Bangladeshi army officers mourn carrying the coffin of a dead officer during a mass funeral in Dhaka.
Bangladeshi army officers mourn carrying the coffin of a dead officer during a mass funeral in Dhaka.

Bangladesh questions the causes of the mutiny



NEW DELHI // Barely two months after democracy returned to Bangladesh following a prolonged period of political instability, the country faces another crisis after its border security guards mutinied and went on a killing spree in their headquarters in Dhaka. Border guards from the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) - believed to be disgruntled about low pay and ill treatment at the hands of senior officers - openly revolted against their superiors on Wednesday for close to 33 hours, killing 74 army officials, in some cases even family members, and about 20 civilians.

Reports have emerged about the discovery of mass graves and about 70 other army officers are believed to still be missing. Yesterday the nation mourned the bloodshed as a mass namaz-i-janaza - or Islamic funeral - was held for nearly 50 army officers killed during the mutiny, including Major Gen Shakil Ahmed, the director general of the BDR. The government has said that 1,000 BDR mutineers are wanted and will be tried for manslaughter. The hunt for them continued yesterday.

"This was a human catastrophe," said Gen Muhammed Ibrahim, a retired army general from the Bangladesh army. "In this country, not unfamiliar with killings, this episode was mind boggling." The country's media also condemned the mutiny. "What transpired at the Bangladesh Rifles headquarters on February 25 was not a mutiny. It was murder plain and simple," Syed Badrul Ahsan, a columnist, wrote in The Daily Star.

"It was a brutal assault on the army, on officers in whose hands rested the capacity for military professionalism. In the larger sense, [this episode] was the incapacitation of a whole nation." The BDR is one of the world's oldest and most experienced paramilitary forces. It was established in 1795, initially as the Ramgarh Local Battalion under the auspices of the British empire, and since then, over the course of several wars, earned itself a reputation as a gallant fighting force. The BDR was at the forefront of Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971.

As the country comes to grips with this recent tragedy, questions are being raised by shocked countrymen about what could have BDR guards to rebel so suddenly and with such violence. Gen Ibrahim believes there was more to the mutiny than disaffection over low wages ill-treatment. "This wasn't a mutiny by an entire organisation. It was just a handful who picked up arms, possibly under the guidance of a larger force," he said.

Ayesha Kabir, the editor of Probe, an English-language Bangladeshi weeklynewspaper, was shocked by the callousness with which the BDR soldiers went about killing their comrades. The operation did not appear to be a spontaneous outburst, Ms Kabir said, suggesting there were forces at work behind the scenes. "Low pay and corruption within BDR ranks alone does not justify taking up arms. These are issues that have plagued several Bangladeshi organisations," she said.

"It was all very well planned, well executed. It appeared premeditated." The mutiny occurred just two months after Bangladeshis voted in a new government, following a long period of political turbulence and two years of rule by a military-backed caretaker government. The Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina Wajed, clinched more than a two-thirds majority in the Bangladeshi parliament, trouncing the Bangladesh Nationalist Party of her arch-rival Khaleda Zia.

Several conspiracy theories have emerged in Bangladesh as to who was behind the mutiny, but it is far from clear who the real perpetrator might be, if indeed there was underhanded involvement. Sheikh Hasina has sought the help of US Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the killings. A formal request to this effect was made yesterday to Richard Boucher, US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs. Sheikh Hasina has also approached Britain's Scotland Yard to investigate the case.

Imtiaz Ahmed, a professor in the international affairs department at the University of Dhaka, said he believes the intent of the killings was clear: to destabilise the country. The Dec 29 parliamentary elections, monitored by 1,500 foreign and 200,000 local observers, were feted the world over as free and fair, unlike many previous elections, Prof Ahmed said. The caretaker government revolutionised the elections process, drawing up a computerised list of 81 million registered voters for this election, and purging 11m fake voters from the rolls.

