Tuesday, January 3, 2012

19 Dec 2011: Third prosecution witness

Following the order of the tribunal rejecting application by the accused Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, and the completion of the cross examination of the second witness to give evidence against Delwar Hossain Sayedee, the third prosecution witness Md Mizanur Rahman Talukder took his oath, and gave his 'Evidence-in-chief' to the tribunal. He was questioned by the prosecutor, Haider Ali. Part of this evidence was given the following morning on the 20th December, though it is published on this page.

Below is an unofficial translation of Evidence in Chief. (Notes and translation undertaken by Onchita Shadman. Every attempt has been made to ensure accuracy, but there may be some small omissions.)
Prosecution: How old are you?

Witness: around 57.

Prosecution: Where were you on 25 March of 1971?

Witness: In Pirojpur

Prosecution: A big event had happened on that night

Witness: I heard on the radio that Pakistani military had attacked Razarbag police station, Dhaka University and BDR Camp all of a sudden, set fire and killed many innocent people.

Prosecution: What did you do on hearing that?

Witness: After listening to Bangabandhu’s speech on 7 March, I started getting prepared for the liberation war.

Prosecution: How long did you stay in Pirojpur?

Witness: On May 17-18 my elder brother Abdul Mannan Talukder had taken me from Pirojpur to our village by boat

Prosecution: What did your brother do?

Witness: He worked at the Central Cooperative Bank. Once I’d reached home I would secretly roam around my village and nearby ones and enquire about the activities of Razakars and Pakistani military. On 21-22 of March, my brother Abdul Mannan

Hyder Ali : May

Witness: On 21-22 of May,

Defence: [The prosecution] gave lead to the witness.

Prosecution: Can’t I mention that he had come in May?

(Argument breaks our between defence and prosecution)

Defence: This wasn’t a voluntary correction. The witness said (May) after being led

Defence: Include that with our objection.

Chairman: All right

Witness: my brother went to his office. On his way back home, when he reached Parerhat, Delwar Hossain Sayedee alias Deilla

Chairman: Cut out ‘Deilla’

Witness: known as Sayedee, grabbed my brother with the help of his fellow Razakars and took him to Fakir Das’s building where my brother was tortured mentally and physically through out the night. He was told, “Bring your brother, freedom fighter Akbar (my nickname) before us”. Next day at around 10:30, our teacher Danesh Ali Molla, who was with the Razakars and Peace Committee, told Sayedee, “Set Mannan free. He will bring his brother within a few days.” On this condition my brother was freed. Once he came home my brother became sick and couldn’t attend office for a few days. In the meantime I came to know that Delwar Hossain Shikder, alias Sayedee, issued a Fatwa in Parerhat that looted property of Hindus and of pro-liberation people is public booty and it’s legal to use them. Immediately Jamaat and anti-liberation forces were encouraged to start looting and plunder. Not only that, Delwar Hossain alias Sayedee himself looted the big shops of Parerhat Bazaar. They took hold of Nagagrbashi Saha’s shop and filled it up with loots from other people. This shop was known as Paanch Tahbil and its owner was said to be Delwar Hossain Sayedee.

Sayedee had forced innocent religious Hindus to convert to Islam and gave them a skull cap, rosary and prayer mat. He commanded them to pray five times in the mosque and gave them Muslim names. After liberation these people reconverted back to their religion. Before the war, Sayedee used to lay down jute mat in the middle alley of Parerhat Bazaar in front of the quay and sell oil, salt, chilli, onion and turmeric. On other days, he would sell dental medicines called ‘Chander Koboz’ and ‘Abe Hayat’ in village markets and on launch boats.

On 29 May my brother went to his office in Pirojpur and once he was there Pakistani military abducted one of his colleagues, who was later shot dead. My brother was terrified and started crying. He told me there’s no means left for us to survive, “If you have to die, die as a freedom fighter”. Next day I went out in the morning and travelled by boat to a relative’s house, 6-7 miles far from mine. I stayed there for 4-5 days and decided to join the war.

To notify my brother of my decision I headed towards home. When I came to the big road, I noticed fire burning in Charkhali village ahead. The escapees informed me that Razakars and Pakistani army from the Razakar camp in Parerhat Bazaar had attacked the Charkhali village, looted its houses and set them on fire. I turned west and went to the bank of Kocha River. From there I walked towards the jetty of Charkhali. Close to the jetty, I found a Tapuria boat and boarded it. After sailing for sometime, I saw that 17-18 Bachari (big) boats were moving across the Charkhali canal towards Parerhat Bazaar. It was carrying Razakars, Pakistani army and their loots. Before long, when one of those Bachari boats edged close to my boat, I saw Delwar Hossain Razakar, alias Sayedee, Danesh Ali Molla and 5-6 Pakistani soldiers on it. I lay down and signalled the boatman to follow the ebb. Our boat went down the river.

The following continued the following morning, 20 December

The boat crossed the river diagonally and I reached home between 9:30 and 10 pm. After consulting with my mother and brother, I spent the night in another house of the village. In the morning I got on a fishing boat and went to Sundarban Muktijodhdha camp to join in the war.
After liberation I came home probably in the first week of January. My brother and mother wouldn’t let me go out. They kept me under watch fearing that I’ll kill the looters and Razakars. I told my mother that I won’t kill anyone but the looted items have to be returned to their owners. A day after, in the dark of the night, some items were left in front of my house.

Prosecution: What kind of items?

Witness: Brass, quilt, matress, shawl, bed, sheets, etc were left in the courtyard infront of the living room (Kachari Ghar). After this my mother permitted me to go out. People came to our house to identify their goods and take them back. My elder brother Abdul Mannan Talukder is no more alive. After returning from the war, I came to know that Delwar Hossain Shikder, son of Yusuf Shikder of Southkhali was directly and indirectly involved with the crimes committed in Parerhat region after the arrival of the Pakistani force. Such crimes included arson attack, murder, pillage, violence against women, forced conversion of the Hindus and handing over village women to be raped by the Pakistani military. Finally as a proud freedom fighter, I want trial of the perpetrators who had tortured my brother and were involved in other crimes.

Prosecution: What kind of houses were burnt down in Charkhali village?

Witness: Houses in the Hindu locality.

Prosecution: Identify whether Sayedee is here

Witness: He is seated over there.

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