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30.03.2009 Asia

Bangladesh: Manipulation of BDR massacre probe

By Sunita Paul
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Barrister Abdur Razzak, a leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami received written notice from Investigation Officer with Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Abdul Kahar Akhand asking Razzak to appear before the investigation officer for interrogation in connection to Bangladesh Riffles (BDR) massacre case.

It may be mentioned here that, Kahar Akhand is known in Bangladesh as he was the investigation officer of Bangabandhu murder case and Jail killing case. He was warned by the highest judiciary in the country for his lack of experience in investigating the cases.

Kahar, basically a loyalist of the ruling party was brought back to service on contract basis from retirement. He has 'high reputation' of twisting various investigations to meet the taste of the ruling party. He is one of the very few officers in Bangladesh Police, who has direct access via cell phone to both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. For such 'high connection', Kahar shows damn-care attitude towards his senior officers while continues to misbehave with all the junior officers in the police department as well in CID.

The present rulers in Dhaka especially assigned their own man like Kahar Akhand as the chief investigator of the BDR massacre case, as they knew, this officer will do everything in finally setting out all the names of Awami League men behind this notorious crime, thus putting several opposition leaders and figures as the accused. Since his appointment as the chief investigator of the case, Kahar Akhand is in constant contact with the Home Minister and several influential leaders in the ruling party.

Top level in the government has reportedly given repeated instructions to Kahar Akhand in entangling some leaders from Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Jamaat and some Islamist forces like Hizb Ut Tahrir etc. He also has been suggested to 'discover' militant connection to this sensitive case.

When Awami League leader Torab Ali Akhand was arrested in connection to this case and was interrogated by several intelligence agencies, including CID, it was crystal clear to the investigators that the ruling party and some opposition leaders played dirty role in giving instigation and patronization to the bloody massacre. Such message was secretly communicated to the high-ups in the government. Hearing such information from Abdul Kahar Akhand, high-command in the ruling Grand Alliance has strongly instructed him to 'do something in turning the matter to another direction or face severe consequence'.

CID officer Abdul Kahar Akhand already knows the case of Muhidul Islam Muhit, who is the plaintiff of Bangabandhu murder case. Muhit was the Assistant Personal Secretary to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and was on duly at the residence of the founding father of Bangladesh during the black night of brutal assassination of him and other members of Bangabandhu's family.

Muhit was found in a poor economic condition in Jessore after Awami League formed government in 1996. He was picked up by the government and was encouraged to lodge the case. Abdul Kahar Akhand was introduced to Muhit from the very first hour, for preparing the First Information Report (FIR) as well as statement for the investigation into this case.

Muhit received more than 3 residential plots and substantial amount of money from Awami League for agreeing to become the plaintiff of the case. This case changed the life of this poor man, who ultimately sold out all the plots, which were secretly allocated in his name to the owners of Akij Group of Companies in Bangladesh.

Abdul Kahar Akhand knows that, if he will be able to serve the purpose of the ruling party, his next few years in the contract-based job in police service will be extremely bright. He will be compensated in diversified ways. But, if he will ignore instructions from the high-command of the ruling party, he not only will lose the job, but his life will also be in extreme danger.

With such tendency in mind, Akhand has successfully saved Torab Ali from making confessional statement to the Metropolitan Magistrate under section 164. It is even claimed that, Torab Ali, instead of being interrogated, is enjoying comfortable time inside the CID headquarters in Dhaka. At the instruction of influential figures in the government, Abdul Kahar Akhand in ensuring all possible comfort to this confirmed collaborator of the BDR massacre.

And, according to latest news, the 'Walkie-Talkie' minister in the present government in Dhaka, Lt. Col. (Retired) Faruk Khan told reporters that the probe report shall be made public “within a week”. This is the fifth extension of the time limit set for the report.

According to various scoops, the investigators have so far identified a number of points and questions in identifying culprits behind the massacre. These points or questions are:

What was the intelligence report sent to the Prime Minister on February 25 in the early morning as acknowledged by the PM in the parliament,

What was the last conversation between Major General Shakil Ahmed and the Prime Minister on February 25,

Why the PM regretted her attendance to the dinner on February 26,

Who instructed announcement from the nearby mosques on February 25 and 26 asking local residents near BDR headquarters to move to a safe distance,

Why Lt. Col. Mukit sent fax messages from the BDR headquarters on February 25 evening against army and the BDR's director general,

Why members of police and RAB were not deployed within gate number 5, through which the mutineers fled,

Why the PM assigned Nanak and Azam at 1:00 pm., after 4 hours of she heard about the mutiny,

Why names and identities of the delegation of mutineers, who met the PM were not registered at the entrance of the PM's residence,

Mutiny leader DAD Towhid told the PM about the murder of director general of BDR and some other officers when he met her with his team. But, why this matter was kept secret by the government till February 26 evening,

Why Bangladesh TV was not showing anything about the mutiny or even news scroll, although the issue was being covered by all private channels,

Why the mutineers were terming the PM as “amader netri” (our leader),

Why some mutineers were chanting Awami League's party slogan 'Joy Bangla' while they were talking to the press,

There had been several overseas incoming calls inside the BDR headquarters during the massacre. Investigators are trying to find the callers,

Why Prime Minister's son Sajib Wajed Joy came to Dubai on February 27 to meet some of the fleeing mutineers,

Why Joy handed over thick envelops to each of the fleeing mutineers at the Dubai airport,

Why Joy made critical remarks on Bangladesh Army and made army liable for the mutiny during interview with various international media,

Why Sajib Wajed Joy has been instructed by her mother not to come to Bangladesh before the investigation issue is over,

Why influential members of the government phoned certain foreign government asking help in case Bangladesh Army revolts against the ruling party,

Why Awami League leader Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir tried to flee the country on February 27,

Why minister Faruk Khan said, militants have penetrated in law enforcing and disciplined forces in Bangladesh,

Why the government is trying to keep the Inspector General of Police, whose son-in-law was murdered during the mutiny and daughter held hostage, is kept aloof from the investigation process,

Why the newly appointed commissioner of police warned the English medium and missionary schools and educational institutions of possible militant attack without any reason,

Why the PM did not allow the army to storm in to the BDR headquarters to rescue the officers and their family members,

What the CID team were removing from the BDR headquarters in the name of collecting 'evidence',

What type of evidences were removed by the members of police when they were assigned to guard the BDR headquarters almost for more than 30 hours,

Why the Home Minister and other members of the ruling Alliance were visiting the BDR headquarters during dark hours of February 26, much after the surrender,

Why Awami League student wing leader Liakat Sikder is hiding since the massacre,

Why Awami League and its activists are continuing to demand trial of killers and their collaborators in civil courts instead of Court Martial,

Why a section of pro-Awami League journalists are continuing indirect campaign against army as well demanding trial in civil court,

Why the ruling party is echoing the voice of Indian media and especially the editorial commentary in The Statesman.

Reply to all these questions will surely help investigators in finding the truth and identifying the culprits. But, it is a big question as to whether the ruling party is willing to let a neutral investigation continue, which may go ultimately against many of the heavy-weights within their home.

Bangladeshi people are getting united with the demand of proper investigation and exemplary punishment to the perpetrators and collaborators of this extreme heinous crime. Anger within the armed forces is boiling like eruptive volcano. Members of the armed forces and those bereaved families can never forgive the killers and the collaborators.

People in power in Dhaka should understand this clearly!

Sunita Paul is a Senior journalist and experts on South Asian affairs

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