The last, lethal bite

Nizami led losing enemies to wipe out emerging country’s intelligentsia

Bodies dumped in the killing field of Rayerbazar in 1971. Photo: File

Bodies dumped in the killing field of Rayerbazar in 1971.

Abdul Alim Chaudhury and Azharul Huq were among the valiant doctors who had secretly treated wounded freedom fighters during the country’s Liberation War in 1971.

But the illustrious sons of the soil could not keep their identities a secret from the anti-liberation force for long. In consequence, they were brutally killed by the force during the war.

Like Alim and Azharul, hundreds of renowned academics, doctors, engineers, journalists and teachers were killed at the fag end of the Liberation War as part of a plan to cripple the nation intellectually.

And the force that inflicted the massacre is none other than Al-Badr, the infamous auxiliary force of the Pakistan occupation army during the Liberation War. And the man who was at the helm of the “killing squad” was Motiur Rahman Nizami.

 

Al-Badr was formed with the leaders and activists of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, and Motiur Rahman Nizami was the ex-officio chief of the wing. The force along with the Pakistani army carried out the heinous crimes mainly in the second week of December 1971 as their defeat was imminent.

Although the corpses of Alim and Azharul were found, bodies of many other intellectuals remained untraced – a trauma that still haunts the victims’ families.

In their testimonies before the International Crimes Tribunal-1, wives of Alim Chaudhury and Azharul Huq had narrated how their husbands were picked up from their houses on Nizami’s instruction before killing them.

Similar were the stories of other martyred intellectuals, including journalist Serajuddin Hossain, Syed Najmul Haque, ANM Golam Mostafa, Nizam Uddin Ahmed, Selina Parvin, Shahidullah Kaiser, Dhaka University professors Giasuddin Ahmed, Sirajul Haque Khan, Dr Abul Khayer, Dr Faizul Mohiuddin, Rashidul Hasan, Anwar Pasha, Santosh Chandra Bhattacharyya, Munier Chowdhury and Mofazzal Haidar Choudhury, physicians Mohammad Martuza and Fazle Rabbi, and many more.

Yesterday, the tribunal shed light on the fateful incidents and Nizami’s crimes. It gave death penalty to the Jamaat chief for the intellectual killing.

“It is thus validly inferred that accused Motiur Rahman Nizami being the President of ICS exercised his superior position in transforming Islami Chhatra Sangha into Al-Badr Bahini knowing the consequence of his actions that substantially encouraged, approved and provided moral support to the members of Al-Badr Bahini in committing crimes against humanity, genocide including intellectual killings all over Bangladesh,” said the tribunal in its verdict.

Testifying before the tribunal, Shaymoli Nasrin Chawdhury, widow of martyred Alim Chaudhury, said her husband was a language veteran of 1952 and he had to serve many days in jail for hoisting flag at the Central Shaheed Minar on February 21, 1954.

After the crackdown on March 25, 1971, many freedom fighters took shelter at Alim’s house. He had moved many leaders and freedom fighters to safe places during the nine-month-long war. Syed Nazrul Islam, who was the acting president of the Bangladesh government in exile, also took shelter at his Purana Paltan house, she said.

During the war, Alim used to visit some hospitals where the injured freedom fighters had been treated secretly and healed them, said emotion-chocked Shaymoli in her testimony.

“Suddenly in the afternoon of December 15 [in 1971], we saw a microbus smeared with mud parked outside Mannan’s [one of the perpetrators of his abduction] house. We went inside. After around 35 minutes, we saw three armed Al-Badr members knocking on our doors,” Shyamoli said.

Both Alim and Shyamoli got frightened.

When Alim asked about the reason behind their arrival, they said, “You will learn once you come with us. We have got directive from our high command Motiur Rahman Nizami.”

The Al-Badr men did not give Alim time to take preparation. They blindfolded and took him in the vehicle. His body was found at Rayer Bazar killing field beside another martyred intellectual Dr Fazle Rabbi on December 18.

On the other hand, Azharul, a doctor of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, practiced at Sayda Pharmacy at Hatirpool where he secretly provided treatment to freedom fighters.

On November 15, 1971, Azharul was getting ready at his house on Freestreet School Road in Hatirpool to go to the hospital when the Pakistani soldiers and their local collaborators cordoned off nearby streets.

Azhar decided to go to hospital on ambulance but could not make it as they caught him in front of his house along with Humayun, also a doctor who lived next door. Azhar’s wife Syeda Salma Mahmud asked the local Bengalis to identify themselves.

“We are here to take Azhar with us on the instructions of Al-Badr leader Motiur Rahman Nizami,” she quoted one of the Al-Badr members as saying.

The following day, two physicians of Dhaka Medical College Hospital came to her house and said the bodies of Humayun and Azhar were at the hospital morgue. Their bodies were found on a culvert near Notre Dame College.

The tribunal yesterday stated that the charge is proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused, both as de jure and de facto, was a High Command of Al-Badr Bahini who killed numerous intellectuals and professionals including Abdul Alim Chaudhury, Azharul Haque and Humayun Kabir at the fag end of the Liberation War, 1971.

“The accused was aware of the consequence of his act and conduct that substantially encouraged, endorsed, approved, provided moral support to the Al-Badr men in committing the killing of intellectuals and professionals,” the tribunal said.

After the verdict, Shyamoli, also an eminent educationist, told The Daily Star: “The judgment met our expectation. We are happy with the verdict.”

Source: The Daily Star

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