25th February, 2009 – A day of infamy

The massacre at the Bangladesh Rifles compound in Peelkhana right after Awami League took office in 2009 remains an intrigue and a mystery in Bangladesh. While we successfully executed the perpetrators and planners of the killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, BDR incident remains clouded in a mystery.

While other trials are being concluded with a serious resolve, the massacre of unarmed senior officers of the Bangladesh Rifles still remains an intrigue at the least and a mystery at best. It is a national disgrace that was followed by more intrigues in the Awami League’s 4 years in office. Why we talk about Awami League? Because they are in power at this time and are governing the country with firm resolve backed by their unanimous majority.

The opposition is on the run; especially when the issues of 1971 have been revived in a massive way; starting from the re-writing of the text books of the youth – to indoctrinate them as well as their teachers. The result has been a resounding success culminating in the Shahbagh protests. It was engineered well but gaining feeble attention from the international reporters and observers who are puzzled at the theme of the protests. The protesters are seeking capital punishment for the brokers of the 1971 massacres and rapes. While the main architects of the massacres and rapes during the brief liberation war were allowed to live in safety and comfort in Pakistan with the agreement of our founding father, these brokers are the only ones we can lay our hands on at this time.

As a few of the brokers and the middlemen who facilitated those schemers of the massacre are still alive, they are now targets of the trials by a tribunal set up under the Bangladesh law. The dignity of the Bangladeshi nation will remain incomplete without trying all perpetrators and getting our history right. We should also be trying the killers of hundreds of thousands of Biharis who lived in our midst, to set the score right.

The Shahbagh crowds unanimously want the beheading of these suspected facilitators of the 1971 killings and rapes. So the lawmakers hurriedly convened the parliament and passed a law to include death sentence for the convicted individuals.

February has been an active month. We have the SSC and HSC board examinations side by side with the 21 February language movement remembrances including the famous book festival (Boi Mela) at the Bangla Academy. Falgun brings in a pleasant weather for all get together so the massive protests at the Shahbagh Square gave an awesome appearance of colors, songs, dances and demands for beheading, blood and lighting fires. Many would liken it with an instantaneous uprising while slowly it unraveled its purpose. The demands were very clear; they want dismantling of an opposition party Jamaat and death sentences to those convicted of 1971 crimes. As a result, the parliament is considering laws to ban Jamaat from the political scene with their assets confiscated.

All said and done, our nation almost forgot the BDR massacres of four years ago. This national disgrace is being quietly observed. Lots of intrigues and suspicion persist but the true story has not unraveled yet. Yes; thousands of low level soldiers have been indicted for treasonous charges and yes; this should be tried in the military courts but the actual report remains to be unveiled to the nation. A retired army major is quoted as saying “not even in the war of independence [1971] and the coups that followed have we ever lost such a big number of army officers”.

In last 4 years, our nation experienced disappearances and killings of political activists, killings of labor leaders and news reporters, serious corruption issues like the Padma Bridge debacle, Hallmark stealing money from government banks, stock market manipulation, and quick rental electricity generation schemes amongst many others. Add to that, the degradation of the law and order situation, people are living their life in a nervous setting. The organized student thugs manipulating tenders and killing anyone they wish with impunity; many times right under the nose of the ruling party, making it appear as if it has been orchestrated by the party. The ruling party let loose their party workers whenever the opposition parties start a procession. The ruling party cadres are seen right behind those processions trying to disrupt and intimidate confrontations right with the cooperation of the police. The home minister also used the units of the Border Guards, adding pepper sprays and police tanks and guns on the opposition protesters. The ruling party postures for war against the opposition parties on the streets, the media and elsewhere.

Topping it up, we have seen this government secretly entering into serious agreements binding Bangladesh with nations like India and Russia, totally flaunting the public and the opposition leaders. Bipartisan concept of decision making has never been on the plate of our leaders’ right from the inception of the nation. The Presidents and the Prime Ministers more or less ruled the country single handedly like the head of a Chinese Communist Party.

Yes; Shahbagh has aroused the fantasy to a great number of people for reviving the national dignity; but are they objective? Can this movement (if we liken it to a movement) address the more complex issues as stated above? Just idolizing this show under a protected set up is like a visit to the Disney land if the new generation cannot come out and speak the truth. Bangladesh needs real reforms and real politics of nationalism. Serious atrocities have been perpetrated and people killed, tortured and abducted after 1971 till today. Who will answer those?

The Bangladesh Chronicle


  1. The country needs law and order for everyone and not for only one party. If one group is allowed to demonstrate safely, the others should also be allowed to demonstrate their causes under safe protection. We have seen intimidation by ruling party cadres, the police and RAB on opposition protesters. This is not fair. This is premeditated and planned execution of policy and it will not work. It will put the nation on confrontation and fragmentation; pitting one against the other. We need unity for no other reason but for rapid development. Bangladeshis can do it. Politicians should step aside and just protect the public and intimidate and pit one against the other.


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