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>some 250 BDR men still on the run

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>AROUND 250 suspected mutineers of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) are still on the run defying government orders to get back to barracks,
The Daily Star has obtained the rough figure from army officers preparing a list of the paramilitaries who were at the Pilkhana headquarters during the bloody mutiny that left dozens of their commanding officers from the army killed on February 25-26.

Meanwhile, new BDR Director General Brig Gen Md Mainul Islam has asked the surviving army officers, deputed to BDR, to convene at Senakunja in Dhaka cantonment this morning.

He told The Daily Star yesterday that BDR has lost all its 12 sector commanders and chiefs of several battalions based in the capital and elsewhere.

The remaining battalion commanders and staff officers from the battalions that do not have any commanding officer at present will participate in the coordination meeting.

“Objectives of the meeting are to assess the situation, strengthen co-ordination within the force and give necessary directives,” Brig Gen Mainul said.

An officer involved in the rescue operation last night said, “Roughly speaking, I’d say around 7,500 BDR men were supposed to be inside Pilkhana during the carnage. We need a few more days to have the exact figure.”

As of yesterday afternoon, a notice board at the BDR headquarters showed around 1,500 border troops missing. That number was based on a sketchy estimate that around 9,000 paramilitaries were in the Pilkhana compound when the deadly revolt broke out.

However, late at night, the officials concerned revised that figure down to 7,250. Around 250 BDR personnel might have been on leave at that time.

“Though our notice board still shows 1,500 missing, the number would come down to around 250,” said an army officer.

In the week following the end of mutiny, news reports citing primary investigations said at best 200 mutineers had been directly involved in the vicious killings, looting, arson and other crimes during the fateful 33 hours at the BDR headquarters.

Another officer concerned said some 451 rebels stayed put at Pilkhana after laying down arms in response to the prime minister’s general amnesty, but the rest 6,750 escaped.

“Those who surrendered on announcement of the amnesty have been kept in BDR hospital,” he continued.

Following the government notice for them to report for duties within 24 hours ending at 4:00pm on March 1, around 6,500 BDR men returned to the headquarters.

“Around 250 border guards who did not get back to barracks yet will be considered deserters,” noted the officer.

Around 6,500 BDR troops who had fled despite the amnesty but later joined in response to the 24-hour notice will be considered to have been ‘absent without leave’, he added.

According to rules and regulations of the force, they will face minimum 15 days’ rigorous imprisonment and maximum 28 days’ for absence without permission.

Sources said the BDR DG can hand down an offender up to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment for grievous offences like mutiny.

If those at large return they will face departmental actions both for not joining in time and mutiny.

The officials are preparing a detailed list of border guards who were inside the headquarters during the mutiny and from where they came.

DG Mainul urged all staff of the border force to cooperate in the investigation and efforts to hunt down the culprits in the massacre.
The BDR authorities might soon issue a circular to that effect.

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