In a press briefing Army spoke man said, it has foiled a plot by some hardline officers to topple the Sheikh Hasina government and that the process to bring the culprits to justice has begun.
Two army officers--one of lieutenant colonel rank and the other ranked major--had been arrested in this regard, Brig Gen Muhammad Masud Razzaq said at a press conference at the Army Officers' Club in Dhaka.
“Instigated by some non-resident Bangladeshis, a band of fanatic retired and serving officers had led a failed attempt to thwart the democratic system of Bangladesh by creating anarchy in the army banking on others’ religious zeal,” he said.
He also informed press that, A top army officer has been kept at log area and is under investigation. Another officer named Maj Syed Md Ziaul Haq, who was allegedly involved in the coup plot, has been absconding, he added.
The spokesman, brigadier general Muhammad Masud Razzaq, branded these officers as having extreme religious views.
Brigadier Razzaq said retired lieutenant colonel Ehsan Yusuf and major Zakir have been placed under arrest on charges of government coup plot and that they "bluntly admitted their role in the plot".
When asked how many people were involved with the plot, he said he cannot be specific with the number until the investigation ends.
"But we believe 14 to 16 people may have been linked to the coup attempt. The army could thwart the move because it has proper chain of command in place," the spokesman added.
"We are not ruling out anything," came the reply from Gen Razzaq when asked if any foreign country was involved.
To a question as to whether Comilla GOC major general Kamruzzman was missing, as rumours had it, the spokesman said he was staying in Dhaka Cantonment's Log area with his family.
"There is no such thing as house arrest in the army," Gen Razzaq said when he was asked if the officer was placed under preventive arrest.
It is rare for the army in Bangladesh to hold a news conference, which lends gravity to the alleged plot to overthrow the government. Army's chief of general staff lieutenant general Moinul Islam, acting judge advocate general colonel Muhammed Sazzad Siddique and other senior officers were present.
The army statement (Army Headquarters press briefing on ill attempts to create disorder in the army -January 19, 2012)
1. Journalists and workers of different print and electronic media who have come to this press briefing at the invitation of Bangladesh Army and the army officials present- Assalamu Alaikum.
I, Brigadier General Md Masud Razzak, Director PS Directorate, and Lt Col Muhammad Sajjad Siddique, acting judge Advocate General of the Army, welcome you to today's press briefing.
2. In today's press briefing I will first read out our statement. After I conclude you may ask questions, if you have any. I hope you have got copies of my statement. To allow all to speak, an official/journalist will place one question and mention his name and the media he represents.
3. Bangladesh Army, which was born through a glorious and bloody struggle for liberation, has earned its reputation by working sincerely at home and abroad and standing by the people of all strata.
At a time when the army was working hard to reach a higher level of quality through procuring military hardware and ensuring well-disciplined training in a well-organized manner under a democratic system of governance to arrive at Forces Goal 2030, it finds itself going through another challenging chapter in the aftermath of a legacy left behind by history. We seek the help of democratic and patriotic people through you in facing this temporary challenge.
4. Recently at the instigation of some non-resident Bangladeshis some retired and serving army officers with fanatical religious views and capitalizing on others' fanaticism led a failed attempt through their ill motivated activities to thwart the democratic system of Bangladesh by creating disorder in the army. The attempt has been foiled with the sincere attempts of the members of Bangladesh Army.
5. With the motive of creating disorder in the army a retired Lt Colonel on December 13, 2011 instigated a serving Major to join him in executing his malicious plan. The Major instantly passed on the matter through his chain of command and the retired officer was arrested under articles 2 (1) (D) (i) and 73 of the Army Act.
Another accomplice of the retired officer Major Syed Ziaul Haq on December 22, 2011 met with a serving officer and instigated him to engage in activities subversive of the state and democracy. The serving officer informed the proper authority of the matter, as a result of which the leave and transfer order of Major Zia, who had recently completed his long term training, was cancelled. He was informed over telephone on December 23, 2011 and ordered to immediately join Army headquarters Log Area in Dhaka. Major Zia, who was on leave, remained fugitive and has been trying to continue “subversive” activities against the army.
Besides, on the basis of confirmed information, another serving officer of major rank was arrested on December 31, 2011 under the above mentioned articles of Army Act for instigating other in-service officers into refraining from being loyal to the government.
6. Against the backdrop of a leaking of partial information about the conspiracy to create disorder in the army and the arrest of some individuals, fugitive Major Zia sent an e-mail to his acquaintances describing an imaginative and incredibly cooked up story of his so-called arrest and torture. Later, one Abu Sayeed uploaded the e-mail in a blog, “Soldier's Forum”, on the social network Facebook.
