KILLING of Mostafa Howlader, a witness against Delwar Hossain Sayedee, by unknown assailants is a matter of serious concern. The victim's death after being attacked and injured while asleep in his own home has again brought to light how insecure the witnesses of the ICT-related cases are. It also exposes the government's failure to provide them with necessary protection.
And this is also not the first instance of witnesses and victims of war crimes committed in 1971 being attacked or intimidated with death threats and their houses bombed after they testified against the accused in the ICT. And, as in the present case, the police in most other instances could not identify, far less apprehend, the attackers or intimidators involved. This is despite the fact that the victims of such attacks as well as local people provided enough clues as to who might be the possible miscreants behind such incidents. This sends a very wrong signal to the witnesses of war crimes. It's hardly surprising that the number of such attacks have risen recently, while their victims are getting demoralised. One may recall that Sukhoranjan Bali, a witness in the trial of Sayedee, was arrested by BSF while reportedly trying to cross into India on December 23 last year after he had mysteriously disappeared from the ICT premises on November 5 the same year.
The government must be able to protect prosecution witnesses as well as the victims in ICT-related crimes. It should also actively consider framing of a law to this end.