Was it BDR troop mutiny or pre-planned murder?



Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

March 01, 2009

Although members of media in Bangladesh and elsewhere were initially confused in giving the correct name to what happened during February 25-26 inside the Bangladesh Riffles headquarters at Pilkhana in Dhaka. Some said, it is mutiny, some said otherwise. But, as the information of the entire episode is gradually getting public, it is becoming crystal clear that the entire episode was pre-planned murder of the officers of Bangladesh army. To understand the conspiracy behind, we have to evaluate some facts as well some statements of several politicians and so-called intellectuals of this country. Let us carefully go through some of the important points chronologically:

1. It is already learnt from various statements of the survived officers that, red and yellow color bandana and masks were already dumped inside the toilet adjacent to Darbar Hall much ahead of the incident. This has been disclosed also by survived officer Major Monir in an interview with a vernacular daily on March 1, 2009. The very first question is how this was done secretly? Moreover, this evidently shows that, the conspirators were prepared for the brutal murder and atrocities already.

2. In a press briefing at the Army Headquarters on Saturday evening, Major Ishtiaq told reporters that arms and ammunitions entered the Bangladesh Riffles headquarters minutes after some derailed troops started expressing anger, in a grey color pick up [which he said, was not belonging to BDR]. How a van containing steel boxes loaded with arms and ammunitions managed to come up to the BDR headquarters? It is well understood that there was a coordinated timing amongst the killers and the conspirators. Moreover, this statement of Major Ishtiaq proves that, outside elements were involved in this brutal massacre.

3. Right after the general election on December 29, 2008, a large number of leaders belonging to political parties, such as Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Moudud Ahmed, Suranjit Sen Gupta, Mirza Abbas, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, Abdul Jalil, Liakot Sikder, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Mirza Azam, Sajeda Chowdhury, Khondokar Delwar Hossain, Brigadier [Retired] Hannan Shah etc., were continuing a campaign against Bangladesh Army with abusive words in various interviews and television talk shows. They were demanding ´stern´ actions against a number of army officers and were even demanding all party effort in stopping the army to be able to ´establish unelected government´. Some so-called intellectuals, mostly belonging to leftist ideology were continuing campaign against Bangladesh Army since the general election of December 29.

4. Right after the outburst of the brutality inside the BDR headquarters, the director general of Bangladesh Riffles, Major General Shakil Ahmed Choudhury reportedly spoke to the chief executive of the country over cell phone and notified of the incident. Earlier he tried to speak to the chief executive when one retired General working with the chief executive, was contacted over cell telephonic by another attacked officer of Bangladesh Army. Understanding the degree of danger, what actions the chief executive initiated immediately is yet to be known by the people of Bangladesh.

5. The government sent two very junior leaders and controversial figures like Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Mirza Azam, almost a couple of hours after the brutality started. They were also wasting time in the name of making appeals to the killers through hand mikes. There was no sign of minimum wariness in the faces of both the leaders. They were rather calm! Moreover, when both were ´allowed´ to enter the BDR headquarters, the killers were ready to send a 14-member delegation with them almost in less than 30 minutes. When the team went to meet the Prime Minister, possibly the policymakers were already able to get information on the murder of several officers at the early hours of the brutality, right from the delegation of killers. Although they spent 4 hours in listening to what Jahangir Kabir Nanak described, “emotional appeals of the troops”, why none had ever put focus on pressing the killer delegation to communicate a message to BDR headquarters in stopping further brutality?

Colonel Gulzar Hossain, who is considered to be a hero of combating Islamist militancy in Bangladesh and nabbing dozens of Islamist militants and their kingpins, was also one of the victims of massacre inside the BDR headquarters. According to various reports, Colonel Gulzar was alive even till Wednesday evening. It is believed that he might have been murdered by the killer, hours after announcement of amnesty by the Prime Minister. It is worth mentioning here, one of the two negotiators sent by the government is Mirza Azam, MP, who belongs to the ruling party. Executed kingpin of Islamist Militancy, named Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh [JMB], Shaikh Abdur Rahman is the brother-in-law of Mirza Azam. There is although no clue if Colonel Gulzar was the subject of revenge.

6. After the prolonged ´meeting´ with the Prime Minister, the killer representatives, led by Deputy Assistant Director of BDR, Towhid, were allowed to waste further time in the name of speaking to the reporters. Was it important for the government to let such crucial time be wasted by facing the media or it was important to rush to the spot and resolve the crisis?

