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Bangladesh gets new border force post-mutiny


Dhaka: Bangladesh got a new force Sunday to guard its frontiers – the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) that replaced the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), which had witnessed a bloody mutiny in February 2009 when 74 men in uniform were killed.

This marks a new beginning for a force that has a two-centuries-old history, beginning in British India, when it was known by other names.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hoisted a new flag Sunday morning and stressed the need for discipline and respect for rule of law.

“Law and rules must be obeyed,” Hasina said, declaring that her government would never accept any wrong-doing.

The ceremony took place at the force’s headquarters at Pilkhana, in the heart of the national capital, where Feb 25, 2009, thousands of BDR troopers had rebelled.

Many of them had stormed into the Darbar Hall, the conference room where a meeting was in session, killing the then BDR director general, Major General Shakil Ahmed and several other Bangladesh Army officers on deputation to the BDR.

When the mutiny was quelled the next day, the final count was 74 dead, including 57 army officers.

Hasina had addressed the BDR only the previous evening, Feb 24, 2009, just six weeks after she assumed prime ministership.

Her visit Sunday was marked by tight security arrangements.

Hundreds of BDR men are in jail and under trial by special courts, while scores have been convicted.

Reiterating her government’s commitment to try the mutineers, the prime minister warned that if the law, rules and discipline are not followed, it will bring a huge loss to the organisation and the country.

She urged all to pray so that such tragic incidents do not occur anywhere in future, The Daily Star reported.

“To prevent recurrence of such incidents, it is necessary to give exemplary punishment to the perpetrators,” said Hasina.

It is a military custom to disband a unit in case of any revolt, BGB Director General Major General Rafiqul Islam said, explaining the reasons behind changing the name, flag and uniform of the force.

Of the 12 BDR sectors, only two in Comilla and Chittagong, and only five of 46 battalions did not see any revolt, after the mutiny spread from the Pilkhana BDR headquarters to other units across the country in 2009.

“Since almost the entire force revolted in 2009, the authority decided to change the name, flag and uniform as per the custom, apart from bringing major reforms to the border force,” the BGB chief said.

Officials said that in line with the law enacted last year, the uniform and the name of the border force had already been changed in many units except the one at the headquarters, which got the new name Sunday through a ceremony.

The colour of the ranks and badges imprinted on the force’s flag will be changed from black to gun metal, similar to silver, said an official.