Dhaka, April 19 (IANS) Security for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been stepped up following a warning by India that there could be an attempt to kill her.
Senior political leaders were also covered under the new security beef-up, but media reports quoting Home Minister Sahara Khatun did not elaborate on this aspect.
The warning came from Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon who met Hasina during what was widely reported as “a surprise visit”.
Dhaka made no announcement, but confirmed the new measures after an Indian newspaper report.
Sahara Khatun told media Saturday: “We have asked the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to be on high alert so that no one can harm the prime minister. Besides, people will always be there to resist the schemers – be they local or international.”
Quoting unnamed sources close to the Prime Minister’s Office, The Daily Star newspaper Sunday said that the intelligence agencies have been asked to step up efforts to track down the “conspirators”.
Menon had alerted the Bangladesh government to the possibility of attacks on the prime minister and other leaders, the newspaper said.
It said sleuths in New Delhi picked up intelligence on this in the form of “electronic chatter by terrorist groups active in the neighbourhood in recent weeks”.
“There was specific intelligence on a plot to target the new Sheikh Hasina government in those conversations intercepted by Indian intelligence agencies,” it quoted The Indian Express newspaper as saying.
Given the sensitivity of the issue, Menon himself went to Dhaka to communicate the leads to the Bangladesh authorities, it added.
Hasina had shared the information with some of her cabinet and party members.
A number of her colleagues told The Daily Star that Hasina does not fear for her life.
Commerce Minister Col (retd) Faruk Khan said some quarters have long been out to kill Hasina. There have been at least 20 attempts including the Aug 21, 2004 grenade attack on her rally.
Hasina had escaped a hail of bullets, but here vision and hearing were impaired during the attack.
“However, we are not afraid. The government has already taken necessary measures to ensure her security,” Khan said.
Dhaka has been alleging “conspiracy by outsiders” to eliminate Hasina.
Hasina had visited the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), where a day later thousands of troopers staged a mutiny in February.
At least eighty people, including 55 Bangladesh Army officers on deputation with the BDR, were killed.