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01.04.2009 Asia

Blame-game centering BDR massacre

By Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
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After more than one month of the tragic murder and other forms of brutalities inside the Bangladesh Riffles [BDR] headquarters in Dhaka, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on March 29, 2009, during a meeting with some editors of daily newspapers and TV channels, held intelligence agency's failure in providing advance information on the massacre.

It may be mentioned here that, in two days after the massacre, the Prime Minister told the parliament that she received intelligence report at 8:30 am in the morning of February 25, 2009 about possibilities of problems within the Bangladesh Riffles headquarters.

She also confirmed the house that, Major General Shakil Ahmed, director general of BDR phoned her at 9:30 am in the morning, right after the mutiny out broke. At least two army officers, rescued from the BDR headquarters on February 26, told reporters that, they were present at the Darbar Hall during the murder of General Shakil and other officers. They also said, the director general phoned Prime Minister and sought her help.

But during her meeting with the editors, Prime Minister said, the director general of BDR did not call her. Rather she called him and inquired about the situation.

“DG told me there was a minor problem and it has been resolved”, the PM said.

People may question as to whether General Shakil, who was in front of guns of the mutineers would have given wrong information to the Prime Minister saying the problem was resolved. On the other hand, rescued army officer Colonel Kamruzzaman told reporters repeatedly that, the director general called the PM right after the problem started and sought urgent measures in resolving the crisis and saving lives of the army officers.

I have no idea if the Bangladeshi intelligence agencies will be able to recover the recorded conversation of the Prime Minister and General Shakil on February 25, 2009, wherefrom only the fact could be revealed.

The PM has made intelligence failure liable for government's delay in taking any action. It is well expected by everyone that the chief executive of the country should have definitely told the fact to the editors of country's leading media. But, confusion still remains here on the point of as to why the Prime Minister cancelled her attendance at the dinner on February 26 at the BDR headquarters, two days before the schedule. It is not clear if the cancellation was due to any prior intelligence warning.

Prime Minister also told the editors that when she instructed the army chief for operations on the BDR headquarters for tackling the mutiny and rescuing officers and their families, she was told that army required two hours for such operation. In this case, if the PM had made such request at 9:30 am, right after she came to know the matter, why the operations at 11:30 am was paused with political negotiations with the mutineers?

The Prime Minister told editors that, Dhaka Metropolitan Police [DMP] did not act properly thus giving chance to the renegade troops in fleeing the compound. She said, “DMP did not cooperate with the government. That is why we have made several changes already”.

It may be mentioned here that, DMP is under the command of Ministry of Home Affairs. It is a big question, if the PM is convinced that the DMP did not cooperate with the government, why she did not put any responsibility on her minister who heads the Home Ministry.

While the PM alleged Dhaka Metropolitan Police for their 'non-cooperation' our readers should know that, the only son-in-law [Captain Mazharul Islam] of Noor Mohammed, inspector general of police was also brutally killed inside the BDR headquarters during the mutiny and IGP's daughter was held hostage inside. There is no room to have minimum doubt about the sincerity of the inspector general in doing everything possible in tackling the situation thus rescuing the army officers and their family members.

So far I know about Noor Muhammed, the inspector general of police, should he ever felt any sort of non-obedience or non-cooperation from members of police, including DMP, he would have surely resigned. He is a man of strong principle and commitment. Moreover, this time, he had to bear the responsibility of being the IG of police as well the father of a victim.

Naturally confusion arises as to whether Dhaka Metropolitan Police was ignoring instructions of the IGP? If DMP did so, what was the reason behind?

Since the installation of this government, we are continuing to witness total lawlessness and reign of terror by the members of student and youth wings of the ruling party. Almost all the educational campuses are under severe disturbance due to notoriety of the ruling party cadres. Extortion, murder, abduction and various forms of crime are in high rise. It is understood, in nasty politics, maintaining of such 'pets' are required. But, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised of 'changing time' in her electoral manifesto.

Members of law enforcing agencies are rather forced to witness such acts silently. Still, Prime Minister is unhappy on the law enforcing agencies particularly DMP for their 'non cooperation'!

For the sake of upholding her pledge to the nation as well ensuring a real 'change of time' to the people in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina should ruthlessly handle such nasty elements within her party and for the sake of peace and prosperity of Bangladesh; she should even crash her so-called students and youths wing.

The PM told editors of local news media that, such anarchy were by some new faces in politics who always remain in party in power. But, news and pictures published in local and international media does not support such claim of the Prime Minister. Rather it proves that, the government has failed to control their own 'boys' belong to student and youth fronts.

I personally feel, what the PM told the editor to justify the terror in educational institutions is nothing but lame excuse by a failed administrator. If a prime minister cannot tackle the situation as well initiate action against her own party cadres; on moral ground, she should have immediately stepped down from the post instead of telling funny stories.

The Prime Minister alleged some “former MP” in helping the mutineers in fleeing through river route. If this is a fact, then why the law enforcing agencies are yet to interrogate that “former MP” or wherefrom the PM learnt about such fleeing issue?

Chief coordinator of the probe committees, Lt. Col. [Retired] Faruk Khan has already given several statements on the BDR massacre issue. He said militants were behind the massacre. Then he said, militants have penetrated into Bangladesh's law enforcing and disciplined forced. He also saw foreign links to this massacre.

When he was asked about the source of such information, Col. Faruk Khan said, “it was from investigation agencies”.

Due to the comment of the minister stating militants have penetrated inside Bangladesh's law enforcement and disciplined forces, there is already a strong propaganda in the international arena about continuing Bangladeshi police and forces in United Nations Peace Keeping Forces [UNPKF]. Weekly Blitz already carried an exclusive report on this issue.

Home minister Sahara Khatun also predicted militant connection behind the BDR massacre, while her junior minister said militants may attack Bangladesh's readymade garment industries.

Later Faruk Khan retracted his statements saying, it was not based on any information from the investigators but were his personal views.

Although the PM said, changes in Dhaka Metropolitan Police is made due to non-cooperation of DMP in BDR issue, the newly appointed commissioner in less than one week of his appointment called the principals of English medium and missionary educational institutions to caution them about possible militant actions. Although the DMP commissioner saw threat of militants, there are no security measures taken within such 'vulnerable' educational institutions in Dhaka.

The DMP commissioner also later told the press that, such warning was not based on any intelligence report but it was his personal assumption.

Possibly Sheikh Hasina will face serious problems in smooth functioning of her government with such over-assumptive minister or police officer. But, the PM should know with certainty that all these statements and 'forecasts' have damaged the image of Bangladesh internationally.

A particular newspaper, whose editor was also invited in the meeting with the PM, commenting on the BDR massacre issue said, “Sheikh Hasina was highly praised for the way she handled the situation and restored peace in the country within the shortest possible time after the BDR crisis. The media chiefs and editors unanimously noted that the wisdom and farsightedness shown by the PM in tackling the crisis is rare in the world.”

Above comment of the daily evidently once again proves that a section of journalists, are enthusiastic in using sycophantic terms in pleasing the chief executive of the country, instead of showing the guts of telling the truth. Unfortunately, so-called mainstream media in Bangladesh are now under the control of politically polarized people or mere sycophants and opportunists.

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