National secrecy on the verge of being leaked out: Clandestine arms trade and the trial

May 21, 2009

Two former generals who were once in charge of national security intelligence of the country were taken to dock for abetting arms supply to Indian separatist ULFA.
They were accused of using the government installations in CUFL Jetty in Chittagong Port for unloading arms.
But their political bosses have not yet been taken to task. From which country the arms were despatched to the Chittagong Port could not be ascertained.
Major General (retd) Rezzaqul Haider and Brigadier General (retd) Abdur Rahim said in their submission in the court whatever they have done they did it at the dictate of the then political government.
They could not move an inch without the permission of the then political government.
General Rezzaqul who was the hero of the UN operation in the trouble-torn Indian Ocean island East Timor countered the interrogators at the TFI cell at whose order they were being detained. The status of the interrogators are not the same as the detainees have.
Meanwhile, the public prosecutors who are making press briefing almost every day about the ongoing trial in Chittagong court did not differentiate what is national secrets or what is not. The national secrecy is in the risk of being leaked out by the non-professional handling of the situation.
The clandestine arms supply to the separatists in this part of South Asia is nothing new.
The Karen rebels fighting secessionist war in Myanmar were reported to have been armed by the Japanese during the World War 11. The north-eastern part of India has a long history of guerilla warfare since British days. Naga leader Fizo had lived in London for fifty years before reaching a settlement with Indian government in the sixties. Mizoram and Manipur had followed the violent war path before achieving a sort of autonomy from the Indian government.
The arms supply to Jafna peninsula in Sri Lanka by India-based clandestine arms dealers was a known secret. Sri Lanka government had to take three decades to contain the secessionist guerrilla war often fuelled from abroad.
Armed Maoists had been in action in northern India (Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand) and in Nepal. In Aceh in Indonesia and in Mindanao in Philippines there were also armed rebellions for independence. The use of sea route by the clandestine arms suppliers in the region is not a new phenomenon.
In the sixties the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is learnt to have prepared a list for annihilating a number of world leaders who, according to them, pose a threat to democracy. Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese prime minister, was presumed to have been killed in such an action. Gen Noriega, President of Panama, was picked up from the presidential palace to an underground US jail by the intelligence agency of the most powerful neighbouring country. He was involved in drug trade for which he faced trial in a country foreign to him.
But the CIA had not undergone any public or judicial scrutiny for its overt or covert operation in many countries. The CIA arming of Afghan Mujahideen in the war against Soviet occupation did not raise any eyebrow from any quarter.
But nowhere in the world the perpetrators of clandestine arms trade in the lower strata have undergone such a trial.
The country is beset with so many trials-BDR mutiny, war crime and clandestine arms operators. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cautioned his cabinet colleagues to be prepared against any cousequences as their honeymoon period seemed to be over. She said, their days are being counted and after six months their performances will be evaluated.
The war crime trial against the collaborators of Pakistan occupation troops is likely to be delayed. The government appeared to have gained not enough confidence to hold the trial as per international standard. The laws framed in 1973 is required to be amended to meet the changing needs of the time. The prosecutors and law officers appointed for this purpose should be free from any party affiliations as the government has realised it belatedly.
What the government has initiated and is trying to accomplish are undoubtedly good. But all good acts cannot be accomplished at a time. Moreover, some pious intentions often are non-pragmatic. Hence, the government at the first place needs to split up its tasks and prioritise one item for formative part and accomplish it in one go and then can go for another.
And again, if as a result of traditional interrogation method and open court trial procedure the threat of divulging of some national secrets occur, these special type of interrogations should be done by appropriate people in a special method. We cannot suggest a cut and dried formula of the special method, government has to evolve it. About the trial norm, it is clear, in judicial process there has always been a camera procedure.

Courtesy of The New Nation

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