Soldiers Mutiny in Bangladesh: Lessons for Nepal

The incident in Bangladesh should cause a serious concern to the policy makers and the senior officers of the uniformed forces in Nepal as well.

By Lilu Thapa

The recent mutiny of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Soldiers in Bangladesh has raised a lot of questions in the security arena. It practically seems to have spread to Bangladesh from their twin’s inspiration in Nepal. It must be studied closely in Nepal by all those who are involved in the management, control and use of the armed forces here as well. The contemporary importance of this revolt which took lives of hundreds of officers by their subordinates, in an armed force, is very real in Nepal. Also, this can have impact further on to the whole of south Asia as all of the countries here in South Asia have the similar force structure and general conditions in the armed forces.

Almost all countries in South Asia (perhaps apart from Bhutan and Maldives) have similar kind of force structure i.e. the Military, the police and the paramilitary. These paramilitary forces are somewhere between the police and the military in their structure and functions. Most of them have varying degree of functional mandate and authority delegated to them by the constitution of the country. But primarily and basically these paramilitary forces are the military forces for the aid of the police where the latter has difficulty dealing with the civil unrest with its level of force. In some cases these forces are given some definite roles like industrial security, border security and anti terrorist operations in some cases. Normally these forces resemble a regular military in their structure, functioning and training and more importantly in the weapons allocation because they are designed to be more robust than the delicate responsibilities of the Police force. The problem arises right there. These forces are characteristically police forces with more weapons and firepower.

Related: Revolt in Armed Police Force of Nepal (another and the next)

The uniformed forces which normally epitomize the “Discipline” have sometimes come to the fore with much undisciplined incidents which has proved fatal and taken lives of many people and destabilized the national life itself. The incidents with the Armed Police Force in Kusma, Samshergunj and other places have shown these in Nepal. Most recently and most devastatingly, the revolt and cold blooded murder of officers amounting to hundreds, by the lower ranks of the Bangladesh Rifles, shows how devastating the people with weapons can be.

In the South Asian region (and Nepal is not an exception) the paramilitary forces are seen as something of a second class military force, not only by the Military forces themselves but also by the general civic. This has given rise to a sense of somewhat being an underdogs to the members of paramilitary forces themselves. In some countries (like in case of BDR) these forces get their officers, the decision making core, from the regular army and this is an obvious cause for friction between the officers and the commanded soldiers, and this has been one of the primary causes in the revolt of the Bangladesh Rifles. Fortunately it is not the case with the APF in Nepal.

The forces are a large group of people with a strict hierarchy of people working in a chain of command. The nature of work and the function requires strict discipline and an unquestioning loyalty towards the people higher up in the chain of command. And sometimes or rather many a times this requirement for an unquestioning loyalty becomes a cause of many complex problems. Man, by nature, does not want to take instructions from others. It takes a lot of training, chain of command, a system of reward and punishment and an extended welfare scheme, including a decent salary, to keep that discipline in place. When any of these components go missing the discipline is bound to go out of the window. As has been the case with the BDR, they were in disparity on wages with the regular army soldiers; they are not entitled to take part in the United Nations missions (which is one of the perks for uniformed people in the impoverished countries).

Salary for an average has also been a said cause of the revolt in BDR. An average soldier in the Bangladesh Rifles gets paid about the same as the lowest level government servant. This is same here in Nepal, where average new recruits get paid less than an entry level government servant. By comparison India and Pakistan have done quite well in paying its soldiers with an average soldier getting more than an entry level government employee. It is very important to note that a soldier normally works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and in some cases 52 weeks a year. Compared to the commitment, longer hours of work, separation from the family and risk of losing life while carrying out the job, what they really get is a salary equal or less than the government employees. It is very important to understand that ultimately everything works well when a person is economically sound. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows that a person can perform well only if his basic needs are fulfilled and his other worries are taken care of.

Another thing very relevant to Nepal has been the cause in the revolt of BDR, the rations. The soldiers in BDR get about three months ration allocation whereas; a regular army soldier gets a full year’s ration. The mutineers alleged that the Chief of BDR Maj Gen Chaudhury (one of the killed in the mutiny) made millions from the commission paid on the procurement of rations. The rations have been the cause of the rebellion in the APF camps in Nepal as well. It is worth remembering that Napoleon said, in one of his speeches, that an “Army marches on its stomach”. The ration procurement has always been a concern of the soldiers and has always been disputed. The senior officers are alleged with taking bribes in exchange for accepting low quality rations. In some cases these have been true. But, this is also a good opportunity for rumour spreading. In a group of many people, rumours spread really easily through hearsay.

The incident in Bangladesh should cause a serious concern to the policy makers and the senior officers of the uniformed forces in Nepal as well. The reasons for which the BDR soldiers killed over a hundred of their own officers and caused an upset in the whole country exists in the armed forces of Nepal as well, though in varying degree. The incident in Bangladesh should be studied well and in-depth. Measures to avoid these kinds of recurrences in Nepal should be well thought and implemented. The reasons to believe that the same kind of rebellion can again spark in Nepal are not far from reality.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Soldiers Mutiny in Bangladesh: Lessons for Nepal”

  1. well, the comparision made by the writer is excellent. But we have to praise the patience of our APF over such cases. They have shows their protest without any casulty.Nevertheless such protest is illegial. The government should initiate quick response about the demands raise by the protestors.

