The investigation conducted by the Army is over, and a 311-page report has been submitted to General Moeen U. Ahmed. The civilian report is due any day now, probably tomorrow.
The Army report has one major revelation. The leaflets that were distributed were actually in circulation from February 23, and the BDR command staff were aware of the brewing unrest. But they did not want to cancel the Prime Minister’s visit, so additional guard was assigned to protect the arsenal. So without naming names, the report lays some responsibility on the Army officers.
It identifies 7 root causes for the mutiny:
- Operation dal-bhat (share of income, perceived insult of working as storekeepers)
- Disparity in benefits and facilities between Army officers and BDRs
- Disbursement of income from various BDR stores
- Not getting paid for the overtime duty during the parliamentary election
- Control of contracts inside the BDR HQ
- Disbursement of funds derived from admission to BDR schools and colleges
- Shutting down avenues of illegal income for the BDR soldiers.
It names retired BDR non-commissioned officer Torab Ali, who is a local Awami League leader in the Hajaribagh area and his son, a local mastan named “Leather” Litton, as being directly involved in the planning. The report states that other political leaders were aware of the mutiny plan, but claims the inquiry commission did not know if they notified the BDR command staff about this (presumably becasue the senior BDR officers who may have known about this are all dead).
Daily Star reports:
Sources said the committee however did not draw any conclusion about whether any one or any quarter patronised or masterminded the mutiny from outside the Pilkhana headquarters. However, it has mentioned of some outside links of the BDR mutineers.
It did not find any link with terrorists, Fundamentalists or otherwise. [ We hope that commerce minister Col. (rtd.) Faruk Khan will now shut up.]
The report names one MP from Awami League, who heavily campaigned in the Hajaribagh area before the parliamentary election, with the assurance that the grievances of the BDR will be addressed. According to the report, a group of BDR soldiers and NCOs were scheduled to meet with the Home Minister on February 20th to discuss the grievances, but the meeting could not take place because of a grenade explosion in Gazipur, which kept the home minister busy that day.
Interestingly, the report further speculates that the politicians may have acted out of revenge. We are surprised by the speculative nature of this, and feel that it should have stayed limited to the hard facts, which seem abundant.
While the report does not address the specific allegations of corruption against the officers and their families, there are some interesting tidbits sprinkled in the section addressing the root cause. It states that BDR soldiers were upset that they were asked to sign receipts for payment (for duty during the parliamentary election and operation dal-bhat) but did not receive the funds. As a result, they suspected that the officers were taking their payments. While the report makes clear that there was no additional payment allocated for operation dal-bhat, and the payment for the election duty was making its way through the home ministry, it does not explain why the soldiers are asked to sign the receipts, or by whom.
The report states that another reason the BDR soldiers were upset was because of the incorrect notion that the DG, his wife and Colonel Mujibul Haque were earning a steady income by arranging admission to various BDR schools and colleges.
Because of the lack of transparency in the running of the BDR stores, the soldiers also developed various imagined scenarios of rampant corruption.
But it does not label as incorrect or imaginary the notion that the soldiers were also upset about the meddling in BDR administration regarding promotions and transfers by the relatives of some officers.
The report adds that removing civilians from the vicinity and the fact that the lights were not on, allowed many mutineers to escape.
It criticizes the fact that RAB could have made a difference early on the morning of February 25, but did not launch an attack. It laments the lack of actionable intelligence, and the fact that the airborne commando unit was located in Sylhet, and thus not available for an assault. Other army units also took time to deploy, thus rendering an early frontal assault impossible, which was subsequently nixed by the political leadership. It also concludes that the BDR mutineers were instigating an attack by the Army to cause maximum loss of life among the civilians and Army personnel who would have mounted the assault.
Lastly, the report criticizes the lack of experience by the home minister and others involved in the negotiation process.
In conclusion, the report recommends that BDR should be reconstituted under the Army Act, and modeled after the Army. It further recommends that all allegations of corruption should be investigated separately, and that the BDR should not be engaged in any duty outside of its primary mission, which is border protection.
So what will be the outcome?
We suspect one reason the report is being leaked to the news media is so that the civilian investigation report can not be suppressed. No matter how ugly the truth is, the nation deserves a clear answer. We hope the prime minister will uphold her promise and let the law take its due course. Publishing the full report would be the first step towards that transparency.
J @ Shada Kalo [http://shadakalo.blogspot.com] writes using a pseudonym and is best known for exposing government, military, corporate foul plays through whistle-blowing investigative reports.