Govt initiates inquiry into unnatural deaths of BDR soldiers

May 21, 2009

The government has initiated an inquiry into unnatural deaths of Bangladesh Rifles soldiers in custody after the February 25–26 rebellion in the BDR headquarters in Dhaka.
‘The home affairs ministry has formed a committee for an executive inquiry into unnatural deaths of BDR soldiers after the February rebellion… The committee will find out the reason behind such incidents,’ the home affairs secretary, Abdus Sobhan Sikder, told New Age on Wednesday.
The government move came in the wake of pressure from local and international rights groups against the custodial death of BDR soldiers which were initially projected to have been due to heart attacks.
The three-member committee, led by deputy secretary (police) Zakir Hossain, began work on Wednesday with the home affairs ministry approving a proposal for co-opting an specialised physician in the body to review post-mortem reports of the BDR soldiers who died in custody, said official sources.
Twenty-one BDR soldiers died in Dhaka and elsewhere after the rebellion. Four of them reportedly committed suicide, seven ‘died of heart attack’ and the rest 10 of other diseases, according to the BDR authorities.
The police have so far arrested more than 3,000 BDR soldiers at places across the country in connection with the rebellion in which 75 persons, including 57 army officers, were killed and many were injured.
The committee has been asked to recommend how to prevent such custodial death, according to an official order issued on May 14.
The committee, formed with BDR and police personnel, has been asked to submit the report in 15 days.
The body will give details on BDR soldiers — their numbers, names, addresses and ranks — who died unnatural deaths after the rebellion in the BDR headquarters.
The Bangladesh Rifles in a clarification on March 29 said heart attack alone accounted for about 69 per cent of the deaths in the paramilitary force.
The clarification came on the heels of media reports on the custodial deaths of BDR soldiers and concerns of the rights groups.
The Bangladesh Rifles said 171 soldiers in uniform or plainclothes died of various ailments while they were on duty in the past two years, beginning January 1, 2006.
One hundred and four of them died of heart attacks, which account for 68.81 per cent of the total deaths, according to the BDR statement.
The home ministry investigation committee, formed immediately after the February rebellion, is likely to submit its report today after missing the fourth deadline on May 12.
The investigation committee, led by retired secretary Anis-uz-Zaman, is supposed find out the reasons behind the rebellion and give a background of the incidents with recommendations on related issues.

Courtesy of NewAgebd

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