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Archive for March, 2010

In an age of web revolution, the silhouette of actual revolution has been changed a bit. In recent times we have seen many ‘color revolutions’ taking place around the globe which skeptics assert as ‘facebook revolutions’. It gives us a hint that now you can maneuver a movement through using means of web technologies. Similarly Blogs, another recent web innovation, is also increasingly becoming an alternative kind of sources of information. And in the time of ’embedded journalism’ (nowadays the word ’embedded’ has lessen the magnitude of the other such kind – ‘yellow’), people merely trust journalists of what they write or opine. Therefore, blogs have emerged as an unconventional source for knowing untold stories, facts and facets of events. This has sometimes also widened the scope for spreading false propaganda. Whether or not we know the grounds reality of Iran’s recent post-election unrest, ‘Neda’ can be portrayed as an idol to the rest of the world, especially to the west. Keeping this skepticism aside, most of us will surely acknowledge the fact that blogs really help us find some interesting facts which could hardly be known or disclosed otherwise.

We are nearly approaching to mark one year of one of the black events of our history — the BDR Mutiny. It took place right on 25th -26th February last year. Since then, our national life has slowly crept into the normalcy and the nightmare of bloods has somehow been erasing from the memoirs. Deceaseds’ families are trying to adjust to their new lives with implanting new hopes and building new dreams with looking for a completely different world. Time is really the best healer. But on the other side, there still many contentious spots remain vivid, rumors and suspicions continue to take important place in public discourse and spreading hatred and pointing finger against each other sees no stop at the end. Many blogs, facebook groups, and websites joined to further fuel into the fire of propaganda war that the killing was spearheaded by the ruling party men. Many of them shyly put a threat that these ‘conspirators’ will have to face trial in a favorable time in the near future. I had the chance to look into at least five such interesting observations which were being widely spread out on web. Unhesitatingly, many people are with these points and rigidly believe that their bullets hardly miss targets while others continue to believe otherwise.

1. Why did the Government not have any information on the conspiracy of this magnitude?
2. Why did the government send inexperienced ministers to negotiate with the rebels?
3. Why did the ministers Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Shahara Khatun go in and out of the BDR compound without need for security? Why did they feel safe and secure in such a hostile environment?
4. Why did PM Hasina give the BDR rebels general amnesty without confirming the fate of the Army officers and their families?
5. Why did the government move the Army 3km away from the BDR camp and black out the whole area? Effectively allowing the criminals to flee from the scene?

These five seemingly serious allegations were put on an article of an Islamist website and subsequently on many blogs and facebook groups. I was very curious about these arguments and have given some thoughts in it.

To me, the first allegation can quite easily be dismissed. It is very interesting proposition that a new government who took office merely a month ago (of the mutiny) and whose grip on power in different organs of the state (administration, military, security intelligences, and all other organs) was virtually inexistent, could endeavor for such a deadly massacre which event’s sensitivity could easily ouster the newly installed government without any prejudice given the context of a third world country’s internal balance of power.

For the second one, I didn’t find any barometer of what ‘experienced minister’ really mean (why should Sahara Khatun at the age of 65 and Jahangir Kabir Nanok at the age of around 55 be considered as such inexperienced and in which barometers). If having no experience in running a public office is being considered as inexperience, this would hardly suit to the idea of injecting new and fresh bloods into the politics. During 2008 US Election, we frequently heard an argument against Democratic Party contender Barak Obama that he was too inexperienced to run a country like United States. Many, including Hilary Clinton, even mocked at Obama that there was no chance for an on-job-training in the US Presidency! But after having one year in office or so far, no one spotted him as that much childish. Ours example is more of a bizarre kind where a mere housewife, not well-educated, exceptionally skilled or having expertise or brilliance in any sphere of knowledge, was pretty qualified for the office of the Prime Minister twice! Therefore, this allegation is hardly justified, especially when the argument comes from that particular club.

Third allegation makes little sense. We do not understand why BDR Jawans would have attacked and killed those ministers who were negotiating and trying to address, among other issues, soldiers’ demands. Apparently this one contradicts with the second allegation where experience ministers were sought to deal with the issue. What does all it stands for? Experienced ministers should have a free passage to enter inside Pilkhana to negotiate and should be exempted from being a target only because they are experienced?! And inexperience ministers should have been the target only because they failed to secure some scores on experience barometers! Really an interesting proposition.

