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Pak footprint shows up in Bangladesh mutiny

Pak footprint shows up in Bangladesh mutiny

Author: Indrani Bagchi
Publication: The Times of India
Date: March 1, 2009

The first sign of a Pakistani footprint is showing up in the bloody mutiny that shook Bangladesh this week. As mass graves continue to spew forth more bloody tales-10 more bodies have been recovered, bringing the toll to 76-what is emerging slowly is a larger design behind the apparently senseless killing over the past couple of days.

Preliminary interrogations of some rebels have thrown up the name of Salauddin Qadeer Chowdhury, a shipping magnate reportedly close to the Pakistan military-intelligence establishment and the opposition BNP. Sources say about one crore taka has already changed hands to help the mutiny along.

Chowdhury, a close associate of opposition BNP leader Begum Khaleda Zia, was closely connected to the 2004 Chittagong arms drop, apparently intended for ULFA. The ships that were caught carrying the arms were his.

Salauddin Chowdhury, who belongs to an old Chittagong family, has been close to Pakistan for decades.

Trouble continues to brew in Dhaka, where army cadres, particularly mid-level officers, are spoiling for a fight with Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) cadres. So far, the country's army leaders, led by army chief Moeen Ahmed, have kept officers in check, which makes the present situation slightly different from that in 1975.

Fire service operations chief Sheikh Mohammad Shahjalal said 50 officers were still missing. "We have removed 10 bodies. They not only shot them dead but also mutilated some with bayonets," he added.

It's increasingly clear that the chief targets are the army chief Moeen Ahmed and prime minister Sheikh Hasina who, reports say, has been moved to an army guest house for her safety. A number of plots are surfacing, all intended to create confusion while the real targets would have been attacked.

Sources say the brutality of the murders reflect radical Islamist ideologies among the lower cadres of the BDR, who have links to Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh.

The mutiny may have been spurred by Hasina's proposed war crimes tribunal to try Pakistani collaborators during the independence war, which could embarrass the Pak army.

After the dust settles, Hasina and Ahmed may launch a purge in the army, which could create its own tensions.

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