Mutineers wanted PM to come to Pilkhana
On the first day of the BDR mutiny in 2009, jawans had demanded the prime minister herself come to Pilkhana headquarters for negotiations.
They had threatened to blow up the secretariat, Dhaka University and other important infrastructures, if the premier did not join the talks.
Whip of parliament Mirza Azam told this to Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court yesterday while testifying on the gruesome BDR mutiny that took place on February 25-26 in 2009.
The court has been set up temporarily at the Alia Madrasa playground in the city's Bakshibazar to hold the trial in the BDR carnage case.
"Being ordered, State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Jahangir Kabir Nanak and I went near Pilkhana headquarters around 1:30pm, putting our lives at risk. We tried to convince the mutineers to sit in a discussion, but they threatened to kill us and refused to sit with us," said Azam.
"No one will be spared if the prime minister doesn't come here," he said quoting the jawans as saying.
The rebels said they always fight at the border and are more powerful than the armed forces. They claimed to have contacted with their border outposts to paralyse the border area, added the whip.
Narrating his dreadful experience Azam said Nanak over the phone on February 25 had asked him to go to prime minister's residence Jamuna around 10:00am.
"As we reached Jamuna, the prime minister asked Nanak and me to go to Pilkhana and give a try to hold a meeting with the mutineers around 1:00pm. We were asked to find a peaceful solution to the crisis through negotiations," he told the court.
The two lawmakers reached Ambala Guest House near the BDR gate at Jigatola around 2:00pm. A tense situation was prevailing in the area with sound of gunshots coming from inside the BDR (now Border Guard Bangladesh) headquarters. They collected a megaphone from police and through it urged the mutineers to stop firing before heading slowly for the main gate.
"But in response the jawans fired shots and hurled abuse at us. We were scared and returned to our previous position. In the mean time the DGFI chief, deputy chief, Rab director general and high officials of police reached there," said Azam.
Then Azam collected a loudspeaker and announced the prime minister's massage to surrender. It prompted the BDR soldiers stop firing for a while.
"I announced my cell phone number over the loudspeaker and urged them to contact me. A little later the jawans responded and agreed to discuss," he mentioned.
"As we walked towards the Pilkhana gate waving a white flag, a team of BDR came there and called us for talks. Some soldiers had wrapped their mouths with cloths."
The jawans were complaining that the DG of BDR misbehaved with them, officers tortured them, and also skimmed off the Dal-Bhat programme.
They also claimed that the officers get higher salaries, though the soldiers have to work harder. The rebels vowed to keep fighting until the government resolved the discriminations, said Azam.
Later Nanak and Azam took a 14-member delegation of the mutineers to Jamuna around 4:15pm. Their names were not enrolled in the registration book of the prime minister's residence as the jawans did not say their names.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had asked them about the condition of the DG and other army officials in Pilkhana. In reply, the team said all of them were safe.
The soldiers placed some demands before the premier and vowed to free the officials after their demands were met.
"In and outside of Jamuna, every time we tried to know about the captive officers and their family members, the mutineers either avoided or provided false information," said Azam.
The BDR team returned to their headquarters along with Nanak and Azam around 6:30pm.
The delegation with some new members had sat with the government delegation at Hotel Ambala for a fresh round of negotiations.
The following day when the government delegation entered the Pilkhana headquarters, they found a horrible scene there.
"Almost in every house, especially the DG's, we saw spots of blood. We rescued around six persons including Major Monir from the medical centre," noted Azam.
Later the defence lawyer cross-examined the whip.
Seventy-four people including 57 army officers were killed and at least 200 injured during the two-day mutiny in the BDR.