Our Sins have Clouded our Future
Syed Badrul Ahsan
The mystery appears to be unravelling, though as yet you cannot quite say that it has not been deepening since the last time you sat down to reflect on it. The rather sudden appearance of closed circuit television footage on what actually happened on February 25 (you do not have a composite picture, though) makes matters a little more clear than they have been so far. These images of the jawans looting the armoury and searching for officers to kill in their quarters are chilling reminders of the gruesome tragedy that was perpetrated on the day. You sit back, rub your eyes in disbelief and ask yourself, more than a month after all those good men died at the hands of these murderers, if you have not really been caught up in a bad dream. No, it has not been a dream at all. It has been a national nightmare; and it promises to be a long one.
It will be our long tale of sadness because these good officers were our own. We knew them; and we related to them. That they would all die in an enactment of a modern-day Greek tragedy is a thought that never came to us. But they did die and today it is for us the living to make sure that those who did away with their lives do not escape justice. Too many murderers in this land of unmitigated tragedy have gone free. Let that sordid story come to an end through a proper identification and swift trial of the BDR men who demonstrated little integrity and no pity in shooting their officers dead. They spared no one, from a major general to a captain. Should these men be tried under the normal system of justice? That is a good question. But consider this: a tribunal, one that is open to the public, might not be a bad idea after all. Besides, it was a mutiny that degenerated into mass murder. There are rules to deal with such criminality.
Chilling reminders. Closed circuit television footage of BDR jawans looting the armoury and searching for officers. Photo: TV Grab
The inquiry committees are busily at work. That they would require a pretty reasonable stretch of time to draw their conclusions on the Peelkhana happenings was understandable from the start. To collect and sift evidence, to nab the accused, to press charges, et al, call for a period longer than a week. That is what has been proved in these past few weeks. And yet these investigations must not drag on longer than is necessary. This is one murder story that must be plumbed, and soon. And for that to be done, it is necessary that no more BDR men now in custody die of questionable causes. Nine have already passed on to the other world, either because they had sudden cardiac arrests or because they opted for suicide. That is what you and I have been told. After years of watching helplessly the death of men in 'crossfires', something of the cynical has taken hold of us. We are not quite ready to accept the proffered wisdom (and it does not matter from which quarter it comes) that these nine BDR men died from causes we have been informed about. Perfectly healthy men who speak to their families on the phone have no business dying hours later.
So let no one else die in Peelkhana or wherever these BDR men may be detained. The more deaths you have, the bigger the chances of witnesses being lost and the investigations losing meaning. Every time you watch those images of the jawans strutting about on the BDR compound on the day they went killing and looting, you know how crucial it is for all of these men to be netted and placed on trial. Many have already escaped. If they have, keep up the search for them. Go into the Sundarbans, where pirates have reported coming by new ammunition, of the kind they have never laid eyes on before. Of those already in detention, make sure they speak out by making sure they do not die. That jawan on the floor, the one who pointed that gun at General Shakil Ahmed before being overpowered, needs to be put through hard questioning. But is he in the net? Or did he manage to flee? We know, or have been told, that the alleged killer of Naznin Shakil has owned up to his crime. What others were there with him? They put a helpless woman through unspeakable torture and they do not deserve a shred of pity. Similarly, those jawans who humiliated the wives, now the widows, of other officers with their rifle butts, their boots and their foul mouths, must pay for desecrating the nobility of life.
Ours is one of the saddest countries on earth. Time was when the Pakistanis killed us, in all their pitilessness. And now we have learnt to kill one another and not feel embarrassed about it at all. We killed in 1975; we killed again in 1981. And we killed in 2004. Collective guilt has been ours. Our sins have clouded our future.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009