It was no ordinary day. With these mortar launchers and angry jawans on patrol, the Pilkhana BDR headquarters was virtually a combat zone in the morning of February 25, 2009. A bloody mutiny broke out on that day and ended up claiming lives of 57 army officers. Photo: File Photo
Even after five years of the BDR mutiny at the Pilkhana headquarters of the force, questions regarding the reasons, based on assumptions, behind the 2009 carnage are being raised.
The lower court has already delivered its verdict in the carnage case.
Investigators, who intensively interrogated the accused, including mastermind DAD Towhidul Alam, did not find any foreign and political links with the incident.
But the family members of some slain army officers believe the reasons that have been cited at different times to explain the mutiny are not the real ones.
After an investigation that took a year and four months, the Criminal Investigation Department found that the mutiny was staged based on some pent-up resentment among BDR soldiers regarding some of their demands.
CID's Abdul Kahar Akand, also the investigation officer of the case, in his post-investigation briefing said the investigation could not find any political or foreign link to the bloody mutiny.
"We do not think it was only for corruption (which is not true) and demands that such a large number of officers were killed," Nehrin Ferdousi, widow of Col Mujibul Haque, Dhaka commander of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) “fair price shops” programme, run during the term of the last caretaker government to curb price hikes of essentials.
Corruption in the programme is alleged to have been the main reason for the mutiny.
"Why the killing of the officers was done out of sheer brutality and who were behind it are questions among many of us who have lost our husbands," she added.
"We want to know the real reason. It is the demand of many of us," Nehrin said, adding that corruption takes place at personal and organisational levels, but no such killing had ever taken place centering around it.
Following the verdict of the carnage case on November 5 last year, Dr Royena Matin, wife of another slain officer, Lt Col Inshad Ibne Amin, told reporters like Nehrin that she wanted to know the real reason behind the mutiny.
The negative attitude among the general BDR members towards the army officers, and their discontent over unfulfilled demands may be identified as the primary cause of the mutiny, said the national probe committee, formed by the government following the February 25-26 massacre, in its report.
"Analyses of these demands give the impression that such small demands cannot be the main cause of such a heinous incident,” mentioned the report of the committee headed by former secretary Anisuzzaman Khan.
It also suggested more investigation by professional investigators.
"When such an incident occurs, it might discourage foreign investment in the country," Md Akhtaruzzaman of the Third Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court observed in his verdict.
“Those who had pulled the strings from behind possibly thought of how the country could be weakened," he added.
The judge also pointed out that there might have been security, diplomatic, economic, political and social motives behind the massacre in Pilkhana.
Asked about the questions raised by the family members of the slain officers and the observations of the court, Abdul Kahar Akand yesterday told this correspondent, "It is not possible for us to make any hypothetical comment. We have mentioned what we have found in our investigation."
A Dhaka court on November 5 last year slapped the death penalty on 150 members of the erstwhile Bangladesh Rifles, now Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), and two civilians for their role in the massacre of 74 people, including 57 army officers, at the BDR Pilkhana headquarters.
It also sentenced 161 others, including ex-BNP lawmaker Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu and ward-level Awami League leader Torab Ali, to life imprisonment for involvement in the carnage.
Some 277 of the altogether 846 accused were acquitted while the rest were given different terms of imprisonment.The BGB has taken up elaborate programmes to observe the death anniversary of the officers martyred in the bloody mutiny at its regional, sector and battalion headquarters and other establishments today.
The programmes include recitation from holy Quran after Fajr prayers and offering prayers at all mosques and border outposts seeking the salvation of the departed souls, said a BGB press release yesterday.
Besides, representatives of the president, prime minister, state minister for home, chiefs of the three services and BGB director general will place wreaths at the Banani Military Graveyard, where many of the slain officers were buried.