Memories of horror | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 29, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 29, 2010

Memories of horror

Witnesses go back to '71 as war crimes trial prosecutors visit spots

Mohsin Ali had kept things to himself since the country's independence, but yesterday when prosecutors of the International Crimes Tribunal visited Rokeya Hall of Dhaka University he could not resist describing his wartime experience to them.
He was 10 years old and was living in Rokeya Hall employees' quarters with his family on March 25, 1971 when the Pakistani army unleashed their killing spree on unsuspected Bangalees in Dhaka city.
"I was scared when the Pakistani army knocked on our door. I just managed to hide under a bed. The army men entered the room breaking the door, and shot my parents dead. I was lucky enough that they did not look under the bed." said Mohsin, who now works as an office help in Rokeya Hall at the age of 51.
That night the marauding Pakistani army killed about 45 to 50 people inside Rokeya Hall.
Chief Prosecutor Golam Arif Tipu; and prosecutors Zead-Al-Malum, Syed Haider Ali, and Altaf Hossain listened to Mohsin's experience of the night of deaths, as they visited the martyrs' graves and the spots of mass killings at Jagannath Hall, Shamsurnahar Hall, Rokeya Hall, and Zaharul Haque Hall.
Prosecutor Zead-Al-Malum said they learned from the people, who had been on the campus on that dreadful night, that the Pakistani army asked the DU authorities to send the female students residing in Rokeya Hall to the Cantonment, but the university authorities flat out refused.
The resistance of the DU authorities also contributed to the war of liberation, said the prosecutor.
DU Vice-chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique demanded that the prosecutors ensure exemplary punishment to those who had killed teachers, students, and staff of the university during the war of liberation.
Chief Prosecutor Tipu said significant progress has been made in the investigation of war crimes. Collection of evidence against alleged war criminals at the domestic level is almost complete, and they are now trying to collect more evidence from abroad, he added.
Many DU officials gave depositions to the prosecutors about how brutally the Pakistani army and their local collaborators killed teachers, students, and staff of the university during the war.
After completing the visit to DU, the prosecutors went on to the Rayer Bazar Killing Field, where prominent intellectuals of the country were murdered and dumped by the Pakistani army and their collaborators just before the country's liberation.
Shayamoli Nasrin Chowdhury, wife of martyred intellectual Dr Alim Chowdhury, gave her deposition before the prosecutors there.
She said members of Al-badr, an armed vigilante collaborator group of the Pakistani army, picked her husband from their Purana Paltan home on December 15, 1971, and they found his body at the killing field on December 18.
"We found the bullet ridden body covered with blood and dumped in a ditch near a brick field. I fainted soon after identifying his body, which also bore marks of bayonet charge. Later others told me that the brutal killers also had gouged his eyes out," she broke into tears, and then demanded punishment to the killers.
Chief Prosecutor Golam Arif Tipu said they will try their best to mete out appropriate punishment to the killers. He also put out a call to the government for finishing the unfinished construction of the Rayer Bazar Martyred Intellectuals' Monument.

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