Friday, March 13, 2009

It wasn't the butler...

Well, it wasn't the butler - ie, the JMB.

Suppose the JMB did it: why then didn't the prime minister send the army right after the first call from General Shakil, when he sensed a mutiny in the ranks?

Second, why did it take the tanks 32 hours to get from Savar to Dhaka?

Third, how did 7,000 people escape the precincts of the BDR?

Fourth, who turned off the lights so they could escape?

Fifth, when the officers grilled the PM, they said nothing about the JMB - they are not fools, you know.

They blamed only one person - the prime minister (and General Moeen the previous day).

Sixth, Director General of RAB, Hasan Mahmud Khondoker, when asked about possible militant involvement firmly dismissed the idea: "Religious militancy in Bangladesh is under control of law-enforcing agencies at the moment (Bangladesh Observer, 12 March 2008, p 8).

However, a Daily Star report of the same day, by its journalist Anwar Ali ("back from Bagmara, Rajshahi") says: "At least four of the mutineers of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) are believed to have been active members of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) before they joined the paramilitary force."

And according to the Hindustan Times, Commerce Minister Lt Col (Retd) Faruq Khan said: "...some JMB connections have been found.("

And the Daily Star, in the same issue, was quick to confirm the militant's hand in the article: "Terror struck back at its buster" (the Star covers up its poor syntax and grammar with exuberantly mysterious headlines). Translation: Colonel Gulzar, who had been instrumental in subjugating the JMB, was among the officers dead and so mutilated that it took a DNA test to identify his body; ergo, the JMB did it.

Yet in the 4th March issue, the Star had already said: " 4 more bodies identified
3 others await DNA test; 5 army officers still missing; investigators rummage through BDR HQ for evidence."

Indeed, in the 12th March issue, after describing how Colonel Gulzar's father had been killed in 1971 by the Pakistan army, the report goes on to say: " There were five unidentified bodies rescued from mass graves or sewers. These bodies bear the marks of severe brutality. Only a DNA test could confirm who is who. Gulzar's family could not say if one of those bodies was his.

"Organic samples from these bodies were collected and close relatives of the missing army officers also gave blood samples for the DNA testing. Samples were cross-checked with Gulzar's 14-year-old daughter Zahin Tasnia's genetic imprint.

"On Tuesday, two of the DNA test results popped up, one identifying Lt Col Elahi Monjur Chowdhury and the other Gulzar."

Therefore, Colonel Gulzar's body wasn't the only mutilated body found – therefore, the killers did not single him out for special mutilation.

To sum up: we have the DG Rapid Action Battalion categorically denying any militant involvement (Observer, March 12, p8); the Daily Star observed: " When asked about the involvement of Islamist militant outfits and the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) in the mutiny Rab DG averted the query and said the Islamist militants are now under complete control of the law-enforcement agencies.(12th March, p1)."

But, the Commerce Minister insinuates that there were "some" JMB links. Why was he speaking about a pending investigation in the first place?

As to intelligence failure, that's no surprise. A few years ago I was speaking to a government officer, and I was told that the intelligence branches were now totally occupied in assessing the loyalty, not only of army officers but even junior level government officers, to the two political parties.

"When would they get the time to do any intelligence work?" he asked me, rhetorically.

Many of the army's top brass are Awami League loyalists: they are leaning hard on the investigators to cover things up and lead the inquiry into another direction. Like every institution, the army is highly politicized: those loyal to Sheikh Hasina will never allow an open investigation, so it is alleged. Hence the JMB red herring, which, in fact, started off in the Indian newspapers.

"The Jamaat-e-Islami, which would suffer the most in any 1971 war crimes trial, is believed to be the main conspirator with the shadow of Pakistan, whose president has appealed to Hasina to defer the trials, lurking. ...

"If Jamaat's role in the massacre is conclusively established, Islamic radicals will risk the army's wrath. That's not bad for Hasina. Hopefully, the mutiny won't make her back out on the war crimes trials and cases related to the Sheikh Mujib murder and Chittagong arms seizure. If she doesn't go all out to decimate her Islamist rivals politically, she could be looking at another conspiracy." This was published in – of all papers – the Times of India (TOP ARTICLE Clear and Present Danger, 10 March 2009

So, the JMB-militant-Jamaat theory emanated from – where else? – India, and that's the direction the Awami League, aided by its generals and newspapers like the Daily Star, in turn backed by the western donor community, will take us – up the garden path (or is it down?).

Meanwhile, the army so despises General Moeen that even majors are reluctant to salute him. If he resigns in the next few days, he will retire with a modicum of honour. Otherwise he'll go down in ignominy in the sorry annals of this sorry nation.

It wasn't the butler that did it, though – it was the maidservant.

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