Bangladesh blog buzz

The latest opinions and views from the Bangladeshi blogs:

* Refugees: Drishtipat discusses the plight of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh as the International community is not taking notice. Rohingyas are Barmese Muslims from Arakan fled to Bangladesh to escape military persecution in Myanmar.

* Gender Equity: Sonia discusses a flaw in the Bangladesh constitution which deters a Bangladeshi women to transmit her nationality to her spouse or children.

* Energy: The recent Asia Energy coal mining controversy in Phulbari, Bangladesh and the people's uprising leaves a lot to ponder.

Conversations with an Optimist argues that people's power is not always right as it may lead to disastrous consequences for the country.

Drishtipat urges everybody to talk less politics and more science reagrding this issue.

* Human rights: Journalist Tasneem Khalil discusses the human rights abuses of Bangladesh's elite force commando RAB, which overshadows the country's security forces’ laudable performance in the UN peace keeping missions. More ironical is that some RAB members are being selected for UN peace keeping missions.

* Censoring: Tasneem Khalil informs that the Curators of a British museum are role playing as bigot mullahs, as they have censored a documentary work made in Bangladesh by Syra Miah — Bangladeshi-British photographer from the museum’s Art and Islam exhibition on the charge that it contained an image of a semi-naked woman.

* Politics: Nazim Farhan Chowdhury of Conversations With An Optimist blog predicts the decrease in support of the ruling BNP among the Bangladeshis because of their failures. Salaam Dhaka confirms that analogy from a diaspora viewpoint.

* International relations: Razib Rashedin of Me, Myself and Bangladesh criticizes certain Indian politician's propaganda that places in Bangladesh should be attacked where the terrorist centers against India are operating. He claims that these accusations are false and there are many insurgencies in north-eastern India that feed on local discontent due to the neglect of the federal government to their needs and from pure separatist impulses. Therefore, it does not require a neighbouring country to instigate troubles in India.

* Culture: The corruption in Bangladesh is becoming ubiquitous. However Salam Dhaka realizes that sometimes bribes can also do good to the society.

* Review: Deshcalling posts a review of an insightful book titled ‘The India Doctrine’ published by the Bangladesh Research Forum and edited by Barrister MBI Munshi. The book is a collection of articles by writers from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka providing insight into controversial issues in this region and the role of India.

* Paintings: Artist Sumaiya Mehreen shares her paintings in her digital portfolio blog.

* Cyber society: Somewherein Dhaka is an increasingly popular user-friendly, informative and interactive events site from Bangladesh. It lets the users know all about the art, culture, sports and lifestyle events happening in Dhaka (what, when and where) and let the users to comment on or review the items. This is turning out to be an useful social networking tool.


  • Yasmin Bhuiyan

    My fellow countrymen,

    We need to pay attention to the comments Mej Gen Fazlur Rahman made in the immediate aftermath of the massacre.

    However, before delving deeper into his comments I like to thank most people that chose to post comments in this forum seeking justice and hoping for a quick but thorough investigation of this nightmare. There have been a lot of unsavory characters that have abused this open and free forum for sure, but I’m thankful for the majority of the Bangladeshis that successfully managed to maintain a civil tone in these trying times and voiced their fears and concerns with passionate but intelligent ways. I think we should appreciate all the constructive criticisms and other alternate views and many plausible scenarios that a lot of people have offered already. Even when we disagree with each other strongly we must restrain our passions and respect each others right to express our views and not try to muzzle any voice or point-of-view for the sheer differences in our opinions. If we all pursue our own thesis and challenge each other with provocative exchanges, gradually, I believe we would be able to paint a comprehensive picture. In order to thoroughly dissect the ulterior motives of all political parties and foreign influences and the potential roles that some of them may have played to orchestrate this ghastly massacre we need to be open-minded and be willing to entertain all possibilities. In our pursuit for truth, we shouldn’t hesitate to question the very authority that at this very moment appears to be righteous. A lot of people on this forum have already offered tantalizing possibilities and I salute you all for your insightful comments. Together, as free people with our inalienable rights to voice our concerns, we need to continue to engage ourselves in this kind of dialog if we are to force a proper investigation of this massacre and crack open this massive conspiracy and bring the rogue elements to justice.

    First, let’s talk about various MULLAH parties. We, the citizens of one of the most moderate Muslim countries in the world, have become hostages of these fundamentalist religious zealots. BNP, the Jatiya Party, and others have been making concessions to these fanatics and in the past have used them as trump cards for political advantage. It’s about time that we demand the reversal of what Sheikh Mujib and Zia did and un-pardon these murderous thugs. If the trails of the investigations lead to even one member of these fundamentalist groups we’d need to disband these groups and start the wholesale deportation of the principal chieftains back to Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, the countries where their true allegiance belong.

    Regarding the re-building of the BDR from ground up to disinfect this institution from the poisonous grasp of the fundamentalist force, I must say that we’d continue to get the same result until we find a way to stop the flow of Saudi money from ending up in the constructions of thousands of Madrasahs and stop the recruitment and brainwashing of massive number of impressionable poor children that turn to these Madrasahs for bare sustenance. The crushing poverty in our country gives these violent fundamentalist groups, which are 100% funded by the murderous wahhabi regime in Saudi Arab and their allies in Pakistan, the ideal fertile ground to create an army of suicidal and delusional puppets that are capable of inflicting unfathomable carnage and destruction to advance the political agendas of their fanatic Wahhabi ideologue masters. What is more disconcerting is that these religious fanatics have incorporated various military entrance exams as part of their Madrasah curriculum and infiltrating various branches of our armed services in terrifyingly disproportionate number. It’s just a matter of time before we end up with the same situation that we now have in Pakistan where the fundamentalists constitute a large core of the military’s powerful central command. In a recent New York Times article, an ex Pakistani colonel who joined the Pakistani military academy in the same year as ex Pakistani president Parvez Musharraf (an active Al-Qaeda activist in disguise) wrote his experience about how the Pakistani military was transformed from a secular entity into its fundamentalists dominated present form a few decades ago. We are witnessing the same forces at work trying to transform our own military (and I’d be fooling myself if I pretend that large segment of our armed services hasn’t been infiltrated already).

