BDR Mutiny: 10 years on, the wound remains unhealed

The February 25th 2009 BDR mutiny was the worst case of atrocity on Bangladeshi soil since 1971. Intended to break our defence, this unprecedented revolt had a great impact on our emotions. On it’s 10th anniversary today, we pause to remember the events of the Pilkhana Tragedy as well as honour the victims who lost their lives.

The cold blooded murder in the name of a mutiny can never be forgotten. It claimed the lives of 74 people, including 57 of the brightest army officers of the country. As a witness and a resident of the Pilkhana neighborhood, I look back to one of the terrifying moments of my life.

The BGB Headquarters (the then BDR) is just a peek away from where I live with my family. My days start looking at the lush greenery of its premises. Living here has always been a blessing since it is an oasis in the middle of a desert. The hustle and bustle of the city was the last thing we worried about.

As part of my family’s tradition, we use up our yearly office leave on vacation with all family members. Most of us prefer February since it was easier to accommodate their school going kids. This time back in 2009 was not an exception either. We planned a trip to Cox’s Bazar and Saint Martin on 22nd February.

Back then I was involved in a hip hop band and a gig was scheduled to take place on the 27th February in Dhaka. Naturally I insisted my parents to let me stay back so that I could perform. They didn’t want to listen and ordered that I don’t argue about it anymore. It was a family program and I should give it priority.

I was determined to stay because I couldn’t afford to miss the event.

After many arguments they finally managed to convince me to join with them. On the morning of the 22nd, we started off, with the entire bus full our family. The next two days went by having fun at the beach until one of our elder uncles saw something on the news. He screamed as he saw the television tickers. There was constant firing at BDR which is very close to our house. Casualties were reported. I could see my building being shown on the news. There were heavy artillery inside the premises — something I never saw there for once. I learnt the soldiers turned up against their officers and killed them brutally.

The “mutineers” went on with the killing spree through the entire day. One by one, the nations brightest officers fell prey to their mercilessness in desperation. The whole nation was shocked to witness the extent of barbarity these so called mutineers portrayed. Bodies of the officers were mutilated and dumped in the drains surrounding the premises of BDR.

Coming back from Cox’s Bazar, I witnessed a completely changed Dhaka. As I was moving towards Pilkhana, my eyes followed the army trucks patrolling the area. There were tanks parked both inside and outside BDR premises. While at home, I found bullet holes on the walls and a shattered window pane. Peeking through the balcony, I could clearly see what was left of BDR. A house opposite to mine was almost torn down. This house hosted annual get-togethers, played melodious music, always kept it lit up, full of positivity. All of the family members were killed in the most brutal way possible.

Ten years on, the wounds are yet to heal. I don’t look through my balcony the same way. I could’ve stayed back at my house and not go along with my family. In that case, I might not have even be alive now. There is always a suppressed sadness every time I look at that house. It doesn’t host the parties, the music, the lights anymore. The liveliness is gone. We have lost our shining stars. Nothing can fill up this gap.

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