Bangladesh Ansars

The Bangladesh Ansars (also known as the Ansar Bahini) are a paramilitary force for the preservation of internal security and law enforcement in Bangladesh. They are administered by the Home Ministry of the central Government of Bangladesh.[1][2] The name originates from the Arabic word of "Ansar", which denotes a "person who helps" and specifically refers to the companions of Muhammad, the prophet-founder of Islam, during his exile from Mecca.


The Ansars were formed out of the remnants of the Indian Home Guard who were from East Bengal, which had become a part of Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947.[2] The paramilitary force was formed as the "East Pakistan Ansars" by the East Pakistan Ansars Act of 1948, and officially launched on February 12, 1948. The first director of the Ansars was James Buchanan, a British official appointed by the government of then-Chief Minister of East Bengal Khawaja Nazimuddin.[2] The paramilitary was placed under the administration of the home ministry of the province of East Bengal (later known as East Pakistan). During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Ansars were deployed to the border areas along with the East Pakistan Rifles to support the Pakistani army.


During the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, most of the Ansars joined the Awami League-led Mukti Bahini guerrillas to fight against the Pakistani army.After the independence of Bangladesh, the force was reconstituted as the Bangladesh Ansars, but their role was down-played for several years by the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the President of Bangladesh, which suspected the Ansars of disloyalty and regarded the organisation as a potential group of armed rebels.[1] The Ansars were given fresh importance by the government of President Ziaur Rahman, which designated the Ansars as the "people's defence force."

Mission and organisation

While mainly charged with maintaining law and order, the Ansars are also assigned to help in schemes promoting local development.The Ansars are headed by a director-general, a post currently held by Major General Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardy, a former director of military intelligence. The director-general also heads the Village Defence Party (VDPs). The headquarters of the Ansars and the national training centre are located in Gazipur, north of the national capital, Dhaka. The Ansars often operate alongside the Bangladeshi Army and the Bangladesh Police. The total strength of the Ansars is 20,000.

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