Waiting for the Verdict
The family members of the martyred officers are waiting eagerly for the verdict of the Peelkhana massacre trial due on 30th October. The Supreme Court's decision to try the mutineers directly involved in the killing, under the Penal Code 1860 has to be appreciated since many of the accused deserve the maximum penalty for their heinous crime on February 25-26, 2009.
It is still unclear as to the real story behind the carnage. So far no inquiry report has been made public. It was a terrible tragedy where soldiers not only shot their officers but defiled them by bayoneting and later by dragging their bodies to previously dug mass graves or throwing the bodies down the manholes -- the type of behaviour certainly not expected from a disciplined force. What could have been the motive or instigation behind this?
Different people have different views with regard to the Peelkhana tragedy. Some talk of conspiracy, some talk of the government's inaction during the incident while some choose to point fingers at the intelligence agencies for their failure. People in general have been left to speculate for lack of any reliable information on the matter. Therefore, it is important that a fair trial is held to unearth the actual mystery. The conspirators and their abettors must be brought to book without any further delay. The families of the Shaheed Officers expect the highest punishment to the criminals and want to know the reasons behind the carnage. Questions like 'why the BDR Jawans would engage in mutiny', 'who backed them up', 'what did they expect out of this' and 'who gained at the cost of so many brilliant army officers.' Was it a conspiracy to weaken the Army, the government or the country forever?
Here is a proposal for the government's consideration. An investigation may be conducted by a Judicial Inquiry Commission that may be headed by a retired Supreme Court Justice which can question anybody and have access to any document it wants. And their findings must be made public. People, particularly the families of the victims have the right to know the facts of the massacre starting from the initial movement of the mutineers, to distribution of leaflets instigating the Jawans to revolt a day before the Darbar of February 25 and the killings.
The government has done a lot to accommodate and help the families of the deceased officers. But it's not enough. Can Taka 15 lacs given by the state to the victims' families recompense the life of the dead officers, most of whom were outstandingly brilliant? And who were recognised for their bravery like, for example, Col. Quadrat Elahi, who, as Sector Commander in the Sudan peacekeeping force, received the Gallantry Award from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who flew to Sudan to present the award. The reward of this illustrious soldier was to be shot and bayoneted inside Peelkhana.
Who shares the heart-rending pains and agony of the officers who left behind their wives, children, parents, brothers and sisters? Even today many of them wake up from sleep in a nightmare or a dreadful dream of their beloved one.
My humble appeal to the government on behalf of all the Shaheed families is to consider my request in order to unveil the actual truth behind one of the most tragic incidents in our history when 57 high ranking officers were so brutally killed in one single day -- more than the number of officers who became Shaheeds during the entire nine months of the Liberation war.
The writer, (Son of Shaheed Col. Quadrat Elahi Rahman Shafique, ndc, psc), is student of Master's Program in Criminology & Criminal Justice, University of Dhaka. E-mail: email@example.com