The issue of general amnesty has been widely discussed, perhaps the most talked about issue surrounding BDR mutiny. Many argue that the government declared amnesty to rebels given the fact that they raised some valid demands on their part and public opinion, up until then, was on BDR’s side. It can be assumed that the government has just played to the gallery, affirming their position that they are not against those valid demands. And it would not pose any serious question or whatsoever if the officers were not killed, and with such a brutal and heinous way which in turn, all of a sudden, altered public opinion against BDR Jawans. If we consider the whole thing as a rebellion, and the likely face-to-face confrontation among many army and BDR camps scattered around the country, the general amnesty was deemed to be a good decision to quell the tensed situation, checking further incitement and to bring rebels back to the negotiation. Well, if one does not prefer negotiation and instead opt for a military solution, he will have to face a completely different situation altogether which could be even more dangerously bloody given the length and breadth of the mutiny. Perhaps then we could manage to save some of those officers, but hundreds of BDR Jawans and army soldiers and many more civilians across the country could face a different fate. However, if someone goes for the value judgment of lives, and conclude that lives of officers are more worthy than those of soldiers and common people, the argument will also face controversy. We know that the life of a Head of any state (President or Prime Minister) is considered more precious than the millions (we know the White House has a capsule implanted deep inside the underground banker which could save the US President even from a possible nuclear attack; no matter what will happen to the whole Washington DC, the President should alive!), even then, we lost our two Presidents who were brutally killed by these victims’ fellow officers. They did not even consider one of the killed Presidents’ family members’ rights to exist!

Fourth allegation is also very dubious and is too a self-contradictory one. At the one hand one is asking for a military solution – attack on the rebellion’s base – and on the other hand criticising military preparedness! We know that surroundings and adjacent areas of Pilkhana are highly densely populated. We understood from the later clarifications by the concerned high ups of the government that they initially avoided the idea of an attack and opted for negotiation to seek a peaceful (later we discovered that it was not that peaceful as all expected) and political solution to the issue. And putting their enough in negotiating the matter, they prepared for the both – continue the negotiation and if that collapse – carry out an attack. For the second option, they reasonably plead to people living adjacent to Pilkhana to go and find a safer place. This is not an unorthodox decision in any consideration. You cannot start bombing and shelling without notifying innocent civilians for a safe exit. If the Jawans took advantage of that massive exodus, we cannot dismiss the logic for giving civilians a chance to vacate the area. The only allegation one can put here is the failure of the government to cordon the area with enough care and sensitivity. There are also some heated remarks on blackouts. This is also an irrational blame-game. Blackout can easily be maneuvered by the soldiers themselves and it was so easy to switch off the power station inside the Pilkhana. No one needs to be a rocket scientist to understand this simple math.

Military operations are the worst solution ever if you look back the history. It only brings miseries and innumerable sufferings to many. Yes, we lost 57 officers and if any kind of military operation carried out, maybe we could save a few of them, but the cost would have been so high given the political consideration. Let alone the apparent massacres of BDR soldiers, their families, and civilians, there would have been some deep spots left on the psyche of the nation’s second largest force. BDR Jawans who rebelled for some of their just causes, would unhesitatingly face defeat. But not every defeat is a win. That defeat would not augur any good for the nation. The BDR forces would always consider that their just causes were quelled by force. Instead, now, at least, they have some resentment that they chose a wrong path by executing such brutal killings of their fellow officers.

We, the common people, want objective analysis of the event. Every responsible party should stop politicising this very sensitive matter further. The nation has already paid high cost for politicising our military which was began by one of our ‘General’ President in the mid-70s and consolidated by the other ‘General’ in 80s. Therefore, officers themselves are also partly to blame to be the victim of politicisation within the military. We need to maintain a clear and distinct line between civilian and military affairs. The more we maintain the safe line, the better for the nation. Subsequently, we want our leaders to focus on economic prosperity in an age of Asian Century (21st century is being considered as a century led by Asian resurgence). Time has arrived to say goodbye to the politics of fear mongering, spreading hatred against neighbours, and false propaganda. The people are much more aware now than decades ago. Almost each and every part of the country now enjoys the access of national news media – at least print media. People are watching who is doing what and how. Those old stories will prove futile. Let us look for issues pertaining to economic significance, issues affecting lives and livelihoods of people. Those vague jingoisms and spreading xenophobia are the matters of 20th century politics and not the story of 21st century. Our leaders must apprehend that.

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