5 Hizb ut-Tahrir members arrested in Bangladesh coup plot
Dhaka, Jan 21 – Bangladesh’s elite anti-terror force has arrested five members of the banned Islamist outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir in connection with a failed coup attempt, as it launched a massive manhunt to nab key suspect Major Syed Ziaul Haque.
Rapid Action Battalion has arrested five activists of Hizb ut-Tahrir which was suspected to have links with the plot through Major Haque, an army spokesman said today.
The spokesman said that a massive manhunt was underway to arrest the fugitive Major and law enforcing agency raided his in-laws home in southwestern Patuakhali district yesterday as part of the campaign.
One security personnel was injured during the arrests yesterday.
Bangladesh army on Thursday said it has foiled a plot to topple the government and have arrested two former officers besides launching a manhunt for a fugitive in-service Major while some 16 others are being kept under strict vigil.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today accused opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party of having involvement in the failed coup plot.
Speaking at a party meeting, she said the abortive coup had a visible link with BNP chief and her arch-rival Khaleda Zia’s earlier comments pledging to out the government by 2012.
“There will be no more usurping power in Bangladesh by taking shortcuts,” she said.
No comments from BNP was immediately available on Hasina’s remark but a senior party leader and former law minister Moudud Ahmed rejected the allegation saying BNP never wanted to go to power through undemocratic means.
“Awami League government’s failure and their extreme bad governance might have prompted the abortive coup,” he said.
Meanwhile, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed told PTI that detail coup plan was unfolding gradually and suspects were likely to be tried in court marshal under Army Act.
“According to the Army Act, serving military personnel should be tried in court marshal for this type of crimes and the same law suggests that even the retired military people and civilians can also be tried under the Army Act for seducing such conspiracy, if they (civilians) are not tried for sedition under the civil Penal Court,” Ahmed said.
Brigadier-General Mohammad Masud Razzak had told a crowded press conference at Dhaka Cantonment on Thursday that 14 to 16 officers were under vigil as investigations were underway on the their suspected involvement while the detained two former officers “bluntly admitted their role in the plot”.
He said they all were officers of “middle level” and the arrested officers are Lt Col Ehsan Yousuf and Major Zakir.
An army spokesman had said Maj Haque sent e-mails to different serving officers to execute coup operation on January 9 and 10.
Bangladesh has a long history of coups and counter coups.
The country was under direct or pseudo military rules for over a decade, since August 15, 1975, when the country’s founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated along with most of his family members.
The present government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which came to power in early 2009, has faced repeated threats from hardline groups. PTI