Delhi 'tip-off' helped foil coup - 5 members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir arrested for supporting conspirators

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By ANANYA SENGUPTA
  • Published 21.01.12
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New Delhi, Jan. 20: Tip-offs from Indian intelligence helped foil the coup plot in Bangladesh, sources in Dhaka said today as police arrested five members of banned Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, accused of supporting the army conspirators.

Officials in Delhi refused to confirm the claim.

The Dhaka sources said India had been keenly watching the developments in Bangladesh, especially because of indications that Sheikh Hasina’s government could be on a sticky wicket in the end-2013 general election.

It was a raft of anti-government posts on social networking sites put up by the alleged coup mastermind, Major Syed Mohammad Ziaul Huq, which apparently alerted Indian intelligence.

“Delhi is bound to go on high alert if the web buzzes with the dissent of army officers in a neighbouring state. It is in India’s interests that Hasina stays in power,” a political analyst in Dhaka said.

Delhi reacted quickly and Dhaka was even quicker. Although news of the plot, hatched by mid-level retired and serving army officers, became public only yesterday, several key plotters had been nabbed by mid-December.

Ziaul was detained but fled, apparently after two days, and posted his account of his interrogation and “torture” on Facebook and other sites, exhorting fellow officers to help oust the government.

In an email sent to people known to him, Ziaul has claimed that intelligence officials abducted him from Savar and “took me to an unknown place where foreign intelligence officials were present”.

The Hizb-ut-Tahrir was meanwhile distributing leaflets on the “Tale of Maj. Ziaul Huq” that said: “Patriotic army officers, the incumbent government has killed your colleagues.” Today, the police’s elite Rapid Action Battalion arrested five Tahrir members from Dhaka.

Sources close to Hasina said the Awami League leader, who has survived two attempts on her life, was calm when she was briefed about the plot.

“She is a survivor. She knew all along what was happening but spoke to us just like any other day,” said a journalist and close friend of the Premier. “Of course, her security has been beefed up at home and at her office, but she has maintained her usual routine. She is happy that the army is still pro-democracy.”