Later, the said officer sent out two e-mails containing imaginary and highly controversial contents styled “Mid-level Officers of Bangladesh Army are Bringing Down Changes Soon” through the internet.
On January 3, 2012, the daily Amar Desh, as part of yellow journalism and with an ill motive to spread confusion about Bangladesh Army, published the internet message of fugitive Major Zia.
In a similar vein, the banned fanatic organization Hizbut Tahrir on January 8, 2012 circulated provocative leaflets based on fugitive Major Zia's internet message throughout the country.
The following day (January 9) a major political party of the country, in tandem with the cooked up, confusing propaganda, alleged that “incidents of disappearance” had been taking place in the army, a stance which gave rise to an unwarranted, provocative debate among all conscious citizens, including those in the army.
Bangladesh Army takes this opportunity to thank all responsible print and electronic media which demonstrated their sense of professionalism and responsibility by not publishing the confusing information in the greater interest of the country.
7. On the basis of elaborate information provided by the two retired officers taken under arrest and other serving officers, specific information about the involvement of some serving officers of the army in the conspiracy to overthrow the democratic system of government through using the army has been unearthed.
Some undisciplined and derailed army officers were actively involved in executing the vile conspiracy of fugitive Major Zia by misusing mobile phones and the internet. A court of enquiry was constituted on December 28, 2011 to unearth elaborate information about the plot and its proceedings are on-going.
8. To execute the anti-state conspiracy by using the army fugitive Major Zia on January 9 and 10, 2012 sent copies of two imaginary operation orders to different serving officers through e-mail.
Besides on January 10, 2012 fugitive Major Zia, contacting some like-minded officers working in different formations or studying in different institutions over mobile phone, wanted to know about preparations for the so-called military coup as per their plan and motivated them to execute the plot.
On the same night, fugitive Major Zia contacted expatriate Bangladeshi (now probably in Hong Kong) Ishraq Hossain (father: M Raquib, Deen Manzil, village; Balubhara, union: Barshail, thana and district: Naogaon) several times. During conversation they discussed the progress of the coup and the process of implementing it. Fugitive Major Zia asked him to publish news in the media at home and abroad about the army coup in Bangladesh. Ishraq directed fugitive Major Zia to phone him at around 2 am on January 11 if the coup was completed by then so that he could reach Bangladesh by air in the shortest time. It is assumed that Mr Ishraq gave this instruction with the aim of taking advantage of conditions in a post-coup situation.
9. At a time when Bangladesh Army has been trying to organize itself as a force rich in quality through various reform activities under a political government established through democratic means, various evil forces have been making ill attempts to ride piggyback on the army a patriotic state force- to destroy democracy. As in the near and distant past they have used the sentiments of fanaticism, propaganda and rumours. Some individuals have been hyperactive in observing religious rituals, and, dissociated from family bonds, jobs and business, have joined these conspirators.
Newspapers with vested interests, banned religious militant organizations and platforms of such political parties have been used for conducting their propaganda.
In the past different evil forces banked on Bangladesh Army which grew out of victory in the Liberation War to create disorder and gain political advantage. Sometimes they succeeded and on some occasions they failed. Even so, as an organization Bangladesh Army has been carrying the burden of the disrepute such forces have earned in the past.
The professionally efficient and well disciplined members of Bangladesh Army would like to say, “We do not want to bear this liability on the shoulders of our organization.”
10. It seems that the total episode is an ill attempt by some retired and serving army officers at the instigation of Bangladeshi citizens at home and abroad capitalizing on the sentiments of the fanatics. These individuals by taking all opportunities and advantages in the army and the country have been getting involved with vested interest groups and have been trying to tarnish the enviable success, development and unity of Bangladesh Army.
Some retired and serving officers involved in the conspiracy have already admitted to their involvement unhesitatingly. After enquiry stern legal action will be taken against the guilty persons.
Such vile attempts must be resisted firmly in order to uphold the hard-earned image of the army and to smoothen the path to progress.
Every army member is ever ready to make sacrifices to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the motherland.
Nobody wants that any local or foreign vested interest group will realise their ill motive by banking on the sacrifices of the members of the army.
Fugitive Major Zia needs to surrender to the army immediately in order to enjoy legal protection and justice. All are requested to inform the proper authorities if they come by any information about the present whereabouts and activities of fugitive Major Zia.
Key words: Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Army Coup, Major Zia Email, DGFI, Bangladesh Army Press Release, Bangladesh Army Press Conference
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