    There’s no denying that the religious fundamentalists are busy at work trying to destabilize our democratic institutions and create another TALIBAN state in Bangladesh. However, I wouldn’t be too quick to allow our disdain for these cockroaches to blind us of other tantalizing possibilities. A lot of people have suggested that the massacre was probably part of the conspiracy to topple the government. Really? Does anybody honestly believe that at any point during the seize bunch of foot soldiers armed with SMGs and Chinese Rifles restricted inside a small compound with no access to armored vehicles, heavy artillery, or air support and other supplies posed any significant threat to our government, which was backed by all three branches of the REAL military? Whoever or whichever force was behind this conspiracy wasn’t probably that delusional. According to Mej General Fazlur Rahman and other top level army officials, a full blown army assault would take at best 30 minutes to bring the mutiny under control. We’d be underestimating the intelligence of our enemy and doing ourselves a disservice if we allow ourselves to become trapped with the “government toppling” theory.

    How about the theory of trying to create public unrest? That’s a distinct possibility. However, the killings of such high number of military officers in one clean sweep, which the killers executed with clinical precision, something unprecedented in the history of modern military warfare, suggests that the conspirators had a very well defined agenda and not some nebulous notion of creating “public unrest.” It strikes me as somewhat odd that the militant fundamentalists would choose this operation as an opportunity to create public unrest, considering the numerous other ways they could have achieved the same objective with fewer potential causalities (on their side) and less financial cost. If the military were to blast their way inside the Pilkhana compound and quell the rebellion by force the BDR body count would have been enormously high (off course, that point is moot at this point considering the tens of thousands of jawans that managed to magically disappeared in thin air). If we are to believe that the reach of the MULLAH party extended so deep inside the various ranks and files of the BDR that they were able to stage a public revolt knowing fully well of the repercussions and the potential loss of thousands of its diehard members within the BDR organization, well, that would be quite a stretch. The Mullah party has spent decades building their base within the BDR and spent millions of dollars to infiltrate the organization. They are not going to sacrifice their investments in one ill-conceived and short-lived mission just for the sake of creating some “public unrest.” If creating public unrest was the main objective then these mullahs could have chosen a number of other highly effective low-cost low-casualty strategies, like the nationwide synchronized bombing that “Bangla Bhai” pulled off a few years ago.

    And, then off course we have the issue of putting the Army and the BDR against each other. Our military strength is at its highest when the Army and the BDR and all other branches of the military are supporting each other and forming a united front. If the objective of the militant fundamentalists was the creation of friction between the BDR and other forces and the eventual complete dissolution of the border security force, then I must say that the Mullahs have achieved their objective. However, from the vantage point of the militant fundamentalists that hardly seems to be the scenario that the Mullahs would have wanted. Not only does it make the recruitment and training of thousands of madrasah-educated BDR members, an investment that took them decades to put together, totally meaningless it also suddenly makes our borders with India extremely vulnerable, which the Mullahs wouldn’t find agreeable under any circumstances.

    So, who else would want to turn our much revered BDR into an extinct entity and weaken our ability to defend our borders with sufficient force? How about BNP? But BNP is currently owned and controlled by the same forces that control the militant fundamentalists, so their ambitions and objectives are one and the same. How about the Awami League? The close ties between the Awami League and the Indian government since the creation of our nation is beyond debate. Would Hasina be part of anything such barbaric and inhuman to abolish the BDR and open our border to her Indian masters? Well, that’s a tantalizing possibility worth much debate.

    The father of our nation Sheikh Mujib was the catalyst that allowed us to secede from the murderous Pakistanis. He put his life on the line for the country repeatedly and endured physical torture while being imprisoned in West Pakistan throughout the liberation war, which eventually allowed us to snatch a great victory against a formidable opponent (with significant help from India). At great personal cost, he gave us, the Bengali people, our own country and the gift of being able to determine our own destiny. At the beginning, Sheikh Mujib had the support and die-hard loyalty of both the people and the military. If Sheikh Mujib had asked the people to jump over a cliff, half the population would have obeyed him without asking any question. But the honeymoon didn’t last very long. As Prime Minister of the free Bangladesh Sheikh Mujib couldn’t have failed more miserably. Throughout his reign, his cronies and his party affiliates turned the country into their own personal ATM machines. Billions of dollars in foreign aid disappeared in thin air while millions of people starved and littered the streets of all cities with their skeletal dead bodies. Just as Saddam’s wretched sons would go out on joy rides and snatch beautiful women from all over Baghdad for their personal enjoyment, Sheikh Mujib’s two sons were also notorious for snatching pretty women from all over Dhaka and created a never ending nightmare for all. Sheikh Mujib never tried to hide his disdain for a strong military. He never felt the need to have strong home grown military capable of defending its own borders. He openly talked about disbanding the military altogether and created his own Rokhi Bahini. The Rokhi Bahini was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousand of students and political dissidents. I know, all these sound like fairy tales to some of you. But these are historical facts and unless you lived through that time you’d have a hard time believing them just by reading history books.

    It was the military that eventually assassinated the father of our nation and consolidated their power for the long haul. After Mujib, it was Zia’s turn to shepherd the destiny of our young nation. Zia ruled for five years with dramatically different approach from Mujib and with better results. However, he was also soon assassinated by his own military brothers. These days, it’s common knowledge that Hussein Muhammad Ershad was the mastermind that orchestrated Zia’s assassination. But Ershad has always been one smart cookie and he not only survived 10 years as the head of the state he continues to play a leading role in domestic politics to this date.

