house arrest when she tried to address rallies. Opposition leaders have routinely disappeared, amid rumours of persecution by the ruling party. While she clamped down on the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Hasina gave free reign to the Jamaat-e-Islami. The result was disastrous, as a legitimate political opposition ceded ground to fundamentalist forces outside the party system. This crackdown, combined with the government's heavy-handed treatment of those charged with crimes during the 1971 war, reports of extra-judicial killings and the failure to protect minorities, have seriously eroded the Hasina government's democratic credentials.

So far, India has shown unstinting support for the Awami League government, in an effort to strengthen secular, democratic forces against the rising tide of bigotry in Bangladesh. It must now rethink its blind support, and use its influence with the Hasina government to ask some hard questions. Delhi, after all, is not so far from Dhaka.

The Big Scroll: on the the day' big story

Ikhtisad Ahmed on how the Bangladesh government's indulgence of hate crimes paved the way for Friday's tragedy.
Saikat Datta on the Ansarullah Bangla Team, the homegrown terror outfit believed to be behind the attack.

Political pickings
1. In Bihar, a political realignment could be in the works. Jiten Ram Manjhi, the rebel chief minister who broke away from Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) to form his own party, the Hindustan Awam Morcha, and link his lot with the National Democratic Alliance, now seems to be in the mood for making up.
2. The NDA's ministerial reshuffle is likely to be announced tomorrow.
3. The Bharatiya Janata Party has added Asaduddin Owaisi to its list of anti-nationals. This is after the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief offered legal aid to men arrested on charges of being linked to the Islamic State.

1. In the Indian Express, Syed Badruddin Ahsan on the Bangladesh government's state of denial when it comes to Islamic terror.
2. In the Hindu, MK Narayanan calls for a reality check as India campaigns for entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and tom-toms the Chabahar port agreement with Iran.
3. In the Telegraph, Mukal Kesavan makes notes on the Brexit referendum.


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