The Role of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Countering the Maritime Threat in the Bay of Bengal – OpEd – Eurasia Review

The Bay of Bengal, the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean, is of great political, economic and cultural importance to its coastal countries of Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and the United States. ‘Indonesia. With maritime trade, fishing and tourism being the most important economic activities in the region, it faces various maritime security challenges including illicit trade, piracy, armed robbery and illegal fishing.

Incidents of human trafficking after the influx of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh from Myanmar in 2017, piracy and attacks by sailors on cargo ships, fishing trawlers and motorboats on the sea route are increasing day by day in days. Crews, boatmen, fishermen and owners of trawlers and motorboats are not safe in the Bay of Bengal as pirates attack them off the coast. In particular, fishermen cannot go to sea due to rampant incidents of pirate attacks on fishermen. Fishermen in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar are now suffering greatly. In this situation, the role and involvement of law enforcement are necessary here to fight against this threat to maritime security.

On the other hand, the United States has declared an “Indo-Pacific Strategy” to combat traditional and non-traditional security threats in the strategic Bay of Bengal. The fight against piracy and human trafficking is one of the main objectives of the American IPS strategy. Regional countries such as the United States, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Maldives and BIMSTEC member countries can work together to solve maritime problems. Bangladesh law enforcement agencies such as the Coast Guard, Navy and the elite RAB Special Force can work with other regional stakeholders in this regard. RAB has played a key role in this regard.

For example, RAB-15 recently arrested 6 pirates during a raid on the Maheshkhali Channel in the Bay of Bengal. Weapons and ammunition were recovered from them at that time. At a press briefing in the Khurushkul Ghat area around 1pm on Friday, RAB Commander Khairul Islam Sarkar confirmed the operation. However, the identities of the captured pirates were not immediately known. The RAB commander said that for a long time the pirates had committed various misdeeds, including theft of boats, beating of fishermen, looting and kidnapping of fishermen at sea. Based on such allegations, we are carrying out intelligence activities at sea on the Maheshkhali Channel. Later, Friday evening from 9:30 am to 12 pm the operation was able to stop the pirates. At that time they had three rifles and 11 cartridges. “We have launched operations against pirates both on the coast and at sea,” he added. We will continue this campaign. The RAB commander also mentioned that the detainees were involved in piracy based on interrogations and that action would be taken against their sponsors.

According to the media, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested 10 pirates following a drive in the Bay of Bengal on Cox’s Bazar 6 guns and 37 round ammunition were seized in 2018. Three women were kidnapped by pirates. They were arrested on the high seas early Monday morning. The arrested pirates are believed to be members of three forces.

The pirates held up two fishing trawlers on the high seas around 12 noon on Sunday. After the theft, the pirates kidnapped three middle-aged men from the trawler. After receiving complaints from other fishermen, RAB launched operations at sea. RAB was rescued at one point and saved three women. 10 pirates have been arrested in the meantime.

A Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) team seized huge Yaba tablets in the Bay of Bengal on March 14, 2016, when they were smuggled into Bangladesh from Burma by sea. Members of Rapid Action Battalion-15 seized a large consignment of 1.3 million yachts smuggled from Myanmar in Cox’s Bazar in 2020.

According to media reports, the pirates have shifted their focus to the high seas from the Sunderbans as the Rapid Action Battalion continues its raids and vigilance in the mangrove forest. Pirates regularly rob fishermen, kidnap them for ransom and even kill them.

During this time, the government of Bangladesh will reinforce the vigilance on its maritime territory in particular on the coastal zones and the outer moorings of the port of Chittagong in order to control all kinds of piracy. Relevant authorities including RAB, BN, BCG and WTMC along with the Bangladesh Cargo Trawlers Owners Association are taking special security measures to resist piracy in the Bay of Bengal.

