12:00 AM, November 02, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 02, 2011

Mar 25 Night Crackdown Plan

Ghulam Azam was 'involved'

Finds war crimes probe; formal charges against 4 Jamaat leaders by Dec 5

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Ashutosh Sarkar

Former Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Ghulam Azam took part in the planning of Operation Search Light, the crackdown by the Pakistan army on the unarmed people of Bangladesh on the black night of March 25, 1971, investigators have found.
Thousands of innocent Bangalees -- many of them teachers and students of Dhaka University -- were massacred as the military launched a genocide which continued all through the nine months of the Liberation War.
On condition of anonymity, a member of the prosecution team, which is dealing with war crimes cases, told The Daily Star yesterday about this findings of the investigation agency concerned.
Azam met the then East Pakistan governor and martial law administrator, Gen Tikka Khan, the infamous “Butcher of Beluchistan”, at Dhaka cantonment a few days after the March 25 carnage.
And he told the Pakistani general that Operation Search Light had been successful, said the prosecutor, citing the probe body report on the ex-Jamaat chief.
The prosecutors yesterday informed the International Crimes Tribunal that they had received five final reports from investigators on war crimes allegations against Azam and the four Jamaat leaders now in detention.
The three-member tribunal, headed by its Chairman Justice Nizamul Huq, then directed the prosecution to submit formal charges against the four -- Jamaat Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami, Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and assistant secretaries general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla -- by December 5.
The prosecution, however, did not go into details of the probe body's findings regarding the war crimes of Azam or the others.
The quartet was produced before the tribunal in the morning as per its August 1 order.
Prosecutor Syed Haider Ali told the tribunal that at least one month was needed to scrutinise the investigation reports for preparing formal charges against the accused.
Also yesterday, the tribunal rejected the bail petitions filed by the Jamaat leaders in connection with the war crimes charges, and fixed December 5 for the next hearing.
At one stage of the day's proceedings, Prosecutor Zead-Al-Malum informed the tribunal of the report on Azam.
The prosecutors will place a formal charge against the former Jamaat ameer after two weeks and also pray to the tribunal to issue a warrant of arrest against him, prosecution sources said.
The probe report says Azam, ameer of then East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami, was responsible for genocide, murder, atrocities, war crimes and other crimes against humanity all over the country in 1971, said the prosecutor while speaking to The Daily Star yesterday.
As a civilian superior commander, Azam was involved in the crimes committed by anti-liberation outfits under the banners of Razakar Bahini, Al Badr, Al Shams and Peace Committees.
He led the Razakar Bahini that occupied a part of Mirpur in Dhaka till January 31, 1972 although the Pakistan occupation forces had surrendered to the allied forces on December 16, 1971.
The area was freed after the razakars were routed in deadly fighting.
Azam was responsible for several million Hindus' being forced to convert to Islam during the war. The court considers the act as a crime against humanity, the prosecutor said.
Offences perpetrated by Nizami, president of All Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1971, cover imprisonment; abduction; confinement; torture; rape; genocide in Pabna and other regions, and abetment of and attempt or conspiracy to perform such acts.
Mojaheed committed similar crimes in greater Faridpur; Kamaruzzaman, then chief coordinator of Al Badr, in greater Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Tangail and Sherpur areas while Abdul Quader Molla, a leader of then Jamaat's student front Islami Chhatra Sangha, in Mirpur and Keraniganj area.

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