"Bangladesh has found some semblance of stability after years of turmoil. Not many will be happy about that. Bangladesh has many enemies - both within and without," Prof Ahmed said. Certainly the episode has led to an exchange of barbs, with the opposition accusing the Sheikh Hasina-led government of mismanaging the mutiny and of being "too soft" on the mutineers. But there was one upside to this tragic episode, according to Prof Ahmed: "The army and the newly elected political establishment, who have for long had an acrimonious relationship, worked together to quell the mutiny together."

achopra@thenational.ae

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

The Little Things

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

Starring: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto

Four stars

Famous left-handers

- Marie Curie

- Jimi Hendrix

- Leonardo Di Vinci

- David Bowie

- Paul McCartney

- Albert Einstein

- Jack the Ripper

- Barack Obama

- Helen Keller

- Joan of Arc

The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged V8

Power: 712hp at 6,100rpm

Torque: 881Nm at 4,800rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 19.6 l/100km

Price: Dh380,000

On sale: now

Results

5.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Turf) 1,400m; Winner: Mcmanaman, Sam Hitchcock (jockey), Doug Watson (trainer)

6.05pm: Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (T) 1,400m; Winner: Bawaasil, Sam Hitchcott, Doug Watson

6.40pm: Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (Dirt) 1,400m; Winner: Bochart, Fabrice Veron, Satish Seemar

7.15pm: Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (T) 1,200m; Winner: Mutaraffa, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi

7.50pm: Longines Stakes – Conditions (TB) Dh120,00 (D) 1,900m; Winner: Rare Ninja, Royston Ffrench, Salem bin Ghadayer

8.25pm: Zabeel Trophy – Rated Conditions (TB) Dh120,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: Alfareeq, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi

9pm: Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (T) 2,410m; Winner: Good Tidings, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi

9.35pm: Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (T) 2,000m; Winner: Zorion, Abdul Aziz Al Balushi, Helal Al Alawi

 

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

How to play the stock market recovery in 2021?

If you are looking to build your long-term wealth in 2021 and beyond, the stock market is still the best place to do it as equities powered on despite the pandemic.

Investing in individual stocks is not for everyone and most private investors should stick to mutual funds and ETFs, but there are some thrilling opportunities for those who understand the risks.

Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank, says the 20 best-performing US and European stocks have delivered an average return year-to-date of 148 per cent, measured in local currency terms.

Online marketplace Etsy was the best performer with a return of 330.6 per cent, followed by communications software company Sinch (315.4 per cent), online supermarket HelloFresh (232.8 per cent) and fuel cells specialist NEL (191.7 per cent).

Mr Garnry says digital companies benefited from the lockdown, while green energy firms flew as efforts to combat climate change were ramped up, helped in part by the European Union’s green deal. 

Electric car company Tesla would be on the list if it had been part of the S&P 500 Index, but it only joined on December 21. “Tesla has become one of the most valuable companies in the world this year as demand for electric vehicles has grown dramatically,” Mr Garnry says.

By contrast, the 20 worst-performing European stocks fell 54 per cent on average, with European banks hit by the economic fallout from the pandemic, while cruise liners and airline stocks suffered due to travel restrictions.

As demand for energy fell, the oil and gas industry had a tough year, too.

Mr Garnry says the biggest story this year was the “absolute crunch” in so-called value stocks, companies that trade at low valuations compared to their earnings and growth potential.

He says they are “heavily tilted towards financials, miners, energy, utilities and industrials, which have all been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic”. “The last year saw these cheap stocks become cheaper and expensive stocks have become more expensive.” 

This has triggered excited talk about the “great value rotation” but Mr Garnry remains sceptical. “We need to see a breakout of interest rates combined with higher inflation before we join the crowd.”

Always remember that past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. Last year’s winners often turn out to be this year’s losers, and vice-versa.

RESULTS

Welterweight

Tohir Zhuraev (TJK) beat Mostafa Radi (PAL)

(Unanimous points decision)

Catchweight 75kg

Anas Siraj Mounir (MAR) beat Leandro Martins (BRA)

(Second round knockout)

Flyweight (female)

Manon Fiorot (FRA) beat Corinne Laframboise (CAN)

(RSC in third round)

Featherweight

Bogdan Kirilenko (UZB) beat Ahmed Al Darmaki

(Disqualification)

Lightweight

Izzedine Al Derabani (JOR) beat Rey Nacionales (PHI)

(Unanimous points)

Featherweight

Yousef Al Housani (UAE) beat Mohamed Fargan (IND)

(TKO first round)

Catchweight 69kg

Jung Han-gook (KOR) beat Max Lima (BRA)

(First round submission by foot-lock)

Catchweight 71kg

Usman Nurmogamedov (RUS) beat Jerry Kvarnstrom (FIN)

(TKO round 1).

Featherweight title (5 rounds)

Lee Do-gyeom (KOR) v Alexandru Chitoran (ROU)

(TKO round 1).

