BANGLADESH: BDR chief blames it on Indian media

BDR Director General says Indian newspapers failed to provide proper context for his statement about Indian criminals possibly being involved with Aug. 17 Bangladesh bombings

The Daily Star
Sunday, October 2, 2005

Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Director General Maj Gen Jahangir Alam Chowdhury yesterday said the Indian newspapers presented a distorted version of his statement and that he actually said some Indian criminals "might have been involved" in the August 17 countrywide bomb blasts in Bangladesh.

On arrival at the Zia International Airport after a three-day talks with Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Director General RS Mooshahary, Jahangir told journalists that whatever he said was said before the BSF chief and that "everything has been recorded".

Asked on which ground he made the comment while the government or the home ministry did not make any such statement, the BDR DG said, "I made the comment on the basis of Gias' arrest in Satkhira and recovery of Indian explosives."

The Indian media, especially some Bangla newspapers, has twisted his speech, the BDR DG said, adding, "I've just said some Indian criminals might have been involved in the August 17 attacks."

"Even several frontline Indian newspapers also published reports that Indian criminals are hiding in Bangladesh and may be involved with the attack," said the BDR DG.

The DG of BSF himself admitted that Gias is an Indian national, he said, adding, "But he said he [Gias] married in Bangladesh."

On whether he would protest Indian media reports, he said, "I am yet to scan the Indian reports and will decide after reading them."

Asked whether the issue will harm the BDR-BSF relation, he said, "No, I don't think so. The relation is very good now."

Meanwhile, India said late on Friday night that it was "deeply shocked and dismayed" at the charges levelled by the BDR DG that some people from India had crossed over to Bangladesh to carry out the August 17 bombings.

Reacting sharply, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said, "This is a baseless and scurrilous allegation and is all the more shocking because it has been made against a friendly country and particularly after the two countries have had useful and constructive talks between the Bangladesh Rifles and Border Security Force."

"Government of India is deeply shocked and dismayed at the remarks," the statement said.

On Friday, Jahangir at a joint press conference with BSF chief Mooshahary in New Delhi had alleged that "some criminals from India crossed over to Bangladesh and along with criminals in our country were responsible for the [August 17] blasts."

Mooshahary, however, denied the charge, pointing out that there was only one Indian among the over 500 people arrested after the bombings and that person too had been living in Bangladesh for the last 17 years.

Our New Delhi correspondent reports: Awami League (AL) chief Sheikh Hasina after attending a lunch hosted by Natwar Singh at the Hyderabad House yesterday criticised the BDR chief for his comment.

"What our government should do first is to investigate into the August 17 blasts," she told journalists, adding, "Without investigation, how can they blame anyone?"

Hasina also said this kind of statement can damage Bangladesh's relationship with its friendly neighbours. "We value the relationship with our neighbours," she added.

Earlier on Friday night, asked to comment on the BDR chief's remarks, Hasina suggested to a television news channel that it is the habit of the present government in Bangladesh to blame India for the violence there.

"Not only India, they also include our name," Hasina said.

Sources here said the BDR chief's remarks and the strong reaction from India had resulted in fresh strain in the already delicate ties between the two countries.

The fact that the Indian external affairs ministry chose to react on Maj Gen Choudhury's remarks after the BSF chief's denial is reflective of the displeasure of New Delhi, said the sources.

UNB adds: Border conference between Bangladesh and India concluded in New Delhi yesterday, discussing the entire gamut of frontier problems and agreeing to resolve some of the issues.

An official announcement in Dhaka said "Joint Records of Discussion" was signed capping the "fruitful" discussions on the issues.

DG of BDR Maj Gen Jahangir Alam Chowdhury and DG of BSF RS Mooshahary signed the Joint Records of Discussion at the end of the meeting.