Poet, family not spared | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 11, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 11, 2012

Poet, family not spared

War crimes witness tells tribunal

A witness yesterday told International Crimes Tribunal-2 that Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah and his accomplices had killed pro-liberation poet Meherun Nesa, her mother, and two brothers at their Mirpur home in Dhaka during the Liberation War.
Syed Shahidul Haque Mama, a freedom fighter and the second prosecution witness in the war crimes case against Quader Mollah, also said the Jamaat assistant secretary general was the “key person” in the brutal killing of Mirpur Bangla College student Pallab during the war.
The 58-year-old witness said he had heard about the incidents from people leaving the capital in panic after the crackdown on the night of March 25, 1971, night.
The three-member tribunal headed by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir also recorded the cross-examination of the witness before it adjourned the case proceedings until today.
During his two-and-a-half-hour-long statement, Shahidul said, “On March 27, 1971, Abdul Quader Mollah, Hasib Hasmi, Abbas Chairman, Akhter Gunda, Nehal and many others killed poet Meherun Nesa, her brothers and mother and chopped their bodies into pieces.”
“Akhter Gunda and his accomplices forcibly brought one Pallab alias Tuntuni from Thathari Bazar to Muslim Bazar in Mirpur. Then they [Akter and his accomplices] cut his fingers and hung him up on a tree and killed him mercilessly,” the witness went on to say.
“The incident occurred may be on April 5, 1971, and Quader Mollah and Akhter Gunda were the key persons behind the incident,” added Shahidul.
Shahidul said he was a student leader before the Liberation War and had had taken part in different movements, including the six-point movement of 1966 and in the 1970 election campaigns for the Awami League-blessed candidates of Mohammadpur and Mirpur areas.
He said Quader Mollah and his accomplices had taken part in the election campaign for the “infamous” Ghulam Azam, the then ameer of East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami and a candidate of the area.
Shahidul said during the regime of military dictator Gen Yahya Khan, a false case was filed against him and he got acquitted afterwards.
“But those who had testified for me [in the case] were apprehended and killed by Abdul Quader Mollah, Akhter Gunda, Nehal, Hasib Hasmi, Abbas Chairman and other Jamaat men and non-Bangalees in the black night of March 25, 1971,” said Shahidul.
Shahidul said after Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's speech at Dhaka's Race Course Maidan on March 7, 1971, they had prepared to take part in the Liberation War and hoisted the national flag of Bangladesh on March 23, 1971, the Republic Day of Pakistan.
The witness said on the morning of March 26, 1971, he saw the houses of Bangalees in Mirpur area burning and Biharis celebrating. “When I and Mantu [one of his Shahidul friends] had gone closer, Quader Mollah and his accomplices tried to catch us.
“We escaped by swimming cross the Turag river and took shelter in Bangaon village.”
Later, Shahidul went to India for training and took part in the Liberation War, said the witness.
Shahidul, also chief of Mama Group Guerrilla Bahini, said Mirpur area had become enemy-free on January 31, 1972, even though the Pakistani army had formally surrendered on December 16, 1971.
“These enemies were Khan Senas [Pakistan army personnel] Jamaat-e-Islami men, Al-Badr men, Al-Shams men and Razakars [three auxiliary forces of the Pakistan army],” said the witness, adding, “And Quader Mollah was not detached from any of the incidents.”
The witness said the freedom fighters attacked the Mohammadpur Physical Training Centre, Graphics Arts Institute and “the headquarters of the then Pakistan army” on December 16, 1971.
On Victory Day and in the face of a strong attack, the Pakistani army left the places and merged with Biharis (non-Bangalee people) in Mohammadpur and Mirpur areas.
“Bihari, Khan Sena, Jamaat-e-Islami along with the members of Islami Chhatra Sangha [the then student wing of Jamaat] built a strong resistance [in Mohammadpur and Mirpur areas],” said the witness.
They had convinced the Biharis that Bangladesh would turn into a part of Pakistan once again.
On December 17, 1971, Shahidul recovered the bodies of martyred intellectuals from the Rayerbazar killing field, he said, adding, “I found a small sack full of human eyes.”
“We picked up many killers who were hiding in Mohammadpur and following their information, we recovered the bodies of hundreds of intellectuals from the brick kilns of Rayerbazar,” said the witness.
“They [martyred intellectuals] were our best sons of the soil,” said Shahidul, adding, “It [killing of intellectuals] was the brutality of the Al-Badr and the Razakars.”
In his testimony, the witness also gave his family background and pre-liberation politics in the then East Pakistan.
During his testimony, defence counsels on several occasions alleged that the prosecution was “leading” the witness. At one point, the witness became upset with the defence objections.
“You [defence] come here to advocate for the Razakars of 1971 but I am here to give my testimony responding to my conscious. You are changing my mindset by interrupting,” said the witness.
After lunch, Ekramul Huqe, defence counsel of Quader Mollah, cross-examined the witness for 30 minutes and asked around 25 questions.
Replying to a question, Shahidul said although he had enrolled in Dhaka University for his undergraduate degree but he could not complete the course for political reasons.
He said he left Bangladesh for Sweden in 1986 and lives there now with his family.
The witness was ailing but he refused ask for adjournment when questioned if he needed any breaks. He said, “Ask me questions, I don't mind dying here answering questions… I'll answer as along as I'm alive.”
At 3:35pm, the tribunal adjourned the case proceedings until today as defence counsel Ekramul Huqe sought adjournment on his own health grounds.
On May 28, the tribunal indicted Quader Mollah with six charges of crimes against humanity, including murders and mass killings.

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