    I’m not trying to give anybody a very simplified history lesson here but merely trying to bring into light the key assassinations that rocked our nation since the birth of our country. A nation that doesn’t know its own history is liable to make the same mistakes repeatedly and no where is this more relevant and evident than in the history of our own country.

    So the question that begs to be addressed is why was Sheikh Mujib opposed to a strong military and in our ability to defend our borders? I’m afraid we can’t answer that question without taking into account the geo-political relationship between Bangladesh and our next door superpower neighbor. Throughout the history of human civilization, strong military powers have always hated and tried to dismantle another strong military presence alongside their borders. India is no exception in this regard and, historically, never tried to mask their contempt for our military build-up since the assassination of Sheikh Mujib. India fought two major wars with Pakistan and was only too happy to play a key role in the dismantling of the undivided Pakistan. India was never too happy to see their key ally (Mujib) to suffer the consequences and since then has played the role of an extremely disgruntled antagonist. India never tried to be the friendly neighbor. Various people at various branches of the Indian government and some of their major newspapers have openly questioned the justification and need for Bangladesh to have its own military (and countless prominent India-backed and India-supported entities in Bangladesh have also expressed the same sentiment repeatedly over the years and, to this date, continue to do so). Instead of playing the role of a gracious superpower and encourage trade and commerce between the two nations India decided to be a constant sore in our butts and pester us in every conceivable way.

    India repeatedly defied the International laws and built numerous dams in the upstream of some of our most prominent rivers without the slightest regard for the desertification and other deadly consequences on vast areas of its next door neighbor. Instead of trying to create a safe and commerce-friendly border between our two nations the BSF routinely provokes our BDR and actively cultivates a hostile and aggressive border culture. The trade relationship between our two nations is also totally upside down. Honestly, the exchange of goods between our two nations shouldn’t be categorized as “trades” since the exchanges couldn’t be more exploitive. As a matter of fact, there’s hardly any market for Bangladeshi manufactured products in India; however, Bangladesh serves as a rich outlet for every conceivable Indian manufactured good. The Indian government has allowed the constructions of countless “Phencidyle” and other addictive drug manufacturing companies along our borders knowing fully well the devastating effects of those drugs and their potential to totally destroy the minds of our youth. The BSF (with the help of a few corrupt BDR members on our side) works as the agent for these companies to facilitate the movement and distribution of these drugs throughout our country. From the actions of the Indian government, in terms of their extreme lack of interest curbing this illegal trade of millions of dollars worth of contraband drugs, it appears as if nothing would be more desirable, from the vantage point of the Indian government, than converting our country into a land of mindless and spiritless zombie-like creatures. Folks, I’m not an India-basher and I’ve nothing against the people of that country. We are human beings before we are Hundus and muslims and christians and buddhists. In fact we are the same people that share a rich history that goes back thousands of years. But we can’t pretend to exist in a fantasy world and if we choose to remain oblivious to the reality we’d only do so at our own grave peril. The irrefutable facts that I just described belies a more-than-meets-the-eye sinister side and persistent theme of the Indian foreign policy that hardly envisions a open and mutually beneficial relationship with its next door neighbor and that doesn’t have much room in its future plans for an independent prosperous Bangladesh with a flourishing economy and a strong military.

    BDRs are our first line of defense against potential enemies. They fight with the BSF on a daily basis. Those of us that have never really lived closed to the border areas have no idea how unstable and fragile and tenuous life close to the border areas can be. The BSF outnumber the BDR by ten to one in most border security posts and they have chosen to engage our border security forces every single day. The BSF routinely provokes the BDR and instigates indiscriminate shooting. This daily harassment is routine for our BDR brothers. A lot of times the BSF enter up to several kilometers inside the Bangladesh border and kill innocent farmers and livestock. Other times, they kill members of the BDR. Much of this remains unreported most of the time in our daily news. It’s just part of the daily reality for our brothers in the BDR. Not a day goes by when at least a few members of BDR don’t bleed for the country. However, in spite of being outnumbered and outgunned by the BSF and in spite of suffering occasional causalities every now and then our BDR can keep the BSF in check and in line most of the time. The members of the BDR are fierce in battle and they watch over our borders with utmost dedication and they lay down their lives in the line of duty every single day. As Mej Gen Fazlur Rahman stated, the embarrassing defeats of the BSF in the hands of the BDR in Raumari and Padua are reasons enough for them to want to plot against the BDR and deliver a deadly blow as revenge for their shameful defeats. Sadly, the massive public sentiment against the BDR that’s being brewed right now is being further exploited by certain vested quarters calling for massive changes within the BDR hierarchy. However, this wouldn’t be the first time that invisible forces conspired to interfere with our internal affairs and tried to disintegrate our border security force. The historic friendly relationship between the Indian government and the Mujib family is well-known and has been much documented. The Awami League, including its founder, made numerous efforts in the past to weaken our military power and our ability to successfully defend our borders. It doesn’t require too much imagination to connect the dots and figure out who gains the upper hand with a crippled and de-moralized BDR. The Indian government has always hated the BDR and treated them with utter contempt. A weakened and much-maligned BDR (or even ABOLISHED BDR…YES, you heard me right…the BDR can become abolished altogether) only helps the Indian government and the leadership of our current government. If India didn’t have to worry about Pakistan and Pakistan’s potential interference in case of India’s territorial ambitions in its eastern border, India would have annexed Bangladesh years ago and we would have ceased to exist as a free sovereign nation from the face of the world map.

