Bangladesh coup attempt foiled (Lead)

January 19th, 2012 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, Jan 19 (IANS) An attempt to topple Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government by engineering a coup by a group of military officers has been thwarted, the Bangladesh Army said Thursday.

The Bangladesh Army said efforts by some officers to topple the government have been foiled and that the process to bring the culprits to justice has begun.

“Specific information has been unearthed that some officers in active military service have been involved in the conspiracy to topple the system of democratic governance,” bdnews24.com quoted army spokesman Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq as saying.

Razzaq branded the accused army officers as having extreme religious views.

Bangladesh has witnessed coups since its liberation in 1971.

Sheikh Hasina’s father, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, was killed in a military putsch. A dozen officers - serving, retired or dismissed - led the coup in which Mujib and most of his family were killed Aug 15, 1975.

On Nov 19, 2009, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh upheld the death sentence of 12 self-confessed assassins. Five of them, Syed Farooq Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, A.K.M. Mohiuddin Ahmed and Mohiuddin Ahmed, were hanged Jan 28, 2010.

Razzaq said: “Some unruly military officers have been actively engaged in the execution of the heinous conspiracy through maintaining contacts with fugitive Maj. Zia (Syed Mohammad Ziaul Huq) by mobile phones and internet.”

“On Dec 22 last year, Maj. Zia met a senior officer and tried to provoke that senior officer into using the army against the state and democracy,” Razzaq said.

“The senior officer immediately informed the appropriate authorities and his (Maj. Zia’s) leave and transfer order was cancelled.”

“But he did not return to work and has still kept himself engaged in trying to organise subversive activities against the army,” he said.

On Dec 28, a court of inquiry was established.

“Stern legal measures will be taken against those involved,” Razzaq said.

“Recently, at the instigation of some of non-resident Bangladeshis, some serving as well as retired officers with extreme religious views have tried to create disorder in the army, riding on the religious sentiments of other officers,” he added.

A retired lieutenant-colonel was arrested after he confided in an army major Dec 13 last year about his intent to topple the government and provoked him to join.

Tension had gripped Bangladesh in 2009 when a mutiny broke out in the Bangladesh Rifles.

The bloody mutiny Feb 25-26, 2009, left 74 people dead, including 57 army officers on deputation with the paramilitary force.

On the first day of the two-day mutiny, BDR chief Maj. Gen Shakil Ahmed was shot dead by mutineers.

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