12:00 AM, December 19, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 19, 2012

Tortured war hero testifies at court

Says Nizami asked Pak army officer to kill him

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Staff Correspondent

Freedom fighter Zahir Uddin Jalal again testified, this time against war crime accused Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami before the International Crimes Tribunal-1.
He said Nizami asked a Pakistani army officer to have him killed along with martyred freedom fighter Rumi, son of Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam, and musician Altaf Mahmud when they were detained at a camp during the Liberation War.
Rumi and Altaf never returned home while the witness was lucky to have escaped death as a Pakistan government official rescued him.
In his deposition as the second witness in the war crimes case against Nizami, Jalal gave a vivid description of torture on him at the camp in West Nakhalpara.
Jalal's fellow fighters at the camp were also tortured at the camp. He found most of their fingers cut off.
Jalal had testified as the second witness in another war crimes case against Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojaheed on September 20 at Tribunal-2.
He gave almost an identical deposition yesterday before Tribunal-1.
Nizami is facing 16 specific charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the Liberation War.
Jalal, also known as Bichchhu Jalal, said Nizami, Mojaheed and other Al-Badr men used to torture intellectuals and freedom fighters before killing them at Mohammadpur Physical Training College.
Jalal, son of a police official, was a class-IX student then. He used to live at New Circuit House in the capital's Eskaton Garden, he said, adding that top police and government officials also lived there.
During his three-hour testimony, Jalal said he left Dhaka on April 12 to take part in the war and after having training in India in June, he along with co-freedom fighters returned to Dhaka to engage in battles.
On August 30, 1971, Dhaka Company Commander Abdul Aziz assigned Jalal to attack the home of Dolly Asad, a member in the national assembly during Ayub Khan's tenure.
Pakistan army personnel were supposed to hold a meeting with collaborators there, said the 57-year-old witness.
Razakars picked up Jalal when he went near the home on a reconnaissance mission before the actual attack.
They handed him over to the Pakistani army who took him to a building near Tejgaon MP Hostel, said the witness, adding that afterwards he came to know that the building was at West Nakhalpara.
On that day around 7:00pm, eight to 10 people were brought to the room he was confined in, said the witness, adding that all of them were wounded.
"I was astonished to see they were my co-fighters with whom I had training at Matinagar camp," said Jalal, adding, "I saw Badi, Jewel, Azad and Rumi Bhai among them and there was Altaf Mahmud, composer of the Ekushey February song."
When Jalal talked to Jewel, he told him how they were tortured and asked him not to disclose anything about freedom fighters, said the witness.
"Around 8:00pm, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Mojaheed, Chowdhury Mainuddin along with three or four others went to the room of Capt Kayum, walking past my confinement room," said the witness, adding, "Indicating Nizami and Mojaheed, Jewel said they along with others had tortured them."
After some time Capt Kayum ordered his soldiers to bring Jalal before him. They tried to glean information out of him, said Jalal.
"Nizami pulled out a 'Five Star Pistol' from his waist and reprimanded him and demanded to know what I had told the others inside the room and how I knew them," said the witness.
"Asking such questions, he [Nizami] started to hit me on my two wrists with the pistol and bloodied them."
"When I did not say anything, he [Nizami] threatened to bring my mother and sister from my house and torture them.”
Mojaheed hit him in the head with a gun butt.
Jalal fell down on the floor. He was later taken to the room where his co-fighters were kept.
“Both Nizami and Mojaheed told Capt Kayum that they [Jalal and other co-fighters] should be shot dead before the president proclaims clemency on September 5 and their bodies be made to disappear," said the witness.
Afterwards two Pakistani army men took him to the MP Hostel, which was an army camp then. Pakistani government official CM Afzal, also Jalal's neighbour, rescued him from there.
Mohammadpur Physical Training College was the headquarters of the Al-Badr force where "Al-Badr Commanders Nizami and Mojaheed" in association with the Pakistani army used to train Al-Badr men and detainees were tortured and killed there.
He said on December 17, 1971, he visited the college and found nine beheaded bodies.
Jalal also went to the brickfield at Rayerbazar where he found many bullet-hit bodies. He heard locals saying that Al-Badr men killed them at their headquarters and dumped the bodies there as per Nizami and Mojaheed's directives.
The tribunal, headed by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir with member Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim and Justice Md Anwarul Haque, recorded the testimony.
Only one defence counsel was yesterday present at the tribunal. Tariqul Islam prayed for adjournment of the proceeding before Jalal testified as senior lawyers could not reach the court due to Hartal.
Rejecting the prayer, the tribunal ordered the prosecution to produce the witness. Tariqul began cross-examination of the witness yesterday and it would continue today.

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