    The point I’m trying to make here is that India suddenly has a renewed interest in the politics of Bangladesh now that the Mujib family has finally returned to power. It would be a mistake to assume that the allegiance and loyalty that Sheikh Mujib cultivated with our next door neighbor is no longer a relevant issue in our current discussion. Apples hardly ever fall too far from the apple tree and, as such, we have very little reason to give Hasina the benefit of the doubt and believe that she has a diametrically opposite view of her father’s India-oriented submissive politics and ideology. Frankly, Hasina never did anything to establish her departure from her father’s politics and there is very little evidence to support any claim that she may have made in the past to convince us otherwise. Just as her father, Hasina has a history of close ties with India. In the past, Hasina has repeatedly visited India and spoke to top level members in the Indian government. During her first tenure as prime minister, Hasina begged people to give her another chance on national TV. She asked her fellow countrymen and women to forgive her party’s past mistakes and promised for a new era of peace and prosperity. And then she reneged on all her promises and attempted to unleash the same reign of terror her party was guilty of during the Mujib era, which caused her to fail in her re-election campaign. If Hasina had made even a half-hearted attempt to win the hearts and minds of our people during her first tenure as Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia (the other miscreant that we hope would never get back to power) could have never turned her political fate around so quickly.

    A few years ago, after her first term ended and she was voted out of office, Hasina went out of her way to spread egregious lies about the torture of Hindus in Bangladesh at the UN Council with total backing from the Indian political machinery. Obviously, her intention was to magnify the reality by a factor of several thousand to expose the supposed prejudice and ineptitude of the ruling party and to create international pressure on the existing regime to dissolve parliament and announce for early election. In keeping with the tradition of Khaleda Zia and other political demagogues, there wasn’t even one election during the past decade that Hasina lost and immediately afterwards didn’t bring accusations of mass corruption and irregularity against the winner. Even in the face of the verdict and testimony of the UN approved Board of International Election Monitor that repeatedly certified those elections to be fair and MOSTLY free of corruption, Hasina never once admitted defeat without challenging the legitimacy of those elections. Hasina claims to believe in the principles of democracy and in the rule of law; however, she has little reservations about actively sponsoring anarchy and mass un-cooperative movements against the winning party. In Hasina’s political playbook, if she can’t win an election, challenging the results and totally rejecting the outcome are the standard operating procedure. In Hasina’s political aspirations there’s no room for playing the role of a graceful looser and putting the future of the country and the interests of the people ahead of her petty “I’m the daughter of the founder of this country and I can’t loose any election” attitude. This is a lady that has repeatedly shown her extreme lack of patriotism and her lack of respect for the rule of law. She has repeatedly sacrificed the interest of her country to advance her political ambitions. She has a proven track record of doing away with ethics and moral virtues for political expediency. In fact, If it wasn’t for her father (in Khaleda Zia’s case – her husband), there isn’t anything in her personality, vision, or intellect that would inspire any group of people to want to follow her. I long for the day when our people wouldn’t have to choose either of these two imbecile hell-raising ladies as leaders of our country. That would be a golden dawn worth waiting for.

    Folks, the fact that the initial story of this massacre was just a façade to hide a massive conspiracy should be obvious to everybody by now. The prime minister herself has taken the lead in debunking the initial story that the vicious massacre was the outcome of some malcontent JAWANs’ pent up frustrations regarding their meager compensations and other financial dissatisfactions. Hasina has openly stated that the fingerprints of some dark force plotting and operating behind the scene is now quite apparent. The opposition leader Khaleda Zia has also asked the government to investigate whether or not some third party was calling the shots and pulling the strings from behind.

    According to the surviving witnesses, the initial volley of shooting that killed most officers inside the Darbar Hall had come from a small group of “soldiers” in civilian clothes. The survivors also stated that large number of the killing force outside Darbar Hall that hunted down the officers and killed them was also in civilian clothes. Most of the faces of the jawans we saw on TV during the seize speaking with the reporters were probably foot soldiers that had absolutely no clue about what was really going on. Folks, ordinary foot soldiers don’t demand to meet with the prime minister and talk about surrender- GIVE ME A BREAK. They were told to repeat those lines to the reporters by the senior leaders of the shadow forces that were part of the killing machine and which we haven’t identified yet. The estimated BDR presence before the killing had begun was close to FIFTEEN thousand; however, after the jawans surrendered and returned to the barracks their number dwindled to merely three hundred!!! Folks, more than 98 percent of the BDR jawans had escaped. Can you even begin to comprehend this fact!!! It doesn’t require the brains of a rocket scientist to realize that by the time the remaining clueless foot solders put down their weapons, the real perpetrators had enough time to actually leave the COUNTRY!!! As a matter of fact if we can manage to successfully lift the veils of this conspiracy someday, there’s a very good chance we may find that the real perpetrators were not members of the BDR at all. They might very well turn out to be members of the military or even members of Special Forces of foreign origin.

    Also, the military, the police, and the RAB had cordoned off the entire Pilkhana and adjoining areas while more than FOURTEEN THOUSAND AND SEVEN HUNDRED BDR jawans escaped through the barricades. Is this really believable?!?! God help us, since we must have the most inept military force in the whole wide world. If we were to believe this then we must gather all those escaped BDR jawans and give them the highest military award for successfully executing the greatest escape in the history of warfare. As a matter of fact, if our military, the police, and the newfangled RAB really couldn’t prevent the enemy from escaping through their fingers right under their noses then we should really be fearful of their fighting abilities and their abilities to defend us. These guys couldn’t stop an unarmed retreating enemy from circumventing a heavily guarded barricade and disappearing in thin air in broad day light. How are these very same people ever going to protect us if we were to face a heavily armed real enemy!?!?

