• Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reforms addressing BDR mistrust

Shariful Islam

The discontent and mistrust between officers and soldiers that apparently triggered rebellion among border guards five years ago have largely waned, thanks to reforms and welfare measures afterwards.
Since the bloody mutiny of February 25-26, 2009 which left 74 people including 57 army officers killed, border guards have seen some major reforms -- from the force restructuring and enactment of laws ensuring death penalty for mutineers to increase in benefits.
The changes had been made based on the findings and recommendations of different committees that probed the mutiny in the then Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), later renamed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).
The reform moves were undertaken in line with the BGB Act, 2010 which was formulated on the basis of the findings and recommendations of the enquiry committees.
The act empowers a BGB court to hand down the capital punishment as the highest punishment for mutiny instead of seven years' jail as per the BDR Order, 1972.
The Act also provides for a maximum of 14 years' rigorous imprisonment if a BGB member flees or assists anyone in fleeing from service during war or while on duty, or hands over any outpost or the place he has been assigned to guard.
The punishment will be the same if anyone uses force or issues threats to any superior officer.
Pent-up anger and discontent among the soldiers over a number of issues are believed to have led to the bloody mutiny, which compelled the authorities to rename the 218-year-old force to free it from the stigma.

Talking to The Daily Star, a number of BGB members recently said they were now really happy as they were getting hundred percent ration, 30 percent border allowance, two months' annual leave instead of one month, residential facilities for more soldiers, and expansion of treatment facilities. They have added that they were now served with better quality food.
Some officers also said they believed the soldiers had got back their mental strength and normalcy had returned to the force.
“The feedback I receive from the soldiers is that they are now quite happy with the steps taken for the welfare of the force,” BGB Director General (DG) Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed told The Daily Star yesterday.
He, however, said it was not that the increased benefits and welfare steps had been taken considering the mutiny in 2009.
“The members of the force have already regained their lost reputation which is reflected in their activities,” the DG said.
Discipline had been improved, border management was going on effectively and the seizure of illegal items on the border was much more than that of at any other time in the past, he added.
Besides, relations with the neighbouring country had improved significantly, resulting in a considerable drop in border killings, the BGB chief said.
The DG said a handful of soldiers were behind the mutiny that led to the massacre. With the pronouncement of verdicts in the carnage case convicting the culprits, those who were not guilty breathed a sigh of relief and the force was now free from the ignominy the mutineers had caused to it.
For the recreation of the soldiers at the border outposts, television sets with cable connections and deep fridges have been provided and electricity supply had been ensured.
“All I want is my force's welfare and we are getting results,” he added.

Published: 12:02 am Thursday, February 27, 2014

Last modified: 8:52 pm Thursday, February 27, 2014

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