Tuesday, January 3, 2012

21 Dec 2011: Fourth witness statement

After the end of the cross examination of the third witness which took place first thing in the morning, Sultan Ahmed Howlader, took the stand as the fourth witness to give evidence against Delwar Hossain Sayedee. The prosecutor, Haider Ali acted for the prosecution.

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: What did you do in 1971?

Witness: I was a student of Suhrawardy College.

Prosecution: Where were you in March of 1971?

Witness: I lived and studied in Pirojpur.

Prosecution: Where were you when war had broken out?

Witness: I heard of it while I was in Pirojpur and left for my village on May 1. On reaching home, I came to know that Peace Committee had been formed under the direction of Parerhat Jamaat-e-Islami leaders Sekander Shikder, Danesh Ali Molla, Delwar Hossain Shikder, now Sayedee and Moslem Maulana. 
Delwar Hossain Shikder, who at presents is called Sayedee had led students from different Madrasas, Jamaat-e-Islami activists and members of various anti-liberation forces to form Razakar force, an auxiliary forces of Pakistani army. They took over Fakir Das’s building in eastern alley of Parerhat Bazaar had and set up a Razakar camp there. I roamed around the Bazaar and its adjacent areas to observe their activities.

One morning in the first week of May, possibly on 7th, I went to Parerhat ground and heard that the Pakistani army is coming to Parerhat. After hearing this news, I went to a close relative, Goni Hazi Saheb’s place near Parerhat rickshaw stand. I opened windows on both sides to see that Peace Committee members Danesh Ali Molla, Sekander Shikder, Delwar Hossain Shikder, now Sayedee Moslem Maulana and many others from Razakar forces were waiting for the arrival of Pakistani army.

Shortly, on 25-26 rickshaws around 50 Pakistani soldiers arrived at the rickshaw stand and Peace Committee leaders spoke to them. Crossed the bridge of the rickshaw stand, they were heading south. Manning the front was an officer of the Pakistani army and on his sides were Sekander Shikder (now late), Danesh Ali Molla (now late), Delwar Hossain Shikder (now Sayedee) and Moslem Maulana. After they had gone a fair distance ahead of the bridge towards the Bazaar, I came out of my relative’s house and followed them. I saw that Delwar Hossain Shikder (now Sayedee) was pointing his fingers to identify houses and stores of Hindu community and supporters of liberation, Awami League activists. I trailed them for sometime and then stood at a place. They went via the middle alley to southern end of the Bazaar.

Prosecution: Who are ‘they’?

Witness: Pakistani army, Peace Committee and Razakars. Soon I saw many people dashing around as pillage of shops had started. I returned to my close relatives place and stayed there. After around one and half to two hours I came to know that Pakistani forces had gone to camp at Rajlaxmi School on the west side of the Bazaar. Again I went to the Bazaar. In the middle of the bazaar, many people were saying that about 30-35 stores had been looted and that Sayedee had piled up the valuables on the road before the jetty. I also learnt that 22 seers of gold and silver had been found inside an iron strongbox from underneath noted businessman Makhan Saha’s store. Leader of the occupying forces, Captain Ejaz had taken it with him and named Parerhat as Sonarhat.

I went ahead towards south to see the pile of loot. I saw the loots at the corner of the road near the jetty and Delwar Hossain Shikder (now Sayedee) distributing those. Later on I learnt and witnessed that Nagarbasi Saha’s store in front of the jetty had been taken over and turned into a camp establishment. Delwar Hossain Shikder (now Sayedee) was the manager of that shop selling valuables.

Next day, possibly on 8th of May, at around 2:30-3 pm, I heard cries from Manik Poshari’s house, which is west to my house, and noticed blazing flames. On approaching Manik Poshari’s house, I noticed 15-20 houses including Manik Poshari’s, Nurul Islam Khan’s, Raizuddin Poshari’s and Shahiduddin Poshari’s new house were on fire. Taking cover behind bushes, we pressed on through the garden towards Manik Poshari’s house. Coming close we saw Sekander Shikder (now late), Danesh Ali Molla (now late), Delwar Hossain Shikder (now Sayedee), Moslem Maulana and many other Razakars and Pakistani soldiers had captured Manik Poshar’s cousin (paternal aunt’s son) Mofiz and domestic worker Ibrahim, alias Kutti.

The captives were being taken towards Parerhat and we didn’t dare go nearer. They had crossed the bridge and were about to go along the western shore through the bazaar. Once they came to ‘Thanarghat’ via the northern street, Delwar Hossain Sayedee had a discussion with the Pakistani military which we couldn’t hear. Just then we heard a loud shot and cry of a man. Frightfully we backed off and returned home. Next day we found out that Ibrahim was shot and thrown into the water. Mofiz was strapped and taken to the camp where he was tortured at night. On that very night, he managed to escape from there. Despite being involved in leadership, Sekander Shikder (now late) and Danesh Ali Molla (now late) didn’t know Urdu and Arabic languages. Since Delwar Hossain Shikder (now Sayedee) was conversant in Urdu and Arabic, he communicated with the Pakistani army and carried out their order.

Peace Committee members and Razakars vowed of assisting the Pakistani army in every possible way in order to retain Pakistan. They had taken a firm stance against the independence of Bangladesh. In Parerhat and surrounding areas they, Delwar Hossain Sayedee and his obedient Razakars, kept committing crimes such as pillage of Hindu community and supporters of liberation war, Awami League activists; arson; murder of innocent people; rape and handing women over to Pakistani military for rape.

Possibly in mid-June I accompanied my father to Parerhat Bazaar on a market day. We were about to go towards the fish seller at northern end of the Bazaar when we saw Delwar Hossain Sayedee dismantling Madan Saha’s room located at the end of the bridge of the rickshaw stand. A large Kathali boat was loaded up with items from that room. I stood there for sometime and saw Sayedee filling up the boat and taking it to his in-law Yunus Munshi’s place at eastern bank of the canal. Delwar Hossain Shikder (now Sayedee) and Moslem Maulana used to rape Bhanu Saha, Bipod Saha’s daughter, regularly and had forced her father and brother to convert into Islam and take their prayers. Bhanu Saha and others who were raped had left for India immediately after liberation. They still have not returned. I demand the trial of Delwar Hossain Shikder (now Sayedee) from this tribunal.
Mizanul Islam, the defence lawyer, then asked the tribunal for time to prepare himself before beginning examination of this witness.

The prosecution said that the witnesses are elderly people and have come from far off places.

The chairman said that the judges appreciated Mizanul Islam’s request but said that if they adjourned the tribunal this time, this may be requested again in cases of other witnesses.

Mizanul Islam said that he was making a humble submission to the Chief Prosecutor to understand his practical and personal difficulty.

Chief Prosecutor said something to the judges (which could not be heard) and the chairman agreed to dismiss the court for that day.

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