He executed father's order to kill Nutan | The Daily Star
12:53 AM, October 02, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:07 PM, October 02, 2013

He executed father's order to kill Nutan

Nutan Chandra Singha Nutan Chandra Singha

"I have orders from my father to kill him," these words from war crimes convict Salauddin Quader Chowdhury spurred the Pakistani army to spray bullets all over Nutan Chandra Singha on April 13, 1971.
A few minutes later, Salauddin himself fired two to three bullets at Nutan Chandra, founder of Kundeshwari Oushadhalaya, to make sure that he was dead.
The victim was mostly hit on the left side of the face and chest.
Nutan's popularity in the Hindu community had made him a particular target of Salauddin's father Fazlul Quader Chowdhury's wrath. The elder Chowdhury, who was a leader of (Convention) Muslim League, believed the Hindus of Raozan were responsible for his defeat in the general elections of 1970.
According to prosecution witnesses, Fazlul Quader was cross with Nutan also because he had given shelter to the families of 27 Chittagong University teachers, including that of Prof Anisuzzaman, in Kundeshwari Girls' School when Bangladesh's War of Liberation began.
Nutan came to Chittagong in 1942. He set up medicine (Kundeshwari Oushadhalaya) and soap factories in Chittagong and Kolkata. He settled in Chittagong permanently after the passport system had been introduced in 1952.
In 1960, he founded Kundeshwari Girls' School in the realisation that earlier in life he had not been able to provide his daughter with an education. The school was later upgraded to a college.
Yesterday, International Crimes Tribunal-1 sentenced BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury to death for the murder of Nutan Chandra.
The punishment was handed down based on the testimonies of two eyewitnesses and four hearsay witnesses, besides documentary evidence.
Gopal Chandra Das, former principal of Kundeshwari Girls' College, witnessed the killing of Nutan Chandra from a window on the first floor of Kundeshwari Complex.
He had come to the complex on the morning of April 13, 1971 from his sister-in-law's house at Jagotmollopara. On his way, he had heard gunshots. He informed Nutan of that and urged him to leave the place.
But Nutan refused to flee, saying, "If I must die, I will die on the soil of my country. I will not leave Kundeshwari. But if you want [Gopal and others], you can go."
Sometime between 9:00am and 10:00am that day, Pakistani soldiers came to the Kundeshwari premises. Gopal at that time hid on the first floor of the complex.
"I saw an army officer, one or two soldiers and several Bangalees talking with Nutan. A few minutes later they left in their vehicles. I heard the sound of the engines," said Gopal in his testimony.
He said the vehicles came back 10 minutes later and that he (Gopal) again hid on the first floor of the Kundeshwari Complex.
This time Salauddin Quader was there with the soldiers. They dragged Nutan out of the temple despite seeing that the man was praying. "Nutan was screaming at that time," recalled Gopal.
According to the witness, Salauddin that very moment told his cohorts that he had orders from his father to kill Nutan.
The Pakistani soldiers then opened fire on Nutan. He was groaning in pain, said Gopal, adding, "I saw Salauddin Quader wielding a pistol or revolver and shot Nutan Chandra two to three times."
He left the place making sure that Nutan was dead. Nutan's body lay where it had fallen for three days.
Nutan's son Prafulla Ranjan Singha, another prosecution witness, had fled to India a few days before the killing. Through his deposition he revealed why Salauddin's father had been mad at the Hindu community of Raozan.
He said the religious minorities of Raozan could not cast votes due to rigging by Fazlul Quader, Salauddin's father.
Prafulla also told the court what Fazlul had said when he went to Nutan's house while electioneering for the 1970 general elections.
According to the witness, Fazlul had said, "As usual you will vote for me. Therefore, if you keep from going to the polling booth, I will understand I have got your vote."
Prafulla said, "If anyone [of the minority community] cast his vote ignoring his [Fazlul's] directive, he would be persecuted. Many people of Noapara area were tortured and their belongings were looted by the goons of the Muslim League."
Repression on the religious minority in Raozan began after Fazlul lost the election.
Prafulla also regretted the fact that he could not be at his father's funeral. "I am so unfortunate that I could not put the flames on the funeral pyre of my father," he said.
Prafulla's elder brother Satya Ranjan Singha filed a case with Raozan Police Station in January 1972 in connection with Nutan's killing.
"All the accused were charge-sheeted," said Prafulla, adding that Fazlul Quader Chowdhury had been sent to jail as an accused but the case did not see light after 1974.
Fazlul Quader died of cardiac arrest in prison in 1974.

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