PM pardons rebels
Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Dhaka, Feb 25 (bdnews24.com) – A day-long bloody drama was close to an end late Wednesday afternoon after prime minister Sheikh Hasina declared general pardon for revolting BDR men and pledged to meet their demands in phases.

At least two senior officers were confirmed dead, a police officer said.

Col Mujibul Huq, who commanded the Dhaka Sector and headed the emergency government's Operation Daal-Bhat, was killed at the early stage of the mutiny.

The body of Lt Col Enayet, commander of 36 Battalion, was found alongside Huq's. Both were dumped in a drain behind the BDR compound, Kamrangirchar police SI Ataur Rahman told bdnews24.com.

The head of the border guards—major general Shakil Ahmed—was widely believed throughout the day to be among the dead.

Witnesses and BDR hospital staff said they saw several bodies inside the compound, but could not identify them.

The BDR mutineers agreed to surrender their arms after a two-hour meeting with the prime minister at her official residence Jamuna, state minister for local government Jahangir Kabir Nanak told reporters.

At least 14 BDR personnel in uniform, accompanied by government negotiators, arrived at Jamuna at around 3:40pm, as gunshots continued inside the BDR headquarters.

Defiant BDR jawans began using their guns on their officers during a so-called Darbar (grand meeting) at 9:30am when the DG reportedly refused to accept their demands.

The jawans took the officers—about 30 sector and battalion commanders as well as the DG and DDG—hostage in the Darbar Hall and went on raiding their homes inside the sprawling BDR HQ compound known as Peelkhana.

They later spelled out their demands: remove army officers from the BDR commands and pay more.

At least three civilians were confirmed dead and over 25 were wounded as heavy gunfire erupted in and around Bangladesh Rifles headquarters in the morning.

According to information gathered by bdnews24.com reporters, the trouble had begun on Feb 24, the opening day of the BDR Week.

Some senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and junior commissioned officers (JCOs) approached the Dhaka Sector Commander, colonel Mujibul Haque, with the demand that a delegation of the soldiers be allowed to meet the prime minister, when she would attend the opening of the BDR Week on the day.

The soldiers' delegation was taken to the director general's office where, according to the sources, he rejected the demands and allegedly slapped one soldier at one stage.

The prime minister's visit on Tuesday went off without any incident but the director general called a Durbar Hall meeting the following morning.

During the meeting, the soldiers raised their demands again and were "rudely put down", one source said.

The armed troops started firing, detained the entire BDR top brass in the Durbar Hall and seized control of the compound.

They set up heavy weapons on the three gates and fired out into adjacent areas of Dhanmandi, Azimpur and New Market.

The first law-enforcers on the spot, right after the firing started at 9:30am, were some small, lightly armed contingents of RAB who did not let the rebel BDR men go beyond the walls of the compound.

By early afternoon, the BDR men sent out a letter to the media, claiming their colleagues have long been oppressed by army officers.

The prime minister summoned the chiefs of army, navy and air force shortly after 2pm to discuss the mutiny.

The BDR men fired countless shots out of the compound at civilians, witnesses and correspondents said.

A bullet-hit rickshaw puller brought to Dhaka Medical College Hospital died on arrival there. He was identified as Amjad Ali, 52, who had a bullet in the head.

Khondoker Md Tariq Aziz, 20, sustained bullet injuries at Dhanmondi and died at the DMCH.

Fourteen-year-old Mohammad Hridoy, a street vendor, was the third civilian confirmed dead. He died on way to the DMCH.

Of the injured, 15 lay at DMCH and 10 at Bangladesh Medical College Hospital in Dhanmondi, hospital officials said.

SI Ataur said the bodies of both colonels were sent to the CMH.

Source: bdnews24.com

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