2009 Pilkhana Carnage: Intent was to dislodge the AL govt
The intention of the massacre and atrocities at the BDR Pilkhana headquarters in 2009 was to depose the newly formed Awami League-led government, create a political crisis, and damage democracy, said the High Court in the full text of the BDR mutiny case verdict.
“From the facts and circumstances of the case, it appears that there was a plot and conspiracy to uproot, dethrone, and depose the newly formed government headed by Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina following the general election held in 2008,” the court said in the 29,059-page verdict released yesterday.
The verdict is one of the largest in the world, in terms of the numbers of pages and accused involved, 846.
On November 27, 2017, a three-member special HC bench delivered the verdict upholding death penalty for 139 of the 152 sentenced to death by a lower court. It also confirmed life imprisonment of 185 others for their involvement in the carnage.
The nation was shocked as details of the unthinkable cruelty perpetrated on February 25-26, 2009 at the Pilkhana headquarters of the paramilitary force emerged.
Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) was later renamed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).
The bench of Justice Md Shawkat Hossain, Justice Md Abu Zafor Siddique and Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder said, “It is crystal clear that the BDR rebels in collaboration with each other, sharing their common intention and object, following a criminal conspiracy hatched in secrecy, deliberately killed the army officers with a view to exterminate the army officers from the BDR and establishing their full control and supremacy over the BDR force.
“No provocation, no criminal conspiracy, no dissatisfaction and no aggrievement can justify this sort of atrocities and massacre committed in the Pilkhana on February 25 and 26, 2009 ... .”
At least 74 persons including 57 upright and promising army officers were killed during the mutiny.
The court said the incident was unprecedented and the nation lost some promising, bright, distinguished, luminous, patriotic and outstanding army officers and it would take a long time to fill the vacuum.
It termed the actions of the BDR rebels shocking, gruesome, diabolical and ghastly and said no civilised society could tolerate this.
The HC recommended enquiries into the failure of then Rifles Security Unit (RSU) in providing information beforehand and making the probe reports public.
It also asked prohibiting activities that belittle or disrespect members of the BGB.
The HC said the BGB members should not carry out any activity or programme like operation Dal-Bhat which hurts their self-respect. It said the BGB should not take up any activity or programme that results in the gradual degeneration of the attitude of solidarity and behaviour of the BGB members.
The home ministry and the BGB should respond quickly to all problems of BGB members.
It asked the BGB authorities to mitigate all grievances of its members, if any remaining hidden, and disburse different arrear allowances quickly.
The court also recommended that the BGB solves the problems involving pending leaves of BGB personnel.
The solidarity between the officers and soldiers must be maintained with mutual respect for each other.
In case of misconduct by a soldier on duty, he or she should be dealt with in accordance with law, the court said.
Unwanted and unbecoming behaviour, conduct and language on the part of the officers and soldiers must be avoided, it said in the full verdict.
Security of the arsenal at Pilkhana should be and must be brought under the strict surveillance to protect it from all kinds of danger.
It also recommended taking steps for sending BGB members to UN peacekeeping missions, like members of other forces are sent, if there is no legal bar.
The HC expunged some remarks made by the trial court about the then chief prosecutor of the state Anisul Huq (now the law minister) and its additional chief prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kazol saying that the remarks of the trial court have affected their reputation and social status.
Anisul Huq has successfully, efficiently and competently conducted many important cases including Bangabandhu murder case and Jail killing case, it said.
After the HC released the full text of verdict, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters at his office that the government would file appeals with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in 30 days against the portion of HC verdict that acquitted 283 accused.
Aminul Islam, a defence lawyer for more than 400 accused, told The Daily Star that his clients can file appeals with the Appellate Division challenging the HC verdict.