Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Operation Rebel Hunt: Army deployed across the country

Staff Reporter
As part of the ongoing drive to nab the killers of army officers the government yesterday decided to deploy the members of the armed forces across the country to arrest the fugitive rebels of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and seize missing firearms.
A Home Ministry official on condition of anonymity said yesterday the troops would be deployed in aid of the civil administration under the ‘Operation Rebel Hunt.’
“Army personnel will help the police to arrest the rebels and seize the looted arms,” the official unwilling to be named told The New Nation last night. He said the army would be withdrawn as soon the situation would come under control.
The decision came hours after the meeting of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with army officers at Sena Kunja at Dhaka Cantonment yesterday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told parliament she had summoned the army to begin ‘Operation Rebel Hunt’ to find those wanted for the 33-hour revolt in the capital, which began Wednesday.
She said some 668 members of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) were in custody and warrants had been issued for another 1,000 over the killings, which ended with dozens of mutilated bodies dumped in mass graves.
Sheikh Hasina said the army would be deployed from Monday. She said she was also seeking help from FBI agents and Britain’s Scotland Yard in the case.
Nabojit Khisa, a police station chief in Dhaka, said some of the men would be hanged if found guilty of masterminding the revolt, which finished Thursday after Sheikh Hasina met a group of BDR troops and threatened to end it by force.
Six of those who met the premier are on the wanted list for the killing spree, which was reportedly triggered by long-standing complaints over pay and conditions.
Sheikh Hasina declared an amnesty for those who surrendered, but later said those who committed murder would be punished.
Earlier Sunday at the BDR headquarters in Dhaka, where the mutiny took place, security forces and emergency relief teams dug up rose gardens in the search for 70 army officers who are still missing.
Most of the 78 bodies-many of them riddled with bullet wounds and gored by bayonets-were found in graves concealed under leaves and loose dirt. The BDR chief and his wife were among the dead.
Divers have pulled some bodies from underground sewers and an operation was under way to flush out the drainage system under the compound to make sure no corpses had been missed. Meanwhile several hundred soldiers reported to the BDR headquarters in Dhaka as a deadline for them to return to barracks expired. “I’ve been in hiding for four days because I was worried about the consequences of this,” Hossain, 35, told newsmen.
“I am stunned at how barbaric the killings were. When I heard gunshots I fled out the door in civilian dress.”
Anxious relatives of the missing-many losing hope four days after their loved ones were last seen alive-watched as those in charge of the operation promised all of the victims would be found.
Local government minister Syed Ashraful Islam told reporters that a special tribunal would be established to try the accused, while the US embassy urged “all Bangladeshis to work together to overcome this national tragedy.”
Some analysts warned that revenge attacks by outraged army officers and their allies could destabilise the country, which returned to democracy only two months ago after elections replaced a military-backed government.
“There’s a legacy of bloodshed in this country. If you spill the blood of others, they might seek revenge,” said Ataur Rahman, a professor of politics at Dhaka University.
Tensions in the BDR had simmered for months before bubbling over, reportedly when officers rejected appeals for more pay, subsidised food and holidays.

Courtesy of http://nation.ittefaq.com

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