Dhaka, 3 May, Abnews: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today directed the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) to continue its drive against drugs to save the country and children from its (drugs) clutches side by side with maintaining law and order to keep up development spree.
"We've earned huge successes by conducting drives against militancy. So I will like to request the elite force members to continue its operation against drugs like militancy," she told the 14th founding anniversary function of RAB at its headquarters in Kurmitola here this morning.
The prime minister said those who make, sell, transport and consume drugs are equally guilty. "So actions will have to be taken keeping this in mind," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the RAB has already achieved successes by conducting drives against drugs. "I want these operations to continue to protect our country and children from the clutches of drugs," she said.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and RAB Director General Benazir Ahmed also spoke on the occasion.
A video documentary on the RAB drives against militancy, terrorism, drugs and kidnapping was screened at the function.
Besides, another documentary was screened on the present peaceful situation of the Sundarbans following the surrender of 217 forest bandits of 20 "dasyu bahinis" (bandit forces) who once established a reign of terror in the world's largest mangrove forest.
Ministers, PM's advisers, parliament members, the chiefs of three armed services, high civil and military officials were present at the function.
Earlier on her arrival at the venue, the prime minister was given a guard of honour by the smartly turned out contingent of the elite force.
At the function, the prime minister laid the foundation stone of RAB Headquarters Complex and inaugurated Prerana Dhara, a memorial built in memory of the RAB members who sacrificed their lives while performing duty.
The prime minister elaborated Bangladesh's tremendous successes in socioeconomic development and asked the law enforcement agencies including the RAB to further improve the law and order to retain the success.
"We're now a role model of development in the world and we've earned capability of constructing a big bridge like Padma Bridge with our own funding," she said.
Sheikh Hasina added: "We'll have to keep up this success and for this law and order will have to be improved further."
The premier, however, said the Padma Bridge construction with own finances earlier appeared as a big challenge after the World Bank pulled it back from the project putting a false blame on the government.
"She said there was a time when it was believed no big project would move without the Bank's assistance but "we've showed the entire world that we can construct the Padma Bridge own funding".
The premier said Bangladesh discarded its stance as a "donation seeker" as "when I became the prime minister I said that we take loan from development partners, not donation and we repay the credit with interest".
"So (today) nobody gives us donation, we're taking loan and repaying it after work . . . (but) I will not accept loan in exchange for false blame," she said.
The prime minister called upon the law enforcement agencies including RAB to continue their drive to stamp out terrorists and militants calling them enemies of "society, the country and the nation".
Sheikh Hasina said it was her government's announced policy that terrorism and militancy would not have any room in the country.
Law enforcement and intelligence agencies therefore, she said, required to put in their concerted efforts so none could portray Bangladesh as a country of militancy and terrorism spearheading any propaganda.
The premier said militancy appeared as an international problem spreading its clutches in different countries "but Bangladesh has set a rare example by containing this menace with iron hands" as it tried to make its way in the name of holy Islam.
"Islam is a religion of peace and there is no room for militancy and terrorism in it but we see ill efforts are often made to create religious fanaticism," she said.
The premier said I categorically say that the terrorists and militants have no caste, creed and religion and they are the enemies of society, country and nation."
Sheikh Hasina reiterated her call to the cross section of the people including the RAB to remain alert so that the children don't step into the wrong paths like militancy, terrorism and drugs.
The prime minister said the elite force arrested a significant number of militants by conducting continuous drives and brought them under law. The RAB members have recovered huge number of illegal arms, bombs and explosives, she said.
The premier recalled RAB's massive anti-militancy crackdowns at Ashulia in Savar, Mirpur Darus Salam and Tejgaon in Dhaka, remote Char area in Chapainawabganj, Jhenidah after the Holey Artisan massacre and its rescue campaign at Sylhet's Atia Mahal after the army assault on terrorists.
She said being an elite crime busting force RAB demonstrated its efficiency and courage by arresting 412 militants after the Holey Artisan Cafe attack.
The premier also highlighted RAB's successes in containing forest bandits and pirates in the Sundarbans and the extremists in south and southwestern regions, restoring there the sense of comfort and security among the people alongside accelerating their socioeconomic development.
She also noted that the elite force played a praiseworthy role in checking question paper leakage in public and other examinations as well supplementing the education ministry efforts.
The prime minister said RAB was also making contributions to increasing revenue by conducting drive against local dishonest traders, foreign smugglers, fake currency and passport makers and illegal VoIP.
Sheikh Hasina elaborated her government initiatives for turning the RAB into a three-dimensional law enforcement agency as "we want to build all organisations as modern and time-befitting ones to keep pace with modern world".
As a result of the government initiatives, she said, two modern helicopters with sophisticated technologies were commissioned in RAB which now appeared as a world standard three-dimensional crime busing force with the capabilities of conducting prompt drives in water, land and sky".
Sheikh Hasina said Tk 495.10 crore were allocated for constructing the RAB Complex, while the government was now considering a proposal to enhance its manpower with upgraded equipment to elevate further its capacity.
The premier said the formation of three RAB battalions -- two in southern region and one in Chittagong region - was under process, while a process was also underway to approve and implement three separate projects for enhancing its mobility, logistics and intelligence capabilities.