Youth missing Is Raising Militant Threat? -By Salman Riaz


There are too many people missing in the country for us is not to ignore. Two kinds of missing are commonly appeared, one is enforced disappearance and another is self-imposed disappearance. Both of these types of disappeared men have been hitting the headlines from the shadows for quite some time now, although for quite different reasons. The first category of the disappeared men is in danger, if not dead already, and need to be rescued and handed over to their awaited families. While the second category of disappeared men pose danger, and they need to be dealt with to prevent of raising another militant threat.
Self-imposed disappearance is raising a threat of militant attack, which has already proved through attacks in Bangladesh, like Holey Artisan Bakery and in Kishoreganj, Solakia Eid prayer center attack. It is important to know that, most of the missing youths are from well-to-do families. What led these young people to the path of terrorism? What made them give up a decent life and choose a life of hell? That said, there are many teenagers and youths who set their foot in the trap of militancy after being brainwashed. Police force is being serious of find out these missing youths.
But in the case of enforced disappearance, police are not same serious of find out these people and conducted look into investigation. Enforced disappearance has been haunting Bangladesh for several years and is one of the most significant human rights issues we are facing today. According to the human rights organization Ain-o-Salish Kendra at least 82 people were abducted between January and September in 2016, up from 55 throughout all of last year. How so many men have vanished into thin air and why law enforcement agencies could make no breakthroughs in tracing them, are questions that need to be answered.
The family members of victims are gathering in front of the National Press Club, an emotional scene unfolded. A number of aged mothers came searching for their sons, wives for their husbands, and at least four children pleaded to know where their fathers had gone, people who have been missing for years now. These families are worried to death. They repeatedly broke into tears while speaking in the press conference demanding whereabouts of their loved ones. They have been desperately seeking for them for years, repeatedly approached police, RAB, and the detective branch of the police, but to no avail.
In the case of enforced disappearance, most of the families claim that the victims were picked up by the members of law enforcement, either wearing uniform or in plainclothes posing as members of RAB or police. But it is a charge that all law enforcement agencies tend to deny, despite their frequency — but, then again, the state denies these allegations as well, so how can we expect otherwise from law enforcement?
Following the press conference held by the families of the missing men, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal shamelessly said: “There is no enforced disappearance; they are hiding to embarrass the government.” Such a comment is insensitive, to say the least. Even if they have been hiding for all those years, can the state evade responsibility without doing anything at all? All of their families have lodged complaints in the police stations, why doesn’t the police go out and find them at least? The rise in the case of enforced disappearance has created a climate of fear, and, particularly, family members of the abducted are living in continuous despair.
On the other hand, self-imposed disappearance is a type of disappearance that has already proven to be a danger to our society. The perpetrators of the attack at Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan on 1 July and their party member who carried out similar terrorist attacks across the country were all young, educated, and had been missing from home for a long time. After a brief lull, following the annihilation of a number of leaders of terrorist groups, new reports suggest that more and more youths are leaving their homes every day in the name of joining a global “jihad.”
After the militant attack at Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, police aware of being more concern to listing missing people in the country. This gruesome murder was followed by another daring assault on the nation’s largest Eid prayer congregation in which three people and an attacker were killed in a gunfight in a northern Bangladesh town. Police and parents said the five attackers at the cafe siege and at least two gunmen at the Eid carnage were missing for months. The government ordered the security officials to collate the list in the wake of two major terror attacks by militants who were missing for months. On 20 July RAB published an unverified list of 261 missing people. After follow ups from the media and the public revealed many faults in that list, it updated the list to 70, more are youth among them. From this missing list, some are added and some are removed due to killing in riot against terrorist and some are found.
The missing people, including doctors, engineers and students from elite universities have traveled to the Middle East to join the militant group Islamic State (IS). In one case, engineer Najibullah Ansari was missing for over a year when his parents reached out to the police after the government launched the campaign to account for the countries missing. According to his family, Ansari last contacted his younger brother in January 2015 via Facebook, saying he was in war-torn Iraq fighting with jihadists. Ansari said, “I have come to Iraq. Tell father and mother not to worry for me. I have come here for jihad,” “I will never return home,” he added.
Within a week, there are seven youth missing from Bangladesh. Among them three youth missing from Pabna, Rangpur and Barisal and the disappearance of another four youths from Banani in the capital city Dhaka, is a matter of grave concern also. Pabna Medical College student, Tanvir Ahmed Tonoy, Jakir Hossain Biplob’s father Suruzzaman was a freedom fighter commander at Kaunia upazila in Rangpur and Niyamotullah, a madrasa student from Barisal’s Agailjhara upazila disappeared. The four friends were North South University students Safayet Hossain, and Zayen Hossain Khan Pavel, and Sobuj alias Sujon, and Mehedi Hasan. They are between the ages of 20 and 25.
Based on news reports of their disappearance, a similarity might be drawn with the youth involved in past militant acts. The police are also indicating as much. The four youth were seen together on 1 December, at Northern Cafe in Banani bazar. Their parents filed general diaries (GD) with the police after they went missing. The parents of three of the boys said their sons were very moderate in their religious views, with no sign of any extremist outlook whatsoever.
The questions which loom large area, have these young men voluntarily run away from? Are they involved in any conspiracy? If they have run away on their own accord, there is reason for concern. Even before the Holey Artisan incident, several young men had gone missing. Later it was unearthed that they were involved in various acts of militancy, in collusion with each other. The law enforcement agencies arrested several other suspected militants in line with them and some of the suspects were killed in gunfights.
If the missing youths are indeed involved in militancy, as the police hint, then there is a reason for public concern. The government had previously announced that all involved in the Holey Artisan incident had been caught and the situation was under control. On the other hand, if these young men have been picked up by others or abducted, that too is a fearful matter.
It is of utmost importance to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of these four youth. It is the duty of the law enforcement agencies, that is, the government, to retrieve these boys in an unharmed condition, solve the mystery and inform the public about the matter. If they are involved in any subversive activities, they can always be tried under the prevailing laws. The Government should be taken effective efforts to bring them back.