Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Before BDR Mutiny : Jawans met Taposh to raise demands

Three months before the 2009 Pilkhana mutiny, some jawans of the now-defunct BDR had placed their demands to Awami League lawmaker Fazle Noor Taposh, which he conveyed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. 

The demands included 100 percent ration, promotion and scope for soldiers to work in foreign mission, according to the statement Taposh gave to police. 

In the statement recorded after the bloody mutiny, Taposh said that during the 2008 general election campaign, several BDR jawans met him four times between November and the election day (December 29), and requested him to convey those demands to Hasina.

The BDR men introduced themselves also as voters of Dhaka-12 constituency (Dhanmondi, New Market and Hazaribagh) from where Taposh was elected.

The Daily Star has obtained a copy of the statement from the prosecution of the BDR carnage case. At present, the prosecution is preparing to produce the VIP witnesses, including Taposh, before the court for depositions.

“VIP witnesses like the home minister, state ministers and lawmakers are supposed to give their depositions from the middle of March,” Mosharraf Hossain Kajol, prosecutor of the case, told this correspondent.

In his statement given under section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Taposh said he had been in no away aware of the leaflets that the disgruntled BDR jawans distributed just days before the February 25-26 bloodbath. 

The carnage left 74 people, including 57 top and mid-ranking army officers, dead. 

The statement reads that though he had meetings with the mutineers several times to persuade them to surrender arms, he did not know as yet anything about the killings inside Pilkhana. 

"Around 1:30pm on February 26, from discussions with the BDR jawans and from the media, I came to know that they killed some army officers and took part in arson and other incidents," the statement adds. 

The mutineers started surrendering arms soon after the prime minister in a televised speech around 2:00pm on February 26, urged them to immediately lay down their arms and return to barracks, so that she was not compelled to use force to break the standoff.

According to the statement, Taposh came to know about firing at Pilkhana at about 9:45am on February 25. 

He went to Jamuna, Hasina's residence, around 11:00am and saw some other leaders there.
A 14-member BDR team led by DAD Touhid went to Jamuna for talks. 

At the meeting, as the mutineers raised objection, the prime minister asked the chiefs of three forces to leave the room. Then the BDR members placed their demands in an "indiscipline manner". 

Hasina asked them to surrender their weapons first, saying their demands would be then considered. The group then left Jamuna, the statement said.

Taposh also narrated the surrender of arms following the prime minister's ultimatum and also the rescue of survived army officers and their family members.