Speakers at the event said those who did not believe in the spirit of the Liberation War had been behind such activities since 1975
The identities of the masterminds behind the gruesome BDR mutiny must be brought to light as soon as possible, speakers demanded at a discussion on Tuesday. They said that it had been 11 years since the carnage and yet no one knew who had orchestrated the massacre.
The discussion, “Pilkhana massacre: The trial and our thoughts,” was organized by the Bangladesh Online Activist Forum (BOAF) at the National Press Club in Dhaka.
“Even so many years after the incident, it is unclear who the masterminds behind the mutiny were,” said Maj Gen (retd) Abdur Rashid, a security expert. “It is necessary to expose who were behind the mutiny, how it was organized, and who financed it, to ensure that no one else ever dares to commit such a crime again.”
It is not plausible that the mutiny happened only to have some financial demands fulfilled, since rumours indicate it had been premeditated, he remarked.
Speakers at the event said those who did not believe in the spirit of the Liberation War had been behind such activities since 1975.
Former food minister Qamrul Islam and former Supreme Court justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik, pointed fingers at BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, acting BNP chairman Tarique Rahman, and the Pakistan intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence.
Qamrul said that it was Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's wisdom which allowed the then government to handle the situation without further bloodshed.
“The government, against all odds, made it possible for the trial of the accused to be completed and a verdict to be delivered in the criminal court and the High Court,” he added.
He added that the case was in the Appellate Division and would soon be resolved, making way for the sentences on the convicts to be carried out.
Lawmaker Muhammad Shafiqur Rahman and BOAF President Kabir Chowdhury Tanmoy were present at the discussion, among others.
On February 25, 2009, aggrieved soldiers of now defunct Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutinied and killed 57 army officers at the BDR headquarters in Pilkhana, Dhaka, plunging the entire nation into a state of shock.
Following the carnage, BDR was rebranded as Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and went through an exhaustive overhaul.
On November 5, 2013, a trial court pronounced death sentences on 152 of the accused while another 423 were sentenced to different prison terms. On November 27, 2017, the High Court upheld the death sentence for 139 convicts. It also commuted the death sentence of eight convicts to life imprisonment and acquitted four others.
In January this year, the High Court released the text of its 29,059-page verdict confirming the death penalty for 139 and upholding life imprisonment for 185 others over their involvement in the massacre.
It also handed down rigorous imprisonment, ranging from one year to 14 years, to 256 people, mostly BDR soldiers. It acquitted the remaining 278, but the government later appealed against the acquittal of 69 of them.
Former inspector general of police AKM Shahidul Hoque said police submitted the charge sheet in the case within one year and five months of the incident. They interrogated some 7,000 people during the investigation.