Isha khan’s Weblog

Massacre at Pilkhana: Propaganda and the
March 11, 2009, 1:22 pm
Filed under: Bangladesh, India

Massacre at Pilkhana: Propaganda and the


Ahmad Ashiq-ul Hamid

The massacre at the BDR head quarters has become an issue of politics recently. The government and their supporters and patrons have started playing game with such a tragic event of our history. They are trying to establish that the Islamist and nationalist parties were behind the killing. The motive has also been `invented’. It has been alleged that the motive was to thwart the government’s effort for trial of the so-called war criminals! With this peculiar and surprising `invention’ they have started an all out propaganda against the patriotic forces of the country.

  The nation has not yet been able to recover from the terrible shock of the so-called mutiny at the BDR head quarters on February 25th. A fast recovery is not possible in fact. Because the nation has lost its brave, brilliant and patriot sons- 67 army officers were brutally murdered in the so-called mutiny. Such an orgy of carnage was really beyond anyone’s imagination, but nevertheless it has happened and the nation’s Army has suffered an irreparable loss.


Unfortunately the people have not been allowed to know about what really had happened at Pilkhana, who had masterminded such a heinous and dangerous massacre and what their motive was. The people could not gather correct information from the media also. In the mean time, confusing debates and arguments between the government and the patriotic political leaders have become a major cause of sorrow and frustration for the common people. The government has failed in another way to fulfill the peoples’ expectation. In spite of sincerely calling up on the political parties to be united and tackle the situation jointly, the government has, from the very beginning, rather started debating with the opposition political parties. The opposition parties too have become compelled to go in the path of confrontation. So the `battle’ began and the blame-game has been going on while the people remained in the dark with much disappointment.

The `battle’ began after the opposition political parties, especially the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Jamaat-E- Islami, raised some very important questions and demanded for answers. How the so-called mutineers dared to commit such a massive killing and why the government did not even try to prevent them, were the main questions. The government has presented an argument that they had `correctly’ decided to resolve the problem `politically’ and `peacefully’. But this has not satisfied any quarters, including of course the army officers. Begum Khaleda Zia, Leader of the Opposition in the Jatya Sangsad (National Parliament) asked the questions and strongly opined that since the so-called mutiny was a military problem, it should have been dealt with in the military way. But in spite of the Army’s complete preparations the government did not allow them to carry out a military operation. It should be mentioned that the RAB had arrived at the Pilkhana gate at about 10 am. They sought permission to move in but the Home Ministry did not permit them. Two Battalions of the Army’s 46 Brigade had also reached by 11 am. But they were directed not to move in. This time a big `no’ had come from the Chief of Army Staff, General Moin U Ahmed, it was alleged. Sheikh Hasina also did nothing even after receiving an SOS request from the D. G. of the BDR, Major General Shakil Ahmad.

Begum Khaleda Zia in fact echoed the common peoples’ sentiment in the Sangsad on March 1st. Bangladesh Jamaat-e- Islami and other patriotic parties and organizations have also expressed the same opinion. Even the retired Army Chiefs and Generals including the government’s coalition partner H. M. Ershad have publicly said that had the government allowed the Army to move in, the so-called mutiny would have come to an end within 20 minutes to half an hour. On the other hand the government `tried’ to resolve the problem `politically’ and `peacefully’- as if it was something like a general strike in a garment factory! This particular decision of the government had almost directly allowed the so-called mutineers to kill as many army officers as they wanted to kill. The killers also tortured the family members of the army officers, ransacked their houses and committed heinous offences like rape. Not only that, the government’s delay in reaching at a `peaceful understanding’ with the representatives of the killers had allowed them to escape safely. This has been authenticated by the officers who could save their lives. They have said that most of the killings had happened within the first hours in the morning, which could be avoided had the government allowed the Army to move in. On the other hand in the name of `peaceful’ and `political’ solution the government took controversial steps. The government’s steps made the situation more complex and the killers took full advantage of it. Thus the government totally failed to protect the lives, properties and dignity of the army officers and their family members.

It has been correctly alleged that the Prime Minister did not consult the military experts. In stead she depended utterly on Gen. Moin, whose real role and intention have been questioned by many. Sheikh Hasina’s decision to send Jahangir Kabir Nanak, a State Minister and Juba League President, as the Chief Negotiator has also caused serious debate. Nanak’s personal acquaintances and friendship with DAD Tauhid, a leader of the so-called mutiny, have been genuinely discussed in the news papers and TV channels. Being the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina allowed the leaders, Tauhid and 13 other armed killers to meet her, who were not properly dressed. They did not even wear their caps, which was a must. This and the subsequent events including the so-called dialogue had clearly indulged the killers. They were successful in buying necessary times from the Prime Minister and her negotiators to complete their mission. The argument of saving civilian casualties and properties could not gain any support, since the government failed to save the officers who mattered most during the event. A simple announcement could have vacated the adjacent areas and the Army too could have easily got in the BDR head quarters.

