PM Sheikh Hasina highlights measures against arms smuggling, inaugurates development projects in Old Dhaka

Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate several development projects in Old Dhaka, the Prime Minister highlighted how these efforts have contributed to peace in India’s northeastern states.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today underscored the significant strides made by the Awami League government in curbing arms smuggling routes through Bangladesh. Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate several development projects in Old Dhaka, the Prime Minister highlighted how these efforts have contributed to peace in India’s northeastern states.

“Since coming to power, the Awami League has closed down the routes used for arms smuggling through Bangladesh,” Prime Minister Hasina stated. She emphasized the positive impact of these measures on reducing armed activities by separatist groups, including the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).

The Prime Minister asserted, “As a result, peace prevails in the seven sister states of India. The Awami League has done this, and it is a significant accomplishment.” The ULFA, labelled a terrorist organization by the Indian government in 1990, is a militant group advocating for an independent Assamese nation.

Inauguration of Development Projects

The ceremony, held in Old Dhaka, saw the inauguration of several key infrastructure projects, including the new 10-storey Bangabazar Nagar Wholesale Market. The original market was destroyed by a devastating fire on April 4 last year. Other notable projects inaugurated include Valiant Freedom Fighter Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni Sarani, an 8-lane road, Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy Shishu Udyan, and Nazrul Sarobor.

The inauguration event was presided over by LGRD Minister Md Tazul Islam, with Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, local MP AFM Bahauddin Nasim, and LGRD Secretary Muhammad Ibrahim also addressing the gathering. The officials praised the government’s commitment to urban development and highlighted the potential benefits these projects would bring to the residents of Old Dhaka.

Smuggling Business in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has long been a transit point for various forms of smuggling, including arms, drugs, and human trafficking. The country’s geographic location makes it a strategic route for smuggling operations connecting South Asia with Southeast Asia.

Historically, arms smuggling through Bangladesh has been linked to insurgent groups in India’s northeastern states. These routes have facilitated the flow of illegal weapons, fueling regional conflicts. The Awami League government’s crackdown on these routes has been a pivotal factor in diminishing the operational capabilities of groups like ULFA.

Bangladesh also faces significant challenges with drug smuggling, particularly with methamphetamines (locally known as ‘yaba’) from Myanmar. Despite stringent measures, the illicit drug trade remains a critical issue, impacting public health and security.

Human trafficking is another persistent problem. Bangladesh is both a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The government has implemented various initiatives to combat trafficking, including stricter border controls and international cooperation.

While significant progress has been made, particularly in reducing arms smuggling, ongoing vigilance and international collaboration are essential to address the broader spectrum of smuggling activities effectively.