Dhaka: Two non-residents Bangladeshis have been identified as the plotters of a conspiracy to overthrow Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government.
On Thursday, the Bangladesh military announced that it has foiled a plot by a group of hardline officers to oust Hasina.
According to reports, Syed Mohammad and Ishraq Hossian plotted the coup.
Meanwhile, two retired officers — Lt Col Ehsan Yusuf and Major Zakir — have been arrested. Authorities are also looking for another fugitive serving officer, Syed Mohammad Ziaul Haq, who fled his post after the arrest of Yusuf and Zakir.
Government sources have reportedly confirmed that those nabbed for the attempted coup were "anti-India''. The held sought to reverse the changes made by the Hasina government in 2011 in the Constitution to make it more secular.
It is also reported that Indian agencies had some information about a possible coup in Bangladesh for the past few days.
On Thursday, Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq told a news conference that the military has specific evidence that up to 16 current and former Bangladeshi military officers "with extreme religious views" were involved in the "heinous conspiracy”.
The plot was instigated by Bangladeshi conspirators living abroad, he added.
The coup attempt underscored tension between Hasina's government and elements of the military that has lingered since a 2009 mutiny.
In 2009, just two months after Hasina took office after sweeping a general election, Bangladesh border guards mutinied over complaints over pay, perks and promotion prospects. At least 74 military commanders were killed, many of them the commanders of the mutineers.
Military officials were furious with Hasina for not ordering an assault on the compound, but instead ending the standoff by offering an amnesty to the mutineers that was later rescinded.
Since then, the military has been pressing for an early trial of the mutineers. Hasina's government is trying more than 800 border guards on charges of killing, arson and looting in Dhaka. Hundreds who mutinied at locations outside the capital have been tried already and sentenced to prison.
(With Agency’s inputs)
First Published: Friday, January 20, 2012, 10:22