Purba Banglar Communist Party (PBCP)
The Purba Banglar Communist Party (PBCP) is among the many Maoist splinter organizations in Bangladesh. It was founded in the year 1968 following a split in the Bangladesh Communist Party (BCP). It has been outlawed since the time of the military regime of Zia-ur-Rehman. There has been a spurt in the activities of the PBCP since the beginning of the year 2002, in a reversal of trend.
Mofakkar Chowdhury is the chief of the PBCP.
Objectives and Ideology
The PBCP has a revolutionary agenda of capturing state power through armed struggle. Its draws inspiration from the Chinese revolution.
In the opinion of the PBCP, oppression by the people of the then West Pakistani was the principal reason that lead to the liberation war in the territories of the then East Pakistan following which Bangladesh was formed. The PBCP is staunchly nationalist and perceives that India is a hegemon in the sub-continent, which it says is the ‘principle contraction’ facing Bangladesh. The PBCP is strongly opposed to the presence of feudal elements in Bangladesh. Ideologically, it closer to the Marxist-Leninist groups of India and wishes to launch a joint movement along with progressive parties in India, particularly the Naxalites of West Bengal. The PBCP entertains the hope that China would, at some time in the future, provide significant assistance in realising its goals.
Areas of activity
The PBCP has pockets of influence in south-west Bangladesh, bordering the Indian State of West Bengal. Its presence can be noticed in districts such as Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Magura, Meherpur, Narail, Kushtia, Jessore, Jhenidah, Chuadanga and Pirojpur.
Activities and Financing
PBCP cadres have reportedly been involved in acts of murder, robbery, extortion, land grabbing and abduction for ransom. Bangladesh Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury said, on April 8, 2002, in Parliament that the PBCP was being encouraged by the Opposition to cause disturbances in some parts of the country. Speaking in the context of all outlawed parties, and that includes the PBCP, the Minister added that "Members of the outlawed parties are involved in rape, murder, dacoity, extortion, and other terrorist activities", as well as in land grabbing.
Reports indicate that the PBCP primarily targets landowners and contractors and extorts money from them. It is believed that PBCP cadres harass businessmen for finances and torture people in remote villages. The outlaws are alleged to be indulging in settling land disputes in rural areas. In the process of adjudicating disputes, PBCP cadres collect money through their strong-arm tactics from both the parties to a dispute. Besides, development activities undertaken by the government are yet another source of ‘income’ for the PBCP. In its pockets of influence, the PBCP levies a ‘tax’ on civil contractors who undertake construction works such as laying roads and bridges and constructing culverts and schools. Reports also hold that there is a certain degree of reluctance among contractors to undertake works owing to the extortion threats of the PBCP. This has impeded development work in south-west Bangladesh.
The spurt in the PBCP’s activities is a result of several hundreds of its surrendered cadres being released by the erstwhile Awami League government a little ahead of the October 1, 2001-general elections. Also, many more cadres, subsequently, secured bail. It is reported that, since the time these cadres gained freedom, there have been vigorous attempts to regroup and perpetrate acts of violence. Reports indicate that the outlaws had met with some degree of success in their efforts. Within the first three months of the year 2002 alone, PBCP cadres had reportedly killed a little less than 100 persons, in 10 districts in south west Bangladesh.
Also, between 1998 and 2002 April, PBCP cadres are believed to have killed 18 political activists belonging to rival groups, reportedly for turf control, as well as to grab prime land. The PBCP also publishes a journal Purba Bangla, meaning East Bengal.
Note:Compiled from news reports and are provisional.