20-25 troopers committed Dhaka carnage, say witnesses

February 28th, 2009 - 12:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 28 (IANS) The Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutiny was led by 20-25 non-commissioned troopers who forced others to revolt and take part in the savagery that followed, say surviving officers and some mutineers.
The small group of ringleaders, all based at the BDR headquarters, carried out the mindless killings of the officers drawn from the regular army, The Daily Star said Saturday in the most exhaustive account of the mayhem that shook Bangladesh.

Most killings took place between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Wednesday, soon after the revolt erupted over poor salary and working conditions. The rebellion finally ended Thursday when the army threatened to storm the BDR complex.

As soon as the first shot was fired, some rebel leaders armed themselves and locked up the officers inside the Darbar Hall at gunpoint. The Hall is where the officers were meeting.

Some other mutineers rushed to the residence of the BDR chief and other officers within the complex to take them prisoner.

In no time, Director General Major General Shakil Ahmed was lined up along with other officers and gunned down.

Some BDR troopers broke open the armoury and forced other paramilitary personnel to take up arms as well. These included men from units outside Dhaka who had come to the headquarters to mark the BDR Week.

“If you don’t take up arms and join us, you will be shot,” a leader of the mutiny warned a colleague, who like many fled the headquarters Thursday.

He insisted that a majority of the soldiers were against the killing of so many officers.

“There were arguments between the mutiny leaders and other soldiers about the killings. Many tried to convince the leaders that all officers are not bad. But the leaders were furious,” he said.

The uprising, which came a month after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took power, has left over 60 people dead, most of the victims being army officres who led the BDR. Some bodies were recovered from a sewage line.

BDR personnel accused the army brass of ignoring the paramilitary unit. Some officers were branded corrupt.

“There was no argument about the fate of the corrupt persons,” said one of the BDR troopers who has since surrendered.

Some BDR personnel were killed when they tried to stop the killings.

Apparently, there was no single leader of the mutiny. All soldiers of the small lead group seemed to be leaders in their own right — in brutality.

Hasina and some of her ministers have hinted that “vested interests”, which they have not identified, were behind the revolt and the killings.

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