• Thursday, Jan 20, 2022
  • Last Update : 03:32 am

Pilkhana carnage: Victims' families want formal recognition of February 25

  • Published at 07:51 pm February 25th, 2021
bdr mutiny relatives at banani
File photo: Relatives of the officers, who were killed in 2009 BDR mutiny, break down in tears at the Banani Military Graveyard in Dhaka on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Family members also demand judicial inquiry commission to ensure justice for the departed souls

Six-year-old Tausif Ishfak woke up in the morning on February 25, 2009 to the sounds of gunfire. 

Although it was usual for little Tausif to hear gunshots during special occasions, he could not imagine these particular  sounds were going to change his life forever. At one point in the morning, his father called and warned everyone to be safe as a mutiny had occurred among jawans of the now-defunct Bangladesh Rifles (BDR). 

The situation turned dire for Tausif and his family when rebel soldiers came to their apartment inside Pilkhana and took them captive.

Even though they were released the next day, Tausif and his family found out two days later through the media that his father had died in the mutiny.

Tausif, currently an intermediate student in Adamjee Cantonment College, demanded exemplary punishment for everyone involved in the incident.

On the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the atrocious carnage at BDR, Tausif along with his brother and grandmother visited Banani military graveyard on Thursday morning to pay respects to his martyred father, Lt Col Mohammad Sazzadur Rahman. 

Bangladesh observed the day with due solemnity in remembrance of the 74 people, including 57 Army officers, killed in the carnage in 2009. 

Saquib Rahman, currently a faculty member of North South University and son of late Colonel Quadrat Elahi Rahman Shafique, urged the government to recognize February 25 as martyrs’ memorial day.


Also Read - Remembering the Pilkhana carnage


Saquib also demanded a judicial inquiry commission to bring justice to the families of the martyrs who were massacred in the 2009 BDR mutiny.

He said: “We have the copy of the High Court verdict comprising over 30,000 pages which is kind of incomprehensible to us. I think further a judicial inquiry is necessary.”

Two advocates, cousins of Lt Col Lutfur Rahman, who was also murdered during the mutiny, visited the graveyard and prayed for the salvation of their cousin’s departed soul.

While reminiscing on the memory of Lutfur Rahman, cousin Ehtesham Rahman Khan said Lutfur looked after their family as a protective shade and his absence was felt even today.

Another cousin, Akhlakur Rahman Khan, appealed to the government to declare February 25 as a mourning day, to be observed as a government holiday.

Expressing similar sentiments, Quazi Nazia Tabassum, daughter of another martyr, major Quazi Mosaddek Hossain, urged the authorities to recognize February 25 as a national day in memory of the martyrs. 

Nation pays tribute

To mark the 12th anniversary of the mutiny, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) organized Quran recitation, doa and milad mahfil. 

Relatives of the 2009 BDR mutiny victims lament over their loss at Banani Military Graveyard on February 25, 2020 | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune 

BGB flags were lowered to half-mast at all its installations and all BGB members wore black badges to honour the departed souls.

In the morning, family members and relatives of the slain army officers paid their tributes by placing floral wreaths on their graves. 

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, senior secretary to the Public Security Division of the Home Ministry, director general of BGB, chiefs of the army, navy and air force and military secretaries to the president and prime minister also paid homage at the graveyard.

Special prayers and milad mahfil have been scheduled for Friday after Jummah prayers at BGB Central Mosque, Dhaka Sector Mosque and Border Guard Hospital Mosque at Pilkhana for the salvation of the departed souls.

Mutiny

On February 25, 2009, several hundred BDR men staged an armed revolt at the Darbar Hall of the force's Pilkhana headquarters during the three-day "BDR Week”. They killed 74 people, including 57 army officers. Among those killed was the director general of the force, Major General Shakil Ahmed.


Also Read - Pilkhana carnage: Explosives case yet to see an end after 12 years


The mutiny ended the following day (February 26) with the surrender of firearms, ammunition and grenades through negotiations between the government and the BDR rebels. 

A total of 58 cases, including one for murder and looting and the rest for mutiny, were filed in connection with the mutiny.

In 2013, a Dhaka court sentenced 151 BDR men and a civilian to death in the carnage case, while 160 BDR men and two civilians were given life sentences and 256 others were jailed for different terms. 

Then in 2017, the High Court confirmed the death penalty of 139 people, commuted the capital punishment of eight people to life sentences and acquitted four others.

Besides, the court upheld the life imprisonment of 146 convicts and handed down different jail terms to 196.

In January 2021, nine death row convicts filed an appeal with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court verdict that confirmed their death sentences awarded by the trial court.

Meanwhile, the explosives case filed over the mutiny is yet to be disposed of despite the passage of 12 years.

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