According to Bangladeshi media, Lt. General (retired) Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardi raised his concern about corruption and misappropriation by Bangladesh Military’s top brass and Director-General Defence Procurement (DGDP) subsequently, he has been discharged of duties and sent to early retirement.
It is said, Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardi was appointed as the Commandant of National Defence College (NDC) before his early retirement.
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The Bangladeshi Government accused Lt. General Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardi (retd.) is uncomfortable and embarrassing for the members of the armed forces by disclosing corruption and misappreciation. Such incidents serve as a negative example among officers and other ranks serving in the military and have adverse effects. On April 10, 2019, the General was dismissed from his position and sent to early retirement by Ministry of Defense, according to Bangladeshi media.
It is to be noted that access to all facilities of the military-bases and various facilities of the cantonment such as medical services, officers club, CSD shop etc. is prohibited by the army authorities for General Sarwardi.
One of the clefts within the Bangladesh military is between officers who favor India and others who favor China. In the short-hand of Bangladesh politics, General Aziz is talked about as a pro-India person, and Sarwardy is seen as pro-China. Bangladesh Military’s procurement arm DGDP is mostly aligned with Chinese and Russian defense vendors. India is desperately lobbying for a while to circumvent the procurement process and advocating to Bangladeshi military officers to buy Russian hardware.
The Awami League’s positive relationship with the Indian government has until now been crucial to its political survival, but the current serious diplomatic tensions existing between India and China has put this relationship very much under strain.
Chinese Government also pushing Bangladeshi government to re-establish relationship with Pakistani government for strategic purpose. A Bangladeshi-Pakistani strategic relationship would mostly benefit Chinese interests in the South Asian region and put additional pressure on India.
Last year, in an attempt to further weaken Bangladesh military, India offered $500 million lines of credit for Bangladesh Air Guard to procure Soviet-era refurbished MiG-29 aircraft from Russian United Aircraft Corporation. It is said that Russian arms dealers are closely aligned with India,– India could potentially influence Russia and stop supplying weapons if a war broke between Bangladesh and Myanmar, — Myanmar is currently the only weapons imported of Indian origin. Pro-Indian General Aziz would certainly see General Sarwardy a threat to Indian and Russian interests at the procurement arm of Bangladesh military, the DGDP.
General Aziz visits to Myanmar has tarnished the force’s image in Southeast Asia,– portrayed Bangladesh military as a weak, pathetically ill-equipped millitary, — a sign of acceptance of one million illegal Rohingya refugees by the Bangladeshi Government, according Bangladeshi media.
Sarwardy’s serious criticisms of India in the Facebook interview — claiming for example that important appointments in Bangladesh, including those involved “in the intelligence agencies, Chief of Army, Chief of Navy and Chief of Air Force appointments, transfers of secretaries etc.” get “manipulated” by Indian intelligence — therefore take on greater significance at this time.
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In all likelihood, Sarwardy’s decision to blow the whistle on the corruption of DGDP in an interview was a patriotic one, motivated in part by courage and honor to serve the country, since his retirement, the military press wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) tried to run a smear campaign against the General, but there is no doubt people will see his interview as part of a patriotic one.
British human rights activist David Bergman who is an investigative journalist based in London, who worked at the New Age, a Bangladesh national newspaper said, Bangladesh authorities are using the abusive Digital Security Act to harass and indefinitely detain activists, journalists, and others critical of the government and its political leadership.
“Bangladesh authorities are flouting the rule of law, arbitrarily arresting anyone they feel might be criticizing the government, and in particular the prime minister or her family,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Bangladeshi media reports that General Sarwardy faces similar fate for blowing up whistle about corrupt government officials and military’s top brasses.
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