Pilkhana Mutiny Anniversary
Make probe reports public

The family members of 2009 Pilkhana massacre victims say they are still in the dark about the reasons behind such a bloodshed and who masterminded the killing of so many people.

The also demand the investigation reports over the incident be made public and justice be served making sure no innocent is punished.

“We want the real culprits to be punished, not any innocent,” Nehreen Ferdousi, wife of slain Col Mojibul Haque, told The Daily Star.

She also said they want to know the reason behind the massacre.

Saquib Rahman, son of slain Col Kuadrat Elahi Rahman Shafique, said the High Court in its verdict(in 2017)asked the BGB authorities to investigate the failures of its intelligence unit to detect the impending 2009 mutiny.

The HC also advised the authorities to make the probe report public as soon as possible.

“We still don’t know whether an investigation was carried out,” said Saquib, who is also a lawyer.

He demanded the investigation reports over the incident — one by a probe committee of the Bangladesh Army and the other led by a civil servant — be made public.

“Ultimately the Appellate Division will deliver its verdict and the convicts may be executed. But we hope that we may get to know who conspired and masterminded such a massacre and why,” said Saquib, demanding formation of a judicial inquiry committee under a retired Supreme Court justice.

Days before the bloody mutiny, the rebel BDR jawans had distributed leaflets inside and outside the Pilkhana headquarters in which they raised various demands.

As part of the conspiracy, they held several meetings before the mutiny and decided how they would loot the armouries, an investigation revealed.

But the Rifle Security Unit (RSU) of BDR failed to alert the authorities. It could not be known if there was any probe into the failure of the RSU, and if anyone got punished.

Investigation into the intelligence failure is one of the seven recommendations made by the HC.

The mutiny on February 25-26, 2009 left the nation shocked — as details of the unthinkable cruelty perpetrated at Pilkhana headquarters of the border force unfolded. Mass graves found afterwards testified to the sheer scale of the savagery.

Seventy-four people, including 57 top and mid-ranking army officials, were massacred during the mutiny. Family members of many officers who got trapped inside were brutally tortured and abused.

BDR was later renamed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).

Meanwhile, the apex court is yet to begin hearing of appeals filed by death penalty convicts in the BDR carnage case.

The High Court in a verdict on November 27, 2017 confirmed the death sentence of 139 convicts, and around 30 of them later filed the appeals with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

Attorney General AM Amin Uddin told The Daily Star that the convicts filed the appeals just a few months ago and the top court is yet to fix any date for hearing the appeals.

Their execution depends on the Appellate Division verdicts to be delivered upon hearing of the appeals.

“It cannot be said at this moment when the death sentence of the convicts will be executed,” said the attorney general.

However, Aminul Islam, one of the defence lawyers of BDR carnage case, said he does not think that the hearing of the appeals will be completed this year.

“Around 30 convicts have filed appeals and other convicts still have the scope to file appeals with the application for condonation of delay.”

If the chief justice takes steps for early hearing of the appeals, the state and defence will have to submit concise statements to the apex court mentioning the points of arguments. The hearing and delivery of the verdict may be completed next year, he added.

Besides the carnage case, another case filed against 834 persons under the Explosive Substances Act is still under trial at a trial court.

The cases filed over the mutiny have all been disposed off.

A total of 256 convicted accused, who have already served their jail sentences, and 200 accused, who were acquitted by the HC, could not get out of prison as they are accused in the explosives case and the trial in this case is not finished, said defence lawyer Aminul Islam.

He said the trial court has so far recorded statements from 172 witnesses out of total 1,264 in the case.

It may take another two to three more years to finish the trial if the proceedings continue at the current pace, he said.

Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol, however, hoped that the trial will be finished this year after taking statements from 100 to 120 witnesses.

In the meantime, the family members of those detained accused are leading miserable lives.

“We are very helpless,” said Abdullah Al Mamun Shakil, son of Abdur Rashid, who got acquitted in the carnage case but remained behind bars as the trial in the explosives case against him is still pending.

“My father joined the BDR headquarters at Pilkhana a couple of days before the bloody mutiny. My mother cries for my father’s plight every now and then,” he said on February 21.

Shakil said separate petitions were moved for his father’s bail three times in the explosive case, but the lower court refused to grant him bail and even did not issue any written order and therefore, bail petition cannot be moved before the HC in the case.

Abdul Matin Mridha, father of sepoy Sumon Mridha, said his son has already served 10 years in jail in the carnage case but he could not come out free.

“His mother and I are very worried and passing days in agony,” he said.

Mohsin Reza, son of DAD Kader, said his father was awarded seven years’ imprisonment in the mutiny case and seven years’ in the carnage case. Later, the High Court acquitted him from the charges.

“I pleaded to the judiciary to be kind to us and complete the trial. My father may be proved innocent,” he said.

Saquib Rahman, son of slain Col Kuadrat Elahi, thinks it “unfair” that many accused in the carnage case are still in jail for the explosive case despite getting acquittal in the carnage case.

Some have even embraced natural death, he said. “As the family members of the martyred officers, we never want an innocent to be punished.”

On November 5, 2013, a Dhaka court awarded death sentence to 150 BDR members and two civilians, and life imprisonment to 160 others for their roles and involvement in the carnage.

The court handed down rigorous imprisonment to 256 people, mostly BDR soldiers. It acquitted 278 others but the government later appealed against the acquittals of 69.

The HC started hearing the death reference and appeals from the convicts in January 2015 and pronounced the verdict on November 27, 2017.

The HC confirmed death penalty of 139 and upheld life sentences of 185 and three to 10 years’ imprisonment of 256. It acquitted 200 accused. (dailystar)



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