A prosecution witness yesterday told the International Crimes Tribunal-2 that war crimes accused BNP leader Abdul Alim had ordered execution of a number of Hindus of Khetlal upazila in Joypurhat during the Liberation War.
Nurul Islam, a former student leader of Khetlal and the third prosecution witness in the war crimes case against Alim, said the then Pakistani army and their local collaborators had picked up some Hindu people from Uttar Hatsahar of Khetlal in May 1971.
They were tortured at a Peace committee office and shot dead at Khanjanpur Kuthibari of Joypurhat upon orders from Abdul Alim and Pakistani army personnel, said the 68-year old retired schoolteacher.
Narrating the same incident, first prosecution witness Abdul Momen had said that Alim ordered execution of nine Hindus of Khetlal upazila during the war and their bodies were buried by the river.
Yesterday, Nurul Islam said the Peace Committee in Joypurhat was formed under the leadership of Convention Muslim League leader Abdul Alim following the central committee decision.
“He [Alim] was the president of the committee and leaders of anti-liberation political parties were its members,” said the witness, adding, “Abdul Alim also formed Razakar Bahini [Force] and set up Razakar camp in Joypurhat [during the war].”
In his deposition, former Chhatra Union leader Nurul Islam said he had actively worked for the liberation and supplied freedom fighters information on anti-liberation forces being inspired by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's speech on March 7, 1971.
“The Pakistani army in cooperation with Abdul Alim set up offices of Peace Committee and Pakistan army, and camp of Razakar Bahini in Joypurhat occupying the house of Shownlal Bajla [during the war],” said the witness, adding that crimes against humanity had been committed in Joypurhat, Akkelpur, Panchbibi and Khetlal from these camps.
Nurul said he and his two friends had visited Harunjahat and Uttar Hatsahar almost at the end of May 1971 to see the condition of the Hindu people there. They saw Pakistani army and members of Razakar and Peace Committee entering Harunjahat.
“From there, we came to know that Pakistani army and their collaborators Razakars and Peace Committee members had established a reign of terror in Uttar Hatsahar through looting and arson,” he said.
A part of the occupation army and their collaborators had gone to Harunjahat village and picked up Badal and Sachin, who were known to the witness, and taken them to Uttar Hatsahar, said Nurul, adding, “After knowing the matter, we came to Pakuria village to see the situation in Uttar Hatsahar.”
Nurul said there they had seen that the Pakistan army, Razakars and Peace Committee members picked up Pravash Chandra Sheel, Manibhusan alias Fanibhushan Chakrabarti, Kartik Burman, Nimai Chandra, Priyonath Burman and three others of Uttar Hatsahar and headed towards Khetlal. Badal and Sachin had also been taken with them.
“We followed them and saw that they [detainees] were taken to the Peace Committee office set up at Khetlal Charitable Dispensary,” said the witness, adding that they could hear torture screams from a nearby place.
The detainees were later taken to the Peace Committee office set up at Shownlal Bajla's house, said the witness.
“Abdul Alim was there with Pakistani army personnel. They [the detainees] were taken to Khanjanpur Kuthibari and shot dead there upon instructions from Abdul Alim and the Pakistani army personnel,” said Nurul.
The three-member tribunal comprised of its chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, and members Justice Obaidul Hassan and Judge M Shahinur Islam recorded Nurul's 50-minute testimony and adjourned the case proceeding until today, when the witness will face cross-examination.
The tribunal on June 11 framed 17 specific charges of war crimes against Alim. The charges include genocide, killing of Bangalee civilians and burying people alive during the Liberation War.
QUADER MOLLAH'S CASE
The tribunal yesterday completed recording the testimony of another investigation officer (IO) of war crimes case against Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah.
During his one and a half hours testimony, Abdur Razzaque Khan, one of the two IOs, told about when and where he had recorded statements of witnesses in the case.
On Sunday, other IO Monowara Begum gave her testimony.
Razzaque said in April 1971, Pakistani army with 100 to 150 men under the leadership of Quader Mollah had launched an attacked on Alubdi village in Pallabi of Dhaka from all around and killed around 350 people.
“On August 16, 2010, I recorded statements of people who know about the incident after investigation and interrogating them,” said Razzaque.
He said he had visited Bhawal Khan Bari and Ghatarchar of Keraniganj on January 15, 2011 where Quader Mollah along with the then Pakistani occupation army and Razakars committed genocide on November 25, 1971.
Razzaque said he had recorded statements of witnesses and made a draft map of the area.
The IO said he had also investigated and recorded statements of witnesses on August 30, 2011 in connection with the killing of pro-liberation poet Meherunnesa and three of her family members on March 27, 1971 and of Mirpur Bangla College student Pallab on April 5, 1971 by Quader Mollah and his associates.
Razzaque, the 12th and last prosecution witness, is set to face cross-examination on October 15.
The tribunal on May 28 indicted Jamaat assistant secretary general Abdul Quader Mollah on six charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and mass killing. So far 10 prosecutor witnesses have testified in the case.
MOJAHEED'S AND KAMARUZZAMAN'S CASES
The tribunal yesterday also recorded the cross-examination of Mahbub Kamal, the third prosecution witness in the war crimes case against Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed.
Defence counsel Syed Mizanur Rahman cross-examined the witness. The cross-examination will resume tomorrow. Mahbub testified in the case on October 3.
Meanwhile, the prosecution yesterday submitted a petition seeking the tribunal's permission for tendering eight additional witnesses in the war crimes case against Jamaat leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman.
The tribunal fixed today for hearing the petition.
The tribunal also fixed today to hear another prosecution petition seeking permission to record the testimony of these eight witnesses behind closed doors.