Dhaka, Jan 19: The Bangladesh Army on Thursday said that it foiled a coup by a group of hardline officers and some of their retired colleagues and Bangladeshi conspirators living abroad to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina.
Army spokesperson Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq while briefing the media said the Army had specific evidence that around 16 current and former Army officers "with extreme religious views" were planning the "heinous conspiracy" of overthrowing the government. Razzaq said the plot was also instigated by Bangladeshi conspirators, who are living abroad.
"We have unearthed a heinous conspiracy to overthrow the democratic government through the army. The attempt has been thwarted with the whole-hearted efforts of army soldiers," Razzaq said in a written statement. Razzaq said that some religious fanatic army officers were also involved. According to reports, two retired officers, Lieutenant Colonel Ehsan Yusuf and Major Zakir, have been arrested, but Razzaq refused to divulge any names. Razzaq, however, said that the Army was looking out for another serving officer, Major Ziaul Haq, who reportedly fled his post after the arrests of Yusuf and Zakir.
In 2009, the Hasina government, within two months of being elected, experienced a mutiny when Bangladeshi border guards mutinied over pay, perks and promotion prospects. At least 74 military commanders were killed, many of them the commanders of the mutineers.
Bangladesh has seen two presidents killed in military coups. Hasina's father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the nation, was assassinated in the first military coup in 1975, four years after Bangladesh was liberated from Pakistan. Six years later in another coup, in 1981, army general turned president Ziaur Rahman, the husband of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Hasina's main political rival, was killed.