Anand Singh | 10 Sep, 2023
As the high-profile G20 Summit began here on Saturday, Bangladesh
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told IANS that the relation between New
Delhi and Dhaka is a "very deep rooted one" and "we believe that every
time the two countries remain united in every cause".
Khan, who is
also a trusted aide of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also
asserted that his country will get some good results from the G20
Sheikh Hasina is one of the more than 150 heads of state attending the two-day event at the national capital.
is the only country that has received an invitation for the G20 Summit
among the South Asian nations, indicating the importance of India's Act
East Policy with the northeast at the centrestage.
Bangladesh, Egypt, Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Spain, the
Netherlands, Singapore are also among the special invitees.
These are some of the excerpts from the interview:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had a bilateral meeting with her
counterpart Narendra Modi on Friday evening. So what do you expect the
outcome of the meeting and how much Bangladesh will gain from the G20?
Khan: Actually, our relation is a deep rooted one with India since the
inception of Bangladesh. We believe in everytime India-Bangladesh to
remain united in every cause, definitely we get some result from this
IANS: How is Bangladesh dealing with terrorism?
Khan. Our government is committed to deal with terrorism and violent
extremism in all its forms and manifestations. We have taken various
measures to prevent, counter and respond to the threat of terrorism in
Bangladesh, such as enacting and enforcing anti-terrorism laws and
regulations, such as the Anti-Terrorism Act (2008) and the Money
Laundering Prevention Act (2012), to criminalise terrorism and terrorist
financing activities and to impose strict penalties for them.
law enforcement and security agencies, such as the Rapid Action
Battalion, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit, and the
Bomb Disposal Unit, to enhance their capacity and capability to detect,
disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks and plots.
border security and immigration control, such as by installing biometric
systems, electronic passport machines, and advanced passenger
information systems at all major ports of entry, to prevent the movement
of terrorists and their resources across borders.
regionally and internationally for combating terrorism, such as by
participating in various forums, initiatives and mechanisms, such as the
Global Counterterrorism Forum, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for
Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, and the South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation, to share information, best
practices and resources with other countries and organisations.
Implementing social measures to address and fight the root causes of
terrorism, such as by promoting education, employment, social justice,
interfaith dialogue, tolerance and moderation among the youth and the
general public, to counter the narratives and ideologies of violent
We are determined to protect our people and our nation
from the scourge of terrorism. We are also grateful for the support and
solidarity of our friends and partners in this endeavor. We believe that
together we can overcome this challenge and ensure peace and security
IANS: The Sheikh Hasina government has sought to restore
secularism and freedom of religion. What has been her achievement so
Asaduzzaman Khan: Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is not
only a great visionary leader like her father, the Father of Nation,
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, but she has been a champion of
secularism and freedom of religion in Bangladesh.
She is the
beacon of right and peace for all and with that vision in mind, she has
restored religious freedom in the constitution as the cornerstone of our
secular identity and declared a ‘Zero Tolerance Policy on any form of
discrimination or violence against religious minorities’.
also clarified that secularism in the constitution never conflicts with
Islam, which is the state religion, and that everyone has the right to
follow their own belief and religion. She has balanced her personal
piety with a firm secular stand, rallying the support of a major section
of the liberal intelligentsia.
The Prime Minister has sought to
foster religious harmony and tolerance among all communities in
Bangladesh, which is a secular country.
She has also ensured that
family law, which contains separate provisions for different religious
groups, is enforced in secular courts. These are some of her
achievements so far in upholding secularism and freedom of religion in
IANS: What is your role to contain terrorism in the Bangladesh-India border?
Khan: As you may already know, the former BNP-Jamaat led government,
being supported by certain other quarters of external elements who were
against liberation of Bangladesh, during their tenure extended support
to separatist elements from India’s northeastern states, particularly
Our government has taken action to deport numerous insurgents, especially from Assam, to India in the last few years.
security forces totally ensured that Bangladesh soil would never be
used by any foreign insurgents for separatist activities or terrorism,
in Bangladesh or elsewhere.
Apart from this, as the Minister of
Home Affairs of Bangladesh, my role is to ensure the security and
stability of our country and our people. I am also responsible for
maintaining good relations with our neighboring countries, especially
India, with whom we share a long and historic border.
We have a
common interest in preventing infiltration, terrorism, and other illegal
activities along our border. We have been working closely with the
Indian authorities to address these issues and enhance our cooperation
in security and border management.
We respect each other’s
sovereignty and territorial integrity and do not interfere in each
other’s internal affairs. We also condemn any violence or discrimination
against any religious or ethnic group in either country.
We are committed to upholding the values of democracy, secularism, and human rights that bind us together as friendly nations.
of the subjects of the agreement signed by our great leader Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman and then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in May 1974
was to complete the demarcation of the land border between Bangladesh
and India on the basis of compromise.
