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BDR Mutiny: Some unaddressed issues

06 Mar 2014

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BNP and its ally Jamaat want the people of Bangladesh to believe that BDR Mutiny that took place on February 25, 2009 was engineered by the Awami League-led government to weaken Bangladesh army and lower its resistance to Indian aggression with the objective of turning Bangladesh into a vassal state of India.

 This preposterous and malicious propaganda is being carried out by the BNP-Jamaat alliance after failing in its mission to topple the government by creating anarchy and lawlessness with a view to capturing state power.

 

BDR mutiny is the outcome of a meticulously planned conspiracy in which involvement of BNP, Jamaat and Pak ISI is clearly discernible. Anis-uz-Zaman Committee that probed the mutiny in its report released to the media stated that the mutiny was instigated by people “who do not believe in the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh” and they attempted to “reach their vile goal by putting the BDR and the Army on a collision course”. The report while recommending further investigations to unmask the masterminds behind the incident, pointed out the involvement of former BNP MP Nasir Uddin Ahmed Pintu, former BNP Ward Commissioner Suraiya Begum and her two sons as well as some Jamaat activists.

 

The report took note that processions were brought out near the BDR HQ at Pilkhana on the fateful day in support of the mutineers. BDR has now been rechristened as Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB). It is now known that it was the Jamaat cadres who organized the processions to drive a wedge between the army and the BDR and also to boost the morale of the mutineers and incite them. Slogans “BDR janata bhai-bhai; khuni Moeener bichar chai” (BDR soldiers and the country’s people are brothers; killer Moeen must be tried) were raised by the processionists to embolden the rebels and instigate them for killing more Army officers. Gen Moeen was then the chief of Bangladesh Army and to foil the mutiny he remained strongly supportive of the democratically elected government. The probe report also made an oblique reference to the Pak High Commission in Dhaka and funds pumped in for preparations to stage the mutiny.

 

Preliminary investigations of some of the rebels had earlier indicated involvement of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, BNP MP who was very close to Pak ISI and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia. He has now been sentenced to death by the war crimes tribunal of Bangladesh. Brig Gen Mainul Islam who took over as DG BDR soon after the mutiny admitted that video footage of the mutiny showed “outsiders wearing BDR uniform” taking part in killing, raping, looting and plundering at the BDR HQ. Salauddin Quader Chowdhury is known to patronize a large number of armed cadres and gangsters. There is no dearth of such elements in Jamaat too. In fact, it was these elements who were taking part in killing, looting and raping wearing BDR uniform. Deputy Assistant Director of BDR Towhid Alam who was at the forefront of the BDR mutiny also confessed that outsiders were involved.

Presence of vehicles, arms and ammunition near BDR HQ at Pilkhana on the day of mutiny was reported in the media while pointing out that these did not belong to either the BDR or the Army. It was also reported that Tareq Rahman, Khaleda Zia’s elder son who is presently undergoing medical treatment in the UK was in Dubai since morning on the day to monitor developments at Pilkhana. Even leaflets were circulated in anticipation in parts of Dhaka and other places to float rumors of a coup.  According to the probe committee report, the mutiny was intended to create chaos and anarchy in the country and topple the Awami League-led government with the help of a “foreign state”.

 

The BNP MP Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a long standing ISI agent with strong criminal – mafia nexus, was entrusted with the task of implementing the ISI blueprint with the help of some BNP and Jamaat leaders. Investigations into the mutiny have brought to the fore various machinations that were at work before, during and after the mutiny.

 

A number of meetings were held by Salauddin Quader Chowdhury with some BNP and Jamaat leaders as well as some retired Army officers having pro-BNP/Jamaat leanings including former DG BDR Maj Gen Fazlur Rahman (a rabidly anti-India and pro-Jamaat Army officer who was solely responsible for  BSF-BDR confrontation in 2001) to chalk out details of the plot. Two such meetings took place prior to outbreak of the mutiny - one at Hotel Seagull, Cox’s Bazar on February 6, 2009 and the other at Al Falah auditorium in Dhaka on February 13, 2009. It was decided at these meetings to get BDR personnel to place a set of demands before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on February 24, 2009 and in the event of her not taking cognizance of the demands, the BDR soldiers would open fire and kill her on that day. But this plan did not materialize as a section of BDR soldiers did not favor placing their demands before the Prime Minister on that day suggesting that the same be placed during Durbar the next day.

 

Salauddin Quader Chowdhury distributed huge funds to induce and motivate the BDR personnel, ensure their participation in the mutiny and keep their morale high. All the arrested key conspirators had been paid handsome amount of money. There were simmering discontentment in the ranks of BDR and there had been mutinies by the lower tiers of the border guards in the past. Salauddin and his compatriots in BNP, Jamaat and Pak ISI network sought to exploit this discontent by handing over Tk 40 crore to Maj Gen (retd) Fazlur Rahman, former DG BDR, who, in turn, had paid Tk 5 crore to each of the four Deputy Assistant Directors (DAD) including Tauhid Alam (who was at the forefront of the mutiny) and Tk 1 crore each to the Sepoy level conspirators. The key conspirators had been paid up to Tk 1 crore as part of advance for the entire deal. It was later found that many BDR rebels arrested from the spot were carrying around Tk 3 Lakh in cash.