RAB can play a key role in this regard. They have training in the United States. They have modern sophisticated technologies. Basically, they have played their part in the fight against this maritime threat. So they can work with other stakeholders in this regard. Those who are still involved in piracy, the RAB rehabilitates them if they surrender. But the RAB will not spare them if the piracy does not stop. The RAB would do whatever is necessary to suppress the pirates

Despite many challenges, all regional actors should make immense strides to improve coastal well-being, develop the blue economy, create capable maritime entities and strengthen international and regional maritime cooperation mechanisms.

Maritime security and the fight against terrorism and other crimes in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal have become a priority area for India under its Indo-Pacific strategy and doctrine of security and growth for all in the region (SAGAR).

The main task of this alliance will be to maintain security in the maritime area and to put an end to the trafficking and smuggling of human beings. Members of the alliance will also work to provide mutual humanitarian assistance. To that end, they will mutually train their navies and coastguards for the next year. Member States will conduct naval exercises which would be a milestone for the IOR.

Sri Lanka has also faced an increase in heroin use within the country and has become a transit country for trafficking to other countries. Much of the heroin entering Sri Lanka arrives on fishing boats or by air, often via India or Pakistan. The number of seizures made by the Sri Lankan authorities remains relatively low, which means that the data collected is not always reliable. Smugglers in Sri Lanka come from various countries, including Pakistan, India, Iran and the Maldives.

While India also suffers from petty theft and attempted armed robbery aboard ships anchored near busy ports, the main threat comes from the maritime dimension of terrorism, including the landing of terrorists as well as terrorists. weapons and explosives. These are also linked to drug trafficking. The shallow waters and coves of the Gujrat coast, particularly the Kutch region, now under immediate surveillance by the maritime wing of the Border Security Force (BSF), as well as the coasts of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are sensitive areas and under constant surveillance. navy and coast guard surveillance.

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India face piracy, illegal fishing and human trafficking in the Bay of Bengal. Although the Bangladesh Navy and Coast Guard are very active in the region, the authors are very smart. The Rohingya crisis has aggravated the situation. Various gangs are involved in human trafficking. Bangladeshis are routed to Malaysia, Thailand and North Africa to Greece and Italy (Europe) by sea via the Mediterranean Sea. The role of Bangladesh RAB is very positive here. It works to combat this maritime threat in the strategic Bay of Bengal. The United States, India and Sri Lanka have the same policies in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Thus, authorities in the United States, India and Sri Lanka can and should work with Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies such as RAB to combat this maritime threat. Thus, recent US sanctions against the RAB are highly inappropriate. US, India must understand that RAB is about guaranteeing security in the region including the Bay of Bengal. The United States should lift its ban on RAB. The role of the RAB in the fight against human trafficking and drug trafficking is enormous. Tom Kelly said Bangladesh had a special role to play in the security of the Bay of Bengal due to its location in an important region. The United States hopes that Bangladesh will continue to support maritime security. He said uninterrupted navigation in the Bay of Bengal is essential not only for Bangladesh but also for countries in the region.

In response to a question on Bay of Bengal security, Mustafa Kamal said that there is no piracy in the economic zone of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal. However, it is necessary to increase the capacity of the navy and the coastguard to ensure security in large maritime areas.

“A better defense relationship is necessary in the interest of both countries,” said Tom Kelly. We will continue to work together for the common goal of stability, peace and prosperity in the region,” said David Cook, Washington bureau chief of the Christian Science Monitor. The United States is willing to cooperate in counterterrorism, maritime security, and peacekeeping operations. However, the United States, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India can and should work together to combat this maritime threat. The United States is committed to continuing to help Bangladesh play an important role in providing security in the Bay of Bengal in 2014.

Tom Kelly, deputy chief of staff for political and military affairs at the US State Department, told reporters after the third Bangladesh-US security dialogue in Dhaka on Tuesday. Not only Bangladesh, but also countries like India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and all Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal states are facing the same problems. Regional cooperation is essential.

*Jubeda Chowdhury is a freelance writer with a Masters in International Relations from the University of Dhaka.

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