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Six years since Pilkhana

  • Published at 06:41 pm February 24th, 2015

I think the recent political instability has diverted our minds from the events of February 25. The day which -- six years back -- was so brutal that words can’t express. People have various points of view regarding the Pilkhana tragedy.

Some say the conspiracy had India behind it, some talk of the government’s involvement in the incident, and some choose to explain how government has no incentive in doing so. Some even blame Islamic fundamentalists.

People take their stance and base their arguments with regards to the political ideology that they believe in. Thus, till now, since these are all speculations, it is always best not to go into the debate. But for the families of the martyrs, nothing can ever compensate for their loss.

Many questions can be raised with regards to the carnage. However, for now, I simply want to bring to your notice a senior officer who was shot inside Pilkhana. I would like to take the opportunity to highlight his career in brief.

On November 1, 1962, Colonel Quadrat Elahi Rahman Shafique was born in the heart of Rangpur. After his schooling from Jhenaidah Cadet College, he joined the Bangladesh Military Academy as a gentleman cadet and was commissioned at third East Bengal Infantry Regiment on June 10, 1983. He achieved first-class-first in the BSc examination under Chittagong University.

In 1984, he went for his first course in Rajshahi on field engineering as a lieutenant. Once he was a captain, he did his OW (Open Weapons) and JTC (Junior Tactics Course) from SI&T (School of Infantry and Tactics).

After completion of the courses, Col Quadrat Elahi was appointed as instructor in SI&T and was promoted to major.

In 1991, he was admitted for an MBA to IBA, and graduated in 1994, standing first with a major in marketing. As soon as he graduated, he was posted to Europe with the designation of PAO, observer for the UN Mission in certain areas, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, etc. In 1995, he came back from Europe and was sent to Bandarban as Brigade Major (BM).

Col Quadrat Elahi then did his staff course (psc) from DSCSC (Defense Services Command and Staff College) from 1997-1998, and then embarked for a second staff course where he got a Post Graduate Diploma from University of Malaya on Strategic Management.

He was posted as the second in command (2IC) for the first Bengal Infantry Regiment. Later on, Col Elahi was put in MIST (Military Institute of Science & Technology) as an instructor, where he founded the MBA Department of MIST. Col Elahi was promoted from major to lieutenant colonel while posted there.

After serving as an instructor, he was sent to command an army battalion. He served as the commanding officer (CO) for two years of the 18th East Bengal Infantry Regiment.

After commanding for two long years, Col Quadrat Elahi was posted to DSCSC (Defense Services Command & Staff College) as DS (Directing Staff), and after serving for a year, he was promoted to full colonel on August 7, 2005 and served again for almost a year as SI (senior instructor).

Col Quadrat Elahi was then sent to Sudan for his second UN Mission as sector commander of Juba. He served the United Nations from 2007-2008 and was the first officer from the Bangladesh Army to have received the medal of gallantry from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In 2008, he was asked to enrol in the senior course NDC (National Defense Course) in Dhaka, while at the same time Col Elahi was working on his MPhil under the University of Dhaka. He had also received a Masters in Defense Studies degree from National University, Bangladesh.

The above describes just one officer out of the 57, murdered unarmed. I wish that the readers get an idea of how much the nation’s army, if not all of Bangladesh, could be benefitted from officers of such calibre.

On January 9, 2009, Col Quadrat Elahi was posted in Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) as Sector Commander of Dinajpur. From there he headed towards Dhaka on February 21, 2009 in order to join “BDR Week,” and on his way back he stopped at Brac University Savar Campus to pay me a visit. I remember complimenting him on his looks in the new BDR attire.

I shook hands with his gunman who had helped me walk towards my dormitory room with the snacks Papa had brought for me. I remember talking to him, I remember him smiling at me. But I never could imagine that he, being there for my favourite colonel’s protection, would ever turn out to be the predator.

I would like to end with a quote from Papa’s paper published in the National Defence College (NDC) Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, June 2010:

“Bangladesh should be able to take lessons from its failures in the past, and its leaders should be ready to devote themselves to the country’s welfare, rather than building their own personal fortune. Only then will Golden Bengal envisioned in the Bangladesh national anthem bear some fruit. The dream for which three million people sacrificed their lives will come true.” 

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