A "heinous" plot to overthrow the Awami League-led government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by some serving military officers has been foiled and two former officers have been arrested, the Bangladesh army said on Thursday.
"Specific information (evidence) has been unearthed that some officers in active military service have been involved in the conspiracy to topple the system of democratic governance through the army," army spokesman Brigadier General Mohammad Masud Razzak said.
"Some unruly and derailed military officers have been actively engaged in the execution of the heinous conspiracy through maintaining contacts with fugitive Maj Zia (Syed Mohammad Ziaul Huq) by mobile phones and Internet," the spokesman told reporters at a crowded press conference in Dhaka.
Brigadier Razzak said that 14 to 16 officers were under vigil as investigations were underway on the their suspected involvement while the detained two former officers "bluntly admitted their role in the plot".
"Stringent legal measures will be taken against the persons involved in the conspiracy after proper investigation," he said.
He declined to comment on the details of the plot or the suspects but said they all were officers of "middle level".
The officer on the run was a major and of the arrested two, one was a former lieutenant colonel and another was a major.
The Awami League led by Hasina assumed power in 2009 after the landmark victory in the 2008 December general elections. The spokesman said the initial investigations found non-resident Bangladeshis (NRB) link to the plot while at least one of the officers, the fugitive major, was linked to banned Hizbut Tahrir.
Bangladesh has a long history of coups and counter coups while the country was under direct or pseudo military rules for over a decade, since August 15, 1975, when the country's founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated along with most of his family members.
Razzak said banking on the army in the past, "different evil forces availed political gains and made abortive attempts to do so but as an institution, military still has to bear the stigma".
The alleged plot to overthrow the Awami League-led government came more than year after five military officers were sentenced to five years of imprisonment in a court-martial for their "involvement" in attempted murder of Fazle Noor Taposh, the influential nephew of Hasina, after the bloody 2009 mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) frontier force in 2009.