Prosecution witness 12, Alhaz AKMA Awal, came to the dais and took an oath before giving evidence in the trial of Dewar Hossain Sayedee. Prosecutor Haidar Ali started the examination in chief on behalf of the prosecution team.
Prosecution: What is your name?The prosecution tried to ask a leading question related to Delwar Hossain Saidee at this stage. The defence raised objection against that. There was a dispute for a while between the defence and prosecution. The Tribunal recognizing that was leading question, reminded the prosecution that they are barred to ask any leading question.
Witness: My name is Alhaz AKMA Awal alias Saidur Rahman.
Prosecution: How old are you?
Witness: I am 58 years old.
Prosecution: Where were you in March and April of 1971?
Witness: Sometimes in Pirojpur and then I went the Jiuda village under Morolgonj police station (now upazilla) of Bagerhat sub-division (now district).
Prosecution: Can you please tell us what happened at that time when you were in Pirojpur?
Witness: On 7th March 1971, the Father of the Nation Bangabondhu Sheikh Muzibur Rahman delivered his historic speech at the then Race Course field. He mentioned, “this movement is for freedom, this movement is for independence.”
Prosecution: What did you do in Pirojpur then?
Witness: Pirojpur was a sub-division in 1971 (now district). We went to the thanas (now upazilla) to organize and mobilize public opinion in favour of the independence. After that, when the father of the nation declared independence, we came on the street and then went to the then Town Hall field (now Shadhinotar Mancha ‘Platform of Freedom). People from every spheres and backgrounds gathered there and demanded arms for freedom fight to the then MNA late Enayet Hossain Khanand other elected MPAs. MNA Enayet Hossain Khan said, we have got arms in the Treasury. We will give you arms, lets go. He collected the arms from treasury and distributed those among us. The Biplobi Shongram Porishod (Revolutionary Movement Front) was established then and MNA Enayet Hossain Khan became the President of that. I have become the General Secretary of Pirojpur sub-division committee of the student wing named Chatra Shongram Porishod of the Biplobi Shongram Porishod.
The members of Chatra Shongram Porishod established training camp at Primary Tarining Institute (PTI) ground and Major (rtd.) Zia Uddin (then Lieutenant) became the in charge of military wing by Biplobi Shongram Porishod. Under his leadership, we collected and united those arms given by the MNA Enayet Hossain Khan and took preparation for the freedom fight. Our instructor were Inspector (of the then Anti-Corruption Bureau), Mohajan), Barakat, Ansar Commander Nurul Haque and others. The training was going on, meanwhile we came to know that Pakistani Army had captured Barisal and may approach to Pirojpur anytime; they were already in Jhalakathi then. Hearing that news some of us went to different places including India for safe shelter. After getting that news I went to Jiuda village of Morolgonj under Bagherhat.
After some days, I met Major Zia Uddin and we organized and motivated local people for the armed fight against Pakistani forces. Then we went to adjacent Sundarbans and took over the forest office there and established the recruitment office. Then I and Major Zia Uddin went to India to get further training and to collect arms. We came back and attacked the Pakistani army and rajakar’s camp in Morolgonj on 14 August 1971. In that operation, some Pakistani soldiers were shot dead and we also lost 5/6 freedom fighters. After that operation we went back to the Sundarbans, established our camp, organized those who got training with us at Pirojpur PTI ground and continued fighting against Pakistani army and rajakars.
Prosecution: What happened then?
Witness: The camp grew large in number of freedom fighters and we got really great successes in the fights. Thus, the camp was designated as a sub-sector under Sector No. 4. I became the in-charge of that sub-sector head quarter (HQ) and also become the operational commander.
Prosecution: What happened then? How did you fight against the Pakistani army and rajakars?
Witness: We engaged some sources/spies for spying against Pakistani army and rajakars.
Prosecution: Can please name them who were from Parer Hat?
Witness: Mahabubur Rahman, Roijuddin Poshari, Shohid Uddin Poshari, Shiraj and some others.
