BDR HQ hardly cordoned off
Hundreds of rebels of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) could flee from Pilkhana headquarters almost unobstructed during the 33-hour bloody mutiny as law enforcers and security personnel did not cordon off a vast stretch of areas alongside the boundary, people of nearby areas said.
A large portion of the boundary wall around the BDR headquarters in between BDR gate No 1 and Bay Tannery used by fleeing BDRs as a safe passage remained totally unguarded.
No law enforcers were deployed over the long stretch of one kilometre area along the boundary wall, they said.
As for the other areas alongside the boundary of the BDR headquarters law enforcers and security personnel were very scantily deployed making rooms for runaway rebels to elude the grasps of the law enforcers.
Cross-section of people nearby areas said the rebels in hundreds used Ganaktuli and Hazaribagh Tannery Zone areas as safe passages and escaped between 3:00pm and 5:00pm on February 26.
The authorities of the law enforcement agencies, however, claimed that they had instructed police and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) members to prevent BDR jawans from fleeing the scene.
Talking to a cross section of people it is also gathered that members of the army and Rab were deployed around a quarter or half a kilometre away from the points through which most of the 6,700 BDR personnel ran away by scaling the high boundary.
Hours into the breaking out of mutiny inside the BDR headquarters, the locals saw presence of police and Rab personnel at Ganaktuli and Hazaribagh areas but soon they retreated amid indiscriminate firing from inside the BDR headquarters by mutineers.
"As the areas were unguarded some BDR rebels even easily came out of their headquarters after the revolt and returned to it after 11:00pm on February 25," said Mohammad Russel, a fruit vendor at BDR Gate-1. Some others also gave similar account.
After 8:00pm on February 25 a group of eight to 10 policemen were seen patrolling at the BDR Gate-1 while only one patrol team of Rab went past the area soon after 10:00pm.
"After 2:00am on February 27, two Rab patrol vans pulled off at the Gate No 5 and till morning they were seen foraging in the sewerage lines in the area," said Mozammel Hossain, a resident of Ganaktuli Sweeper Colony.
While talking to The Daily Star around 50 people of the areas gave the same account of how the rebel border guards escaped.
Around 6,700 BDR members fled their headquarters mostly on February 26 soon after the prime minister's address to the nation.
Locals said they saw a team of army men on February 25 at Azimpur Battola near the graveyard, which is about 200 yards off the places through which BDR jawans fled away.
The locals added they did not see the army team there for a few hours from February 25 midnight and then again they came to the spot at 11:00am the next day.
The army personnel, however, rounded up a handful of BDR rebels when they were passing by the army team, they added.
Rab Director General Hassan Mahmood Khandker said, "We instructed our force to arrest the fleeing rebels and they worked accordingly." He also claimed his force arrested over 200 BDR jawans from across the country.
When asked whether Rab members were deployed along the boundary wall of BDR headquarters, he said, “I don't know whether they were near the boundary wall or not. They were instructed and worked as per the directives.”
When asked Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Naim Ahmed said they also directed their force to arrest the runaway BDR personnel and they arrested a number of fleeing BDR personnel on the day of mutiny and after it was over.
"Our force was busy with various duties. So we could not deploy enough manpower to cordon off the vast stretch of the areas along the boundary of BDR headquarters," he said replying to a query.
Locals said as around 1,800 BDR families reside at Ganaktuli, Hazaribagh, Badda Nagar, Moneswer Road and Nababganj areas next to the BDR headquarters locals initially helped thm to flee.
Some of them even provided BDR men with clothes, shelter and information about the position of law enforcers to ensure their escape.
As the brutality by the disgruntled BDR personnel came to light, now many of the locals feel repented for all the assistances they extended to the BDR rebels.
"If I had known that they had killed so many people and looted their valuables we would not have allowed them to flee," said sexagenarian Habibur Rahman of Azimpur area venting his pent-up anger on BDR personnel.