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Why the shock at Pintu’s death?

  • Published at 06:53 pm May 4th, 2015
Why the shock at Pintu’s death?

Having campaigned over the years with the civil society body “Desh, We’re Concerned” for the proper justice of the BDR Pilkhana massacre, I have personally observed the political right and the extreme right to have been the most active in social media with regards to the issue. Needless to say, all the blame is thrown at the government for the gruesome murder of 57 army officers and 17 civilians inside the Pilkhana on February 25-26, 2009.

In the past few years, I have upheld two demands with regards to the tragedy that Desh, We’re Concerned believes the citizens fervently seek as well. Setting up a Judicial Inquiry Commission under a retired Supreme Court justice is the first. 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 precious lives.

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, and distribution of leaflets containing materials instigating the jawans to take up arms against their officers, can be known. Another point is declaring February 25 as Shaheed Shena Dibosh, in remembrance of the fallen soldiers.

The first demand, we believe, would be a strategic move towards finding the men behind the guns. However, till date, BNP and its allies have failed to present a solution.

Having lost my own father in the brutal tragedy, and having registered an organisation that specifically pressured the government with events, rallies, press releases, and articles at national dailies to unveil the truth behind the carnage, as much as I grieve in anger that I lost my best friend, guide, and philosopher during this tenure, it is beyond me to blame AL as a party for the incident.

During such a situation, the method to tackle it is to be decided by senior military personnel who clearly failed to convince our PM with regards to carrying out an operation inside Pilkhana during the revolt. Which sane person, at any cost, would order the military to move, risking the lives of civilians inside and outside the Pilkhana in such circumstances, if not properly and confidently advised by her then military leaders?

Taxpayer money for protocol, the luxury of fancy cars, and accommodation of the military chiefs and generals certainly pay for their tactical ideas and efficiency in handling situations such as Pilkhana, where, as funny as it now seems, with the army positioned outside the gates, the PM had risked sending her civilian leaders inside with a white flag.

The courage shown by AL leaders, and Sheikh Hasina’s presence at Shena Kunja right after the incident, facing the grieving and agitated junior military officers, is certainly commendable.

If I may ask readers to imagine holding a public leader’s office with the military to have clearly advised you to “let it be” and not move the army by considering innocent civilian lives, what better performance can we expect from what has been done already?

The long-awaited trials began on November 24, 2009. On November 5, 2013, after nearly four years of lengthy trials, the court passed capital punishment for 152 perpetrators. 161 persons were jailed for life, 256 were jailed for various terms, and 277 received acquittals. The death penalty remains a valid form of punishment in Bangladesh under its penal code and there is hardly any constructive and meaningful discussion from educated quarters re-evaluating the need for such a harsh form of punishment.

Therefore, constantly pressurised from international rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International about how the trial process was not fair to the jawans, and how the death penalty is wrong, not carrying out of such a trial would, in fact, be advantageous for the AL in regards to the international quarters, including local rights bodies. So, provided the government would have no intentions of proper justice, it would not have gone through a second “trouble” (after the ICT trying war collaborators) to offer solace to the martyrs’ souls.

Lastly, the cancellation of the PM’s visit on the day of carnage is often questioned. Even if the intelligence and many officers inside Pilkhana were aware of the jawans’ initial planning regarding some of their demands and grievances -- would, or should, such grief or mere distribution of leaflets stop such brave officers of the army, some of the very best, to not attend the darbar and listen to what their soldiers were in need of? I believe that is a prime reason why the darbar is held, and, of course, none had imagined that their own sepoys would be such ruthless predators.

Therefore, when asking the AL to take responsibility of the death of the BDR martyrs, BNP and their allies are required not to just analyse the above, but also come up with proper evidence that back what their associated social media pages tend to promote.

They must also provide proper guidelines for the purpose of finding the men behind the guns (as we have proposed a Judicial Inquiry Commission) and be clear about their stance, since “expressing deep shock” at their leader Nasir Uddin Pintu’s death by cardiac arrest -- a man awarded life-time imprisonment for his involvement in the Pilkhana tragedy -- can send a confusing message to concerned citizens. 

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