    The new details that are emerging are even more disturbing. Major General Syed Muhammad Ibrahim, our nation’s leading military analyst has openly criticized Prime Minister Hasina for failing to uncover this gargantuan conspiracy ahead of time. He pointed out that Hasina herself was at the Pilkhana compound merely 24 hours prior to the massacre. Mr. Ibrahim likes to know whether or not Hasina was totally oblivious to the conspiracy in progress while she was visiting ground zero considering it is standard operating procedure for DGFI to conduct extensive security sweeps and deploy additional intelligence officers prior to any ceremony of this magnitude, especially the ones attended by our Prime Minister. General Ibrahim contends that if Hasina had decided to visit the Pilkhana compound without any knowledge of the unfolding events then it must have been an intelligence and security failure of epic proportion. He laments that the failure must be considered twice as worse if Hasina DID know something beforehand and still failed to do anything to prevent this savage carnage. Nobody knows yet who ordered to turn off the electricity for the entire Pilkhana and surrounding areas at night and why. Nobody can also figure out why the army was told to move back their barricade up to FIVE kilometers from their original position!!! The day after the attack everybody saw more than 20 ambulances going in and out of the Pilkhana compound while the official casualty-count remained at 7!!! What were those vehicles doing and what were they carrying out? It appears that the BDR jawans were not only given the perfect backdrop to escape throughout the night, some of them were also given official armed escort services for safe passage out. Folks, this is not rocket science. All those thousands of people managed to escape because it was all part of the script or pre-planned strategy, the very same script that the killers methodically executed to commit the most barbaric slaughter in the heart of our capital. At this point, it wouldn’t sound too much of a farce to state that the retreating jawans were actually ALLOWED to escape. Maybe, that was also part of the script.

    So, given Hasina’s past actions, her close ties with India, her willingness to sacrifice national interests to please her Indian masters, her treacherous nature, her extreme lack of moral and ethical virtues, her government’s complete ignorance of a massive conspiracy right in the heart of the country’s capital and blatantly suspicious failure to contain the rebels and other collateral damage would it be too far-fetched to entertain the notion that she might have indirectly aided and abetted the conspirators to pull off this barbaric assault as the first step toward the fulfillment of the long term objectives of her Indian masters? If this recent development leads to the eventual dismantlement of Bangladesh Rifles and the whole notion of border security suddenly becomes a thing of the past and we suddenly find ourselves at the mercy of the BSF to redefine our borders who do you think winds up as the supreme beneficiary? Folks, the fact that our current government failed to prevent close to fourteen thousand BDR jawans from disappearing in thin air cannot and should not be allowed to disappear from our minds. This fact alone should be enough to convince anybody that the current government must bear 100% responsibility for this colossal failure in damage control. Yes, it is true that the negotiations with the BDR representatives and the eventual surrender of the BDR saved the lives of a lot of army families. But the colossal failure to catch the perpetrators would hang over Hasina’s government as black clouds even if subsequent investigations reveal the true identity of the conspirators and Hasina turn out to have no role in this conspiracy whatsoever. It also bears mentioning that we can’t allow ourselves to pay any attention to certain groups of people that have been calling for the dissolution of the BDR. PLEASE. You just don’t dismantle the BDR, a 77 year old institution, and replace it with another border security force in a heartbeat. Once dismantled, it would take decades to properly recruit and train a new security force. Also, regardless of whatever terminology people have been using to label the a few rogue members of the BDR responsible for this heinous crime, we need to be careful before calling the BDR “dead.” Just as you don’t dismantle the entire Army, Navy, and the Air Force and replace them with new Army, Navy, and Air Force units simply because some members of these forces participated in numerous Coup d’états at various time in the past and slaughtered their fellow military brothers in similar barbaric manner, you don’t label a seventy thousand superbly trained and mostly dedicated and disciplined essential force as “war criminals” in one broad brush and disband the entire force altogether. It simply cannot be allowed to happen.

    Speaking of military Coup d’états, let’s not be negligent of the potential role the military may have played. The army was the glue and the hidden force pulling the strings from behind the curtains throughout the time while our country was in the hands of the caretaker government. Regardless of how one might view our military, it was the army that prevented anarchy from becoming the law of the land that the imbecile leaders of both parties so much wanted. The military had antagonized a lot of people on both sides of the two main political parties while trying to maintain the rule of law and dispense justice in somewhat even handed manner, which was the first in the history of our country. With overwhelming public support, the RAB alone apprehended a staggering number of miscreants with loyalties in both major parties, a spectacular feat that would have been impossible without the direct backing of the military. In short, while our military tried to clean up our streets and improve law and order for the mass it created a very large enemy both within and outside of its cadres that were squeezed out of their former power base. It is quite conceivable that there were quite a few very disgruntled voices among various military ranks and files that posed a real threat to the current administration and staging a fake mutiny was the perfect opportunity to eliminate most elements of threat and opposition in one clean sweep. The entire mutiny was probably staged to very easily get rid of some of the top level army officers that didn’t quite embrace the change of government wholeheartedly and probably weren’t playing ball the way the current leaders wanted. In hindsight, it appears too convenient to pay off a few hundred BDRs and using a long standing grievance that the BDRs have about their income and standard of living as excuses to stage a lightning quick strike and get rid of more than one hundred top level officers without having anybody to point the fingers to and hold accountable.

