RAB plans to 'deradicalise' 9 suspected militants
The Rapid Action Battalion or RAB has decided not to arrest a group of nine people, including a couple, whom it had been tracking on digital media over suspected links to militancy. Instead, the elite police unit plans to 'deradicalise' and reintegrate them into mainstream society.
The group surrendered to the home minister and inspector general of police on Thursday. They will be rehabilitated in line with their occupations and skills.
The elite force termed the initiative the 'Deradicalisation and Rehabilitation Programme,' that aims to bring misguided young people back to the mainstream by shunning the philosophies of violence and extremism.
Among the nine, seven are men and two women, RAB Additional Director General (Operations) Col Tofael Mostafa Sarwar told reporters on Wednesday. The suspects were being tracked for 2-6 months.
"Some of them are doctors, IT specialists while some are students. Aged between 18 and 35 years, they became members of JMB or Ansar Al Islam," he said.
"(The authorities) posed as militants and followed the group before explaining to them later that they had chosen the wrong path. This was the first step to deradicalise them." Among the nine, only one has been implicated in a case in the past, the RAB official said.
Around 95 percent of those who get arrested for suspected militancy get bail and then resume militant activities, he said
"It only intensifies their belief when the authorities detain them again. Therefore, it becomes very hard to deradicalise them and bring them back to normal life. We all suffer under the circumstances."
Sharing his own work experience, Col Sarwar said that a person initially shows a soft corner for an (extremist) organisation prior to becoming an activist themselves. Later, they become active and participate in different militant activities and in the process, the extremist philosophy is strongly inculcated in them.
"At one point they severe ties with their families and begin to live an unusual life. They receive bayat (formal acknowledgement from the militant group) and engage in militancy."
"Under these circumstances, no weapon can annihilate the notion they nurture in their mind. We have no option but to counsel them. Therefore, RAB initiated the deradicalisation and rehabilitation programme." The RAB official, however, highlighted the need for other stakeholders' support to ensure the success of the programme.
"RAB can do 25 percent of the work needed in this regard. The rest must be done by others. We want to separate them from militants," he said. Those preparing to surrender will be provided with cattle, tractors, computers or cash to help them in their rehabilitation, said Col Sarwar.
"We took help from Alem or religious scholars, doctors and psychologists to rehabilitate these nine people," he said.
A 'significant number of suspected militants' are now under RAB's scanner, the additional director general said, adding they will be brought into the programme in its second phase.