The experts and former senior army officers have confidently opined that the killers would not have even dared to confront the Army. They would have simply fled away and lives of many officers could be saved. It should be mentioned that the adjacent areas were astonishingly vacated on the second day by the local Awami League MP Barrister Fazle Noor Tapash, a nephew of Sheikh Hasina. But the motive was to create opportunity for the killers. The killers also utilized the opportunity and escaped safely.

On the other hand the government’s reaction to various questions, allegations and explanations has been very sharp and aggressive. In her speech in the Sangsad on 1st March, the Prime Minister alleged that there was a `political instigation’ in the events and the opposition parties were shouting because the `conspiracy’ to topple her government could not succeed. Criticizing the Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina said that the so-called mutiny was a `game’ of those who have played with the army on various occasions in the past. It was a clear attack against the BNP and Begum Khaleda Zia. Sheikh Hasina also defended the government’s decision of political solution and said that since it was not an occasion like her son’s or daughter’s matrimony, she did not consider it necessary to invite the opposition leaders for consultation or help.

The Prime Minister’s speech in the Sangsad has come as another reason of doubt and disappointment. Such a harsh statement and attack on the opposition was not expected at this juncture. Her effort for searching any connection of the opposition parties in the events was seen as a tactic to divert the peoples’ attention from the failure of the government. Her arguments too were not acceptable. The conscious section of the people had to remember the instance of the former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Bajpayee during the Kargil war against Pakistan. Mr. Bajpayee had called up on the leaders of all parties and the leaders too responded positively. Even during the recent terrorist attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, political leaders of India stood by the government’s side and resolved the crisis jointly. In Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina too could have created such an instance, had she called up on the leaders of all parties. But she did not, and acted unilaterally.  

Another very significant point should be mentioned here. During the campaign involving the Islamist and nationalist parties of the country, it has been told that they organized the so-called mutiny to thwart and foil the process and effort to bring the so-called war criminals to justice. Even in her last speech on March 7th Sheikh Hasina has also repeated the same statement and alleged especially against the BNP and Jamaat-E-Islami. She said that the parties wanted to create a law and order situation, instigate a civil war and finally topple her government. It should be noted that Sheikh Hasina and her supporters have been using these points as `weapons’ against the BNP and Jamaat.

Interestingly, the anti-Bangladesh forces of India are also using the same `weapons’. In fact the Indian media has launched a total war against the patriotic forces of the country. Dailies including the Anandabazar and the Telegraph have been playing the leading role since the beginning of the so-called mutiny. They too have `invented’ the `hands’ of the BNP and Jamaat leaders behind the killing. But the information they mentioned did not strengthen their claims. In stead it has appeared that in the course of events the Indian government had to do many things. For example, in the wake of the so-called mutiny none else but the Foreign Minister Pronab Mukherjee had received an `explicit request’ from Dhaka and he instantly assured that India was `ready’ to come to the `rescue’ of Sheikh Hasina! India acted also very rapidly- the `Parachute Regiment’ of the Indian Army was brought overnight to West Bengal from Agra and the Air Force was kept on `high alert’ in Kolkata and Guahati of Assam. It should be mentioned that the `Parachute Regiment’ had airdropped the Indian Army and fought against Pakistan in Bangladesh in December, 1971. According to the Telegraph, India uses such Regiments when neibouring countries are in turmoil.

These information regarding the Indian government’s activities and preparations to come to `rescue’ Sheikh Hasina have been seen as very significant. The Indian media has used their country’s intelligence agencies as their sources of information. On the other hand, after the so-called mutiny was over and the killers escaped safely, `Guru’ Nanak disclosed a very significant information which has bewildered every Bangladeshi. According to him not only lakhs but crores and crores of taka was distributed among the killers by the conspirators. A question was raised instantaneously- how did Nanak alone discover this information? The reason of the question was simple- it is possible only for him or her or them who had been involved in both the conspiracy and the murders.

Was it then a `slip of tongue’ of `Guru’ Nanak? The next question is also very important- why Nanak did not inform the government, especially his dear leader Sheikh Hasina? How could he come to know that the Prime Minister was going to make none but him the Chief Negotiator? Had Sohel Taj, State Minister for Home Affairs, to leave the country and go to America for creating the necessary `space’ for Nanak? Sohel Taj has been staying in the United States since February 18th. This is really mysterious that the State Minister was not seen in a situation where his presence and actions were essential and where in stead of Nanak he should have played the role of the Chief Negotiator.

