Bangladesh intelligence agencies have alerted the Hasina government about a ‘conspiracy’ by a major Power that seems to be seeking to unseat her.
Easternlink has seen reports linked to the alert ,but requested by top sources not to reproduce them immediately for security reasons.
The major Power is upset with Hasina regime’s growing closeness with China which is Bangladesh’s major development partner now and Bangladesh’s unwillingness to militarily cooperate in several sensitive anti-China efforts .
The major Power was also counting on India’s pre-occupation with China border imbroglio to pull this off, because India , which has always thwarted attempts to destabilise Hasina regime, was now too badly tied down with Covid and the border imbroglio with China which would sap its energies for any major regional response and it would not be able to oppose the major Power.
Several meetings in South Asian capitals involving officials of the Major Power and some top business persons in Bangladesh, former military-intelligence personalities of the country living abroad , two media personalities and one legal eagle have been held , first physically in January-February and then virtually due to the Covid inspired lockdown.
Top sources in Dhaka says the leak has come from one of the ‘conspirators’ who was drafted into the group by his one-time service junior but who has then realised the consequences of the plot and backed off to alert Bangladesh agencies.
The meetings have led to a plot with a clear time frame for a ‘regime change’ , to achieve which three concerted efforts were agreed upon — (a) widening the gap between PMO and Army by feeding ‘absolutely baseless rumours’ of army chief’s designs despite proven track record of loyalty to the PM and her family (b) provoking massive unrest over alleged failure to tackle Covid-19 spread and especially focus on spreading labour unrest in the garment sector and unrest among students and youth over joblessness (c) coordinating Islamist terror groups and Opposition parties to attack Awami Leaguers and instigate assassinations of key figures to demoralise the ruling party.
It was decided to fan the unrest with specific agitations between June and September and wait for success in removing Gen Aziz Ahmed, a highly loyal army chief but who has been repeatedly slandered as an ‘Indian stooge’ by interested quarters and whose efforts to unite the military to put up a strong response to the Covid crisis has been thwarted by conspirators led by a “Pakistan-supported” adviser in the PMO.
The plot’s success was based on the ability of the conspirators to remove Gen Aziz and installing a pliant or compliant general who would buy into the regime change agenda of the major power. Using the extensive unrest caused and the chaos spread to discredit the government, the army would move in to remove the government , based on a old judicial formula rejected in the supreme court — cancel the poll results in uncontested seats where Awami League won victory and make it untenable for the government to continue.
A caretaker ‘national government’ would be formed with the Pakistan-backed PMO adviser heading it as ‘President’ and a whole host of conspirators drawn from business-industry, military-intelligence veterans, opposition politicians, one Awami League politician , two media personalities and a cabal of overseas Bangladeshis’ taking over the responsibility to run the country ‘until such time the situation stabilised.’
The next stage would be create a political party drawn from ‘like-minded authentic nationalists’ and ‘Bangali Islanmists’ who would effectively undermine the spirit of 1971 in the garb of an ‘Islam drivenBangali nationalism’ that would severely limit minority rights.
On the India question, the conspirators were unclear — if the Major Power insisted on good India-Bangladesh relations for a stable strategic zone to take on China, the ‘national government’; would endorse all agreements signed with India on connectivity but push India to guarantee no adverse fallout from the NRC-CAA exercise and guarantee no backing for minority groups in the country, specially in the strategically sensitive Chittagong Hill Tracts.
The Major Power would step up , through its human rights and civil society fronts, a huge slander campaign against the Hasina government that would be coordinated with the agitations which may trigger strong police reaction and further alienate the people.
“The boast of some Opposition leaders that the Hasina government would fall like a pack of cards soon under international pressure was not an empty one. They were based on some hunch if not direct knowledge that a huge conspiracy was afoot,” said a top Bangladesh intelligence source.
But with a leading retired figure living overseas blowing the whistle, the cat is now out of bag.
Hasina has moved decisively to sort out differences within the Army, General Aziz is not only going to finish his term but even contest elections on an AL ticket in 2024 poll. Some see him as a future Defence Minister .
Other senior generals who may have been tricked into backing the conspirators have realised the enormity of the conspiracy and its impact on Bangladesh army and economy and have rallied round the Chief and PM.