    Using military against military is nothing new in our short history. During the 5 years of general Zia’s tenure we had a relative period of piece and prosperity. However, the appearance was way more deceiving than we could have ever imagined. It wasn’t years after Zia’s assassination that tremendous amounts of details started to leak out about more than twenty five failed Coup attempts that Zia survived before finally succumbing to the brilliant plan hatched by Ershad and his cronies. Zia’s military intelligence was able to intercept most of those Coup attempts and foil the efforts of the military conspirators with deadly counter-strikes. It has been estimated that Zia alone executed thousands of military personnel including a large number of very high ranking officers to survive the dangerous high stake world of “military rule – third world style.” It would be naïve for us to think that our military is a drastically different entity today from the days of general Zia. If past is any guide then we need not make a giant leap to conclude that our military is in a state of constant flux. It is made of a diverse and very aggressive and highly ambitious group of hot blooded soldiers with their own agendas that often times clashes with each other. It is quite likely that within the military world Coup D’états take place with remarkable frequency and the public stays in the dark and knows nothing about them most of the time. Who is to say how many times Ershad crushed Coup attempts against him and how many military personnel he had to kill to survive ten long years? And who is to say how many Coup attempts our current military chief had to squash in order to maintain his reign in power during the last few years of upheaval and political unrest? And who is to say that the military wasn’t behind the whole slaughter getting rid of a huge swath of high ranking officers that were perceived to pose a threat to the current hierarchy and not loyal to the current administration? Suddenly the transfer of some of the brightest senior army officers from RAB to the BDR and the transfer brilliant army officers from the Army to the BDR during last few months don’t sound like mere coincidences anymore. Also, wasn’t the military mostly in charge of barricading the Pilkhana compound? If the military was really behind this massacre then suddenly the disappearance of fourteen thousand BDR jawans doesn’t seem that implausible anymore.

    And finally, no conspiracy theory can be complete without entertaining the potential involvement of foreign powers and their willingness to interfere with the domestic affairs of various third world countries. We live in a world that’s crashing at the weight of its own debt. The World economy is in shambles. There is a raging energy crisis all over the globe and a lot of the traditional foreign powers are desperate to explore and exploit cheap sources of energy. Foreign governments are more than willing to intervene on behalf of their multi-national companies. If forming new alliances with former enemies or killing a few hundred or a few thousand or even a few million innocent third world dwellers is the price of admission they must pay then that’s exactly what they are willing and ready to do. So what is it that Bangladesh, one of the poorest third world countries, has that foreign powers might be interested about? Yup…you guessed it right…ENERGY.

    Folks, our country is literally floating on oil and gas!!!

    Just to fully comprehend the scope of operation of these multi-national companies lets consider the fact that Chevron, the largest among the international oil companies (IOCs), is building a massive petro-chemical (oil) refinery (capacity 300,000 bbls/day) in Bangladesh. The multi-national oil companies are building oil refineries in all third world countries since the environmental fallout from these refineries are staggering and it’s impossible to get permits to build similar refineries anywhere else in the first world nations. The cost of properly disposing the millions of tons of toxic byproducts simply doesn’t justify the costs. Here in Bangladesh, not only can they take advantage of dirt cheap labor they can also pollute at will and dump the toxic fallout in our air and waters. The refinery will supposedly import crude from outside the country, refine it, and then sell it in the export markets. Chevron is currently in Bangladesh with daily gas production of around 780 mmcfd, which is over 40 per cent of our total daily gas production of around 1,800 mmcfd. Chevron produces gas from three of its existing gas fields – Moulvibazar, Jalalabad and Bibiyana – and supplies to the national grid. When you break it down in plain English this is what you get… 1,800 million cubit feet per day is equivalent to 300,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe). Now multiply that by an average crude oil price of US$50/ barrel (the price of oil was more than $140/barrel less than five months ago. It’s likely to go up again. So the dollar figure is on the very conservative side). That equates to US$15 million per day. Multiply that by 365 days in a year and you have a whopping US$5.5billion (Tk 385,000 crore – using $1=Tk70) in revenues per annum!!!

    Now do you think we have been getting American aids all these years for nothing!!! How about India? The energy shortage problem in India is reaching a crisis level and the Indian government has recently identified energy shortage as the biggest obstacle holding back their rapidly growing explosive economy. Now do you think India has nothing to look forward to on our side of the border? PUUUHLEASE…

    Lastly, you can’t ask a fox to guard the chicken coop. We as a nation must ask for an independent commission to investigate the slaughter and not put the current government in charge of uncovering the details. If we were to truly crack open this massive conspiracy we can’t rely on closed door sessions; we got to have an open public tribunal where all evidences and testimony would be available for all to examine. We must track down all guilty parties regardless of their party affiliations and bring them to justice. Maybe, it’s time we bring back the old-fashioned public hanging one more time. As a sovereign democratic nation we owe it to ourselves. And that’s the least we can do to properly honor our fallen heroes.

  • Massacre at Pilkhana: Propaganda and the Truth

    I have also read the Muhit Rahman article (The Daily Star – March 12, 2009) and it makes some interesting points. The most interesting is that while describing other commentators as mere arm-chair Generals he is himself only a banker. I wonder how much military knowledge and tactical experience is required to get a bank job these days. The follow-up article by Mr. Abdul Momen raises some further and important issues. He explains that in all the cases where military assaults have been allowed by the government in a hostage type situation there have usually been significant civilian casualties. He provides the examples of Lal Masjid, Kargil, Mumbai, Wako, the Russian Threatre and the Ossetia-Alania School takeovers. In all these cases probably the Kargil conflict is the least relevant as this involved a military operation of two countries and the issue of hostages never arose. In all the other scenarios the taking of hostages was an important element in the plan of the terrorists. However, there are other substantive differences between the above cited cases and the BDR Mutiny –

    1. The commitment and morale of the BDR mutineers was questionable with the vast majority trying to escape and a small minority perpetrating the atrocities. If the army had been allowed to effectively cordon off the area and move in heavy weaponry outside the boundary walls it is possible that the mutiny would have folded early on – according to several eyewitnesses the killings only took place after 11 am on the first day of the revolt. It is also possible that the BDR soldiers would have turned on the hard core group but this theory was not tested because of the hesitancy of the PM and COAS to act in a timely and prompt fashion.

