- Public speculation by many, including the prime minister herself, termed the tragedy as an external conspiracy.
- One explanation for the mutiny was that the rebel soldiers opened fire on their officers when they dismissed appeals for better pay.
- The viciousness of the mutiny convinced many Bangladeshis that something more than work-related grievances was behind the rebellion.
- The crisis had exposed fault lines between the civilian government and junior-and-mid-rank army officers.
August 17, 2019 B.Z. KhasruARMY CHIEF AND THE MUTINY After the elected Awami League government took over in January 2009, army chief Moeen showed commitment to the concept of civilian control over the military. During the mutiny, the chief followed Hasina’s orders. Though many in the Bangladesh Army were urging immediate use of force to put down the mutiny, the prime minister first tried to negotiate with the mutineers in an effort to avoid a military operation that would have resulted in casualties not only among the mutineers and army, but also among Dhaka residents living near the site of the mutiny. The rebellion ended after Hasina in a nationally televised speech threatened to use force if they did not surrender. She reiterated her offer of a general amnesty and her promise to address concerns raised by the rank-and-file over pay, benefits and allegations of corruption among the Bangladesh Rifles leaders. In the mutiny’s aftermath, many in the military criticized army chief General Moeen Ahmed for following the prime minister’s orders. In a volatile March meeting between the prime minister and a large gathering of army officers, mid-level and senior army officers verbally attacked the prime minister. They shouted at her and tore off insignia on their uniforms in protest of her handling of the mutiny and in anguish over the loss of their comrades. They were later disciplined by the military. The government committee investigating the mutiny found no links to militancy or foreign forces to the massacre. Mirroring the findings of other probes, it also blamed long-running grievances over pay and perks as well as BDR men’s negative attitude toward the army officials for the mutiny. The review found that the men were angry because they were harshly treated by the army officers who led a luxurious life, while the border guards they supervised lacked basic necessities of life. The rebels also faulted the army officers for the lack of transparency in running BDR fair-price-rice shops during a food crisis in 2008. When his attention was drawn to a comment by Commerce Minister Faurq Khan suggesting links of militants and foreign elements to the insurrection, panel chief Anis-uz Zaman dismissed it as “his own.” Khan’s view reflected a widely circulated rumor in Bangladesh where a section of people always find a foreign hand whenever an unfortunate event strikes the nation. “Really, we did not find any link of militancy and overseas states to the incident,” Anis-uz-Zaman said. “We’ve prepared the report. [This article is based on U.S.-based journalist B.Z. Khasru’s upcoming book, “One Eleven, Minus Two: Prime Minister Hasina’s War on Yunus and America.”]