” The conspirators were exploiting petty service rivalries within the army to divide the fine professional institution that Bangladesh army had emerged into after the nerve-racking mutinies and coups/ counter-coups of 1970-80s,” said a top retired general on condition of anonymity.
Easternlink learns of some conspirators being on the run but details cannot be disclosed because much of the response from the Bangladesh establishment is still unfolding.
When Easternlink exposed part of this ‘nefarious conspiracy’ of trying to create gap between PMO and Army Chief, the main conspirator sought to mobilise his media assets ( all marginal and dubious websites) to attack Eastenlink editorial director Subir Bhaumik , floating Youtube material slandering him as a ‘ RAW agent’ , an ‘Awami League stooge’ and even as a ‘BNP-Jamaat agent’.
When asked to react , Bhaumik pointed to his book ‘ Insurgent Crossfire”, based on his Oxford thesis, where he had exposed in detail the RAW’s involvement in building up the PCJSS-Shanti Bahini armed insurgency in Chittagong Hill Tracts . “I challenge you to show me any work by any Bangladeshi or Western scholar with so much depth of exposure on what was easily the greatest security concern of Bangladesh,” he said.
“My thesis is about state -sponsored tit-for-tat insurgencies in post colonial South Asia where most nations , except the smallest ones , have backed insurgencies against each other. Indira Gandhi decided to back the CHT insurgency because she could not accept the 1975 assassination of ‘brother’ Mujib and much of his family.”
Bhaumik also pointed to his article on Hasina’s anti-Raw tirade which exposed how the RAW sought to back the Khaleda Zia regime and the secret nexus between the ruling “BJP’ and BNP.
Bhaumik said BNP politicians have demanded his arrest for his article in Times of India before 2014 elections which was interpreted by the party leaders as ‘a call for Indian intervention.’ “I had written about why India tends to back Awami League and the Mujib family but as usual, it was misinterpreted .”
The slander against Bhaumik has been furious and full of what Marx called ‘antagonistic contraditions’ .
While some have attacked him as an ‘Awami League stooge’ , few have now blamed him for being an agent of BNP-Jamaat.
Taj Hashmi , while explaining why India is not merely loosing ground in Ladakh but also in Bangladesh, have described Bhaumik an ‘active Indian warrior.’
“Renowned BBC journalist and author Subir Bhaumik – the Editorial Director at Eastern Link in India – has been one of the most active warriors of the Indian government (widely believed in Bangladesh to be an employee of the RAW) in the realm of propaganda warfare, against Bangladesh. He is a hyperbolic, sensationalist writer, whose writings on Bangladesh is full of inaccuracies and blatant lies, which often demonise the country as one on the verge of becoming a dysfunctional state, and tarnish the image of the BNP as the promoter of Islamist militancy along with the Jamaat-e-Islami. Quite frequently, he loves to invent the bogey of Islamist terrorism in Bangladesh. Last but not least, his liking for the Awami League is obvious; and his portrayal of the party,”
Bhaumik, pointing his whole book chapter about RAW’s CHT involvement and in backing BNP (2001-2006) , has also drawn attention to the equally furious attack on him by Hindu fundamentalists and Assamese parochial regionalists in India.
He was sued in Assam for his expose of the travails of the Bengali Hindus and Muslims during the NRC process and an unsigned list of targetted anti-NRC writers were floated by Assamese chauvinists in the media scape, Bhaumik’s name right at the top.
Hindu fundamentalists have labelled him as a ‘wolf in lambskin’ hardcore Bengali separatist and so much else.
Mistaking his passionate upholding of Bangladesh’s many causes including a fair water-sharing deal, an Indian paper once mistook his nationality calling him a leading Bangladesh journalist.https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/bangladesh-on-top-cricket-victories-over-india-and-pakistan-reflect-a-larger-resurgence-of-the-country/ https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/when-bangladesh-pm-sheikh-hasina-visits-new-delhi-soon-she-will-be-looking-for-deliverables/
So what has the Tripura-origin journalist-writer who has fought countless battles in court and in public domain has to say about the swirling allegations that he is an ‘Awami League stooge’, at the same time a ‘BNP-Jaamat agent’ , a ‘Raw agent’, a ‘Bengali seperatist’ and a ‘parochial Bengali nationalist against Assamese interest’ !
