Witness number ten Basu Deb Mistri came to give his examination in chief relating to the trial of Delwar Hossain Sayedee. (The cross examination which took place after wards can be seen in a separate post)
However, before proceeding started, defence lawyer Mizanul Islam told the tribunal that the defence lawyers were not getting proper assistance from the prosecution. ‘They are supposed to let us know the names of the witness before the trial; however, they are not doing tthis I understand that on the thursday, 2 of the witnesses became ill and that is why there was a misunderstanding. However, this is not the case for today. I called them to find out the names of the witness who will be tried today but unfortunately they could not tell us that until 7 pm yesterday which is very much unfair for justice.’
Justice Nizamul Haque (angrily) replied that, “Listen learned prosecutors, as I have told you earlier, you must let the defence know the names of the witness within reasonable times to enable them to get prepared for the trial for fairness of justice. I am not saying to inform them 1 day or 1 hour before the trial as there is no definition of the term ‘reasonable time’. Therefore, can you please explain the reason before this Tribunal for non-compliance of that?”
One of the prosecutors, then said that, the problem is even we do not know the witnesses. Sometimes we meet them for the first time here. We try our level best to let the defence know the name as soon as we know it. Today we have 3 witnesses for examination-in-chief. However, 2 of them are yet to come (to Dhaka). They are on the way.'
Justice Nizamul Haque: What about this witness? When did he come?
Prosecution: Last evening. And we informed the prosecutors as soon as we come to know that he has reached to Dhaka.
Defence: My Lord, we are not prepared to examine this witness as we have come to know about him after 7 pm yesterday. Please, allow us time to get prepared for his cross examination after the examination in chief by the prosecutors. We will cross examine him at 2 pm (after the launch).
Tribunal members then told the defence lawyer that he was one of the three most learned senior advocates of the country. 'We believe, you can easily examine him without any preparation. We will allow you time for reading his statement. You may go slowly and ask him questions after reading his statement part by part. However, we do not believe it will be a good idea to adjourn the hearing right now. We are asking the prosecution to start the examination in chief of their witness No. 10 Basu Deb Mistri.'
The evidence in chief then started with the prosecution asking the questions:
Prosecution: What is your name?
Witness: My name is Basu Deb Mistri.
Prosecution: How old are you?
Witness: I am 54/55 years old.
Prosecution: What did you do in 1971 during the War of Independence?
Witness: I used to help my father as an assistant. He was a carpenter.
Prosecution: Can you please tell us what exactly happened in your area in 1971?
Witness: I was just 13/14 years old then. My father used to work at Manik Poshari’s homestead as a carpenter. I used to help him as an assistant. The westerners (Pakistani army) came to our area, set up their camp and used to patrol our area. They actively mobilized the process of forming peace committee and rajakar force. Delu Shikder alias Delwar Hossain Saidi, Sekender Shikder, Moslem Maulana, Danesh Mollah, Hakim Kari, Ruhul Amin and Momin were the culprits behind forming the rajakar force. All of them came to Manik Poshari’s house on 8th May 1971 along with the Pakistani army while we (me and my father) were working at their homestead. The family members of Manik Poshari ran away seeing the armies and rajakars. The rajakars arrested Manik Poshari’s servants Ibrahim Kutti and Mofiz Uddin Poshari (PW7) and tied them with rope.
Prosecution: What happened then?
Witness: Delu Shikder alias Delwar Hossain Saidi, Sekender Shikder, Moslem Maulana, Danesh Mollah, Hakim Kari and Ruhul Amin were the rajakars and I could identify them all. They looted stored rice and goods from Manik Poshari’s house. Then they distributed the same among the other rajakars. However, Delu Shikder alias Delwar Hossain Saidi kept the valuable goods with him. Then he set on fire Manik Poshari’s homestead.
Prosecutor: Well, now tell us what happened after that?
Witness: Then the rajakars along with Ibrahim Kutti and Mofiz approached towards Parerhat marketplace. Then they stopped on the bridge which was on their way to Parerhat marketplace. At that time Delu Shikder alias Delwar Hossain Saidi said something to his fellow rajakars and Pakistani soldiers which we could not hear as we witnessed all these hiding ourselves far away from them for our own safety. However, then they untied Ibrhim Kutti and took him to the ghat (boat dock) crossing the bridge and shot him. Witnessing the same we became scared and came home.
Prosecutor: Did you give any such (witness) statement to CIO Helal Uddin or signed such a statement before him?
Witness: Yes, at Manik Poshari’s house.
Prosecutor: Is Delu Shikder alias Delwar Hossain Saidi present before this Tribunal right now? If yes, can please identify him?
Witness: Yes. He is present here. There is he.
Witness: I want to say something. May I?
Prosecutor and Justice Nizamul Haque: Yes please.
Witness: Delu Shikder alias Delwar Hossain Saidi also set fire to other houses of Hindus including my house.
Prosecutor: Do you want to say anything else?
Witness: No. Thanks.