    2. The BDR mutiny was strictly not a hostage type situation. The intent was to kill the officers within the compound. There were apparently no negotiations for release of the officers or their families. There was no sign of goodwill on the part of the hardcore mutineers to release the women and children. Inexplicably in this situation the PM gave a general amnesty without securing release of the captives inside the compound or verifying the extent of the carnage inside the BDR HQ. In these circumstances an immediate response may have saved lives. Only once the mutiny was nearing its end with the majority of perpetrators having already escaped were some officers released but clearly this was a ruse (indicating a wider and more sophisticated conspiracy) and not part of a negotiating strategy.

    3. In all the other incidents terrorists had to be forcibly dislodged when negotiations failed. In the BDR mutiny the perpetrators had no intention of holding out within the compound as nearly all escaped during the second night. This point was proven when tanks were brought into position on the 3rd day and the left-over mutineers submitted meekly. If a forced entry was considered then the surrounding area would have been evacuated (as was actually done on the last day) leaving the risk to civilians at a complete minimum.

    4. That amongst the BDR soldiers were ‘outsiders’ who hid their faces throughout the mutiny and ultimately escaped. In none of the other situations described by Muhit or Momen were there any external groups within the hostage takers. With sufficient pressure and a show of force the BDR soldiers may have been convinced that continuing with the mutiny was not worth the trouble and surrendering was now the only viable option. The ‘outsiders’ numbering no more than 20 would have been left to their own devices.

    5. In all the other cases there was no indication of government complicity. The arrest of an AL leader seems to suggest some connivance at higher levels of government if not outright assistance. The transfer of army officers out of the DGFI and NSI in the preceding weeks of the mutiny explains some of the intelligence failures but still requires an explanation from the government.

    On these four grounds I do not believe that the points expressed by Mr. Muhit Rahman or Mr. Abdul Momen hold much credibility or substance. During the 3 day mutiny the resolve of the mutineers was never tested. Every time the army wanted to move against the mutineers they were thwarted by the worthless and cowardly COAS and the perverse and mentally imbalanced Prime Minister. By not acting with courage and decisiveness the mutineers gained confidence and proceeded on their killing spree.

  • RAW’s Conspiracy Theory on BDR
    Mutiny – A Blueprint for AL Propaganda

    The following article appears on the RAW sponsored website South Asia Analysis Group and its theme and perspective will be propagated by the AL in the following days and weeks ahead in the same way that the Indian allegations were spread and disseminated, during the early stages of the mutiny, arguing that this was all the handiwork of the Jamaat-i-Islami, ISI, HuJi (B) and Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury. Any objective observer of Bangladesh affairs will immediately find that the contents and opinions of the following piece are based on lies, manipulation of facts and an utter distortion of the truth. As Goebbels once remarked,

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”


    MBI Munshi



    By Bhaskar Roy

    Had the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutiny on March 25-26 been successful, it would have brought the BNP rightists and Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) Islamists coalition back to power in the country. That would have plunged Bangladesh into a new political and social crisis, and lighted new militancy fires in North-East India. The mutiny was a meticulously planned conspiracy in which disgruntled BDR men were used cleverly as a foil for a much larger game plan.

    The political threat to Indian security from Bangladesh’s soil if the BNP-JEI combination returns to power can be understood from the confessional statements of the main accused in April 2004 arms landing case, Hafizur Rahaman. Rahaman has told the new Investigating Officer (IO) of the case that four different IOs during the BNP-JEI government (2001-2006) declined to take down his statement and asked him to change it.

    Parts of Hafizur Rahaman’s on going statements to the case IO and Chittagong Metropolitan Magistrate Osman Gani, as reported in the Bangladesh media, are explosive and incriminates top functionaries of the BNP-JEI government, if not the entire government yet. Rahaman, a known smuggler of the Port city of Chittagong, has revealed that he was first contacted in 2001, by a person in Dhaka who called himself Zaman at first but later identified himself as ULFA Commander-in-Chief, Paresh Barua. It is known that Barua holds a Bangladeshi passport in the name of Kamruzzaman which he uses for his travels to Pakistan to meet his ISI handlers.

    Paresh Barua started developing Hafizur Rahaman from January 2002, paying him 50 to 70 thousand Taka a month. In March, 2004 Barua gave Rahaman Taka 50 lakhs to arrange for the landing of smuggled machinery. According to Rahaman, Barua assured him that the Chiefs of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), and the National Security and Intelligence (NSI) were on board. The then NSI Chief Maj. Gen. Rezakul Haider Choudhury, was a close confidante of Tareque Rahaman, the elder son of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia. Tareque was also the Senior Joint General Secretary of the BNP and reputed to be the most powerful and corrupt man in Bangladesh through sheer muscle power. Maj. Gen. Haider is reported to have accompanied Tareque and businessman Giasuddin Al-Mamun for a meeting with Indian underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in Dubai in 2006. The meeting was allegedly to procure arms for the elections and also had to do with some property in Dubai.

    The then DGFI Chief Maj. Gen. Sadiq Hasan Rumi was Tareque intermediary with the extreme Islamist International Katme Nabuwat Movement (IKNM) Chief Maulana Noorani. Tareque’s contacts with the out lawed Islamic terrorist group, Jamatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB), were handled by two BNP Ministers Amin Huq and Ruhul Quddus Talukdar Dulu. These information have been authenticated by Bangladeshi terrorism experts.

    It is also alleged that following the arrest of six top JMB leaders in March 2006 under pressure from the USA in which President George W. Bush took a leading role a top JEI leader met Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to advise her not to harm the JMB leaders as they would be useful in the Parliamentary elections. The JMB was also being pruned to launch terrorist attacks in West Bengal.

