I really have to get this out of my system and so I decided to publish this commentary on Sunday instead of the usual Monday because the subject, besides the emotional aspects, carries far reaching implications for our polity and its “security”.
On 27 May 2009, in a crowded press conference at the Home Ministry, Mr. Anisuzzaman Khan, the head of the government investigation committee on the BDR massacre, handed over a voluminous report to the Home Minister and thereafter spoke to the eagerly expectant newsmen.
So, to say that the investigation report has been made public would be a euphemism, because not a single page of the tome is on any government web site, nor is a copy of it available with anyone other than the Home Minister.
Only those who have access to the highest levels of the AL government have summaries or truncated versions of the investigation reports which leaves out me and the rest of the 150 million people of this country from the information-loop. So much for the Information Act 2008/9.
The only things that the “public” has to go upon are the rather highly subjective, judgmental and at times contradictory comments of Mr. Anisuzzaman Khan.
Mr. Khan frankly and naively gives out that the “real causes and main objectives behind the heinous act could not be ascertained …” and yet in the very next breath he contradicts himself and conjectures that, “certain quarters who do not believe in the country’s sovereignty may have placed BDR and the Army in a confrontational position to derive nefarious political interests.”
He goes on to add further that there might be connections to “anti-liberation forces” and that “some quarters might have fuelled the incident to destabilize the government and the country”.
If that be the case then the “real causes and main objectives” behind the massacres have indeed been identified as being “to destabilize the government and the country”. The “masterminds” too have been identified under the general rubric “anti-liberation forces”; it only remains to identify individuals by name as the “masterminds”.
Mr. Khan identifies the immediate causes of the mutiny as being, “a negative attitude against army officers and discontent over the non-fulfillment of their demands”.
Skeptics and cynics, and that includes me, would contend that if what Mr. Khan said and the way he said it, are anything to go by then these belie the statement “we have prepared the report based on facts…” because each one of his comments are conjectural, loaded with “ifs and buts” and half-said, tongue-in-cheek sort of thing.
One apprehends that the other reports – the one submitted by the Army and the one by the CID which it says will take a year to complete – will be no better or worse than Mr. Anisuzzaman Khan’s report because the coordinator of all these reports Lt. Col Faruk Khan (Retd), the Commerce Minister, has already mentioned as soon as the committees were formed, that the various reports would be “coordinated” and that there would be no “contradictions” between the various reports.
Be that as it may, what people are most concerned about now, are the trials of the murderous mutineers.
Justice will be done and will be seen to have been done only if fair, open trials are held, people either convicted or acquitted, the convicted getting appropriate punishments and the acquitted rehabilitated with apologies and appropriate compensations.
Given the examples of the way the investigation reports have gone, strong apprehensions are there that the trials might well follow the same convoluted, enigmatic, befuddling and puzzling path.
One earnestly hopes that this apprehension and I am proved false (the only instance where I am expectantly waiting to be proved false) because the consequences would be devastating not only for this AL government but also for the Nation-state.
I am not sure what those “consequences” will be but certain I am that they would lead to the “destabilization of the government and the country”, thus vindicating the intents of the “masterminds” of the BDR mutiny.
The substance of these investigations reports and the trials to follow are but one part of the problem; the greater problem lies in the fact that much more than the mutiny and the massacres, the process of investigations, the charges and counter-charges by various quarters and the statements by various ministers have opened up new fissures in our polity.
So now, besides the ever present AL-BNP dichotomy, the pro-liberation and anti-liberation divide, the Islamic militant and the no-Islamic militant debates, we have the pro and the anti-Army lobbies as well, if the thousands of articles and comments in numerous blogs are any guide.
New generations of people are being caught up every day in these “divides”, constrained to take this or that side, increasing aggravations, raising new social and political tensions and providing new causes for conflicts. The only way to come out of these divides, is to see the truth, hear the truth, feel the truth and live the truth, whatever be the context or the circumstances, however high the political stakes and costs.
(The author is the Editor of The Bangladesh Today. You may contact him at:firstname.lastname@example.org)