Saturday, February 28, 2009

At BDR Gate

This afternoon I went to BDR gate for the first time since the BDR mutiny, with a friend.

A crowd of people waited outside, many of them journalists. They perked up every time someone came outside. Several vehicles went in and others came out - they were pretty much all Army. We did not even try to get in because they were extremely tight about it.

I am not even sure why I went there. I do not consider myself a journalist or a photojournalist. I certainly did not expect any photo opportunities. In fact, events of the last few days have once again reinforced my belief in not taking photographs during other people's misfortunes (specially moments that should be private.)

However, I still went because something inside nudged me. I can't explain.

Most of the time the journalists stood around bored.

At one point, a village family with a suitcase - looked like they just got off the train - came looking for their loved one. I spotted them as they came towards the gate. Within minutes they were being mobbed by the journalists and photographers. I could not get myself to point my camera at them.

As we waited, this truck full of soldiers went inside the compound.

Some time later, two BDR jowans came out. They had been on leave during the mutiny and had just returned. The press asked them many questions. Here is one of them, Hasibur, listening to a reporter's questions. A part of me could not accept that other jowans, dressed like him, had committed some pretty savage acts. Yet it had happened.

I was there for about 45 minutes. It seemed quite far from the place where so much atrocity had been committed just two days ago. A small trafic jam resulted from the crowd of onlookers. There was a circus atmosphere (and you could argue that me and my friend were also in the audience.) So I left as soon as my friend was done taking his photos.


Yngve said...

Thank you for sharing more from your country. Your stories help me understand what is happening in Bangladesh.

CNN Reports:
DHAKA, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Army convoys are combing areas around the Bangladeshi border guard headquarters, vowing to punish participants in this week's bloody mutiny, which killed nearly 100 army officers and civilians, according to The New Nation newspaper.

More than 160 army officers were inside the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) when the mutiny broke out on Wednesday morning, local reports said.

So far, 88 bodies have been recovered from mass graves in the outskirts of Dhaka, the newspaper reported.

At least 22 bodies have also been recovered from the Buriganga River after the rebelling troops dumped them down a sewer during the standoff, authorities said.

The 88 found dead were among those 169 officers, the newspaper reported. Another 27 emerged from their captivity in the headquarters of the BDR, a 65,000-strong paramilitary outfit primarily responsible for guarding the country's borders. About 200 BDR soldiers have been arrested.

The mutiny began Wednesday when BDR members took dozens of their superiors hostage.

It was the second day of BDR Week, when army officers and troop members from various BDR outposts along the border were in the capital for celebrations.

The New Nation reported that the mutinous border guards surrendered their weapons on Thursday after the government declared an amnesty.

The rebellion was spurred by years of discontent among the ranks of the BDR troops.

Recruits complained their army superiors dismissed their appeals for more pay, subsidized food and opportunities to participate in U.N. peacekeeping operations.

Bangladesh and its South Asian neighbors contribute the most troops to U.N. operations and the pay is far greater than the meager salary the jawans -- as the BDR troops are called -- make. WORLD/asiapcf/02/28/ bangladesh.mutiny/index.html

ulysses said...

Hi Yngve,

Thanks for sharing the CNN story.

Sounds like you were in Bangladesh but now back in Norway(?) - is that right?


David said...

Just wanted to say that I've been following your blog for a few months now, since we arrived in Dhaka, and I find it great for getting a view on what life is like outside the limited part of the city where I spend most of my time.

So many people are still in shock. It's affecting everyone - locals and foreigners alike, I have a number of students/colleagues who've been affected by this in some way - maybe they live in the area, or they saw some of the conflict (students saw some of the shootings, for instance) or they have, or had, friends/family in the BDR.

I just hope something will come to light soon that will enlighten us as to their motivations. I doubt it will, I'm certainly not going to be holding my breath, but I do hope so.

I will, of course, keep reading your blog and look forward to further postings.

Yngve said...

ulysses said... (Ihtisham)
Sounds like you were in Bangladesh but now back in Norway(?) - is that right?

Yes, I'm back in Norway, were I live. I was in Bangladesh as a tourist in December and January. I have friends in Bangladesh, and I love to be in your country. Just like David, I've been following your blog for a few months. Your blog give us a view of life in Bangladesh. Thank you!

ulysses said...

Hi David,

Thanks for your comments. Glad to hear that the blog gives you a wider view of life here. Please keep reading.

Hi Yngve,

Thanks very much for linking my site from yours. It sounds like you had an enjoyable holiday here. That is good to know....