12:00 AM, March 06, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 06, 2009

Carnage plotted at least 2 months back

Investigators cite phone records; so far 100 people's involvement found in Pilkhana killing

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Shariful Islam

Oishee, daughter of Major Kazi Ashraf Hossain killed in the BDR Headquarters, wails at the Army Graveyard in Banani as her father was being laid to rest yesterday.Photo: SK Enamul Haq

Citing telephone records of some suspects, investigators yesterday said the February 25 massacre at BDR Pilkhana headquarters might have been planned at least two months back.
They said so far they have collected the last two months' phone records of the suspects.
“Most likely the networking between them had begun much before that. Further investigation will shed light on that,” said a high official of a law enforcement agency, requesting anonymity.
The information obtained in interrogations of the arrested mutineers bears out what has been gleaned from analysis of the phone records, he added.
As of yesterday, the investigators have gathered that at least 100 people were involved in the vicious killings of scores of army officials deputed to BDR. “However, this number [of mutineers] could shoot up to 1,000 in the end.”
Another investigator who too would not speak on record said the maximum participation was from Rifles Security Unit, intelligence wing of BDR, a certain battalion and Regimental Police (RP) of the paramilitary force.
He said the suspects being grilled have disclosed that plotters who include outsiders had been motivating the border guards against their commanding officers. Particularly, the ones who joined the service around two to three years ago had been more involved.
"Some of the mutineers were told that only a few officers would be killed while others were told that none would be killed. The officers would be taken hostage only to be released after the demands are met," the investigator continued.
But as the revolt began, things went beyond their control and an orgy of killings took place.
Investigators said they believe most of the border guards inside the Pilkhana compound knew that something was going to happen.
They said they would not face any major difficulty detecting the BDR troops now that they have access to a database containing details of the 67,000-force.
"Initially, there was no reliable source of information as the mutineers have burnt or destroyed most of the documents at the headquarters," said an investigator.
A member of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) tasked with investigation of the bloodbath said they are sure the runaway rebels have taken with them small arms and grenades.
The efforts are on to know the number of missing firearms and grenades.
Asked about reports that some mutineers have managed to flee the country by air and through Comilla border, the investigators said they too have such information, but could not yet confirm if it is correct.
The law enforcement agencies and security forces will bring back the suspected rebels to the capital immediately after capture in the countrywide drive styled 'Operation Rebel Hunt'.
They have a helicopter all ready and waiting to fly the rebels back in the city.
Sources in the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) said over 200 suspected mutineers have already been held in custody.
Besides, they said, they have identified all 14 BDR personnel who participated in negotiations with the government.
Of the 14, five are deputy assistant directors (DAD), two havilders, two nayeks, one lance nayek and four soldiers. The sources, however, declined to divulge the names that are yet to be known like DAD Syed Touhidul Alam's.
Intelligence agencies and committees formed to probe the carnage are working in coordination to help CID come up with a strong charge sheet after investigation.
Meanwhile, a Dhaka court yesterday granted a petition for permission to defuse 17 grenades seized from BDR headquarters.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate AKM Enamul Haque passed the order following a prayer submitted by CID ASP Abdul Kahar Akand, also investigation officer (IO) of the case filed with Lalbagh Police Station in connection with the mass killings at Pilkhana.
In another development, 22 BDR jawans held in Tangail were shown arrested in the case yesterday.
Metropolitan Magistrate Abdur Rahim granted the prayer for the jawans to be shown arrested.
The IO said the border troops have been rounded up at different parts of Tangail district for alleged links to the bloody mutiny.
The court also ordered that they all be shifted to Dhaka Central jail.

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