Thursday, July 18, 2024

Plotters not identified

Soldiers’ grievances not met
Even two years inside the February 25-26, 2009 rebellion in the then Bangladesh Rifles, later renamed Border Guard Bangladesh, the plotters of the bloody mutiny are still unidentified, the conspiracy is yet to be cracked, and the grievances, identified by two probe bodies as the primary reasons for the rebellion, have not yet been addressed.
Seventy-five people – 57 army officers, a retired army man, wives of two army officers, 9 BDR soldiers, 5 civilians, an army soldier and a police constable – were killed in the BDR headquarters in Dhaka in February 25-26, 2009 when the soldiers took up arms against their officers from the army.
The government on March 2, 2009 formed a committee, headed by former secretary Anis-uz-Zaman Khan, to investigate the rebellion. The committee submitted its report to the home ministry on May 21, 2009. The army also formed a ‘court of inquiry’ to investigate the rebellion and the body submitted its report to the army chief on May 10, 2009.
None of the probe reports has yet been made public. New Age, however, could obtain the copies of the reports.
The army court of inquiry in its report recommended formation of a high-level court of inquiry to investigate the involvement of civilians and institutions with the rebellion observing that the court of inquiry had failed to identify the masterminds as it could not obtain information on them because of its limitations.
The government inquiry committee, in its report, also said it could not identify the masterminds and plotters of the rebellion and the killings as it lacked tools and techniques to interrogate the suspects and unearth the truth and none of the people brought before the committee provided any crucial information or proof. It also recommended a further inquiry to identify the plotters.
No such inquiry, recommended by both the investigation committees, has yet been conducted to identify the masterminds and to unearth the conspiracy.
The Criminal Investigation Department on July 13, 2010 submitted charge sheet against 801 soldiers and 23 civilians, including former Bangladesh Nationalist Party lawmaker Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu, Hazaribagh Awami League leader Torab Ali and Dhaka City Corporation councillor Suraiya Begum, for committing criminal offences, including murder and robbery, during the rebellion.
Twenty-five charges were pressed against the soldiers under 25 sections of the Penal Code. The charges include criminal conspiracy, waging war against the state through the rebellion, conspiracy against the state, sedition, murder, attempt to murder, rioting, wrongful confinement of officers and their families, causing injuries to officers and their families, mischief by firing or explosion, theft and destroying evidence by burying the slain officers in mass graves and hiding some of the bodies in manholes or in drains.
Dhaka metropolitan sessions judge Mohammad Jahurul Haque, however, on February 3 granted a prosecution petition for further investigation into the case and ordered the CID to submit the investigation report by March 3.
Meanwhile, 1,065 soldiers have so far been sentenced to imprisonment of various terms – from four months to seven years – by different special courts of the border guards on charge of the mutiny.
Grievances of most of the soldiers identified by the two probe committees as primary reasons for the rebellion have been overlooked.
Both the probe bodies recommended reorganisation of the paramilitary force and the government has already reformed the BDR renaming it Border Guard Bangladesh and changed its uniforms.
The Border Guard Bangladesh Act 2010 was also enacted on December 6, 2010 for the border guards repealing the Bangladesh Rifles Order 1972 and raising the maximum punishment of the force personnel on mutiny charges from seven-year imprisonment to death penalty without any scope for appeal to any civil court or the Supreme Court.
The government has reformed the border guards without addressing the demands and grievances of the soldiers.
The army’s court of inquiry identified a dozen reasons, including grievances and misunderstanding of the soldiers, for the rebellion.
Reasons for the rebellion as identified in the report includes wrong impression about the facilities of the army, lack of transparency in establishing and running BDR shops, delay in payment of duty allowances for the 2008 national elections, misunderstanding about lease and contracts of different works in the BDR headquarters, irregularities in admission to schools in the headquarters and wrong impression about the BDR’s director general Shakil Ahmed, his wife Nazneen Shakil and Dhaka sector commander Mujubul Haque’s alleged involvement in irregularities, and delay made by the home and finance ministries in resolving BDR problems.
The investigation committee instituted by the home ministry found that discontent among the BDR soldiers about their commanding officers deputed from the army had been latent for long.
It recommended that a balance should be struck in the facilities for the military, paramilitary and law enforcement agencies.
The home secretary, Abdus Sobhan Sikder, said the government had started taking measures in line with the recommendations of the investigation committee.
‘The grievances identified by the committee as primary reason for the carnage, including their promotion, have been addressed in the new law…The BDR has been reformed in line with the probe committee report,’ he told New Age on Thursday.
After the mutiny, the government has increased the amount of rations for BDR soldiers to 100 per cent from 60 per cent.
‘The committee has identified the soldiers’ grievances and their demand for increased allowances as the primary reasons for the mutiny… Besides, Dal Bhat Programme, punishments meted out to soldiers, irregularities in running BDR shops and schools and luxurious living of officers fuelled the discontent,’ Anis-uz-Zaman said when he disclosed the report to the media on May 27, 2009.
The committee found that the grievances the BDR soldiers had harboured against their commanding officers from the army were the immediate reason for the rebellion and hinted that the players behind the scenes might have pulled the strings capitalising on the discontent to destabilise the country in a planned manner.
It, however, could not establish the real cause and motive for the carnage and suggested further investigations to identify the plotters. The committee suggested revision of the service tenure of the BDR soldiers in line with that of the army.
The government investigation committee said that a group of BDR soldiers had met a number of politicians before the mutiny taking up with them their demands that included 100 per cent rations, increase in border allowance, recruitment of cadre officers for the BDR, revision of its pay structure in line with that of the army and sending BDR soldiers to UN peacekeeping missions.
The committee, among others, suggested formation of a central intelligence coordination committee and reallocation of businesses for the intelligence agencies as long-term measures.


Courtesy of New Age

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