Army officers transferred to Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) on deputation from now on must undergo a mandatory training course at the frontier as part of a massive reform of the border force since the 2009 rebellion, officials and reports said yesterday.
“The 20-day training for army officers who come to serve the BGB will minimise errors in future,” the mass circulation Samokal newspaper quoted the frontier guards chief Major General Anwar Hussain as saying in an interview.
He added that the army officers would begin their work in BGB after the training when they would have to stay at border posts for eight days to gain direct experience about the modus operandi of the border guards.
The paramilitary BGB soldiers are recruited directly, but officers at the higher command come from the army to lead the frontier force, which witnessed its greatest tragedy in 2009 from February 25 to 26 when 57 military officers serving the force were killed by rebel border guards
The rebels at that time had also killed eight civilians, eight fellow soldiers, who apparently were opposed to their mutiny, and an army soldier besides the 57 military officers.
A senior BGB official said previously army officers were sent on deputation to the frontier force for three years but under a new policy they would now need to serve there for a four-year tenure as part of the reform of the frontier force, previously called Bangladesh Rifles (BDR).
Bangladesh earlier this year renamed the force the BGB under a massive reconstruction campaign, also changing its laws, uniform, flag and monogram as part of desperate efforts to free the force from the rebellion stigma.
The new law or BGB Act suggests the death penalty for mutiny in the force while the previous BDR Act had prescribed only seven years imprisonment as the highest punishment for ordinary disobedience or breach of command as it apparently could not foresee possibilities of such a rebellion in the paramilitary force.
The provision of lenient punishment under the previous BDR Act required the trial of the “core culprits” of the 2009 mutiny under the country’s civil Penal Code for “murder charges”.
Hundreds of BDR soldiers are jailed as the trials of the rebel border guards are underway in 11 special paramilitary courts on charges of violating the command chain.
The “core culprits” of the carnage who were directly linked to the killings, looting and arson during the mutiny are being tried in the Dhaka Sessions Judge’s Court on charges of masterminding the mutiny, killing the army officers, taking their families hostage, arson, looting and attempt to conceal marks of their crimes.