Son narrates killing of journalist father | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 30, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 30, 2012

War Crimes Trial of Mollah

Son narrates killing of journalist father

The son of a martyred intellectual yesterday told International Crimes Tribunal-2 that war crimes accused Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah and his accomplices had killed his father during the Liberation War.
Khondaker Abul Ahsan, son of journalist, litterateur and lawyer Shaheed Khondaker Abu Taleb, gave his deposition before Tribunal-2 as the fifth prosecution witness in the case against the Jamaat leader.
Quader Mollah is facing six charges of crimes against humanity at the tribunal. Charge number three relates to the killing of Taleb.
During his hour-long testimony, witness Ahsan also said Quader Mollah had led brutal killings in Mirpur area of the capital during the nine month-long war.
Ahsan, now an assistant director of Cantonment Executive Office, said he had heard about the killing of his father and other incidents from their driver.
In 1971, Ahsan was a student of class-IX in Mirpur Shahali Academy and used to live in Mirpur Housing Estate.
“My father was the secretary general of East Pakistan Journalists' Union and had worked with an advocate firm named BNR,” said Abul Ahsan adding, “He was a believer in Bangalee nationalism and independence of Bangladesh.”
His father had worked in Weekly Ittehad, Daily Azad, Daily Sangbad, Daily Ittefaq, The Morning News and The Pakistan Observer and as part time feature editor at the Paygam during the war, said Ahsan.
With tension brewing in Mirpur area ahead of the war, the family left the area on March 24 and moved in with his aunt in Shantinagar in the capital.
“On March 29, my father left my aunt's house to get money and the car from our Mirpur house,” said Ahsan, adding, “But later we heard that on the way to his firm [BNR], he met the chief accountant of Daily Ittefaq Abdul Halim, a non-Bangalee.”
“Abdul Halim handed my father over to Abdul Quader Mollah at Mirpur and my father was stabbed to death at Jalladkhana in Mirpur-10,” said Ahsan, adding, “Akhter Gunda [a non-Bangalee of Bihar origin] and some other non-Bangalees accompanied Quader Mollah.”
After his father's death, the family left Dhaka and took shelter in Beura, Pubail, until July 1971, said Ahsan. He noted, “We had none to earn for the family and my mother went mad.”
In July 1971, Ahsan returned to Dhaka and used to sell tea for a living while the rest of his family went off to their ancestral home in Satkhira.
“One day, when I was on my way to Chawkbazar, I met Nizam, who was our family driver who lives in Mirpur-10, and he told me how my father was killed,” said Ahsan.
On instructions from Quader Mollah, Biharis carried out mass killings in Mirpur. They used to bring Bangalees from Gabtoli Bus Terminal and Technical areas and kill them in Sialbari, Muslim Bazar and Jalladkhana killing fields in Mirpur, Ahsan told the tribunal, quoting Nizam, who was non-Bangalee.
He said Quader Mollah had taken part in the election campaign for Ghulam Azam, the then ameer of East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami and a candidate from Mirpur area. Ghulam Azam is also facing crimes against humanity charges at the tribunal.
Ahsan said like other parts of the country, Bangalees in Mirpur area observed March 23 as Bangladesh Day protesting the killing of Bangalees. Actually March 23 was Pakistan Day, he added
The Pakistan flag was brought down from the Bangla School in Mirpur and the Bangladesh flag was hoisted at half-mast. Syed Kayum was the headmaster of the school at that time.
For this reason, three to four people attacked Syed Kayum at his home on that night and stabbed him indiscriminately. Hearing his screams, a Bangalee rescued him and brought him to their home (Ahsan's home), Ahsan said.
He was given preliminary treatment there.
“My father admitted Kayum to Dhaka Medical College Hospital the next morning and afterwards he [my father] went to the home of Bangabandhu [Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] and apprised him of conditions in the Mirpur area,” said Ahsan.
“But my mother became mentally weak after the incident of Kayum Sir and we left our home on March 24, said Ahsan.
“As a member of a martyred intellectual's family, I seek a trial of this widespread killing [committed during the war],” said emotion-chocked Ahsan.
The three-member tribunal led by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir with members Justice Obaidul Hassan and Judge Md Shahinur Islam also recorded the cross-examination of the witness before adjourning the proceedings until today.
After his testimony, defence counsel Ekramul Huqe cross-examined the witness for two hours and asked around 110 questions.
Replying to a question, Ahsan said in memory of his father Shaheed Abu Taleb High School was established in Mirpur, a separate gallery was set up at the National Museum after him. His father's name was mentioned in the nameplate of Jatiya Press Club and Dhaka Bar Association, which was built in memory of the martyred.
“Have you seen the atrocities committed during the war,” asked Ekramul Haque.
“No, I did not see them myself and it was not possible for any Bangalee to witness the atrocities, except some people,” replied Ahsan.
Meanwhile, International Crimes Tribunal-1 yesterday recorded the cross-examination of prosecution witness Mahbub Uddin Ahmad Bir Bikram in a case against former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam.
During cross-examination, defence counsel Mizanul Islam asked Mahbub several questions about his activities during the Liberation War.
Ghulam Azam is facing five charges of crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
The proceedings of the tribunal were adjourned until tomorrow.
In the case against another war crimes accused Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee, the tribunal rejected four petitions of Sayedee.
The petitions were: demanding mobile phone call records of the duty officers at the prosecution witness safe house, seeking information of summons of 46 absentee witnesses and the investigation officer's report in this regard and dropping two out of 20 charges Sayedee is facing.
However, the tribunal decided to issue a ruling on another defence petition later on. In that petition, the defence urged the court to summon 38 employees of the safe house for questioning.

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