Bangladesh Table of Contents
The Ansars, formed in 1948, are a lightly armed auxiliary force that assists the police in maintaining law and order, participates in civic action projects in rural areas, and performs rear area missions in conjunction with the army during wartime. The word ansar (Arabic for helper) alludes to the companions of the Prophet Muhammad who traveled with him during his exile from Mecca.
After independence, Mujib suspected Ansars personnel of being disloyal to his regime and a potential armed threat in the countryside and so played down their role. After Mujib was killed and the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini was disbanded, however, army leaders resuscitated the Ansars in an effort to improve rural security, which had deteriorated sharply under Awami League rule. In 1976 the Ansars were designated a "people's defence force," reorganized into battalions, and placed under the direction of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Army personnel are routinely posted for duty with Ansars battalions. In 1980 the Ansars raised four coastal battalions and made plans to post female Ansars contingents to each district. Ansars headquarters and its National Training Centre are located at Gazipur, about thirty kilometers north of Dhaka.
Data as of September 1988