    It is evident that the BNP-JEI government was planning to wage a terrorist attack against India on the one hand, and radicalizing Bangladesh on the other. Awami League leader Sk. Hasina survived three terrorist attacks by terrorists under BNP-JEI instructions.

    It is, therefore, of concern if about one hundred JMB women terrorist suicide cadres have entered Dhaka, as reported by the reputed daily, Janakantha. Their target is obviously the top level of the ruling party, especially Sk. Hasina. It would be impossible for the JMB to continue their activities if they did not have support from BNP-JEI supporters inducted in critical sections of the administration, police and intelligence.

    These developments were, however, pieces of a much more fundamental political and ideological war that goes back to 1971 and even earlier. This involves the break up of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh for which Pakistan still blames India, as reiterated by former Pak President and army Chief Pervez Musharraf at the recent India Today conclave in New Delhi.

    A Bangladeshi security investigator who is examining intercepts of telephone conversation of the BDR mutineers, told the press that the conspiracy was planned at least two months in advance. That would set the date approximately the time when the Awami League won the December 29, 2008 Parliamentary elections with more than two-third majority, giving it the numbers to amend the constitution.

    A senior army officer, Lt. Col. Shamsul, and the leader of the BDR mutiny Deputy Assistant Director (DAI) Towhid Alam, have separately talked about involvement of outsiders.

    DAD Alam is reported to have confessed that outsiders were involved. Full details may come out only after the special commission’s investigations are over. But what is evident is that a core group took advantage of the disgruntlement in the force. Some joined in the heat of the moment not fully realizing what they were doing. Some left the station and ran away.

    According to Bangladesh media reports, the investigators are looking into a number of small processions taken out in the vicinity of the BDR headquarters after the mutiny started shouting pro-BDR and anti-army Chief Gen. Moeen U. Ahmed slogans. Knowledgeable observers in Dhaka say these processions were taken out by the JEI to encourage the mutineers and bring them into a confrontation with the army to create a highly unstable situation. These observers also say tensions remain very high, and the government is being extremely careful with information to prevent a public outrage. Bangladeshis are highly volatile people emotionally, especially where Bengali heritage and nationalism are concerned.

    Two developments which may hold the key to the intentions behind the BDR mutiny are being debated. One, why did the 14-member BDR delegation led by DAD Towhid Alam meet Prime Minister Sk. Hasina for negotiations on February 25 and assure her that the BDR Chief was safe when they had already killed him and his wife, and most other army officers? Were they buying time for other forces, political and security, to join them?

    Two, why did the Pakistani government send a Special Envoy, Pervez Ishpahani, to Dhaka two days before the mutiny to persuade Sk. Hasina not to pursue with the trial of the 1971 war criminals? Why did Pakistan take such a serious view with an internal issue of Bangladesh so as to send a Special Envoy?

    With an unchallenged majority in Parliament, Prime Minister Sk. Hasina is determined to bring the war criminals to justice, try the 1975 killers of head of the nation Sk. Mujibur Rahaman and Awami League top leaders, and promised to eradicate the menace of terrorists using Bangladesh as a spring board. Her proposal for a South Asian counter-terrorism force did not go down well with Pakistan. It is also for the first time that an army Chief has given full and open support to the trial of war criminals.

    Almost the entire top leadership of the JEI stands to be indicted as 1971 war criminals. They stand to lose the most, and their political legitimacy and social acceptability would get a serious battering. The party would be in danger of being banned, as happened after 1971 till President Zia-ur-Reheman, the Chief architect of the BNP, retrieved them. President Zia is the late husband of Khaleda Zia. Some top BNP leaders cannot escape the trial either. BNP leader and Advisor to Khaleda Zia, Salauddin Qadar Choudhury, headed the dreaded Al Shams created by the Pakistani army in 1971.
    The other major party that could be affected will be the Pakistani army. A preliminary list of war criminals compiled by the freedom fighters include the names of twelve Pakistani senior army officers including generals. Today, with the activations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) even old war crimes cannot be wished away. It would also be a serious blow to the reputation of the Pakistani army.
    The trial of the 1975 “killer majors” as the coup leaders are popularly known, could open up a veritable Pandora’s box. It could even incriminate Zia-ur-Reheman whose role, covered with killings and closed door executions, still remain questionable. Did Pakistan have a role in 1975 carnage in which even Sk. Mujib’s nine year old son, and Sk. Hasina’s youngst brother, Russel, were not spared ?

    Eradication of terrorism from Bangladesh will seriously affect the ISI operations against India from the eastern wing. The ISI has been working with elements of the intelligence apparatus and the army in Bangladesh. Their best period was 2001-2006, when the BNP-JEI led alliance was in power. And that was also the worst period of Bangladesh’s relations with India. Sk. Hasina had already started re-organizing the intelligence agencies and the army.
    That the stakes are very high is no in doubt. The JEI and the BNP stand to be severely damaged by Prime Minister Sk. Hasina’s policies. The ISI stands to lose one of its most important operational arms against India. Pakistan’s influence in Bangladesh is also challenged.

    Sk. Hasina and the liberal and pro-independence forces are acutely aware that unless the events of 1971 and 1975 are conclusively put to rest the religious and political turbulence will continue to haunt the country’s progress.

    Dhaka, today, is in the grip enormous tension. The people there say anything can happen at any time as the forces against the bifurcation of Pakistan are very much alive and have ingrained themselves in the arteries of the government and sections of the society. This is an ideological and historical war.
    Prime Minister Sk. Hasina has handled the situation with great political astuteness and sagacity. But she will be making a grave error if she stops mid-way. If she makes truce in the interest of short time stability she may be signing her own death warrant and that of her country, as her father did. Compromise would be a sign of weakness, and the weak have no place in Bangladesh as the BDR mutiny conspirators have signaled. For them, it is a matter of survival. Hence, nothing in beyond the realm of any act.

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