Testimony of torture
Testifying in two cases yesterday, a freedom fighter said he was tortured by war-crimes accused Azad and others after Jamaat leader Mojaheed held a meeting with a Pakistani army officer and Razakars at Faridpur Circuit House.
Ranjit Kumar Nath alias Babu Nath told the International Crimes Tribunal-2 that expelled Jamaat member Abul Kalam Azad and his cohorts tortured him inhumanly after Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed signalled them to take him away from the circuit house.
Ranjit, the seventh prosecution witness in the case against Mojaheed, gave a heart wrenching testimony on how he was picked up by Azad and his associates, confined to a house in Bihari colony, tortured and how he escaped.
Ranjit also gave his testimony as the fifth prosecution witness in the case against Azad alias Bachchu Razakar before the same tribunal yesterday.
In the case against Azad, Ranjit said Jamaat Secretary General Mojaheed, Bachchu Razakar and some Biharies (Urdu speaking people) welcomed the Pakistani army when they arrived in Faridpur on April 21, 1971.
They took the army to Prabhu Jagatbandhu Ashram (temple).
â€œThe Pakistani army men shot eight priests dead while Mojaheed and Bachchu were with them,â€ said the 62-year-old witness from Faridpur.
The three-member tribunal, headed by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir with members Justice Obaidul Hassan and Judge M Shahinur Islam recorded Ranjit's separate testimonies.
Mojaheed was produced before the court yesterday. Azad is on the run.
During his 40-minute testimony in the case against Mojaheed, Ranjit said he was involved with the Awami League in 1971 and took part in several of its meetings and processions.
â€œI took shelter on the outskirts of Faridpur town after the Pakistani army arrived on April 21, 1971,â€ said Ranjit, adding that on the first week of June 1971, he went to the town to collect information about the Liberation War.
When Ranjit was approaching the town, one Habi Matabbar, terming him a freedom fighter, handed him over to Abul Kalam Azad, Abul Mia and Kalu Bihari at East Khabashpur.
â€œBeating me up, they took me to Faridpur Circuit House on a rickshaw and Major Koreshi, a Pakistani army official, Mojaheed, Afzal and other Razakars were holding a meeting there,â€ said Ranjit.
According to the prosecution, as a leader of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the student wing of Jamaat in 1971, Azad was a close associate of the then central Chhatra Sangha leader Mojaheed.
Getting a signal from Mojaheed, Azad and his associates blindfolded Ranjit and took him to Faridpur Zila School ground and put him under a plum tree, said Ranjit.
After a few minutes a car went there.
â€œSomeone in the car in Urdu said, 'Don't shoot him. Hand him over to the Biharies and slit his throat in the morning',â€ said Ranjit.
He said he was then taken near a Bihari colony on Mollah Bari Road.
â€œHanging me up side down from a kadama tree, they [Azad and others] beat me up for one hour and one of my teeth and a bone of my nose were broken,â€ said Ranjit.
Later, they confined Ranjit to a house inside the Bahini colony and around midnight Ranjit escaped breaking through a window, he said.
After his testimony, defence counsel Munshi Ahsan Kabir cross-examined Ranjit and asked six questions before the tribunal adjourned the case proceeding until tomorrow following a defence plea for adjournment.
During his 32-minute testimony in the case against Azad, Ranjit gave almost similar descriptions about his confinement, torture and escape.
After the Pakistani army arrived, they set up their camps at Faridpur Zila School, the stadium, and Rajendra College.
â€œBachchu Razakar occupied the house of Ramkrisna Agarwal,â€ said Ranjit.
In association with Azad, the Pakistani army used to catch and bring pro-liberation people from the town and villages and tortured and killed them at Faridpur stadium, said Ranjit.
â€œThere was a pond. Bodies were dumped there. The place was identified as the killing field,â€ said the witness.
Earlier yesterday, Mojaher Sikdar, the third prosecution witness in Azad's case, testified that Azad killed Sudhangshu Mohan Roy, landlord of Kolaran of Faridpur on May 14, 1971.
The 65-year-old from Kolaran said around 3:00pm on May 14, 1971, 10-12 armed people were going towards east past his home.
â€œOf them, I knew one. He was Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu. Bachchu was my classmate in Bahirdia Qaumi Madrasa,â€ said Mojaher.
He quoted Azad as saying, â€œI come from Faridpur after receiving training. Now I will govern the country.â€
Mojaher followed Azad when they were going towards Sudhangshu's house. They brought Sudhangshu and his son Monimoy Roy out and took them 200 yards east of their home, said Mojaher.
â€œBachchu Razakar shot Sudhangshu Babu from behind,â€ said Mojaher, adding that another person shot Monimoy while he was crying.
On Monday, Nepal Chandra Pathak, the first prosecution witness in the case, testified that he had seen Azad shoot Sudhanghsu to death.
Meanwhile, Dhala Matabbar, the third prosecution witness in the case, in his testimony said Azad had killed Chitta Ranjan Das of his village Fulbaria in Faridpur during the Liberation War.
The 61-year-old said when he was on his way to Fulbaria market on the 19th of the Bangla month Jaistha, he saw Azad and his three cohorts beat Chitta up.
Afterwards, taking Chitta under a tree near his home, Bachchu Razakar shot Chitta, said Matabbar.
On Monday, Jyotsna Rani Das, wife of Chitta and second prosecution witness in the case, testified that Azad killed her husband after torturing him.
Matabbar said around 200 Hindu families left for India after the incident including Jyotsna.
State-appointed defence counsel Abdus Shukur Khan cross-examined the witnesses.
In the beginning of the court proceeding, Shukur Khan informed the tribunal that he could submit neither any documents nor a list of defence witness in the case as he did not get any cooperation from Azad's family members.
Following Shukur's time petition, the tribunal extended time until December 5 to submit documents and defence witness list.
Meanwhile, Triubnal-1 yesterday asked the prosecution to submit formal charge or a progress report of the ongoing investigation against war-crimes suspect Jamaat leader Mir Quashem Ali on January 29 next year.
The tribunal gave the order following the prosecution's prayer for time extension.
Meanwhile, the defence of Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee continued with their closing arguments in the crimes against humanity trial at the tribunal yesterday.
Defence has spent nine sessions for placing their arguments.