As time passed on the question about the real motives of the so-called mutineers has also come to the prominence. Because, besides killing, the so-called mutineers were seen spreading malice especially against the Army. The clear intention was to mobilize the people against the patriotic Armed Forces of the country. In fact they tried to weaken the nation and posed a serious threat to Bangladesh‘s independence and sovereignty. Hence the patriotic political parties have strongly opined that the so-called mutiny was a conspiracy to make Bangladesh a failed state. The effort in this regard has been going on for a very long time. A particular group of anti-Bangladesh forces have been trying to identify Bangladesh as a terrorist country. But they have failed so far. They wanted to use the land and water of the country for their expansionist purposes, but the patriotic political parties resisted.

After the consecutive failures they had decided to damage and gradually destroy the country’s brave Armed Forces so that the people and the parties become compelled to fulfill their evil desires. The so-called BDR mutiny was a part of that anti-Bangladesh conspiracy and those foreign forces were involved in it, who are trying to identify Bangladesh as a failed state and a terrorist country. They wanted to destroy the BDR first to make the border a free zone. In the second phase they wanted to bring the Army in the streets. They thought that after seeing their officers’ killing the Army would certainly react and topple the government. Had the Army really snatched the power the Indian Army would have come to `rescue’ Sheikh Hasina and a war would have been inevitable. And as the superior power India would have won that war, it was assumed. The consequence can be easily imagined- Bangladesh would have become a vassal state of India.

But in spite of a well planned conspiracy India could not succeed. The brave and brilliant Army and the Armed Forces in general have foiled the conspiracy. This failure has made India and her friends and agents in Bangladesh mad and lunatic. They have even lost their common senses and started a serious campaign against the Islamist and nationalist forces. One can easily understand the reason of their propaganda. Because, the Islamist and nationalist forces have been struggling to keep the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh unharmed. The arguments like thwarting the so-called war criminals’ trial, creating a law and order situation, instigating a civil war and finally toppling the Awami League government were in fact `manufactured’ to divert the common peoples’ attention. Every Bangladeshi should understand that the so-called mutiny was intrinsically linked with the country’s independence and sovereignty and some foreign forces were involved in it. Fingers have correctly been pointed at India. It is high time to ensure that such a killing and mutiny do not happen again.

The following special points should be considered carefully to understand the conspiracy and to identify the real killers:

1. Sheikh Hasina was supposed to move to the old `Gano Bhaban’ where renovation works are going on. But in stead she had suddenly moved from `Sudha Sadan’ of Dhanmondi near Pilkhana to `Jamuna’ recently.

2. Sheikh Hasina had refused to attend the annual dinner of the BDR scheduled for that night.

3. Sohel Taj, State Minister for Home Affairs was sent to America on 18th of March. If he was present then `Guru’ Nanak would not have got the chance of becoming the Chief Negotiator. Did Sohel Taj deny to become a part of the conspiracy?

4. What Sheikh Rehana has been doing in Bangladesh for such a long time? Is she performing the role of the Chief Coordinator? It should be mentioned that India depends much on her than Sheikh Hasina.

5. The Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakraborti was not seen in public after the incident took place. On the other hand usually he talks too much on every issue of Bangladesh. Does his silence indicate anything?

6. What Jainal Hazari is doing after returning from India? For, his return and the so-called mutiny have coincided mysteriously.

7. Sheikh Hasina did not respond positively even after receiving an SOS from Gen. Shakil. Her Military Adviser Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Tariq Siddiqui also ignored many requests. But why?

8. In spite of going to Pilkhana or staying in Cantonment, why did Gen. Moin spend hours after hours at `Jamuna’- the Prime Minister’s office? He did neither respond to any requests from the endangered army officers nor did he give any effective advice to Sheikh Hasina. He even ordered the Army not to move in Pilkhana. Was he then allowing the killers to complete their mission?

9. The Home Minister Sahara Khatun visited Pilkhana several times. But she never enquired about the army officers and did not try for their release. Why?

10. Who had made the `explicit request’ to Pronab Mukherjee to help and `rescue’ Sheikh Hasina?

11. Why the Indian Army had taken all preparations for a war?

12. Now it is a known fact that many killers spoke in their own languages, not in Bangla. Who were they?

13. Nanak was a friend of Tauhid, Mirza Azam was a brother-in-law of Shaikh Abdur Rahman and Col. Guljar was responsible for the arrest and death of this JMB leader. And Col. Guljar is still missing. Were the appointments of Nanak and Azam as negotiators pre-planned?

14. How could the Indian media echo the statements and allegations of Sheikh Hasina? Was it a result of the same plan?

These are the most important points which will provide the correct answers regarding the so-called BDR mutiny and killing of army officers. A large section of people even believe that a `Sweet Revenge’ of 1975 has been taken through the Pilkhana massacre. We do not want to comment on that. But it must be understood that neither the BNP nor the Jamaat had anything to do in the events. The points mentioned above should be sufficient to authenticate it.

** Ahmad Ashiq-ul Hamid is a Columnist and Researcher of political history of Bangladesh. He can be reached at < ahmadashiqulhamid@>


1 Comment so far
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There are also some more questions which should be put in perspective:

Comment by Rezwan

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