A freedom fighter living on handouts
Miron Sheikh took part in the Liberation War and played a vital role by spying on Razakars and feeding the freedom fighters with information.
One day Razakars shot him and took him to their camp at Chingra in Jessore. They also tortured him to glean information about the freedom fighters.
But Miron, ever committed to his fellow fighters and the motherland, would not give in. At one stage, Shakhawat Hossain, commander of the Razakar camp, twisted his left leg until it broke completely.
The country won independence and moved on, but no-one remembered Miron. Ignored by the society, he had to go from door to door seeking alms to run his family in the bordering areas of Jessore.
A tribunal trying the war criminals yesterday expressed shock at the society's indifference to Miron's contributions and the dismal state he's currently in.
The tribunal was delivering its verdict in a case, in which Miron was a witness as well as a victim of torture that constituted one of the five charges proved against eight Razakars including Shakhawat.
“We are shocked and surprised. It is not understood why the society and the government machinery concerned have shown inaction to recognise his contributions and sacrifice in achieving independence of our motherland,” observed the International Crimes Tribunal-1.
The three-member tribunal led by Justice Anwarul Haque also expressed the hope the prosecution would take the matter to the notice of the ministries and authorities concerned so that “Miron Sheikh can have proper recognition and grace to spend the rest of his life in honour.”
Justice Md Shahinur Islam and Justice Md Shohrowardi are the other members of the tribunal.
The pathetic story of Miron came to the tribunal's notice for the first time on March 2 when he appeared before the court to give his testimony in the case. When a prosecutor asked about his profession, Miron said he has been living on handouts.
In his testimony, the 66-year-old witness said he had joined the Mukti Bahini under the leadership of Mofazzal Hossain Master in 1971 and used to spy on Razakars.
At the beginning of the Bangla month of Ashwin, when he came to his house, 30 to 40 Razakars of Chingra camp besieged his village, said Miron.
When 10 to 12 of them stormed his house, Miron managed to flee. But a little later he was chased and caught by convicts Aziz, Aziz (2) Khaleq and Lutfar, who died during trial.
Khaleq shot him with a rifle in the fingers of his left hand. They took him to Chingra Razakar camp where the collaborators beat him up with rifle butts at the instruction of Shakhawat.
Shakhawat wanted to know the whereabouts of freedom fighters. As he refused to give any information, Shakhawat twisted his left leg until it broke. Out of severe pain, Miron fainted, and they dumped him by a river.
When he regained his consciousness, locals took him to India where a physician cut off two fingers of his left hand.
The tribunal yesterday said: “We feel really sorry to note that a man who contributed to the War of Liberation in 1971 by acting as a source of a group of freedom fighters and thus became the target of the infamous Razakar Bahini that resulted in his severe physical injury by gunshot has been maintaining his livelihood by begging.
“We believe that the nation shall not endorse the disgrace that is being carried by Miron Sheikh. He deserves recognition for his contributions and sacrifice he made in 1971 during the War of Liberation,” it added.
Justice Shohrowardi, who wrote separate judgment but gave unanimous views over sentencing, observed: “It is surprising that the name of PW-6 [prosecution witness] Miron Sheikh, an injured freedom fighter, has not been included in the list of freedom fighters who is now begging for his livelihood.
“[The] PW-6 took the risk of his life for independence of his motherland and after 45 years… but I do not find any reason, why his name has not been included in the list of freedom fighters,” he wrote.
“In view of the above, it is the holy desire of this tribunal that the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs shall take a necessary step to include the name of freedom fighter Miron Sheikh .... in the list of freedom fighters,” he added.
Prosecutor Zead Al Malum said the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of the tribunal would inform the tribunal's observations to the ministries of law, liberation war affairs and home for necessary action.
“If necessary, we will take the matter to the highest level of the state,” Malum told The Daily Star after the verdict.
Rezia Sultana Chaman, another prosecutor involved with the case, said: “We hope the government will take necessary steps immediately.”