25.2.09

Folks, make dua for the BDR

Something awful is afoot in Dhaka, and its been going on since early morning. Its not the University this time, nor the garments workers. The Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) has gone ape, aggreived soldiers have mutinied against their officers and there's firing going on everywhere. At present the BBC reports that one rickshaw puller has been killed in the Army-BDR crossfire (but who knows really, who will ever know). 

The BDR are the people who guard the borders of country, 20 000 of them are based in the HQ in question, which is straddled by residential, commercial and educational activity in the heart of the Capital. There also some political geography to this eruption. Its near to where the Prime minister and a lot of the national-level politicians live. Posh people frequently have their weddings in the BDR Durbar Hall, and the adjacent 'Rifles Square' is military-petty commercsial complex of Bangladesh. The Prime Minister was there a day before awarding medals, when apparently all they want are better working conditions. They have been institutionally screwed around for quite a while. Then theres the international sphere, an Indian news agency alleges that the boss of the BDR has been killed, though the BDR deny this.

This is significant because it means that the Andolon Culture has penetrated the paramilitary forces. Perhaps this is the only language they feel our government understands and acceptable in current political grammar, after all they have learnt from their leaders and observed the behaviour of institutional occupiers in recent times. Maybe its miraculous that their discipline held out this long. 

Thats really sad from the point of view of precedent, but also it shows that the society does not give enough value to its border protectors. We prefer to parrot out development twaddle than address issues as we conceive and face them. This is only good news for hostile neighbours and smugglers.. and Shaytan. 

I am not too knowledgable about the co-ption of the Army proper into UN peacekeeping, but I know that a lot of their pay condition issues and institutional crapness are diffused by such lucrative work. The BDR on the other hand has far less social and economic mobility.

How the government deal with the scenario will be formative in the minds of the electorate and Dhaka's middle class, so they had better pull out their best moves. The BDR cantonment is currently surrounded by tanks and RAB. Negotiations are being reported across blogs and newsmedia, so you can spend time listening to Bangladeshi Whispers if your heart desires.

1 comment:

Subhan said...

It seems its over now. PM managed to convince the 14 member team to lay down the arms.