No room for bigots | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 24, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 24, 2012

Bid to Topple Govt

No room for bigots

Chief of general staff says religious fanatics tried to misguide pious army officials in a planned way


Lt Gen Mainul Islam addresses a seminar on national security strategy yesterday. Photo: TV GRAB

There should be no room for religious fanaticism in the army, Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Md Mainul Islam said yesterday.
Speaking at a seminar on the theme, “National Security Strategy for Bangladesh”, he also warned that those who were behind the recent “coup attempt” to topple the government would be tracked down, the private television channel ATN Bangla reported.
Lt Gen (retd) ATM Zahirul Alam was the keynote speaker at the discussion, organised by Centre for Security and Development Studies (CSDS).
Some former senior officials, including ex-army chiefs, were present at the seminar, held at the Retired Armed Officers Welfare Association (Raowa) Club in the capital.
Referring to the latest developments in the army, Lt Gen Mainul said some religious bigots had tried to indoctrinate the pious officers in a planned manner. They were so clever that they had targeted the deeply religious officers as a way of carrying out their coup plot. He cautioned that these kinds of schemes must not be allowed to succeed.
In a rare press conference on Thursday, the army said it had foiled a “coup attempt to overthrow the present democratic government”.
A band of religious fanatics, comprising mid-ranking officers and their retired colleagues, sought to “disrupt democracy by creating anarchy in the army through cashing in on the religious fervour of others”.
In his address yesterday, Mainul said, “We all are pious, and the meaning of our secularism is [that] each and everyone will follow his or her own religion but no one will intervene in the religion of others.”
But unfortunately, there are layers in the religion. Besides the pious ones, there are layers such as Dharma Praan, Dharma Parayan, Dharma Bhiru (pious, god-fearing) Dharmio Gorami (dogmatist), Dharmandho (zealots) and Dharma Baboshayee (someone who exploits religion for something sinister).
"In the army, we can accept Dharma Praan and Dharma Parayan, and if we can impart some knowledge to those who are Dharma Bhiru, they too can come along with the first two layers. But it's not fair to have space for Dharmio Gora, Dharmandho and Dharma Babosayee in the institution. The time has come to speak out about these and by saying these [we] will have to keep the organisation on the right track," the chief of general staff said.
Those in the Dharma Baboshayee layer are so clever that they look for Dharmandho, Dharma Bhiru and Dharmio Gora so they can exploit their weaknesses, he continued. "They [Dharma Baboshayee] do not come to the Dharma Pran and Dharma Parayan."
Those who are Dharmio Gora, Dharmandho and Dharma Bhiru give way to persuasion easily and let themselves be used. They do not understand that they are being used and that is what happened during the plotting for the recent mutiny attempt in the army, he said.
Explaining his observations, Gen Mainul said it was like a smear campaign. When a young boy sprays paint on a wall, it is merely a game to him, but to the owner it is dirt that will cost him a good amount of money.
"So, the way they used the subject it seems it was like a Chhele Khela to them…like a video game.
"….at the end of the day it is something very big which probably many of them did not know….," he said.
All these aspects will have to be taken into consideration while formulating a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy for Bangladesh.
He said he had attended a good number of programmes on this subject, but he found none from the home ministry on each of the occasions. Counter terrorism is for the home ministry. Therefore, no initiative will bring about a result without the home ministry being involved.
He also said, "Today, we --- soldiers, diplomats and people from civil service --- are present here, but there is no news [no representatives] from the navy and the air force. Until he [one] understands there is a problem about his [one's] security, he does not want to come.”
A number of speakers there advised that the government form a National Security Council.
No media were invited to cover the seminar. Only ATN Bangla managed to be present there.

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