"The workers of Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha who are spread throughout the nook and corner of the country and who are loyal, sincere and honest Pakistanis, like to serve the nation in this odd hour in the best possible manner."
That's how Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed introduced the members of Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS), the then student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, to Pakistan's martial law administration as he proposed the formation of Al-Badr during the Liberation War, 1971.
Al-Badr was the fearsome militia which under Mojaheed's leadership traced houses and systematically rounded up, tortured and killed the nation's brightest luminaries -- academics, litterateurs, journalists, doctors and artists -- towards the end of the war when Pakistan forces sensed imminent defeat.
So brutal were the killings that many of the bodies were found mutilated beyond recognition at different killing fields.
The perspective behind formation of Al-Badr and its detailed mechanism, targets and activities to exterminate the pro-liberation forces, who they termed "enemies" and "miscreants", is evident in some war-time documents retrieved by a journalist days after Independence.
In these undated and unsigned documents, purportedly classified, Mojaheed insisted that only tested workers of ICS be recruited in Al-Badr. Then acting president of the ICS in East Pakistan, he preferred to call the organisation "Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba Pakistan".
Mojaheed proposed that the force would help the Pakistan army operations in picking up and interrogating the "miscreants" and build up an intelligence network against them.
He suggested placing the Al-Badr above the ranks of Razakars and Mujahids, two other auxiliary forces of the Pakistan army.
"Over and above the Razakars and Mujahids, a new batch of volunteers can be organised mostly consisting of students. Of course, intelligent and honest youths from the non-students may also be placed under them provided they are ready to be under the unified command," the document stated.
After Independence, Mojaheed went into hiding and resurfaced after the political changeover in the country with the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In time, his political clout would grow, and he would become a minister of the BNP-Jamaat government.
The legacy of ICS would continue through Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat in Bangladesh.
In 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal convicted Mojaheed for his role in crimes against humanity, including the mass extermination of intellectuals. He was executed two years later.
War-time journalist Ahmed Shafi Uddin recovered the cyclostyled copy of Mojaheed's proposal along with a letter of Pakistan's martial law administration from an abandoned headquarters of Al-Badr's sub-divisional unit in Rajshahi.
The proposal begins with description of ICS' allegiance for Pakistan and its army, according to the documents, copies of which have been obtained by this newspaper.
On the other hand, the martial law administration's letter, labelled "secret", outlined the formation of Al-Badr and its goals like assisting the government/army and forming commando type of bands for carrying out sabotage activities.
It was a two-page letter where Mojaheed addressed the deputy sub martial law administrator with the subject titled "Razakar, Al Badr wing". The proposal carried his name at its end.
He suggested preparing the force as strong and bold that it does not even spare their closest relatives if they stand against Pakistan's integrity and for Bangladesh's freedom.
"On the one hand we are not ready to spare even our nearest relative if he is an active enemy to the integrity and solidarity of the nation and on the other hand we do not like to disturb the peace loving as well as innocent fraction of the mass rather we like to create confidence in them and dispel all sorts of misunderstandings that have been imposed on them."
Mojaheed in his letter mentioned ICS students were facing troubles in adjusting with non-student Razakars and Mujahids.
"… our practical observation is that in many places some selfish and opportune seeking fellows have creeped into the Razakars who have become a great problem for our honest and bold activities.
"Nevertheless, we are ready to work unitedly with any Pakistani, but we feel victimised if someone gets into such an organisation with motives other than that helping the nation."
He wrote that the "problems" were placed to the Deputy Martial Law Administrator of Zone B.
Under the martial law administration, Pakistan was divided into two zones -- West Pakistan being the Zone A and the East Pakistan Zone B. Pakistani General Tikka Khan headed the Zone B.
Mojaheed explained why the ICS workers should be enrolled as Al-Badr men, saying it was the only organisation that maintained its separate identity as an all Pakistan based student body and no inter party clash would occur in the proposed outfit.
"We are not working for any political motive or party interest; rather we like to utilise our full strength in the best possible manner in meeting 'the national crisis'."
The letter pointed out that the deputy martial law administrator of Zone B had considered the proposals and ICS was instructed to organise Al-Badr throughout the East Pakistan province with "immediate effect".
PRINCIPLES AND PROGRAMMES
Mojaheed's letter described the principles of the force -- the first one was to recruit only tested activists who worked for the integrity of Pakistan.
It said Al-Badr will have three groups -- "One will try to restore confidence among the public. The second one will work as an intelligence branch, whereas the third will have armed training and work as a fighting group."
The force will chalk out its own plan and programme and obtain approval from the local army officers before execution, said the letter.
Mojaheed in the letter proposed the force's several activities including brainwashing people and picking up the country's pro-liberation people who he called "miscreants".
The Al-Badr programmes included "mobilisation of public opinion and the restoration of normalcy through mass contact, public meetings and village to village campaigns. Special emphasis will be given to indoctrinate the minds of the students".
It will bridge the gap between the locals and non-locals (Bangalees and Biharis), the letter shows.
Establishing a network of intelligence for keeping a constant eye on the activities of the "miscreants" was one of the programmes.
Another programme was "helping the army in operations in picking up and interrogating the miscreants and in the maintenance of law and order in the public meetings and in educational institutions".
The last programme described in the letter was "to give information to the martial law authorities regarding the anti-state elements in the government, autonomous and non-government services and if need be to help substitute loyal Pakistanis for these elements".
PAKISTAN ARMY'S LETTER
The document labelled "secret" proclaims the formation of Al-Badr volunteer force and explains its activities. Some words were coded in military terms.
At the beginning, it mentions the pattern of "Battle of Badr" for formation of the volunteer force and says the militia will have two main goals.
One is to assist the government/army in the restoration of law and order and to form spec cdo (special command duty officer) type of bands for carrying out sabotage activities across the border.
Al-Badr will be an organisation at district/sub divisional level, it said, adding, "Each sub div [sub division] will have 313 student volunteers from schools, colleges and madrasas.
"These students will attend their regular classes in school/colleges and also carry out various duties as assigned to them by their executive committee."
PERKS FOR AL-BADR
In the letter, Mojaheed sought from the Pakistani army camp accommodation for trainees in the fighting group and office facilities with necessary equipment for all other groups.
They wanted ration and allowance for the trainees, transport for operation as well as publicity and information collection activities or "to pay conveyance needed and arms and ammunition".
"I pray and hope that your authority would be kind enough to allow our local workers of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba to organise Al Badr throughout your area," he concluded.
HOW THE DOCUMENTS WERE FOUND?
Shafi was the chief reporter of Weekly Sonar Desh, founded in 1970 by AHM Qamaruzzaman, one of the country's four national leaders, and edited by the language movement veteran Sayeed Uddin Ahmed.
After March 25, 1971, the Pakistan occupation forces vandalised the weekly's office in Ranibazar area of Rajshahi town and announced death warrants for its journalists, forcing them to flee into rural hideouts.
"On my return to Rajshahi town after Independence, I decided to collect the evidence of the war from different spots. In one such visit to the house Mohini Niketon, I saw a bag floating in a well," Shafi, who later became an official of Rajshahi University, told The Daily Star.
With the help of his cousin Amjad Ali, he pulled out the bag which had documents of over 2,000 pages left by Al-Badr leaders. He gave documents to local freedom fighters, and kept some that had multiple copies.