"The three were under 'preventive detention' for the past one year and were freed and deported on Monday in line with negotiations between our foreign ministry and the Pakistani embassy in Dhaka," said Minirul Islam, deputy commissioner of the detective branch of police. A Pakistani embassy official received them at the Dhaka central jail while they were later were flown back to their country, he added.
Jail officials said Pakistani nationals Syed Abdul Kaiyum Azhari alias Sufian, 22, Mohammad Ashraf Alias Zahid, 24, and Mohammad Monwar Ali, 30, were freed on orders from the home ministry. Sufian was a mechanical engineering student at the Islamic Institute of Technology in suburban Gazipur and the two others were diploma engineers.
The police earlier said despite having valid passports and visas they could not show any work permit or explain the source of funds for their living expenses when they were arrested.
The police and elite anti-crime rapid action battalion arrested some 20 suspected Pakistani and Indian nationals in the past year for their suspected links to the Pakistan-based LeT terror group as part of an intensified campaign against militancy, but most of them were accused of carrying fake currencies believed to be used to carryout their activities in India.
"But we now understand the LeT and other such foreign militant groups now do not think Bangladesh to be a good place for their operations in view of a tough government stand. They earlier tried to use Bangladesh land for their operations in India," said Islam.
He, however, said they gathered evidence that the LeT had links with Bangladeshi militant outfits, particularly Harkatul Jihad for their local shelters.
The RAB troops last month had arrested two LeT operatives, five days after police detained the alleged chief operative of the outfit Khurram alias Mohammad Selim along with two Pakistani accomplices. Security officials, however, have long been saying that the domestic as well as the foreign militants in Bangladesh were now in a dilapidated state under an intensified security campaign.
"They are now in a dilapidated state in view of our coordinated anti-militant campaign and in fact the LeT now virtually has no activities in the country," senior police officer Hassan Mahmud Khondkar had told PTI last month.
According to officials, the militant groups like Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed, operated almost undisturbed from 1991 to 1998 and then between 2001 and 2005, the periods when former prime minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party was in power with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami being its crucial ally.
The police and elite anti-crime RAB said the detained foreign operatives of these groups admitted that they were largely being patronised by Pakistani intelligence agencies and while they found Bangladesh-based HuJI as their local host.Earlier reports said some of these groups were generating funds for their operations selling counterfeit Indian currencies in India while the counterfeit Indian rupees and American dollars were mainly being forged in Pakistan and carried to Bangladesh via Dubai.