 

A meeting was held at Maruf Foundation auditorium in Dhaka on February 25 just after outbreak of the mutiny.  The meeting was attended among others by Mominul Islam Patwari, Jamaat Central Executive Committee member and President of Board of Directors of Islami Bank Bangladesh, Zahidur Rahman, President of Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS) and Secretaries of all Thanas of Jamaat and ICS in Dhaka city. At the meeting it was decided to extend all possible support to the BDR rebels to ensure their safe exit from the mutiny site at Pilkhana. Instructions were sent to this effect to all Jamaat / ICS cadres across the country on telephone. Thereafter on February 26, students of Dhaka Aliya Madrassa and ICS cadres of Dhaka University organized logistics to ensure safe escape of the BDR rebels.  Boats were organized on Buri Ganga river with prefixed banners for identification by the rebels. Fifty taxi cabs were also organized on roads near Pilkhana for the rebels. Although most of the senior army officers posted in BDR HQ were killed in the morning of February 25, soon after the outbreak of mutiny, BDR rebels were given instructions to prolong negotiation process with the Prime Minister keeping her in the dark about killing of senior Army officers in order to ensure that the rebels could get enough time to escape.

 

After the mutiny, BNP and Jamaat leaders sent telephonic instructions to the party cadres for organizing processions in favor of the rebels in order to incite them to go for an open confrontation with the Army. These processions were mainly dominated by Jamaat/ICS cadres. Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu, BNP leader and former Minister took care of the BDR rebels and organized their safe exit through Hazaribagh, while Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and his cronies did so at Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar. There were many other Jamaat leaders who provided safe escape to the rebels at Motijheel, Comilla and Sylhet.

 

Moral and logistic support was also provided by close associates of Jamaat chief Matiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mujahid. Around 25 Jamaat activists had entered BDR office at Pilkhana in the intervening night on Feb 23/24 prior to the mutiny in the guise of Maulanas on the pretext of doing Tabligh work and religious preaching among sepoys.  Out of them, one masked man in olive green BDR uniform who had entered the Durbar area from emergency exit route on the fateful day opened fire on senior army officers assembled there. Subsequently, a section of BDR personnel led by DAD Tauhid Alam also resorted to indiscriminate killing, looting and plundering.

 

Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Fazlur Rahman, former DG BDR, is a Jamaat Rukon. Taking advantage of his position as head of the border guard force he had inducted around 5000 Jamaat cadres in BDR till Mar 2008. It was mostly these cadres who took part in this mutiny. Moreover Salauddin Quader Chowdhury is also known to patronize a group of well armed gang of anti-social elements who also participated in perpetrating the carnage.

 

All the senior army officers who were posted to BDR were killed between 9 to 11 hrs soon after outbreak of the mutiny. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was misled and literally taken for a ride when a group of BDR personnel led by Tauhid Alam went to talk to her to ventilate their grievances.  They were actually buying time in accordance with the ISI blueprint to facilitate escape of the rebels by keeping her in the dark about the killings.

 

It is interesting to note that Sajjad Rasool, Defence Attaché posted in Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka, had all details of the development taking place at Pilkhana as early as 12:30 hrs on February 25 while Sheikh Hasina was kept in the dark about it. Rasool was the first man to disclose to his contacts in Dhaka and Islamabad that DG BDR Maj Gen Shakeel Ahmed and other Army officers had been killed. It was not possible for others including the media to unearth this fact until February 28. ISI HQ received a report from Rasool in the forenoon of February 25 confirming killing of DG BDR and others.

 

It is very surprising that most of the vital issues related to the mutiny including those stated above  have remained unaddressed even after five years of the mutiny. The government did not initiate any measures to carry out further investigations to unmask the masterminds behind the mutiny, as recommended by the Anis-uz-Zaman committee.

 

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that carried out investigation did not find any foreign or political links to the incident. In a post-investigation briefing, CID’s Investigation Officer Abdul Kahar Akand said he could not find any political or foreign links to the mutiny. He came to the conclusion that the mutiny was staged based on some pent-up resentment among BDR soldiers related to disparity in pay and service conditions / promotional avenues and corruption related issues.

 

On November 5, 2013 a Dhaka court slapped death penalty on 150 BDR personnel and two civilians for involvement in brutal killing of senior Army officers during the mutiny. It also sentenced 161 others including former BNP MP Nasir Uddin Ahmed Pintu for life imprisonment.

 

Dependents of Army officers who were killed in the mutiny were invited to receive financial assistance from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a function held in Dhaka recently to mark 5th anniversary of the mutiny. Speaking on the occasion, widows of the slain officers made no secret of their dissatisfaction with the authorities for failure in identifying the masterminds who have managed to elude the long arms of law. Mere disgruntlement over disparity in pay and service conditions, promotional avenues or corruption could by no means explain the barbaric and gruesome manner in which 57 senior Army officers and their wives were massacred, and their dead bodies mutilated and dumped in sewer lines in a manner reminiscent of what the Pak occupation Army did along with their Jamaat collaborators during the liberation war in 1971.




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