‘Conspiracy by a quarter with vested interest’ behind BDR mutiny, High Court observes

There was a ‘conspiracy by a quarter with vested interest behind the BDR mutiny’ eight years ago, a High Court judge has observed in the verdict on the killings during the rebellion by the border guards at their Dhaka headquarters.

Mehedi Hasan Piasbdnews24.com
Published : 26 Nov 2017, 09:02 PM
Updated : 26 Nov 2017, 10:30 PM

The court has praised the way the then administrations led by Sheikh Hasina put down the mutiny and handled its aftermath.

In the observation of the case’s verdict on Sunday, Justice Md Abu Zafor Siddique said, “It appears from discussions and reviews before and after the BDR mutiny that it was a conspiracy by a quarter with vested interest to hamper the stability of the state and socio-economic safety. It was an attempt to destroy a trained and skilled professional force through conspiracy.    

“But steps were taken by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to prevent the conspiracy surely deserve praise. As the head of a new government, Bangabandhu's eldest daughter honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took proper steps to suppress the mutiny firmly with utmost patience, tactfulness and courage,” the judge observed.  

A larger bench of High Court started delivering the verdict on Sunday morning, and two of the three judges finished reading out the summary of their observations on the day.

Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder will read out his observations on Monday before sentencing the convicts.

Justice Md Shawkat Hossain is heading the bench. He said it was a 'unanimous verdict'.

After he finished reading out his observations, Justice Siddique started reading out his part.

The BDR mutiny took place just after the Awami League government took office in 2009. The mutineers killed 74 people, including 57 army officers, at the Peelkhana headquarters of the then Bangladesh Rifles or BDR at the time. The mutiny spread across BDR battalions throughout the country soon.

Special courts earlier sentenced around 6,000 members of the BDR force to different jail terms.

The trial over the killings was held at an additional metropolitan sessions judges’ court.

In 2013, the court awarded death penalty to 152 soldiers and non-commissioned officers of the BDR. The court also gave 161 others to life imprisonments and 256 to three to 10 years in jail. The court acquitted a total of 277 people.

Never before had so many accused, 850 in total, been tried in a single case in the history of Bangladesh.

The trial court, in its verdict, observed that the mutiny was orchestrated with the motive to destroy the 'military security system' and to weaken the economy.

It said involving the border guards in market activities like 'Operation Dal Bhat', introduced by the caretaker government, had been an 'unwise' decision.

The court believed there were intelligence 'gaps' that held back critical information about the discontent brewing in the force that turned into mutiny.

The High Court is now delivering the verdict on the death references of the 152 convicts, their appeals against the capital punishment and the State’s appeals seeking an increase in sentences of some other convicts.

Justice Siddique observed the main target of the mutineers was to compel the authorities to meet their demands by holding the army officers hostage and to make the border force ineffective by destroying its chain of command.

The mutiny also aimed to topple the newly elected Hasina government by creating a law and order situation in the country by putting the army and BDR face-to-face, the judge said.

“They even wanted to damage Bangladesh’s participation in the UN peacekeeping missions,” he added.

Justice Hossain, in his observations, mentioned the contribution of the paramilitary forces in Bangladesh’s hour of need including the Liberation War.

“The jawans have undermined that history, tradition with their arrogant behaviour. They got involved in a conspiracy to destroy the country’s stability by insulting the law of the land through killing 74 unarmed people, including 57 army officers,” he said.  

“They even threw themselves into the dark pit by creating a tainted chapter of history, posing a direct threat to independence and sovereignty along with the country’s financial backbone,” he added.

'Have patience'

Justice Shawakat Hossain also urged all to have patience by describing the importance of the case with regard to the ‘unprecedented’ incident after starting to read out the ‘historic’ verdict.

He noted that the bench heard the case for 370 working days.

“Not only are the 850 convicts waiting to hear the verdict, but many others in the country want to know it. Many will spend a sleepless night for the verdict. We have the responsibilities.”         

He said the court was trying to deliver a ‘good’ verdict on this ‘significant’ case.

“So you must be a little bit patient. Our observations may differ, but the destination is the same.

“We’ve reached a consensus on the order part of the verdict. Our blood pressure also shot up in delivering the verdict,” he added.   

Justice Siddique mentioned similar killings of army officers in other countries, noting that 55 Bangladeshi officers lost their lives in the nine months of the war against Pakistan in 1971. 

“The Peelkhana massacre surpassed that (tragedy),” he said.

He said the highest number of army officers, 100, was killed in Indonesia by mutineers in 1967.

The judge emphasised ‘legal, logical, and necessary’ discussions and observations in the case of this ‘brutal and barbaric’ incident.  

“This is a groundbreaking verdict considering the arguments, explanation of the existing and statutory laws, the sovereignty of the republic, security of people’s lives and belongings, and for upholding the rule of law in a democratic regime and the establishment of justice,” he said.