Prosecution: What did they do for you?
Witness: They gave us information how and when Pakistani armies came to Pirojpur and Parer Hat. We got that information about that from them. They had also informed us that the Pakistani armies came to Pirojpur via Hular Hat and then they went to various places from Pirojpur including Parer Hat.
Prosecution: Did you have any idea when did the peace committee and rajakar force form in Parer Hat?
Witness: Well, I was so far from Pirojpur and at that time there was no instantaneous mode of communication; that is why I am unable to say the exact date. May be in the end of May it was formed.
Prosecution: Who organized and leaded the peace committee of Parer Hat?
Witness: So far I have heard from my sources, the peace committee of Parer Hat was headed by late Sekender Shikder (later on arrested by us). Danesh Molla (who was my teacher) also held very important post in the committee although I cannot remember right at this moment which position he actually held. After the Pakistani force had come to Parer Hat, they incorporated Delwar Hossai Saidee for effective communication with the Pakistani force as he could speak in Urdu alike Pakistani soldiers.
Prosecution: What happened then?
Witness: Right after coming to Parer Hat, the Pakistani Army started looting and they looted 22 KGs of gold from one shop; local rajakars were with them. That is why Parer Hat’s name was changed to Shonar Hat (gold’s marketplace) after that. I had also heard from my source that Saidee took away Modon Shaha’s house to his father-in-laws house.
Prosecution: Anything else you heard about rajakars or Saidee?
Witness: Yes, I have also heard that a fund was made by rajakars with the money they got from looting which was named as “5’s Fund” and Delwar Hossain Saidee became the Treasurer of that fund.
Prosecution: Anything else?
Witness: As the Pirojpur area majority of the people are either from the Hindu community and/or supporters/members Awami League or Chatra League (student wing of Awami League), the percentage of looting, raping and killing took place in a large scale, higher than any other area in Barisal.
Prosecution: Do you know anything specifically about your area?
Witness: Yes, I have also heard that at the village of Badura-Chithulia in my Union Shankar Pasha, the rajakars and Pakistani army arson the houses of Nurul Islam, Roij Uddin Poshari, Shohid Uddin Poshari and others (mainly from Hindu community) on the same day.
Prosecution: Ok. Anything else you heard about the rajakars of Parer Hat area?
Witness: I have also heard from my sources that Danesh Molla, Sekender Shikder and Delwar Hossain Saidee were basically belonging to Parerhat rajakar force, however, they were too self-motivated that they used to come to our area for looting, killing and raping.
Prosecution: What happened to those rajakars after the victory?
Witness: Well, some of them including Danesh Molla (deceased), Sekender Shikder (deceased) were arrested by us and some of them were killed by the local people. We did not find Delwar Hossain Saidee.
Prosecution: Now, can please tell us what happened in Pirojpur town in 1971?Justice AKM Zaheer interrupted the prosecution at this point and said to them. “You should confine the matter to the one we are adjudicating here.”
Witness: The rajakars arrested a poor women named Bhogi Rothi, who used to earn her livelihood cultivating battle leaf, on the allegation that she is involved in spying and gave information to the freedom fighters about rajakar and Pakistani force. Making her naked, they tied her up with a rope and then tied the other side of the rope with an army jeep. Then they drove the jeep to the Boleshwar river and then killed her. Even today we remember her by placing garlands and flowers at the dock of the Boleshwar river. They also killed freedom fighter Omar Faruk by inserting 13 flagsticks containing Bangladeshi flag into his head. After doing the barbaric job, they said to him, “Brother-in-law, now tell Joy Bangla (motivating slogan for freedom fighters)”. Apart from that the rajakars and Pakistani forces also arson the houses in the areas near the town named Dumur tola, Jamtola, Tengrakhali, Umedpur. They also did looting, raping and killing in those areas.
Prosecution: Can you please tell us whether Delwar Hossain Saidee is present in this room?
Witness: Yes, he is present here.