Subir Bhaumik’s reactions :
“As a proud Bengali , I am keen to see Bangladesh rise as an economically and militarily strong nation , its head held high in the Comity of Nations, because only if Bangladesh rises will neighbouring Indian states, especially West Bengal and Tripura will have a future by capitalising on spin-off benefits. As a man from Tripura, I know we don’t benefit one bit if there is growth in Gujarat or Maharashtra, but if Bangladesh rises, we have a future.
” I have huge respect for Sheikh Hasina for what she has done for her country , the benefits of which have also covered us in East and Northeast India. For a divided people who have suffered so much and reduced to penury and uncertain existence by Paritition that was imposed , yes imposed, on us , I consider her to be last hope of the entire Bengali- speaking world, though that does not make me overlook the emerging weaknesses of the Awami League and the shortcomings of her government. In one piece, I have even talked about ‘Hosni Mubarak police state syndrome’ rearing its ugly head in Bangladesh and the marginalisation of politically motivated Bengali lower and upper middle nationalists in Awami League at the hands of an opportunist class of crony capitalists whose only nationality or language is money — and that worries me enormously.
“In my first article in the recent weeks on Bangladesh army, I clearly debunked the Nirmala Saha thesis of MSS-CIA backing of an anti-Aziz clique but I called for Hasina’s intervention to set right the fissures showing up in the Bangladesh Army , which I rightly suspected to be part of deliberate machinations.
“Far from debunking Bangladesh as a failed state, a description I reserve for Pakistan, I have advocated to Indian leaders to strengthen Bangladesh if only to prove the hollowness of Pakistan as a failed state . To handle Kashmir, all that India has to do is hold up the Bangladesh example — if 60 percent of Pakistan’s population, the Bengali Muslim, did not get justice in Pakistan, what can the Kashmiri Muslim, likely to be less than five percent of United Kashmir population in Pakistan expect from Islamabad ? Yes, as a liberal Bengali and Indian, I am pained at the continuing conflict in Kashmir and the marginalisation of the very people who once stood by the Indian army in 1965 to foil ‘Operation Gibraltar’ of Yayha-Bhutto clique. A nation is never strong if it has just military or economic power — it is strong when it has national cohesiveness that is achieved by fairness of treatment to all including minorities and a shared sense of destiny.
“Now that the conspiracy has been unravelled and Apa (Hasina) is aware of it, we can relax but there is no place for complacency because the dark forces of 1975 are still active. I want a strong Bangladesh, a strong Bangladesh army , a strong Bangladesh economy and a strong expression of Bangali culture across the frontiers. I was born a Bangali, will die a Bangali, was also born in India and will die an Indian , so JOI BANGLA, JAI HIND. I am not one , despite an Oxford degree, to leave my country and then preach nationalism from a safe distance . When it comes to Indian nationalism, let me say I go for the Subhas Bose rather than the Savarkar variety with all the Bengali passion in my heart ( married not on the Brahmin’s advice by almanac but on the birthday of Bose, 23 rd January) .And please remember if Jai Hind was coined by Bose, Joi Bangla was coined by the great ‘Bangabandhu’ , like Tagore wrote the national anthem of both countries. ” I see no contradiction between a resurgent , strong Bangladesh and a rising India , though growth of religious fundamentalism in both countries pains me enormously. If anyone in India or Bangladesh has a problem with that, it is not my problem but one for those ill at ease with a rising Bangladesh and a rising India. And as a passionate Bangali and a free Indian, I have the damm right to speak my mind, I am happy agencies in my country cannot shut me up like the ISI forced my good friend Shaheen Sehbai or Ghulam Hasnain to flee , so if someone thinks pressure and slander will silence my voice, you live in a fool’s paradise. Bangabandhu had said rightly — amader dabhay rakte parba na ( You cannot keep us down).
” As far as the organised slander against me and vested efforts to keep out of Bangladesh , I can only say I expect this to happen because I know I am taking on a hugely influential cabal who is now in tizzy over the expose and is going berserk. I went to a military school in my childhood , so I know what a foxhole is — pour water from one side and find out where all it comes out from. My pieces have served that purpose, we know clearly who the conpirators or their collaborators are. “