A revenge for Sayedee?
"> The ransacked house of Mahbubul Alam, complainant and first witness in the war crimes case against Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee. It was attacked by Jamaat-Shibir men yesterday morning. Photo: StarForty-two years ago, during the War of Liberation, Razakar and Peace Committee men had unleashed terror on his family. And yesterday, Jamaat-Shibir activists, descendants of anti-liberation forces, repeated the history by attacking his house and vandalising every valuable he had.
In 1971, he had fled to nearby woods of the embattled country to save his life. The irony is he felt the same shiver in the spine yesterday in the independent country he had fought for.
The ill-fated citizen is freedom fighter Mahabubul Alam Howlader of Pirojpur. His fault was that he had filed a case against convicted war criminal and Jamaat Nayeb-e-Ameer Delawar Hossain Sayedee and testified against him.
A resident of Tengrakhali village in Zianagar upazila of Pirojpur, septuagenarian Mahabubul is a former commander of Muktijoddha Sangsad of Zianagar, an area considered as the backyard of Sayedee.
Yesterday's attack on Mahabubul's family once again proved how important the security factor is for the prosecution witnesses of the war crimes tribunals.
Different quarters have long been demanding enactment of the witness protection law, but to no avail.
Talking to The Daily Star, Mahabubul said around 200 to 250 activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and pro-Jamaat student body Islami Chhatra Shibir with sharp weapons had attacked his house around 9:30am. He was then watching television with his family.
"> Mahabubul Alam HowladerHe said sensing the attack he had shut the door and windows of his tin-roofed house. But the attackers entered the house anyway by breaking a window.
"I was hiding in the attic at that time while the other family members managed to flee the house before the attackers could get in," said Mahabubul.
"They [attackers] actually came to kill me, as I had filed a case against Sayedee and testified against him. Had they found me, I would now be dead," he added.
He said that from the attic, he had called the Parerhat Police Outpost, about one-and-a-half kilometres from the house, over the mobile phone. Within 20 to 25 minutes police came to the spot but by then the Jamaat-Shibir activists had left.
It had been a 45-minute mayhem by the attackers that left not a single thing, even the tube-well or the lavatory, in the house in one piece, he added.
Nasiruddin Malik, officer-in-charge of Indurkani Police Station under Zianagar upazila, told The Daily Star that supporters of Sayedee had attacked the house of Mahabubul and vandalised it.
No case has been filed in connection with the attack as of last night.
Top officials of police and the administration yesterday visited the house and deployed six to seven policemen at Mahabubul's house.
In 2009, Mahabubul had filed a case against Sayedee and others with the Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court of Pirojpur in connection with the atrocities committed by them during the Liberation War.
When the case proceedings against Sayedee began at the International Crimes Tribunal in 2010, documents of the Pirojpur case was used as reference.
On December 7, 2011, Mahabubul testified against Sayedee on several charges, including that for killing Bisha Bali of Umedpur village. On February this year, the International Crimes Tribunal-1 sentenced Sayedee to death on two charges, including the Bali killing charge.
Yesterday, Mahabubul said after testifying at the court he had received death threat several times and filed general diaries at police stations in Zianagar and Dhaka.
"I am now living in utter fear," he said.
Contacted, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told The Daily Star that the attack would definitely affect the cases pending with the International Crimes Tribunals, as witnesses would be afraid to testify.
"It is the responsibility of the home ministry to ensure security for witnesses," he said, adding that the government must take effective measures to ensure that.
Meanwhile, tribunal prosecutor Tureen Afroz demanded quick enactment of the witness protection law to ensure foolproof security for prosecution witnesses and the others involved in the war crimes trials.