A recent spate of violence, over the last few weeks, continues to highlight the threat of the so-called Sarbahara outlawed parties in the southwest of the country. The violence has increased in its ferocity and in the number of actors, but it remains confined to one or two incidents a week, scattered throughout the division but often in the districts bordering India. The government must assert its policing authority in these areas before the local populace loses complete faith in the security forces to maintain their security.
The last three weeks have witnessed a number of brutal killings in the districts of Kushtia, Choudanga, and Meherpur. In the former three "outlaws" (colloquial indication of a Sarbahara cadre) and one probable outlaw where killed in the most brazen way possible. The Superintendent of Police in Kushtia noted that this method is a popular way in asserting a group's authority and ensuring extortion (Daily Star/Daily Star).
In Meherpur, an attack was carried out on a suspected Sarbahara cadre in a similar way to the Naxalite attacks in West Bengal (albeit they're probably not linked). The victim was "called out" of his home, via cell phone call, and abducted (Daily Star).
The locals, probably finding the police authorities ineffective in protecting them and their business interests, took the law into their hands when a gang beat a leader of the Purbo Banglar Community Party (Janajuddho faction) to death when he came by to pick up extortion money in Choudanga town (Daily Star).
These incidents have occurred despite government assurances (Daily Star, July 2009) that a special drive in the southwest would take place to curb the violence. Even if the drive does take place, it is wonder how much of a lasting impact it will have on the security situation, Bangla Nation noted that a special drive took place almost one year ago in the same districts (see...).
A special drive needs to occur as the government must demonstrate that it can effectively protect its citizens and their interests in the border regions. Punishing the Sarbahara criminals will help prevent situation similar to mid 2004 when Bangla Bhai rose to prominence. However, the government must also seek aid from NGOs and the international community in opportunity-creation, whether educational or occupational, in order to prevent unemployed youths from recruited by the Sarbahara gangs.