Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Comments on Dr. Malik’s essay on the Peelkhana tragedy

There is no doubt that our people are somewhat dissatisfied with either the slow pace of the inquiry and trial of the captured culprits or the published government reports on the Peelkhana tragedy. Bangladesh is however not unique in such lengthy trial processes. We notice the same slow paced process with the trial of the alleged masterminds of 9/11 here in the USA; it is taking 7-8 years now. However, our public wants faster, transparent and fair process to unearth the truth.

Many Bangladeshis do suspect that the government wants to put a lid into the fact-finding process so that the real truth may never come out. A section suspects that some folks within the Awami League were involved in the murder plan. A few others also see the RAW connection to weaken our armed forces. Early in the process, a govt minister even suspected Islamist connection, only to be rejected in the subsequent CID inquiry report. A much circulated internet posting even mentioned that beside MPs like Nanok, Azam, Taposh and Dr. Alamgir, there was even involvement of PM's son Joy and Sohel Taj - the late first PM Tajuddin's son, even suggesting that the PM herself gave a nod to the murder plan. A retired Army officer even told that 2/25 was a revenge for August 15, 1975 massacre. Where is the truth in all these accusations? Are there proofs substantiating such claims or charges?

As a keen observer of the matter, esp. given the fact that I was also in Bangladesh at the time, I am very serious about finding the truth. I had met some government officials, ministers and the Police chief just around the time when the sad tragedy happened to discuss expatriate matters. Last year Sunita Paul (a ghost writer with probable foreign intelligence connection) even suggested that IGP Nur Mohammad was a party to the 2/25 crime; she even had mentioned discussions between Joy and Taj about the murder plan. I have found such charges to be too ludicrous to be taken seriously, esp. how could the IGP be a party to the crime that widows his own daughter? Where did she get such info? The stories were hemmed together as if Sunita was there as a third person when Joy and Taj communicated. It sounded too unbelievable! Are those charges all based on rumors or truth? If latter, where is the source? If not, are such disinformation campaigns part of a very calculated plan to bring about a civil war or coup in Bangladesh aimed at steering the Army against the elected government, an event which may surely bring about the curse of incursion of the Indian forces into the soil of Bangladesh? We don't have any easy answer on many such unanswered questions, thus adding to the frenzy we see with 'conspiracy' theories. My recent article in the Internet tried to bring such unanswered questions to the public's mind.

I have tried to do my own research, trying to put the puzzles together. Thanks in my effort there to the cooperation I received from some of old contacts from cadet college days that now serve or retired from the Bangladesh Army. Many of my juniors from Cadet College were killed in that sad event, which puts an extra burden on me to unearth the truth. One way to describe my findings is - it is bizarre. I am still puzzled and don't seem to have the right answer. Let me share some of the findings below:

In recent days, I have seen two PDF files that seem to record confessional statements from some killers within the BDR. There the confessors to 2/25 tragedy name some of the MPs mentioned above. Apparently these MPs were approached by the rebel planners with their demands, which I presume had no murder-clause, since the demands were even posted on various places inside the BDR HQs before the sad event. (The DG of BDR and his intelligence officers knew of those demands. To them, it was a matter that could be addressed in the Darbar Hall and settled. Obviously, they were not panicked.) The MPs seemingly promised to help the planners meet their legitimate grievances. In one such meeting, it is said that when the planners mentioned that they might take the officers as hostages in the Darbar Hall, MP Taposh cautioned them to limit the death toll to not more than two. Even that caution is rather problematic given that a single death of an officer is too many. Supposing that the PDF file is authentic, how trustworthy is that confession itself? Is the confessed killer trying to muddy the scene by putting words into the mouth of the MP, who had lost his family in 1975? If, on the other hand, the confession is 100% authentic, it shows a rather very disturbing image of our politics and an elected MP who is PM's relative. I am at a loss to express my serious disappointment! That is why in my article on the Peelkhana tragedy I suggested that an inquiry needs to happen to probe such links of the accused MPs and politicians, failing which people will always entertain serious doubts about the innocence or guilt of those politicians, rightly or wrongly.
The other facts or fictions that emerge from those two PDF files I received are that all planners were local players and that there was no mention of any outside player like the RAW or whatsoever. Is that the whole truth?
One confessor said that the planners needed to collect some money towards a fund for two butchers for killing the DG and his wife. This sounds unbelievable when we can imagine that the armed BDR jawans themselves were enough to kill those two hated personalities, and did not truly need any cow-butcher from the bazaar to finish off the task. And the PDF file suggests that they collected thousands of taka for that butcher-job. I simply don't know how much to believe in such confessions.
Another story that emerges from those two files is that all the killings happened very early on within the first hour or so of the Darbar Hall meeting, much in contrast to other "conspiracy" theories. That is even if the Army or RAB had moved in the late or mid-morning AM hours of 2/25 there was no way to save any officer unless the guy had escaped by hiding himself, which some did. (Although an Internet posting in the NFB puts a different twist to this confession.) It is true though that some looting and other harassment of the family members of some officers could have been avoided if the Army had successfully moved in to quell the mutiny. The confessors also don't mention about getting aided by any outside agency or arms suppliers. They claimed to have looted the guard house for arms early in the morning.

So, what to make of such confessions? How to explain the deaths of some witnesses that were brought in for quizzing? I don't have answers to such puzzling questions.

Whenever our country has witnessed similar scenarios, we have assumed foreign involvement, whether or not such connections were there. The 2/25 tragedy is one more event in that direction where such theories have again emerged. May be there is some truth in those claims and theories. But I have failed to unearth any foreign connection thus far for 2/25. I am also aware that to some criminals, who are worse than beasts, such kind of murders and crimes are dal-bhat type matters. We have seen those since August 15 of 1975 when two pregnant women and a nine-year old child was killed. Their crime was that they belonged to the family of Sk. Mujib. That was good enough to kill them! It was a sad and sickening event to recall such murders of innocent human beings, although there are many that celebrate such a horrendous crime and justify political murders. Unless we, as a nation, stop condoning such horrendous crimes, we shall be visited by such crimes. That is the sad lesson of history that we sometimes like to ignore.

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