Peelkhana massacre: High Court for investigating intelligence failure over mutiny

A probe should be opened into the intelligence failures about the 2009 mutiny at the border guards’ headquarters in Dhaka, says the High Court.

Published : 27 Nov 2017, 09:27 AM
Updated : 27 Nov 2017, 11:25 AM

The court’s observation came on the second day of delivering the verdict of over the killings during the two-day mutiny eight years ago.

Seventy-four people, including 57 army officers, were brutally murdered by the mutineers on Feb 25-26 in 2009 inside the then Bangladesh Rifles or BDR headquarters in the capital’s Peelkhana.

A three-member bench led by Justice Md Shawkat Hossain started delivering the verdict on Sunday.

Justice Md Abu Zafor Siddique and Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder are the other members of the bench formed in 2015 to hear the case, largest in Bangladesh's history in terms of the number of convicts.

Throughout the verdict proceedings on Sunday, Justice Siddique read out more than 1,000 pages of the summary of observations.

Monday’s proceedings opened with Justice Talukder reading out a summary of his observations on the verdict.

He finished around 12:45pm, when the court went into a recess after the presiding judge of the bench, Justice Hossain, said they would start announcing the sentences at 2:30pm.

In his observations, Justice Talukder came up with several recommendations, including an investigation into the intelligence failure of information on a brewing mutiny.

His other observations are:

 >> Law-enforcement agencies should not get involved in commercial activities, like the BDR’s ‘Dal-Bhaat Karmashuchi’, which allowed the paramilitary force to engage in open market sales of commodities

>> Senior officers should maintain a professional relation with subordinates in line with BGB laws. The judge advised regular discussion within the force in that regard

>> Prior to the Peelkhana mutiny, senior officers had been informed of their subordinates’ demands, but a decision was pending. Such red tape must be eliminated

>>Addressing grievances should be the priority

>> Clearing any back pay as soon as possible

>>The BDR had its own intelligence wing, which failed to provide input before the mutiny. An investigation should be opened

In November 2013, a special court of an additional metropolitan sessions judge awarded the death penalty to 152 soldiers and non-commissioned officers of the erstwhile Bangladesh Rifles or BDR for the massacre.

The court sentenced 161 others to life in prison and 256 to three to 10 years in jail. It acquitted 277.

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

Four of the defendants died during the trial while BNP leader Nasir Uddin Ahmed Pintu died after conviction.

After the mutiny, some suggested deeper conspiracies behind the rebellion, but police investigators concluded that the BDR personnel's grievances led them to revolt.

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

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

The court believed there were intelligence 'gaps' that held back critical information of a brewing mutiny.