12:00 AM, January 20, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 20, 2012

Conspiracy days gone

Ashraf says all culprits to be identified, punished

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Staff Correspondent

The government yesterday talked tough against the conspirators in the Bangladesh army. It said they would be traced and punished sternly for plotting a coup.
“Those who want to destroy the democratic system will be identified and brought to justice, whoever they are. Stern action will be taken against them. None will be spared,” LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam told a press conference at Gono Bhaban at 6:30pm.
Around three hours earlier, the Bangladesh army at a press briefing disclosed that it had foiled a conspiracy to stage a coup to topple the government.
Ashraful, also general secretary of the ruling Awami League, urged all political parties, members of the civil society and the media to help continue and sustain the democratic system. He said an affected, wounded democracy will affect everybody.
“We might have differences of opinion, but there is no difference of opinion in the case of democracy. So it is the duty of all to protect the democratic system,” said the minister adding, “It is not the government alone; all are responsible for protecting democracy as there is no future for Bangladesh without it.”
Huge sacrifices have been made to attain democracy in Bangladesh and the democratic right of franchise has been ensured. In a democratic country, there is no room for plotting a coup, he maintained.
Although such coups took place in the past, the days are now gone for hatching a conspiracy because people believe in the constitution and democracy, insisted the government spokesperson.
He asked the conspirators to surrender so that they can come within a legal framework.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said hundreds of people had to die in the politics of coups and murder.
“I don't want to hear mothers crying [over losing their children]. I want democracy and peace,” she said at a view exchange meeting with her party's Khagrachhari district unit leaders at Gono Bhaban around 12:30pm.
She said after the assassination of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, elements in the army had staged around 18 to 19 coups, for which thousands of people had to die.
“Who are the beneficiary of the politics of killings and coups?” questioned the prime minister.
It is mainly the armed forces officers and soldiers who were killed in those coups, mentioned Hasina.
“Those who captured power by keeping weapons on their shoulders were mostly affected. When a coup took place in 1977, Ziaur Rahman [former president and founder of BNP] killed 17 officers of the air force. They faced court-martial and were taken to the firing squad on the same day,” maintained the AL chief.

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