What's Happening in Bangladesh?
What's Happening in Bangladesh?
১২ আগস্ট ২০২০ ৯:২৬ পূর্বাহ্ণ
From the 25th of February, disturbing news started coming in from Bangladesh. The Pilkhana headquarters of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) in Dhaka was seized by a mutiny and a minimum of sixty-four army officers alongside seven non-army personals including women and youngsters were massacred by the mutineers. The dead includes the BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed and other high ranking officers. The killings mainly happened within the 'Darbar Hall' inside the BDR premise during the annual gathering of BDR commanders and consistent with the few survivors most of the killings were done between 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on a primary day. After killing the senior officers, the mutineers stormed the residential officer's quarters, attacked and dragged out the relations, and set the quarters ablaze. Gold ornaments, jewelry,y, and money were looted. The dead bodies were disfigured with bayonets and later dumped into nearby sewers and mass graves inside the BDR compound. the complete horror of the mutiny became evident when bodies of the slain officers including the wife of the Director-General were recovered. The mutiny was also reported to possess spread to 12 border districts of the country including Dinajpur, Chittagong, Rajshahi, and Naugaon.
Intense rumors of an imminent army take-over soon opened up like wildfire everywhere Bangladesh. But consistent with media report, the military chief Moin Ahmed assured Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by saying that "Rumors are swirling... but the military belongs to you." His force remained loyal to the civilian government which took over power just in December last year after a landslide victory within the general elections. This assurance reinforced the govt to affect things with firm resolve. it had been Hasina's insistence for a political solution of the crisis that the military kept itself faraway from any direct confrontation with the mutineers. Sheikh Hasina herself met fourteen representative leaders of the BDR rebels and after discussing their grievances initially announced to grant them amnesty. Various leaders and ministers including the house Minister Sahara Khatun were busy throughout the night to stay dialogues between the govt and rebel soldiers open. during a daring act, Ms. Khatun and State Minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak entered the BDR premise in the dark and rescued an injured officer and forty relations who were held hostage by the rebels. However, when all kinds of negotiation did not make the mutineers surrender, the govt strategically started mobilizing the military on the second day. Eleven tanks moved in to encircle the Pilkhana complex; people living near the BDR headquarters were evacuated. Hasina addressed the state during a televised statement and appealed to the troops to surrender the arms. Finally, on the 26th of February between 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. the unnerved rebels surrendered by laying down their arms. By then, many of the rebel soldiers had fled their posts. 2 hundred mutineers were arrested while trying to flee in civilian outfits. The police started a huge manhunt 'Operation Rebel Hunt' throughout the country to capture the fugitive masterminds of the revolt and shortly arrested BDR's Deputy Assistant Director Touhidul Alam and 4 other suspects. consistent with a politician estimate, about two thousand suspected mutineers are still absconding. the govt later clarified that the overall amnesty announced by Sheikh Hasina won't be applicable for the masterminds who have directly involved the design and killings.
Formerly referred to as Bangladesh Rifles, BDR is presently a 67,000-strong paramilitary deployed to protect the 4,427 kilometers long Bangladesh borders with India and Myanmar with additional anti-smuggling operational charges. The force revolted in 1971 against the Pakistan army by joining the Bangladesh liberation war. After the emergence of Bangladesh, the force was renamed as Bangladesh Rifles and emerged because of the new country's leading paramilitary. BDR administration is usually controlled by officers from the Bangladesh Army.
Rebel leaders chatting with private television channels affirmed that the mutiny was directed primarily against the corruption of their officers who came from the military . consistent with them, the opposite central reasons of the uprising were the disparity of pay, benefits, working conditions, and promotional opportunities as compared to their army counterparts. Their 22-point demand includes the withdrawal of army officers from the command structure of BDR. The mutineers were initially successful to represent the uprising as a category conflict between exploitive officers and exploited soldiers and accused the officers as abusive and utterly insensitive towards the woes of ordinary soldiers. They claimed that their long-standing grievances were repeatedly raised before the authorities but all fell on deaf ears. Unofficial reports suggested that BDR Director-General had promised to debate their grievances with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina but did not keep his promise when Hasina visited the barracks on 24 February to inaugurate the BDR week events. The uprising might be partly impulsive though there are ample reasons to suggest that there could be a 'deep-rooted conspiracy' behind it.
