A hundred and fifty-two jawans were given the death penalty by the court. There is absolutely no reason why the verdict shouldn’t be satisfactory for the families of the martyred officers – though the opportunity of appeal to the High Court and Supreme Court remains open. Despite prevailing political turmoil and the upcoming national election, the government’s action is fairly admirable.
Having had that satisfaction, under these circumstances, we are truly awaiting justice at the end of the day. Since November 5, I have been asked by my friends and acquaintances what our feelings are regarding the verdict. Have the Shaheed families gotten justice? The most appropriate answer I could come up with has been: “So far, so good.”
Since my father was brutally killed in the Pilkhana carnage, my views are different from those of Human Rights Watch, which is opposed to capital punishment. However, their Asia director’s write-up in The Daily Star on the day of the judgment greatly focused on credibility of proper inquiry and investigation – the reports that have not been made public and providing a blurred or unclear vision of those involved, or the abettors of the mass killing.
Brad Adams concluded on behalf of HRW, that a retrial should be considered. I believe the government could make the report public to give it greater transparency in terms of the inquiry and investigation in the case of such a national tragedy.
Apart from the details of the tragic incident, the exposure of the men behind the guns remains to be seen. Punishment of an abettor or conspirator in accordance with Penal Code 1860 is clearly the same as for the perpetrators.
Interestingly, something I found common among the families of the Shaheed Officers as well as those of the accused, is the belief that there must have been a third party who played the bigger role, having camouflaged the incident – since a person like DAD Tawhid and others were undoubtedly not such great masterminds as to have planned such a bloodbath alone.
Dal-bhat, disparity in salary scales, and facilities offered to defence service officers are not good excuses. In every service sector, such complaints or grievances abound. But for those cases, conspiracies to put the high commands to death, like the Pilkhana incident, are not hatched. If it was so, there would have been such an incident in a factory or company every year in Bangladesh!
The victims’ families still fervently seek that a judicial inquiry commission be set up under a retired Supreme Court justice to carry out an in-depth investigation, considering that the Pilkhana carnage is one of the biggest criminal cases we’ve had.
The commission would have access to all legal documents, and investigate the involvement of BDR jawans, as well as outsiders, in a bid to unearth the real mysteries behind the massacre that took away the lives of 57 brilliant officers of the Bangladesh Army and 17 civilians.
Our expectation from the commission is that their findings be made public. In that case, not only can the abettors be spotted, but also, details of the incident starting from the initial planning/movement/distribution of leaflets containing materials instigating the jawans to take up arms against their officers, can be known.
The people of the country, and families of victims, have a right to know the actual motive of the mutiny, and who was really behind the conspiracy – a grievous blow to the country’s military. Nasiruddin Pintu of the BNP, and Torab Ali of the Awami League, have been sentenced to life in prison.
The judicial commission, I am sure, will be able to find out the truth from them and all others associated with the brutal killings in Pilkhana on the day. Investigations need to be conducted to get hold of the masterminds behind the tragedy.
Only then shall justice be complete. The families of the victims will find some solace, and the departed souls of 57 brilliant sons of the soil will rest in peace.