On the surface, the investigation is on track in the aftermath of murder of 55 Bangladesh army officers and 19 others including wives of officers, border guards and civilians at the Bangladesh Rifles compound in Dhaka on 25th February. There is a government appointed investigation team, assisted by the US and British intelligence services agents, collecting and analyzing forensic evidences and interrogating people and a report due to come out sometime this month.

But perhaps in a clear signal that the army does not have faith in government investigations, it is conducting its own investigations.

The government investigation team has already asked for extra time to complete its investigations, which was granted by the government.

The Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, for her part has been very vocal about ‘ a certain group of people trying to destabilize her government and democracy’ — as if she already knew who the perpetrators were even before the investigations were complete. Does she know something that the public does not know?

Her commerce minister and point man for coordinating investigations of the two different agencies, retired Colonel Faruk, has already started to muddy the water by saying that members of islamist extremist group JMB were involved in the mutiny and murders — evidence of which were denied by the investigating agencies. He and the Prime Minister are also persistent about ‘Foreign links’ to the crimes, of which so far there has been no evidence.

What emerges from this is an apparent agenda by the government to pass the blame of this crime to forces outside of Bangladesh and to islamist extremist groups such as JMB, even before any evidences are found. One can argue, perhaps Sheikh Hasina and Colonel Faruk knows something that the public does not know. If that is the case, one would assume that it would serve the best interest of the investigations that they disclose whatever they know to the investigating agencies and not make allegations in media.

It is interesting to note that several members of the ruling party have been detained by the law enforcement agencies for alleged involvement in the plot.

Add to this the following information obtained from authentic sources privy to the investigations conducted by the army:

There are strong indications that some of the ruling party men were actually involved in the plot (planning and instigation).

It is probable that Bangladesh government will try to bring out a hastily prepared fabricated report on the Bangladesh Rifles massacre by the end of this month.

The original mutiny plan was less extensive but somehow it exploded beyond control. The probable motives were:

1) to drive out army from Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) to establish civilian and partisan control.

2) to take over an annual $4 billion informal border trade with India and Burma.

3) to take over hundreds of lucrative retail super shops owned by the force around the country including Dhaka (established during the Caretaker government administration)

4) to develop a counterweight to the army

5) to retain a partisan force to counter political opposition and unrest.

If the government investigation report fails to identify the true masterminds of this plot, it is certain that different political groups including the main opposition BNP and a section of civil society will reject it and call for a fresh investigation. There is a fair bit of possibility Bangladesh is headed for a showdown of some sorts over the investigations in near future and Sheikh Hasina’s political future will definitely depend on the outcome of the investigations.

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