Army Coup against Bangladeshi PM Hasina Sheikh

By Zaheerul Hassan

According to news reports The Bangladesh Army has foiled a coup plot by certain national serving and retired army officers to overthrow Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and have arrested two former officers. The “heinous conspiracy” was unearthed last month and two retired officers – Lt Col Ehsan Yousuf and Major Zakir – have been arrested while a serving officer Major Syed Mohammad Ziaul Huq, a co-planner is absconding. “A band of patriotic officers had been trying to oust the politically established government. Their attempt has been foiled,” army spokesman Brigadier General Mohammad Masud Razzak told a crowded press conference here 19 January. He said that 14 to 16 officers were under vigil as investigations were underway of the suspected involvement while the two arrested former officers “bluntly admitted their role in the plot”. He declined to unveil when the arrests were made. He said that the plot has been fomented by Bangladeshis expatriates in touch with “religiously motivated army officers”. “The attempt has been thwarted with the whole hearted efforts of the Army soldiers,” Razzak said in a written statement. Talking about the absconding officer, Razzak said Maj Huq in an effort to implement his anti-state conspiracies sent e-mails to different serving officers to execute his operation plans on January 9 and 10. Bangladesh has a long history of coups and counter coups.

The country was under direct or pseudo military rules for over a decade, since August 15, 1975, when the country’s founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated along with most of his family members.
Earlier in 2009,the bodies of dozens of army officers were exhumed from shallow graves in the headquarters of Bangladesh’s border guard unit yesterday, bringing the death toll from the two-day rebellion to more than 70.

Soldiers from the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), a paramilitary unit that patrols the country’s borders, dressed as civilians tried to flee but hundreds were detained after the army set up roadblocks around the country. Although the rebels were offered a general amnesty as they surrendered but the ministers said there would be no pardon for “people directly involved in the killings”. In fact the BDR mutiny was not just the outcome of grievances within the border guarding force of Bangladesh. It was engineered by the Indian intelligence agency “RAW” which tried to motivate the soldiers against high ranks. The purpose of the mutiny was also to create rift within the forces.

However, the most probable cause of the coup is that majority of many officers and general masses are against the pro-Indian policies of sitting government. In this regards main opposition of Bangladesh Nationalist Party is more critical and cautious of increasing India involvement in internal affairs of the country. The general public and forces think that current government believes in secularism and is also trying to take the young generation away from Islamic Ideology. Moreover the public and government perception is quite different over the issues like Farakka Barrage, water sharing and border conflicts near Tripura. The young officers of Bangladeshi Army do not like to play in the neighbouring country’s hands, they off and on voiced against pro-Indian rulers’ policies. In short we can say that current coup could be a caution for the sitting government.

The revolt raised questions about the stability of the majority Muslim country of 140 million people which has history of coups, with two presidents assassinated. Anyhow, Bangladeshi government has to take steps to raise Bangladesh as an independent Islamic country rather than another Indian state.

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