India unearths Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen's suspected plot to assassinate Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina

In what can put PM security in Bangladesh on alert, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday revealed that it has uncovered a suspected plot by a banned militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and carry out a coup.

Last Updated: Oct 29, 2014, 00:03 AM IST
India unearths Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen's suspected plot to assassinate Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina

New Delhi: In what can put security agencies in Bangladesh on alert, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday revealed that it has uncovered a suspected plot by a banned militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and carry out a coup.

According to three Indian security officials, the militants outfit planned to assassinate Hasina and also main Opposition leader, Khaleda Zia.

Reuters reported that India will hand over a dossier to Bangladesh with details of the plan by members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which has carried out scores of attacks in India's eastern neighbour, the government and police officials said.

Bangladesh did not comment directly on the assertions that Hasina had been the target of a plot, but said it had tightened security on the border with India.

Mainly-Muslim Bangladesh has suffered three major Army coups and two dozen smaller rebellions since gaining independence from Pakistan in 1971 in a war that killed and displaced millions.

The alleged conspiracy was discovered after two members of the group were killed in an explosion while building homemade bombs at a house in West Bengal earlier this month. Indian police say the militants were Bangladeshis and were using India as a safe haven to plan the attacks.

"The strategy was to hit the political leaders of the country and demolish the democratic infrastructure of Bangladesh," said a senior Indian Home (interior) Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"This was all being planned on Indian soil and we could have been blamed if there was an attack," he was further quoted by the news agency as saying.

Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Monday visited the house where the blasts took place and met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to discuss the situation.

The revelations come against a backdrop of political friction earlier this year between nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Banerjee.

On one campaign stop in West Bengal before his general election victory in May, Modi said illegal immigrants from Bangladesh should get their "bags packed" if he came to power.

Asaduzzaman Khan, Bangladesh's junior Home Minister, said Dhaka had been tipped off about a possible militant plot.

"We have received this information unofficially from India about a terror threat to top politicians in Dhaka. This is the first time there has been such information," said Khan.

"We are always serious about curbing the activities of the militants. After the news from India our (security) efforts have been raised manifold," he said.

West Bengal Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee declined to comment.

Prime Minister Hasina and her chief rival, Zia, have dominated the country's politics for more than a decade.

The security officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the record, did not say how the militants planned to carry out the assassinations.

The outlawed Jamaat-ul-Mujihadeen detonated nearly 500 bombs almost simultaneously on one day in 2005 across Bangladesh, including in the capital, Dhaka.

Its militants later carried out suicide attacks on several courthouses, killing 25 people and injuring hundreds.

Earlier this year, gunmen opened fire and tossed bombs at a security van carrying members of the group on the way to court.

India has arrested at least six people tied to the coup plot, according to the NIA, the law enforcement institution investigating the case.

Local police found nearly five dozen crude bombs and arrested two women who were living in the same house and were trying to burn bomb-making manuals after the incident. In a nearby home police found 35 unexploded bombs.

(with Reuters inputs)