Sun, Aug 26th, 2012 2:12 pm BdST
Dhaka, Aug 26 (bdnews24.com) — The first prosecution witness against Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami on Sunday said he had led the Al Badr vigilante militia during the 1971 Liberation War.
Himself a former member of Jamaat’s student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha, Misbahur Rahman Chowdhury, currently heading a faction of Islami Oikkya Jote, told the first war crimes tribunal of Bangladesh that Al Badr was set up with Jamaat student cadres.
The vigilante groups like Al Badr, Razakar and Al Shams are said to have been widely responsible for war crimes during the Liberation War.
The 57-year old witness said Al Badr was not like other anti-liberation militia groups. “The members were trained by the Pakistani Army and they were, in a way, above the other groups.”
The International Crimes Tribunal-1, set up to try crimes against humanity during the nine-month War of Independence, indicted Nizami on May 28 for 16 war crimes.
The witness said the Jamaat chief’s current number two, the party’s Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, was also his number two during the War in Jamaat’s student wing and also within Al Badr.
Misbahur Rahman also placed Jamaat guru Ghulam Azam, also a former party chief (during 1971), at the court of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia after the Liberation War where the witness had gone to visit the Saudi King as a young leader of a Muslim students’ organisation.
“I saw that Ghulam Azam and his brother Moazzem were already there and the professor (Ghulam Azam) was telling the king that freedom fighters had destroyed mosques.”
He said he heard the Jamaat guru tell the Saudi king that madrasas had been closed and Qurans had become scarce and asked for funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction.
“Afterwards, I protested what Ghulam Azam had stated pointing out to the king that most of the freedom fighters were Muslims and thus would not have damaged or destroyed mosques.”
Misbahur Rahman Chowdhury told the court that his father had whisked him out of his native Moulvibazar where a local Sangha leader urged him to join the Al Badr.
The witness was then sent off to London, England. “It was very risky at that time to denounce or quiet the Chhatra Sangha.”
However, the witness had to return to Bangladesh within two months as his mother was sick while the war still raged on. He again went to the Great Britain after the war and studied at a college in Wales where he founded a Muslim students’ organisation.
Earlier the first war crimes tribunal rejected a bail petition for acting Jamaat Secretary General A T M Azharul Islam saying that it had previously rejected other bail applicants whose health condition was ‘far worse’ than that of the instant applicant.
The tribunal, however, directed the jail doctor to perform an MRI and a CT scan as recommended earlier and make sure that all medical treatment is accorded to Azharul Islam. The court directed that if needed Azharul Islam be taken to the medical university hospital, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Medical University.
At the second tribunal, Shahriar Kabir, a long time activist calling for the trial of suspected war criminals, testified as the first prosecution witness against Jamaat Secretary General Mujaheed.
From Baseer Naveed