Home > Features > Archived Feature Articles: Dhaka and the BDR

Archived Feature Articles: Dhaka and the BDR

As promised, please find below one of the previous feature articles I wrote very early on. More to follow :

BDR mutiny hits capital of Bangladesh and Scotland Yard

and the FBI move in to investigate

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, was the site of a mutiny beginning on 25th February 2009 when a number of members of the Bangla Desh Rifles (BDR) – an association of ex-Army paramilitary individuals whom guard the borders of Bangladesh – stormed an annual Senior Commanding Officer meeting in the BDR Headquarters and opened fire with automatic rifles. A number of bodies thought to be related have been found onsite at the Headquarters in mass graves and in sewers. Officers’ wives and civilians caught in the crossfire who were killed in the process of the two day clash have also been found. It is believed the total number of people slaughtered to be 75. However, as Commerce Minister, Faruk Khan commented to AFP, this has not been confirmed as yet: “There are a number of figures we have not been able to finalise yet, including he exact death toll, how many people were involved, and how many ran away.”

Initially, It was claimed by the soldiers that the revolt was due to a dispute over ‘pay and conditions’, but as the story unfolds, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has commented that the individuals are attempting to “throw over democracy”.

Recently elected PM Hasina came into power in Bangladesh in January 2009 bringing a democracy system with her, and ending the two year army-backed reign of the country.

The incident has brought to light the tensions existing in Bangladesh since the elections in December 2008. Undoubtedly, PM Hasina will be feeling pressure from the army to take appropriate action with regards to the mutiny as despite Hasina having swiftly granted the mutineers amnesty and ending the 33 hour conflict, officers appear to not think this sufficient. A You Tube video has surfaced depicting a meeting held two days after the incident. In the forty minute video, military men are seen addressing PM Hasina as to their dissatisfaction in the delay of the government’s actions, which they believe has cost unnecessary lives. One such officer demanded in the video that “you are responsible for all the deaths because you did not allow the army to intervene and we want explanation from you”. Others are heard to jeer at Hasina’s responses. The video was initially banned in what was described as in the “national interest” as the government believed it would further destabilise the country but this has since been lifted.

At current time, it is believed the banned extremist group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), have played a part in this as is suggested by Minister Khan when he told AFP that, “We are in the process of interrogating the 40 or so people we have arrested. We have found in the process of examining their files that some of them have links to the JMB.” The group had laid dormant during the two year reign of the army but sources suggest that they started to regroup during the elections.

Investigations from both the army and the government are underway, with external assistance in the form of Scotland Yard and the FBI.

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