Extremists in the southwestern part of the country are coming out of their hideouts and reforming their groups, taking advantage of the political turmoil, surrounding the upcoming city corporation polls, sources in the intelligence branches of several law enforcement agencies say.
Law enforcers suspect that cadres of extremist groups are coming out of hiding to threaten and extort the upcoming city corporation poll candidates. Police headquarters has issued directives to launch special operations to contain such activities. The Khulna city poll is scheduled for June 15.
According to sources at police headquarters, law enforcers recently made a list of extremist groups in the region, including 3,714 members. Of these, police suspect 1,612 individuals are armed.
Following massive Rab and police action, most of the extremist groups went into hiding in India and Pakistan. However, recently the extremists have been returning to their areas of origin with the backing of some political leaders.
In recent weeks, an extremist group sent letters, demanding money, to 12 chairmen in Jessore while another group made extortive requests of 10 senior government officials in Jhenaidah. The groups are mostly active in Fultola, Satkhira and Chuknagar in Khulna; Sharsha, Jhikargachha and Keshabpur in Jessore; Shoilakupa and Harinakunda in Jhenaidah; and Chuadanga and Alamdanga in Kushtia.
The most active group is the Purbo Banglar Communist Party (ML Janajuddha). A high police official of Khulna Range, requesting anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune around nine extremist groups were active in the southwest, taking part in looting, extortion and ransom. These groups were: West PBCP, Sharamajibi Andolon, Bipobi Communist Party, Soghosito Maobadi Congress, Red Flag, Jasod Gonobahini, Bangla Communist and Sorbohara.
Additional groups such as Kajal Bahini, Murtiman Atanka, Seven star, Four Star and Mannan Bahini activists are also trying to carry out subversive activities, the official added.
The PBCP has 407 members; the Bipobi Communist party, 203; the New Bipobi Communist Party, 359; Jasod Gonobahini, 55; Gonomukti Fouz, 97; and the Sorbohara party 57, according to sources in law enforcement agencies.
The police headquarters list says there are 817 extremists in Khulna, 211 in Satkhira, 455 in Jessore, 118 in Magura, 114 in Narail, 608 in Kushtia, 174 in Chuadanga, 215 in Meherpur and 188 in Bagerhat.
Inspector General of Police Hassan Mahmood Khandker told the Dhaka Tribune that police and Rab officials were trying their best to arrest the extremists. People who were helping extremists will also face legal consequences, he added.