India Feared For Sheikh Hasina’s Safety After 2009 Bangladesh Rifles Mutiny

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NEW DELHI: It was January of 2007. Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty had landed in Dhaka on January 7 to take up the challenging task of India’s high commissioner to Bangladesh in the midst of political turmoil in the country. The same month, then Bangladesh army chief General Moiuddin Ahmed worked behind the scenes to install a caretaker government of his choosing led by former World Bank economist Fakhruddin Ahmed. The caretaker government remained in place until November 2008 with General Ahmed working covertly to delay the elections in his attempt to “cleanse” his country’s political system. India, while keeping a close eye on the situation, decided to not make any formal statement, Chakravarty told Deputy Editor Parul Chandra in this interview to SNI as General Ahmed gave an explanation for not holding elections–the electoral rolls had to be rid of bogus voters, corruption had to be checked, etc. Chakravarty says India found General Ahmed was “doing certain good things” but where he failed was in his attempt to recast Bangladeshi politics by seeking to rid it of the two begums, Begum Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina. In the interview, Chakravarty also recalls the mutiny by the ranks of Bangladesh Rifles (it’s since been renamed Border Guard Bangladesh) during his tenure. It was February 2009 and Chakravarty first learnt about the gunning down of BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed, his wife and many other officers by the mutineers in Dhaka. It was a tragic event that led to a lot of bloodshed, recalls the retired diplomat, adding that India had offered help to the Sheikh Hasina government in case it was needed.

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