Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon yesterday said gunfights and crossfires cannot curb militancy.
“Everyday we see [suspected] militants being killed in crossfires. Crossfire is not the solution but a reflection of law enforcement agencies' failure,” he said in the budget discussion at the Parliament.
Menon said the Islamic State was not active in Bangladesh but people who sympathise with their ideology were carrying out the targeted killings. “These attacks are not targeted at any single community but rather the whole of Bangladesh.”
The Workers Party leader noted how after the bloggers were killed, police would try to find out whether the victim had written anything against Islam. “Authorities said criticism against religion would not be tolerated ... if such comments are made after someone is murdered, then they are justifying the killing.”
Menon said, “I read the bloggers' writings and I did not find anything against any religion there.”
He claimed that in Bangladesh the net profit of the militancy “economy” was Tk2,465 crore in 2014. “Though the country’s economic growth is six percent, the economy of militancy’s growth rate is nine to 10%.”
“Militant groups were formed here with local and international funding. They are carrying out secret killings. Because of this, the USA, EU and other western countries are issuing travel advisories to their citizens while they visit Bangladesh and asking them not to invest here.”
About the recent Union Parishad elections, Menon said, “Under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, we have established the people's voting rights by fighting against military government and the BNP-Jamaat’s vote rigging. But this UP elections has destroyed our achievement and the Election Commission has been sitting idly watching this destruction.”
He urged reforming the electoral system. “If we cannot reform the electoral system, then democracy will be at stake. All the elected institutions will be at stake. Election should be free from money and arms.”
The minister demanded meaningful meeting of the election commission with all political parties.
Regarding his ministry, the civil aviation minister said in 2007 without any study the then caretaker government had turned Bangladesh Biman into a public limited company. “There is the legal vacuum prevailing in Biman.”