Bangladesh’s paramilitary group, the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), launched a revolt in their Dhaka headquarters on Wednesday. Frustrations mounted because of poor pay, rising food costs and the ever-expanding global economic crisis.
The mutinous BDR took hostages and gunfire was reported as the violence spread. At least 11 people were killed before the paramilitary surrendered, after Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina — who took office in January — warned them of “tough action.” The country has a history of political strife, though some had hoped the new government would bring calm.
View PBS Wide Angle’s slideshow of the mutiny here.
Many users commented at “Unheard Voice,” a Bangladeshi blog and Worldfocus contributor, in reaction to the violence:
Zambak: All residents of Pilkhana near the BDR gate (around the two graveyards) have been told to leave the area. I have relatives living there, they are looking for ways to evacuate, some are refusing to move. Crazy situation.
Globetrotter: This situation is a dark chapter in our country’s history. In a country like ours, there will be grievances. But you do not air those grievances by killing your superiors, and turning your guns on civilians.
Fariha: Civilians are being evacuated from Pilkhana. Residents of PWD quarters right next to Rifles have been moved to nearby Jhigatola. I can hear the chopper from Eskaton. The shots fired can be heard from Fuller Road. Two civilans reported injured. Dhaka is rife with rumors.
Blogger Shahidul Alam posted several videos from on the ground, including this footage of negotiations:
Twitter users in Bangladesh also described what they went through:
sudhak: In Dhaka and the situation is getting worse, mutiny spreading, hearing reports that a state of emergency will likely be called.
phpfour: crowd rattled in shahbag…continuous gunshots heard near dhaka uni(versity)
omiazad: Just talked with my father in Dinajpur. BDR are shooting at anything. They are so desperate. Our house is just beside Kuthibari BDR Camp.
Follow live discussions on the violence here on Twitter.
An American Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh writes about the panic:
This morning was just like any other. Woke up at 7, finally rolled out by 7:20. By 8:05, I was on the micro-bus taking me to ICDDR,B. 8:15, and I was already working at my computer. It was a little after 10 today when news came that there had been shots fired within the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Headquarters in Dhanmondi. No one really knew what was going on […] News here does not travel as fast as it does at home, but we eventually discovered that it was an internal problem, and then later that the Director General had been killed.
This is when people in my office started getting pretty worried. Mejbah, who is usually very chill, called all of his family members (parents, siblings, wife) and ordered them to all go home. I had never seem him so concerned or upset before. […] all Americans at ICDDR,B were told to go home immediately and stay within the diplomatic enclave. So I gathered my things and hurried downstairs where there was a rather large group of Americans gathered. We were quickly assigned to cars and rushed home. Once I got home, I was greeted by Tiffany, who had asked Noorealam and Moslehuddin to come to our apartment since they live right next to the BDR Headquarters. They had heard the shots firing and had seen army tanks filing into the area earlier that day.
Blogger “Rezwan” writes that while the BDR may have had grievances, its tactics were wrong:
I am personally very sad to see many brilliant army officers and jawans, who were brutally killed and also many BDR jawans who were killed in the process. My prayer goes out to their families and may their souls rest in peace. Grievance or no grievances I don’t support these kinds of acts of the mutineers. They have killed people like animals. No one is guilty until proven and the problem with taking law in your hand is that many innocent people die and you never get to know who was the real culprit. I do not support the amnesty against these mutineers. The amnesty can be given to rebellion but not the killings. Those who killed should get exemplary punishment so that the nation do not have to go through this kind of trauma again.