The Bangladesh Army on Thursday claimed that an attempt by some mid-ranking Army officers to topple the Sheikh Hasina government was foiled by it.

“Specific information [evidence] has been unearthed that some officers in active military service were involved in a conspiracy to topple the system of democratic governance through the Army,” Army spokesman Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq said at a press briefing here.

A top Army officer was kept under investigation and another officer, Major Syed Mohammad Zia-ul Haq, was absconding.

“Instigated by some non-resident Bangladeshis, a band of fanatic retired and serving officers led a failed attempt to thwart the democratic system by creating anarchy in the Army, banking on others' religious zeal,” an Army statement read out at the briefing said, adding that “such heinous attempts are being foiled.”

The Army spokesman said, “Some unruly and derailed military officers have been actively engaged in the execution of the heinous conspiracy by maintaining contacts with fugitive Maj. Zia [Syed Mohammad Zia-ul Haq] through mobile phones and Internet. On December 22 last, Maj. Zia met a senior officer and tried to provoke that senior officer into using the Army against the state and democracy.”

The senior officer immediately informed the appropriate authorities and Maj. Zia's leave and transfer order was cancelled. But he did not return to work and kept himself engaged in trying to organise subversive activities against the Army. On December 28, a court of inquiry was established. Stern legal measures would be taken against those involved, he said.

Recently, main Opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia, who is critical of the ongoing war crimes trial, was publicly criticised by the Inter Services Public Relations for instigating the Army and branded her recent statement on the Army as undesirable and unacceptable.

As the trial of several top war crimes suspects, including Ghulam Azam, the former chief of the Jamaat-e-islami in the then East Pakistan, began in the tribunal, leaders of the pro-liberation forces are alleging a conspiracy by fanatics to foil the trial process.

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