Bangladesh is maintaining border management with friendly relations with India in accordance with this agreement.
You have been one of the longest running Minister holding the Home
portfolio in Bangladesh, how do you measure your success in upholding
the law and order situation?
Asaduzzaman Khan: I have been serving
as the Minister of Home Affairs of Bangladesh since 2014, and I am
honoured to have this responsibility given to me by Prime Minister.
measure my success in upholding law and order situation in Bangladesh
by looking at various indicators, such as the Global Law and Order
Index, the number of terrorist incidents, the effectiveness of
legislation and law enforcement, and the public perception of safety and
According to the Global Law and Order Index 2022,
Bangladesh scored 79 out of 100, which is similar to the UK. This shows
that Bangladesh has a relatively high level of law and order situation
compared to many other countries in the world.
Bangladesh also improved its score from 77 in 2021, which indicates that we are making progress in this area.
terms of terrorist incidents, Bangladesh has been able to prevent and
counter many potential attacks by extremist groups, such as Neo-JMB and
home grown ISIS, with the help of our police and security forces.
example, in 2021, we detected and neutralized a remote-controlled
explosive device in Narayanganj, raided a militant den and recovered
weapons and bomb-making materials, and arrested a lone-wolf attacker who
hurled a petrol bomb in the Gulshan Diplomatic Zone.
just some examples of how we are combating terrorism and ensuring public
safety. We have also enacted and enforced various laws and policies to
strengthen our legal framework and capacity to deal with terrorism and
The Anti-terrorism Act of 2009, as amended, remains
the basis for the arrest and detention of terrorist suspects. The
Digital Security Act of 2018 enables us to counter online extremism and
We are also considering a US “Alert List” project to create a dedicated terrorist watchlist.
Finally, we measure our success by listening to the people of Bangladesh and their feedback on the law and order situation.
are aware that there are still some challenges and areas for
improvement, such as smuggling of narcotics, communal violence,
political unrest, and border security.
We are committed to addressing these issues and ensuring that every citizen feels safe and secure in Bangladesh.
IANS: What are the immediate and long-term challenges with respect to the law and order situation of Bangladesh?
Khan: As the Minister of Home Affairs, I am aware of the immediate and
long-term challenges that we face in maintaining and improving the law
and order situation in our country.
Some of these challenges are:
Environmental crimes and harms: Bangladesh is one of the most
environmentally fragile countries in the world, facing threats from
climate change, natural disasters, pollution, deforestation, wildlife
trafficking, and illegal mining.
These crimes and harms not only
damage our natural resources and biodiversity, but also affect our
health, economy, and security.
We need to strengthen our
environmental laws and regulations, enhance our law enforcement and
border security capacities, and collaborate with our neighbouring
countries and international organisations to combat environmental crimes
and harms. Terrorism and extremism:
Bangladesh has been a target
of terrorist attacks by extremist groups, such as Neo-JMB and home grown
IS, who use online platforms to recruit, fund, radicalise, and incite
violence. These attacks pose a serious threat to our national security,
social harmony, and regional stability.
We need to prevent and
counter these attacks by enhancing our intelligence and surveillance
capabilities, disrupting their networks and activities, prosecuting
their members and supporters, and countering their narratives and
In this regard we are constantly holding dialogues
with national and international stakeholders to exchange views,
technologies and data to ensure strict vigilance and cooperation to
eradicate terrorism by extremist groups in the sub-continent.
Refugees: While under the instruction of our Prime Minister, we opened
our borders to refugees from Myanmar back in 2017 and ever since been
providing them with shelter and food; however, as it is well documented,
the Rohingya Refugees are posing serious threat not only with regards
to law and order situation but also economically for the country as it
is becoming greatly burdensome for a developing country like ours.
of these refugees are getting engaged with drug peddling, some are
fleeing the camps and crossing borders with fake identities as
Bangladeshi citizen and committing crimes in other countries, tarnishing
the image of Bangladesh.
Through you, I would like to request all
concerned to voice out the concerns and pursue the government of
Myanmar to allow the fefugees to return to their homestead at the
These are some of the major challenges that we face in upholding the law and order situation in Bangladesh.
We are committed to addressing these challenges with determination, dedication, and collaboration.
seek the support and cooperation of all stakeholders, including the
media, civil society, political parties, and the public, in this
IANS: With respect to the geographic location of
Bangladesh, sharing borders and long coastal border, what are your views
of transnational crimes and cross border security?
Khan: Bangladesh is a country that faces many challenges in terms of
transnational crimes and cross border security. Some of the major
threats include terrorism, arms- and drug smuggling, human trafficking,
climate security, and financial crime.
These threats jeopardise our economy, social development, and national sovereignty.
the Minister of Home Affairs, I am committed to enhancing our capacity
and cooperation to combat these threats. We have established specialised
units such as the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit
(CTTCU) to deal with terrorism and organized crime.
