Bangladesh mourns officers slain in mutiny

March 2nd, 2009 - 1:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, March 2 (IANS) With President Zillur Rahman in attendance, Bangladesh’s political leaders and top military and civil officials Monday mourned those killed in the two-day mutiny by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) troopers last week.
The “namaz-e-janaza” (funeral prayer) of 41 slain officers took place at the National Parade Square in the capital at about 10.40 a.m., Star Online reported.

Six of the officers mourned belonged to the paramilitary border guard whose troopers mutinied over poor pay and working conditions Feb 25-26.

The army officers who were the targets of the non-commissioned officers and troopers of the BDR include the force’s chief Maj. Gen. Shakil Ahmed and his wife Begum Nazneen Shakil.

The web site of The Daily Star described the dead as “shaheed” (martyrs).

Estimates on the number of dead have varied. It is believed to be well over 100 of which bodies of 72 have been found at various places, mostly inside the BDR headquarters at Pilkhana here.

Those killed were overwhelmingly middle and senior level army officers on deputation to the BDR. Most of them were shot or bludgeoned to death.

Over 15,000 BDR troopers were present at the headquarters, but media reports indicate that only between 20 and 25 troopers took the lead. They coerced or persuaded others to take up arms.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared amnesty for the rebels when the uprising took place, but has since said that the laws governing their force would be applied, especially to those who actively participated in the mayhem.

The government has ordered a probe led by Home Minister Sahara Khatun and has said a special court would hold a speedy trial. The report is expected this week.

Differences have surfaced over the investigations with the opposition demanding an all-party probe in which army officers should be associated.

The differences were reflected in the obituary references made to the slain officers in Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) that discussed the issue Sunday.

The debate degenerated into a blame-game with treasury and opposition bench lawmakers blasting each other, The Daily Star said.

Even Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia joined in and set a bizarre example of an obituary motion discussion in parliament.

The house, however, unanimously adopted the motion late Sunday evening, ending the long unscheduled discussion.

None of the previous parliaments witnessed such a long discussion on an obituary motion.

Usually a handful of senior lawmakers take part in the brief discussion on obituary motion to pay tribute to those for whom the motion was placed, the newspaper said.

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