Since Bangladesh was born in 1971 there have been several big and little coup attempts within the country. The country's history of army coups started in 1975 when Sheikh Hasina's father, the country's iconic founder president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was brutally assassinated alongside his wife and three sons by junior officers of the Bangladesh army. Given its history of coups and counter-coups, the primary thing that obviously appeared within the mind from the uprising was that the country was heading for an additional coup. this army leadership's credible pro-democracy stance has negated this proposition. The cross-border theory of a 'bigger conspiracy' involving Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) which has strong pockets of influence within the BDR came next. It suggested that the violence was the handiwork of the ISI, aimed to spoil growing ties between Sheikh Hasina's government and India. The ISI also wanted to signal India about its capability to stall New Delhi's growing influence in Bangladesh. Indian media came up with the story of Salauddin Qadeer Chowdhury, a senior Bangladeshi businessman, and BNP politician. Involving Chowdhury with the conspiracy for having close links with the ISI, the media reports also stated that the first planning was hatched in Pakistan then passed on to radical Islamist organizations operating in Bangladesh just like the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami (HUJI). Differing from the Indian side story, conspiracy theories were floated within Bangladesh which claimed that India's external intelligence RAW was involved to revenge the death of 19 of their Border private security force (BSF) personals killed by the BDR at Padua of Sylhet and Boraibari of Rosemary in 2001. The name of England based Islamist organization Hizb-ut-Tahrir also popped up which for the last few years is understood to reckon Bangladesh as its area of interest.
Was it really a deliberate and well-crafted plan to incite the military to use force, take over power and subsequently destabilize the new democratically elected government? Questions were asked why the mutineers had brutally killed the officers and their relations rather than following the standard method to accomplish their demands by holding the military officers as hostages. The routine of the uprising and latest developments emerging from the investigation is supporting this speculation. Investigators have started gathering evidence which is contrary to the initial perception that the uprising stemmed out of grievances. The perpetrators may need exploited the deprived feelings of the common BDR men and motivated a neighborhood of them within the heinous act. The latest revelation from the investigation hints about the presence of uniformed outsiders during the massacre. BDR soldiers who had fled Pilkhana through the rear doors and now reporting back are claiming that masked soldiers brandishing guns and firing blank shots forced them to hitch the revolt. Whatever could be the reality, one thing is for certain. The evolving events do suggest that Hasina's government is fronting a particularly intricate problem to affect. it's to maneuver cautiously otherwise the ramification could turn disastrous.
Sheikh Hasina's well-known pro-India stand has caused enough displeasure to the pro-Pakistan elements of Bangladesh. Fingers of suspicion are been pointed towards the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, their extensive network of grassroots organizations, and therefore the former Razakar and Al-Badars - who has regrouped within the Jamaat fold. These are the atrocious elements that had collaborated with the Pakistan Army during the nine months long Bangladesh's Mukti Juddho (liberation war) and staged the mass genocide of many their own people and enforced million others to escape to neighboring India as refugees. After Mujibur Rahman was assassinated, Zia Ur Rahman helped to resettle these Islamist collaborators in Bangladesh politics. He legalized Jamaat-e-Islami as a party, allowed them to hold on with their vicious socio-political activities, and had also permitted Jamaat leader Golam Azam to return to Bangladesh from his exile. Azam's citizenship was previously nullified by Mujibur Rahman for his resolute opposition to the creation of Bangladesh. After the resettlement, Jamaat-e-Islami continued to flourish and strengthened their base at the time of General Hossain Mohammad Ershad's regime in areas like Chittagong, Sylhet, and Rajshahi and steadily became politically important in Bangladesh. Jamaat allied with Zia Ur Rahman's wife Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led a four-party coalition government during 2001-2006 and held two Ministries within the government. there's little doubt that Jamaat-e-Islami features a sizeable presence within the country's rural areas and their fanatic Mullahs has infested enough Pan-Islamic religious extremism and hatred among the illiterate and poor populace. The BDR rank and file are drawn mainly from these economically backward and poor rural belts.
These elements are infuriated and deeply worried about Hasina's plans to line up a war-crimes tribunal to place unproved the collaborators of West Pakistani army. within the second week of February, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had sent his special envoy to Dhaka and pressurized the Bangladesh government to retract from the trial which the govt immediately turned down. By pulling the ear, the top comes along - besides a variety of Jamaat leaders, a number of the bigwigs of Khaleda Zia's BNP could even be in genuine trouble if the govt goes ahead with the trial. Hasina has also announced that she is going to not allow Bangladesh's soil to be used as a haven for terrorist activities. Her government has promised to eliminate terrorist camps in Bangladesh and to restrain ISI operations from Bangladesh territory. of these factors are enough to incite rage and enmity among co-religionist and Pan-Islamic elements against this government and military leadership. From their extremist inspiration, these elements apparently may need to be tried to send a warning to the govt that it should restrain implementing their agenda.