12:00 AM, December 04, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 04, 2012

Wartime Killing

3 more testify against Azad

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Staff Correspondent

Two more eyewitnesses yesterday testified that Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu Razakar had killed their neighbour Madhab Chandra Biswas in Faridpur during the Liberation War.
Azad also killed Gyanendra Mondal, a relative of another neighbour, on May 16, 1971, the same day Madhab was killed, and on the same spot, the witnesses told the International Crimes Tribunal-2.
Prafulla Kumar Mandol and Tusto Kumar Mondol from Purura (Namapara) village of Faridpur were the eighth and tenth prosecution witnesses respectively in the case against the expelled Jamaat-e-Islami member.
Earlier, Bhakta Ranjan Biswas, son of martyr Madhab and the sixth prosecution witness, testified that Azad had killed his father on May 16.
“I have seen the incidents [killings] and my neighbours Prafulla Kumar Mandol, Tusto Kumar Mondol, Sunil Kumar Mondal and many others witnessed it too,” Bhakta testified.
Meanwhile, another eyewitness yesterday testified that Azad had killed Chitta Ranjan Das of his village Fulbaria in Faridpur during the Liberation War.
“The killing took place right before my eyes,” said Nagen Chandra Mandol of Fulbaria, also the ninth prosecution witness.
Earlier, Jyotsna Rani Das, wife of Chitta and second prosecution witness in the case, testified that Azad had killed her husband after torturing him.
The three-member tribunal headed by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir with members Justice Obaidul Hassan and Judge M Shahinur Islam completed recording their testimonies and cross-examination within two and a half hours.
State-appointed defence counsel Abdus Sukur Khan cross-examined the witnesses before the court adjourned the case proceeding until today.
The tribunal indicted Azad with eight charges of crimes against humanity on November 4 and has been holding his trial in absentia as he is on the run.
During his 20-minute testimony, Prafulla, a 63-year-old retired school headmaster, said around 1:00pm on May 16, 1971, he came out of his house hearing a hue and cry and saw 10 to 12 armed men dragging Madhab out of his house.
“Taking him [Madhab] by Tusto Master's [Tusto Kumar Mondol] pond, about 300 yards west of their house, Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu Mia shot Madhab dead. I saw the incident in my own eyes from a jute field,” he added.
After about five minutes, Azad killed Gyanendra Mondal, a relative of their neighbour Doari Sarder, at the same spot, added Prafulla.
Azad was acquainted with Prafulla as both of them were students of Faridpur Rajendra College, said the witness.
Azad and his cohorts committed killings, torture, loot, and arsons during the nine-month-long war to uproot the Hindu community, Awami League supporters, pro-liberation unarmed Bangalees from the country, Prafulla added.
“Around 400-500 Hindu families [of the area] were compelled to take shelter in refugee camps in India in fear of Bachchu Razakar and his cohorts,” added the witness.
During his 12-minute testimony, Tusto Kumar Mondol, a 54-year-old schoolteacher, gave almost a similar description of the killings of Madhab and Gyanendra.
“Abul Kalam Azad was a Razakar commander and his aim was to wipe out the Hindu community and Awami League supporters,” said Tusto.
“As part of the plans of the Pakistani army, killings, rapes, loot and arsons were committed led by Bachchu Razakar in Faridpur like everywhere else,” he added.
Septuagenarian Nagen Mandol in his 21-minute testimony said on the 19th of Bangla month Jaistha, around 30 people led by Azad had come to Fulbaria around 11:00am by two boats and some 10 people entered the house of Chitta Ranjan.
“Under the leadership of Bachchu Razakar, his cohorts looted money, gold ornaments and other valuables from Chitta and loaded those in the boats,” Nagen added.
Afterwards, they took Chitta outside his house and Bachchu killed him there, he continued.
Bachchu also killed one Badal Debnath on the west side of Chitta's house when they were leaving his house, he added.
The tribunal yesterday expressed discontent over the defence of Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah as they failed to produce their witness in the case.
Yesterday was fixed for recording testimony of the fifth defence witness, but Mollah's counsel Abdus Sobhan Tarafder said the witness could not come due to “family disturbance”.
“You were asked to produce two witnesses today. Couldn't you produce one?” asked Justice Fazle Kabir.
“It's lame excuse,” said Judge Shahinur Islam.
“You have to produce two witnesses tomorrow [Tuesday]. Otherwise, we will sum up the case,” said Justice Hassan.
Afterwards the tribunal adjourned the case proceedings until today.
Meanwhile, Tajul Islam, a senior member of the defence, yesterday told the tribunal some “DB police men” went to the house of Mollah's counsel Shazzad Ali Chowdhury at Dhanmondi after 11:00pm on Sunday.
Shazzad was not there and the “DB men” interrogated his roommates about him, said Tajul and sought the court's intervention in this regard.
Tajul told The Daily Star they would file a written petition as the tribunal had asked them to do so.
Meanwhile, the defence of war crimes accused Delawar Hossain Sayedee yesterday continued placing argument at the International Crimes Tribunal-1.
Defence counsel Mizanul Islam occupied most part of second session of the day describing and arguing on deposition and cross-examination of the 26th witness -- renowned journalist Abed Khan, who gave testimony on February 16.
The Bangla daily Samakal ran a report in 2007 that linked Sayedee to torture and robbery incidents during the war. Abed Khan was the editor of the newspaper then.
The report said Sayedee formed Razakar force and was at the scene of robberies and plundering of people's property at Parerhaat Bazar in Pirojpur.
Sayedee sued four journalists including Abed Khan but lost in the legal battle.
As Mizanul finished placing argument over the matter, chairman of the three-member tribunal Justice Md Nizamul Huq said, “You [Mizanul] took one session. What you've got? What we've got?”
Mizanul explained that the investigation officer did not produce the three other journalists. “Why did he not produce them?” he asked.
The defence counsel yesterday also briefly countered the first three charges out of 20 charges brought against Sayedee for his alleged involvement in the crimes against humanity.
Mizanul said the charges are based on the incident of May 4, 1971, but the IO during cross-examination said army went to Pirojpur on May 7, 1971.
Pointing at the charge No.1 which said army killed 20 people of Masimpur in Pirojpur with the help of Sayedee, the defence counsel argued, “Couldn't the investigation officer produce anyone of the relatives of the 20 people?”
He commented that the IO did not produce them fearing that the truth might come up.
The proceeding of the case was adjourned until today.

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