Members of law enforcement agencies were shocked at the horrifying scene when they entered the Nasirpur den after they ended the 33-hour-long Operation Hit Back on Thursday.
The bodies of four children, all under 10 years of age, were strewn around in the militant den in Nasirpur village in Moulvibazar.
The bodies were so badly disintegrated that it was only after a crime scene unit went through the place, it was determined that there were two females, one male and four children there.
Police believe that the three adults in that bungalow, who were suspected members of the New Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (New JMB) terrorist group, blew themselves up along with the children in the face of a raid.
This brings up the number of children killed by New JMB to five – all of whom were children of one or more members of the group – and there is reason to fear that another four young lives may be lost soon.
DMP’s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit chief Monirul Islam said: “There was a big explosion at the beginning of our operation. That was when they blew themselves up, including the children.”
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An ambulance near the Nasirpur hideout on Thursday, March 30, 2017 DHAKA TRIBUNE
Locals of Nasirpur are unable to understand what compelled the terrorists do this.
Khalilpur Union Parishad Chairman Arbid Poddar said: “What was their benefit from this atrocious act? What did the terrorists accomplish by killing their own children?”
Mukaddesh Ali, imam of a local mosque, would only say: “What kind of Islam is this? How are they establishing Islam through such acts?”
There are now increased concerns about the other den in Moulvibazar, a duplex-residence in Borohat that is being raided. By account of locals, there were 10 people including four children inside the house.
Moulvibazar Municipality Ward 6 Councillor Jalal Ahmed, whose house is located near the Borohat hideout, said that the death of four children in Nasirpur had created anxiety among locals about the four in this den.
“People of Sylhet condemn such misdeeds. This is murder and nothing else,” he said.
On March 16, a child was found dead in the Premtola militant den in Sitakunda, Chittagong where four militants including a woman blew themselves up during a police operation.
Before that, a four-year-old girl named Sabina, suffered splinter injuries when a female New JMB member, that was her mother, came out of a militant hideout with her and blew herself up during police raid in Dhaka’s Ashkona on December 26 last year.
The explosion broke her left arm, and splinters pierced her belly and made some holes in the oesophagus. She underwent a surgery at Dhaka Medical College Hospital and was brought back from the edge of death.
Afif Qadri, whose father Tanvir Qadri, a New JMB leader, committed suicide during a raid on September 10 last year on a militant hideout in Azimpur, refused to surrender during the raid.
His twin brother Tahrim Qadri alias Russell, who was arrested two weeks later, confessed before the court that their parents- Tanvir Qadri and Abedatul Fatema Khadiza- were involved in militant activities and they got involved with the militancy by inheritance.
Mawlana Farid Uddin Masud, who is leading a campaign of Islamic scholars against militancy, said: “Children are beyond sides in any war, conflict and ideology in the eyes of Islam and Shariah.”
Masud, who is the imam of the Sholakia Eid congregation, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Our Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SM) always instructed keeping children and woman away from any unrest or humiliation. Hadith says in many places that children would get Jannat (heaven) if they are killed in any situation. They have no sin.
“If anyone uses children as shields in such a heinous manner, they will be punished. This practice of militants is unacceptable. Militancy is not recognised by the holy religion,” he added.
Bangladesh Islamic Foundation’s Director General Shamim Mohammad Afzal said: “This is not Islam. Islam always respects and protects Muslims and other believers. Killing children is unacceptable in our religion.”
Psychologist Dr Mehtab Khanam said the militants who were arrested alive needed to be examined to find out what drives them to do this.
“We must carry out campaigns against such activities,” she suggested.