Lightweight title (5 rounds)

Bruno Machado (BRA) beat Mike Santiago (USA)

(RSC round 2).

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

The biog

Profession: Senior sports presenter and producer

Marital status: Single

Favourite book: Al Nabi by Jibran Khalil Jibran

Favourite food: Italian and Lebanese food

Favourite football player: Cristiano Ronaldo

Languages: Arabic, French, English, Portuguese and some Spanish

Website: www.liliane-tannoury.com

Cinco in numbers

Dh3.7 million

The estimated cost of Victoria Swarovski’s gem-encrusted Michael Cinco wedding gown

46

The number, in kilograms, that Swarovski’s wedding gown weighed.

1,000

The hours it took to create Cinco’s vermillion petal gown, as seen in his atelier [note, is the one he’s playing with in the corner of a room]

50

How many looks Cinco has created in a new collection to celebrate Ballet Philippines’ 50th birthday

3,000

The hours needed to create the butterfly gown worn by Aishwarya Rai to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

1.1 million

The number of followers that Michael Cinco’s Instagram account has garnered.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

The winners

Fiction

  • ‘Amreekiya’  by Lena Mahmoud
  •  ‘As Good As True’ by Cheryl Reid

The Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award

  • ‘Syrian and Lebanese Patricios in Sao Paulo’ by Oswaldo Truzzi;  translated by Ramon J Stern
  • ‘The Sound of Listening’ by Philip Metres

The George Ellenbogen Poetry Award

  • ‘Footnotes in the Order  of Disappearance’ by Fady Joudah

Children/Young Adult

  •  ‘I’ve Loved You Since Forever’ by Hoda Kotb 
RESULTS

Bantamweight

Victor Nunes (BRA) beat Siyovush Gulmamadov (TJK)

(Split decision)

Featherweight

Hussein Salim (IRQ) beat Shakhriyor Juraev (UZB)

(Round 1 submission, armbar)

Catchweight 80kg

Rashed Dawood (UAE) beat Otabek Kadirov (UZB)

(Round-1 submission, rear naked choke)

Lightweight

Ho Taek-oh (KOR) beat Ronald Girones (CUB)

(Round 3 submission, triangle choke)

Lightweight

Arthur Zaynukov (RUS) beat Damien Lapilus (FRA)

(Unanimous points)

Bantamweight

Vinicius de Oliveira (BRA) beat Furkatbek Yokubov (RUS)

(Round 1 TKO)

Featherweight

Movlid Khaybulaev (RUS) v Zaka Fatullazade (AZE)

(Round 1 rear naked choke)

Flyweight

Shannon Ross (TUR) beat Donovon Freelow (USA)

(Unanimous decision)

Lightweight

Dan Collins (GBR) beat Mohammad Yahya (UAE)

(Round 2 submission D’arce choke)

Catchweight 73kg

Martun Mezhulmyan (ARM) beat Islam Mamedov (RUS)

(Round 3 submission, kneebar)

Bantamweight world title

Xavier Alaoui (MAR) beat Jaures Dea (CAM)

(Unanimous points 48-46, 49-45, 49-45)

Flyweight world title

Manon Fiorot (FRA) v Gabriela Campo (ARG)

(Round 1 RSC)

Children who witnessed blood bath want to help others

Aged just 11, Khulood Al Najjar’s daughter, Nora, bravely attempted to fight off Philip Spence. Her finger was injured when she put her hand in between the claw hammer and her mother’s head.

As a vital witness, she was forced to relive the ordeal by police who needed to identify the attacker and ensure he was found guilty.

Now aged 16, Nora has decided she wants to dedicate her career to helping other victims of crime.

“It was very horrible for her. She saw her mum, dying, just next to her eyes. But now she just wants to go forward,” said Khulood, speaking about how her eldest daughter was dealing with the trauma of the incident five years ago. “She is saying, 'mama, I want to be a lawyer, I want to help people achieve justice'.”

Khulood’s youngest daughter, Fatima, was seven at the time of the attack and attempted to help paramedics responding to the incident.

“Now she wants to be a maxillofacial doctor,” Khulood said. “She said to me ‘it is because a maxillofacial doctor returned your face, mama’. Now she wants to help people see themselves in the mirror again.”

Khulood’s son, Saeed, was nine in 2014 and slept through the attack. While he did not witness the trauma, this made it more difficult for him to understand what had happened. He has ambitions to become an engineer.