Days Get Darker For Them
Friday, 06 March 2009

Dhaka, March 6 ( – For Shireen Begum, waiting outside the BDR headquarters, every moment is unbearable.

Her husband reported to work after a government summon, just days after the shocking revolt that saw a huge pile of dead bodies.

But, after the killing of the officers and the discovery of mass graves, another tale of woe is unfolding.

Like Shireen, many wives, sisters and mothers wait outside anxiously to know about the state of the men in their families who are also members of the BDR.

Their concern is understandable since the government has declared that anyone found to be linked directly to the mutiny and responsible for the mindless killings of unarmed officers will be punished.

Though it has been established that many of the BDR men reporting back to duty had no part in the killings, there is a sense of trepidation among their relatives over the possibility of a major retribution that may not leave out the innocent or those who were compelled to take part in the mutiny in the face of weapons.

"Today is the sixth day of the month and I haven't been able to manage my 10-month old baby's food, house rent or tuition fees for my four school-going children yet," Shireen, wife of BDR lance naik Jainal Hossain says in front of BDR Sat Masjid Road gate.

"Allah alone knows how we are surviving since my husband reported back here at the BDR headquarters. No-one has bothered to tell us if he's alive either. Even jailbirds get to see their folks," adds Shireen, her eyes teary and voice laden with sadness.

Not only her, a number of other BDR members' family members or close relatives throng the BDR gate looking forward to meeting either their dear and near ones or receiving some message about their well-being.

Havildar Md Kamal Hossain's wife Bulbuli Begum, says her husband joined duty on Feb. 3.

"But I haven't been told anything about what happened to him inside."

"I have been going from one gate to another searching for him. My son is so depressed that he has stopped going to school."

Lance naik Younus's wife has come with her son Ishtiaque, 7, and daughter Ishrat, 5, looking for their father. She speaks to the sentries posted at the BDR gate.

Asked how her husband is doing, the poor woman burst into tears.

BDR member Md Wadudur Rahman's wife Merina Begum says, "We want the perpetrators of this heart-rending massacre punished, but no innocent person should be harassed in any case."

"I haven't been able to contact my husband during the last two days. I wasn't allowed to go to my Peelkhana residence either.

"With my two kids, I've been putting up at a relative's place. I can't even go to our village home because I don't have any money left."

Unhappy with the media in general, Kohinoor Begum, wife of a tailor employed by the BDR, said, "My husband hasn't received his salary yet because of the situation inside the Peelkhana."

"But no media is highlighting our miserable plight. We're not involved in anything criminal so why must we be made to suffer?

"Please write about us, brothers. We want that the government should pay the innocent their monthly salaries only."

Mujibur Rahman from Betagi, Barguna, came to Peelkhana four days back looking for his younger brother BDR clerk Shameem. Failing, Mujib seems at a loss.

"Shameem entered into the headquarters on Feb. 2 and has gone missing since. I've been waiting here for him at the gate daily from morning till evening, but to no avail.

"I asked the police. They say they don't know. They won't allow me to stand by the gate even. Where shall I go? Who'll tell me about my brother's situation?"

A large number of BDR men fled the Peelkhana after the recent massacre. The government on Feb. 28 issued notice asking all fugitives to report back within 24 hours.

More than 5,000 BDR troops have since rejoined duties.

On Feb. 28, a treason case was filed naming BDR deputy assistant director Touhidul Alam and five others and putting in over a thousand names as accused in connection with the Feb. 25-26 uprising.

As many as 74 officers, including 59 senior ones, all deputed from the army, were killed. Four army officers are still missing.

Capital punishment is the highest penalty in Bangladesh.


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