Abduction, torture led by Mir Quasem
The wife of a freedom fighter yesterday testified that Islami Chhatra Sangha leader Mir Quasem Ali along with some other Al-Badr men abducted her husband and tortured him for days in Chittagong during the 1971 Liberation War.
Jolekha Khan, 57, learnt about these incidents from her father and husband late Harun-or-Rashid Khan after their marriage in 1976, according to the testimony.
"Mir Quasem Ali attempted five or six times to kill my husband during his detention at Salma Manzil [an Al-Badr torture centre],” she told the International Crimes Tribunal-2.
Quasem, now a member of the central executive council of Jamaat-e Islami, is facing 14 charges for his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity committed in Chittagong during the nine-month-long war. He has always refuted the accusations and pleaded not guilty before the court.
Jolekha said that in 1971 she was a student of class-VI and her brother Omar Faruk, a freedom fighter, had a good rapport with Harun, who played a significant role in establishing Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra at that time.
After she got married to Harun of Chittagong, she learnt that her husband had been the liaison officer of sector-1 of the Bangladesh government-in-exile in 1971.
"My father told me that he [Harun] had been tortured after being captured by Al-Badr commander Mir Quasem Ali."
On November 28, 1971, Quasem with some other Al-Badr men abducted Harun and his assistant Sahidul Alam from Chittagong city. The two were tortured for three to four days at Dalim Hotel, an Al-Badr torture centre.
Harun was later moved to Salma Manzil, another torture centre of the auxiliary force of the Pakistan army, which was situated behind Panchlaish Police Station in the port city. There he was gagged, blindfolded, locked in a bathroom and tortured with his hands tied, said Jolekha, a fashion designer from Chadgaon in Chittagong.
Seventeen to eighteen others, including Sahidul, were also held hostage at Salma Manzil and most of them were subsequently killed.
Citing reasons behind Al-Badr men not killing Harun, his wife said one of the Al-Badr men of Salma Manzil camp was going to marry a daughter of AK Khan family in Chittagong and Harun was a relative of that family.
Knowing of Harun's detention at the camp, the mother of the girl told the groom to-be that he would not be allowed to marry her daughter if Harun was killed, Jolekha said.
Five or six days after the independence, Harun was rescued from the torture centre, she added. He died in 2001.
Harun was the general secretary of Chhatra Shakti, a student organisation of Chittagong College, in 1971 and Mir Quasem was the president of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat, of the same college.
After Jolekha finished giving her testimony, Quasem's counsel Mizanul Islam cross-examined her.
During the cross-examination, the defence counsel said she told the court whatever she had been taught to tell.
Jolekha denied doing so.
The three-member tribunal led by Justice Obaidul Hassan adjourned the case proceedings until March 18, following time pleas from both the prosecution and the defence.