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Dhaka mutiny probe begins


Dhaka : A high powered probe has begun to find out, among other things, whether there was any role of “other forces” into the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) troopers’ mutiny, a minister said as the two-day insurrection ended Thursday evening leaving over 50 dead.

Commerce Minister Mohammad Faruk Khan, a retired army colonel, did not elaborate on who he meant by “other forces” or the composition of the probe body, The Daily Star said Friday.

The government’s view appeared to match with Leader of the Opposition and two-term former prime minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, who demanded that the probe should be on whether there was “a plot”.

Reading out a statement before mediapersons at her residence, Zia appealed for calm and unity and offered full support to the Sheikh Hasina government.

Faruk Khan said: “We are suspecting involvement of other elements behind such an unfortunate incident at BDR headquarters Wednesday.” He added that these “forces exploited emotions of deprived soldiers”.

He was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the 18th US Trade Show 2009 organised jointly by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh and the US Embassy at the Dhaka Sheraton Hotel.

Khan urged the BDR troopers to calm down and assured them of meeting their demands in phases.

“We have to solve problems and demands of BDR jawans through dialogue. Armed mutiny would not bring solution to any problem.” he said.

The mutiny saw BDR troopers going on an indiscriminate shooting spree, using mortars and machine guns and other weaponry.

An unspecified number of Bangladesh Army officers, who form the officer corps of the paramilitary border guard, were killed.

The dead include the BDR director general, Major General Shakil Ahmed.

In an editorial Friday, New Age newspaper cautioned against any retaliatory action by the Bangladesh Army.

It said: “However, as bodies of the slain officers are recovered or found, it is not unlikely that a wave of intense passion will sweep across the army. Some members of the army could very well feel the urge to resort to extreme actions to avenge the murders of their fellows.

“But if it so happens, we have no doubt that it would be suicidal for the national interests. Bangladesh cannot afford two vital institutions of the state, the national army and the national border guard, standing against one another.

“The country, which has just come out of two crippling years of emergency rule and re-entered governance by elected representatives, cannot even afford to withstand prolonged tension involving the two forces,” the newspaper said.

The mutiny by the BDR troopers broke out Wednesday morning when they took control of their headquarter in the capital. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered general amnesty to them, but the troopers were defiant and refused to lay down arms.

The government held talks with a delegation of the mutineers Thursday and an agreement was reached but by that time, the mutiny spread to other BDR camps located all over the country.

The revolt ended in the face of an imminent attack by the Bangladesh Army which moved tanks into position outside the BDR headquarters. The mutineers then laid down their arms.