7. Jahangir Kabir Nanak told the reporters that the Prime Minister has accorded general amnesty to the ´mutineers´ as well they [the so-called mutineers] agreed to surrender arms forthwith. But, in reality, it never happened. In this case again, why the government was ready to let the killers continue brutality and anti army campaign by using some questioned media?

8. According to reports, electricity inside the premises of brutality was snatched by someone. Why the government allowed letting the area remain in dark?

9. It was reported in the press [along with some photographs] that dozens of youths were chanting slogans in favor of the killers and they even approached close to the main gate of the BDR headquarters. Some of these youths were even supplying drinking water to the killers. Here is another question. Police was basically cordoning the entire area and was not allowing any civilian in entering the spot. In this case, how these youths were allowed to enter, chant slogan and even supply drinking waters? A source confirms that, most of these youths were belonging to a particular political party. Police could not dare to stop them. My readers will possibly realize their political background.

10. Many of the troops of Bangladesh Riffles, joining the killer atrocity were appearing before the electronic media [television channels] without hiding their faces with musk much ahead of announcement of the general amnesty by the Prime Minister. In this case, the natural question knocking minds of everyone is, as to whether they were already sure of the amnesty. Who gave such advanced assurance?

11. Some of the killer troops were chanting political slogan of a particular political party while giving interview to the media. Moreover, many of them were terming the Prime Minister as ´Amader Netri´ [Our Leader].

12. It is learnt that most of the killers were able to flee the BDR headquarters right after announcement of amnesty by the Prime Minister. Government did not allow Bangladesh Army to approach the place of occurrence. Rather members of police and Rapid Action Battalion [RAB] were assigned to guard the entire premises. In this case, anyone can raise a simple question as to whether; thousands of troops were allowed to flee the spot right before the eyes of police and RAB.

Bangladesh army officials have described the mutiny as the biggest massacre of defense commanders anywhere in the world, saying the impoverished South Asian nation’s powerful military will need quite a long time to recover from such tremendous loss.

Meanwhile, Brigadier-General Mahmud Hossain, Director of Military Intelligence told reporters on Saturday evening that, Bangladesh Army was ready to storm the headquarters of the BDR here soon after the mutiny erupted, but heeded to Premier Sheikh Hasina’s advice at the last minute to resolve the issue politically.

He said the army was ready to put down the BDR mutiny soon after it began on Wednesday, but decided to support Hasina’s decision to solve the issue politically.

Terming it “possibly the worst massacre of Army officers in Bangladesh’s history”, Brig Hossain said the anger among the armed forces was very natural.

“However, the Army is a disciplined force which can control its emotion”, he said.

Outraged over the killing of its officers during the brutality of BDR soldiers, the Bangladesh Army demanded “maximum” punishment for those involved in the massacre.

“Exemplary punishment of the culprits will cool our resentment. Our demand is that the investigation into the killings should be quickened and maximum punishment should be given to those persons responsible for them,” Brig. Hossain said.

He said the Army has begun its own probe into the killings of its officers during the mutiny even as the investigation ordered by a government-constituted committee continues.

According to latest figure, 64 dead bodies of murdered army officers are so far recovered while 72 are still missing thus making the total to 136. It is also reported that many of the family members of the army officers were also brutally murdered. The notorious killers even committed several heinous crimes of various forms such as robbery, rape and physical torture.

It is even proved during the hunt for dead bodies inside BDR headquarters that the killers even burnt some of the bodies of the murdered officer right inside the compound. Dead body of the wife of the director general was also recovered from a mass grave. Killers blindfolded Mrs. Naznin Shakil [wife of Major General Shakil Ahmed Chowdhury] before the murder. He body was wrapped with red color curtain.

Most unfortunate part of the entire episode is, some politicians belong to both ruling and opposition parties have started blame-game centering this entire incident. Some of the leaders of the ruling party, including Jahangir Kabir Nanak even gave public statements in this regard. It is anticipated that any investigation led by the ministers of the government will not find out the facts. Rather, it will be aimed at putting the allegation of political opponents. Experts feel that, only neutral and quick investigation can find out the facts behind such brutality and murders.

Members of Bangladesh Armed Forces have shown their highest tolerance at such tragic murder of their fellow officers and colleagues. But, any dilly-dally in investigation or minimum influence by the government in suppressing any fact will definitely make the entire situation extremely complex. This is time, when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina does not listen to sycophants in her party. She should, at least this time, act neutrally, even if the fact and findings will go against her own party men or even something more. Everyone should remember, this is a serious national crisis for Bangladesh, and 150 million people have the right to know the untold stories behind this extreme brutality.


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