Retired Bangladesh Army Major Sinha Md Rashed Khan was no stranger to controversy, but his killing has brought into focus the nexus between drugs, terrorism, weapons trafficking, military and politics.
The officer who was shot dead by police on the Marine Drive Road in Teknaf had been relieved of his duties in the VIP guarding Special Security Force (SSF) after a plot was revealed involving some of them trying to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI.
Senior Bangladesh intelligence officials say that Sinha’s ISI connections were ‘very pronounced’ and he was moved away but not hauled up for the 2017 Hasina assassination conspiracy because of ‘insufficient direct evidence admissible in court.’
The SSF was reorganised after that episode and placed under charge of a loyal and efficient officer, Maj Gen Mujib, whose elevation was delayed because of ‘interested quarters ‘ trying to block his taking over the SSF.
A smart and a well-trained officer but with doubtful integrity, Sinha left the army with few other colleagues at the behest of ISI who were paying them fat salaries and incentives for training guerrillas of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
The Bangladesh intelligence officials say that Sinha was a classic freelance operator who soon became the ‘operations chief’ of a drug-lord based in Cox’s Bazar with strong ruling party connections.
“So even on the day of his death, Sinha had gone to the border region to supervise training of ARSA’s new batch of guerrillas, but since he used them for drug peddling, he was coming back with a lot of drugs and cash in his car.
“His use of army dress and I-card and his going to such a remote area alone smacks of dicey activities,” the officials said.
“He thought he could talk his way through,” they added.
Some leads point to a dispute over the share of the drug proceeds — the local police was not happy with what Sinha was offering them as bribe.
So ISI-backed officers managing to emerge as close confidantes of ruling party backed druglords enjoying protection of a Pro-Pakistani adviser in PMO provides a clear glimpse of not only the undermining of ruling party’s political values but also the huge compromise of security of even the PM.
When these officers train ARSA to unsettle the Bangladesh-India-Myanmar borderlands and they link up to other serving officers to bribe them and secure landings of drugs and weapons consignment like the passage of the huge Arakan Army consignment of China-supplied weapons in late February, all is clearly not well in the country.
That the interrogation of the suspected killers of Major Sinha by DGFI was played out in video by Netranews run by Gana Forum supremo Kamal Hossain’s son-in-law David Bergman within an hour of the start of the questioning has surprised many .
A retired Bangladesh army officer, on condition of anonymity, pulled up the DGFI leadership and asked them to take responsibility for such a huge slip and punish officers responsible for it.
He said if they don’t do that and continue to protect officers like Sarwardy to shield him from other agencies to conceal the regime change plot, many questions will be asked on their intent and efficiency.
That Sarwardy, despite suggested internment, has been able to write to US based Human Rights Watch and the PM seeking to come clean on his role in the regime change plot proves he is in protective custody — though his social media video interview with Kanak Sarwar is enough evidence of his involvement in the Major Power backed regime change plot in which the ‘pro-Pakistani adviser’ has also been named.
The extensive use of social media on the model of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and Baltic Republics is evident in Bangladesh now — suddenly the multiple interviews of Kanak Sarwar and other dicey websites like Banglainsider/ Indiainsider is indicative of that.
Major Sinha’s close links to drug-lords who are close to ruling party, his ability to get the coast clear to facilitate safe drop and carriage of drugs and weapons, his links to ISI and Pakistan-backed politicians and advisors, his training of ARSA — all points to a dangerous nexus which Dhaka can ignore at its own peril.