Such a big credibility gap in trial of BDR mutiny should worry the govt03 March 2014 Editorial Desk
The nation observed the 5th anniversary of BDR mutiny of February 25, 2009 last week. At about the same time a survey published by an eminent English daily shows that 67 percent respondent supported Begum Khaleda Zia's call for retrial.Known as the Pilkhana tragedy when BDR jawans rose in revolt against the officers on the eve of the annual 'darbar' or general meeting, the heinous barbarity shocked the nation all the more to suspect a deep seated conspiracy to have been engineered by unknown quarter to destroy the country's defense capability. In the tragic incident 74 people were savagely killed including 57 army officers. The elimination of 57 army officers has been a most unusual incident at a time.People believe it can't be a simple act of BDR protest against whatever angers or deprivations which are cited now as the cause behind the carnage. Meanwhile, the whispers are getting louder as many political parties and leading human rights organizations at home and abroad have raised questions about the credibility of the witnesses and the process of trial suggesting that many accused are victims of wrong trial. The opposition BNP has already demanded retrial of the entire case to take it to the root cause. What at stake are the credibility gap and the widely held belief that the trial has been held to end an episode in which many innocents have been punished and real perpetrators have been left behind the scene untouched. The verdict has failed to impress the nation that that fair justice been delivered to the real accused. For example, BNP leader Nasiruddin Pintu has been sentenced to life term for his alleged role of helping the fleeing BDR jawans by boat to cross the rivers. It appears to be a clear political indictment while several top Awami League leaders including Fazlul Karim Selim MP, former Home Minister Shahara Khatoon and Fazle Noor Taposh MP knew the development and yet they did not stop it. The investigation report and the trial process have no mention of their knowledge in this matter least to bring them under investigation thus making it a case of high suspect. Despite the long trial of the accused in which the court has already delivered death penalty to 150 former BDR jawans now renamed as BGB and two civilians for their role, besides slapping different prison terms to many others, the case has apparently failed to unearth the real cause to strengthen the belief that the prosecution has rather unscrupulously acted to cover up the real hand behind it. The investigation has simply developed the case based on the fact that the BDR jawans had acted on some pent-up angers including their alleged deprivations from the benefits of the fair price shops of essentials which the officers had run to combat the soaring prices of essentials under the former caretaker government. Investigators however claimed that during the intensive interrogation of the accused, including mastermind DAD Towhidul Alam, they did not find any foreign and political links with the incident. The observers wondered why the government did not recognize the army led investigation conducted by Lt Gen. Jahangir and even left it as highly secret document adding more suspicions about the real hand behind the carnage. Some widows of slain officers spoke of their suspicion in clear words. One of them said on February 25 that they can't think it was only for corruption and some other demands that such a large number of officers were killed. "We want to know the real reason." She said corruptions takes place at personal and organisational levels, but no such killing had ever taken place. Moreover the cruelty in which the officers were killed had no parallel in contemporary history. The national probe committee headed by former senior secretary Anisuzzaman Khan also raised similar questions saying anger against army officers and their discontent over unfulfilled demands were reportedly the primary cause of the mutiny. But analyses of these demands give the impression that such small things cannot be the main cause. He also suggested more investigation by professional investigators.The additional metropolitan judge who ran the trial of the BDR jawans in his comment also said "Those who had pulled the strings from behind possibly thought of how the country could be weakened." He further said when such an incident occurs it might discourage foreign investment in the country to indicate that some foreign powers may have the hand behind it. The judge pointed out that there might have been security, diplomatic, economic, political and social motives behind the massacre and even had reportedly doubted the motive of the investigation officer in question. Mutiny trials are difficult trials. Everything depends on how unbias was the investigation. Added to this is the fact that the government has failed to handle the crisis from the beginning. People's faith in the people's government is essential. The government must try to improve its image. The demand for retrial raises serious questions.