We have also
strengthened our border security with the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB),
which is responsible for guarding our 4,427 kilometers border with
India and Myanmar.
We also recognise the need for regional and
international collaboration to address the transnational nature of these
threats. We have been working closely with our neighbours, especially
India and Myanmar, to resolve border disputes, prevent cross-border
crimes, and assist the Rohingya refugees.
We have also ratified
the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and
participated in its review mechanism to enhance our legal framework and
share best practices.
We are determined to make Bangladesh a safe and secure country for our people and our partners.
We welcome any constructive suggestions and support from the international community to achieve this goal.
We are aware that in line with your government’s vision of Digital
Bangladesh and now, Smart Bangladesh, your ministry has implemented
certain schemes, can you elaborate on your efforts of digitalisation of
Border, Security Services and relevant issues by your Ministry?
Khan: The Ministry of Home Affairs is committed to the vision of
Digital Bangladesh and Smart Bangladesh, and has taken several
initiatives to digitalise the border and security services and address
the relevant issues.
Some of these initiatives are: Digitalising
the immigration system to facilitate the movement of people across
borders, reduce processing time and cost, and enhance security and data
To this end, we have already implemented E-Passport
system and soon will be launching E-Visa issuance for foreign nationals
intending to visit Bangladesh and the Advance Passenger Information
System (APIS) for pre-security clearance for all travellers.
Our 999 police helpline service has received millions of calls and it has provided services to them promptly.
many citizen services including filing of General Diary with police
station, application for passports, work permits for foreign nationals
can be made digitally through designated web portals.
have established a biometric database for the Rohingya refugees to
ensure their identification, protection and repatriation.
have implemented e-governance in the ministry and its subordinate
offices to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability.
believe that these efforts will contribute to the economic and social
development of Bangladesh, as well as to the regional and global peace
IANS: What are your views on the Rohingya refugee
Ssituation in Bangladesh from the perspective of security concerns and
border control? How are your Ministry placed to tackle this crisis in
the long term?
Asaduzzaman Khan: On this burning issue, the
Rohingya refugee situation is one of the most complex and protracted
humanitarian crises in the world.
Bangladesh has been hosting more
than 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar district since August
2017, when they fled from the atrocities committed by the Myanmar
military in Rakhine state.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is fully
aware of the security concerns and border control challenges posed by
this massive influx of refugees.
We have taken several measures to
address these issues, such as: Strengthening the border security with
additional personnel, equipment and surveillance systems to prevent
illegal entry, exit and cross-border crimes.
Establishing a biometric database for the Rohingya refugees to ensure their identification, protection and repatriation.
the law and order in and around the refugee camps with the deployment
of police, army and civil administration to prevent and respond to
violence, trafficking, smuggling and other criminal activities.
However, we also recognise that these measures are not enough to solve the root causes of the crisis.
need a comprehensive, durable and inclusive solution that ensures the
safe, voluntary and dignified return of the Rohingya refugees to their
homeland in Myanmar with full citizenship rights and security
We urge the international community to support our
efforts and to exert more pressure on Myanmar to create conducive
conditions for the repatriation.
Through you, we would also like
to express our gratitude and appreciation to the humanitarian assistance
and solidarity shown by various countries, organizations and
individuals to alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya refugees.
What is your response to the allegations made by different local and
international organisations regarding human rights violation and extra
judicial killing by law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh?
Khan: The Ministry of Home Affairs is committed to uphold the rule of
law and protect the human rights of all citizens in Bangladesh.
do not condone any form of human rights violation or extra judicial
killing by law enforcement agencies. We have taken several steps to
ensure accountability and transparency in the conduct of our law
enforcement personnel, such as issuing clear guidelines for the use of
force and firearms by law enforcement agencies in accordance with the UN
Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement
Establishing complaint mechanisms for the victims or
their families to report any allegations of human rights violation or
extra judicial killing by law enforcement agencies to the relevant
Conducting prompt and impartial investigations into
any allegations of human rights violation or extra judicial killing by
law enforcement agencies and bringing the perpetrators to justice in
accordance with the law.
We also welcome the constructive
engagement and cooperation of local and international organisations in
monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation in Bangladesh.
We are ready to address any legitimate concerns or recommendations raised by them in a respectful and constructive manner.
We believe that dialogue and partnership are essential for ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights in Bangladesh.
we also reject the baseless and biased allegations made by some local
and international organizations regarding human rights violation and
extra judicial killing by law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh.
allegations are politically motivated and aimed at tarnishing the image
and reputation of our government and our law enforcement agencies.
They are also part of a larger conspiracy to destabilize our country and undermine our development achievements.
urge these organisations to refrain from making such unfounded and
irresponsible accusations and to respect the sovereignty and integrity
We also invite them to engage with us in a
constructive and cooperative manner to address any genuine concerns or
issues related to human rights in Bangladesh.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)