    Like

  2. If Moaist army and Nepal Army merge together and formed National Army Bangadeshi type of Army mutiny will be seen Nepal too. The article is excellent. Keep it up.

    Like

  3. Well spotted. This was the first thing i thought when i saw what was happening in Bangladesh – suddenly all officers in the nepali security forces send their wives to their maita..

    Like

  4. नेपाली बन्न छोडेर नेवार, गुरुङ, राइ , लिम्बु, तमाङ, मगर , शेर्प, चेपङ, मदिसे, मुसल्मान अनी अरु के के बन्ने अनी सबै चिज को दोश खस जाती (बाहुन, छेत्री, थकुरी, सन्यासि ) को टाउको मा थोपर्ने प्रब्रिती लाई निरुत्साहित गर्न पनि खस हरुको बलियो जातिय संगठन अहिलेको आवसेक्ता हो। देश जोगाउन को लागि पनि यो हुनै पर्ने थियो। ने मुनी का सन्तान, नेपाल एकिकरन कर्ता, आदिबाशी खस (बाहुन, छेत्री, थकुरी, सन्यासि ) हरुलाई अधिकार बाट बन्चित गरी मातृभूमी नेपाल लाई तुक्र्याउन खोज्ने हरु को बिरुध लद्न पनि खस हरु ले आफ्नो बलियो संगठन बनाउनु आवसेक छ। छेत्री ले मात्र हैन अब बहुन, थकुरी र सन्यासी हरुले पनि चाडै आ- आफ्नो संगठन खोल्नुपर्छ अनी तिनिहरु बिच एकिकरन गरी खस हरु को अधिकार को लागि र देश जोगाउन एउता खस महा -संगठन खोल्नुपर्छ।

    Like

  5. well after reading the article, I really think that our APF force has done really well to hold upon their pent up frustations and anger except minor incidents.
    Because the condition here in Nepal is not better than Bangladesh either.

    There is already great anger among the APF forces due to mentioned discriminations……….but our government is waiting probably for a mutiny itself.

    MR. sharma’s comments rather was too prejudiced towards the integration of maoist and existing country’s army.
    I am not a supporter of Maoist party but the country must think about those maoist army, after all they are Nepalese too……………

    Like

  6. “I am not a supporter of Maoist party but the country must think about those maoist army, after all they are Nepalese too……………”

    ya they are nepalese who want to kill nepalese………. …
    …………………… …………….. ………………….. ……. eveyone knows their level, even the prachanda knows ………………………… if they want to prove theri professionalism they should first punish ram hari’s killer, punish those pla who beat people of biratnagar .
    …………………………………………………………………… ………
    …………… the main concern for maoist or pla regarding pla is they fought for maoist so not maoist has to take care of their future ……………………………………. if maoist are not planning to coup., lesser the number of pla better fro them as well as for nepal …….. since it would reduce cost ….. other stakeholders would have more confidence them joining in national security force ……………………….. it is stupid oth them to threat to begin recruiting new personnel ….. ………………………… this should be taken as preparation for war ……….. and should need to topple this govt. ……………………………..
    ………………………………………………..if there is a threat of war, most in the pla would scape since they are not actually pla, since maoist are exposed so no need to sacrifice life for them ………………………………………………
    …………………………………………………………………….
    ……………………………… prachanda’s dogs do not follow his order, he cant even throw garbage affecting millions due to the blockage of a few hundred. …………
    now pla do not follow his order, his party in not under his control, and still he is not showing sigh of resigning …………………………….. looks like the quality needed to be pm is lack of dignity. ……………………………
    …………………………………………………………….. maoist have been trying/dreaming of coup. rather maoist themselves are in a line of coup from pla. ……………… …
    …………. there are many examples where idiot govt. are always taken over by idiot military ………………….. just like that idiot maoist are about to be controlled by idiot pla. ………………………………………………. ………….. there are already many signs of god’s warning to maoist as well as nepalese like flood, unpredicted load shedding duration, now pla ……………………….

    Like

  7. This is a really serious issue that happened in our neighboring country Bangladesh. Hope the lawmakers of our country also learn from this situation.

    Since, the Armed force and the police force have showed their discontent with the higher officials, but at least they have been more cautious and have not gone beyond the limit. Cheers to them.

    Like

  8. Mr. change is probably prejudiced about the pla and the maoist party………as i have mentioned earlier that I am not a supporter or member of maoist party………..but Mr. change should realise that using slangs over PM or maoist would not help…..probably he doesnot know that both ‘Nepali congress’ and ” uml” have rose through same processes ultimately into a democratic party………..
    If ur attitude remains hostile towards them then country would not get an exit off the violence………..

    if Mr. change has lost some close-ones in the warperiod then I am sorry…..but a lot have done same too……………….

    but forgiveness enriches the future …………
    PLEASE LET US REMEMBER THIS………
    PLEASE MR.CHANGE ………comment on this one…………
    me waiting……….

    Like

  9. Yes the article by Lilu Thapa is published in the high time. The clash in the army is inevitable due to the continous dispairity between the lower level military and senior security officials. Army by the profession are seperated from their home, leave is often a matter of seldom happenings whixh should be compensated by the ration and the remuneration.

    Like

  10. Good writing … this should be a lesson must be learnt by the cheif of APF and Army as well as Government of Nepal..change is the need of time..

    Like

Post your views

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s