‘I smeared myself with colleague’s blood to survive mutiny’

February 28th, 2009 - 3:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 28 (IANS) The mutiny at the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) headquarters here has spawned horror stories of how soldiers were forced to fire at their colleagues while some were ordered to dig mass graves - but one of the most chilling accounts is of an officer who smeared his colleague’s blood over his body to escape death.
Major Monir, one of the few to return home after the bloody revolt, has recounted how he cheated almost certain death when BDR troopers went on a killing spree at the force headquarters Wednesday over poor salary and working conditions.

Minutes after the shooting started, a number of mutineers spotted Monir and his colleague Major Maksud hiding inside the washroom of the Darbar Hall, where the officers were meeting. The rebel soldiers started firing at them from outside washroom’s closed door and Maksud was hit several times, Monir told The Daily Star.

“As blood gushing out of Maksud sir’s body flooded the floor, I took it in my hands, stained my face with it and pretended to be dead,” Monir said, recalling the horrific incident.

He had cut his forehead with a piece of shattered glass in a desperate attempt to make them believe he was dead. But as the blood coming out of his forehead was not enough, he smeared some of Maksud’s blood.

The men came in later and left seeing the blood-spattered bodies and believing Monir and Maksud were dead.

Monir said: “Realising that the place was not safe, I then hid myself in a drain and covered myself with a floor mat. To do this I had to break the window pane of the washroom to escape.

“I watched helplessly as jawans killed officers around me… one of the officers being shot fell on me when I was in the drain.”

“Realising this place was not safe as well, I went inside the Darbar Hall again and hid inside the false ceiling for almost two days. I texted my wife several times from there but kept my phone off.

“I heard a jawan boasting to another jawan that he had killed 15 officers,” he added.

Other survivors say the mutineers fired at their officers, but they too were overcome by fear at the sight of piles of bodies and fled the BDR headquarters.

After the day-long mayhem Wednesday, they threw away their uniforms, scaled the walls and left, taking advantage of the darkness, the newspaper said.

Arms and uniforms were strewn in the nearby areas and locals, fearing trouble and questioning by authorities, collected them and tossed them across the compound wall of the sprawling complex.

According to another soldier who was witness to the mindless killing, when the mutineers heard that the army could storm the complex, the small group of leaders ordered the soldiers to bring out four armoured personnel carriers (APCs).

“They pointed their guns at us and ordered us to operate the APCs,” said the soldier.

Some of the personnel also said the mutiny bosses forced them to dig a mass grave behind the BDR mortuary Wednesday evening and dumped the bodies of dead officers.

“I saw three trucks with bodies parked there and some jawans were digging a ditch,” said a soldier, who had hidden an officer inside a bathroom to save him.

“There were many soldiers who tried to save the officers and their families in many ways,” he added.

Witnesses say most killings took place between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Wednesday, soon after the revolt erupted. The rebellion finally ended Thursday when the army threatened to storm the BDR complex, but left more than 80 people dead, most of them being army officres who led the BDR.

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