6 March 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – Nizami Cross-Examination of PW 2

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs Motiur Rahman Nizami: Cross-Examination of PW 2 (Accused Present)

Today Defense Counsel Mizanul Islam finished cross-examining Prosecution witness 2, Zahir Uddin Jalal alias Bichchu Jalal. After concluding the cross-examination Tribunal adjourned the proceeding of Nizami’s case until March 19, 2013.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Nizami
The Defense continued and completed the cross-examination of Zahir Uddin Jalal, a former freedom fighter.

Jalal answered questions regarding the night of 25 March 1971. He testified that at about 11:30 pm he and Luthfur, Jalal’s brother Monjur Badal, Alamgir, Bablu, Hafiz, Mithu, Titu, Arif and many more put barricade in front of a Pakistani Army vehicle in Bangla Motor. Jalal clarified that they were not in front of the barricade they (Jalal and others) were in fact behind the barricade and almost 10 feet away. Jalal said that Luthfur and another student were killed in the shooting from the Pakistani army. Jalal said that he cannot remember the name of the student who died. Jalal testified that he was beside Luthfur when he was shot by Pakistani army. He said that even after the killing of Luthfur and another person the rest of their group did not leave the spot, but instead hid in the nearby areas. Jalal further said that the corpse of Luthfur was taken by his brothers. The witness said that he could not remember the name of Luthfur’s elder brother but said the name of his younger brother was Sayeed. He said that he returned to his home just half an hour before the azan of Fazr prayer and within a couple of minutes of his return the Pakistani Army raided the ground floor of the Circuit House. He said the Pakistani Army did not knock come to his house.

Jalal then testified regarding March 27th. He stated that on March 27 when the curfew was withdrawn he returned to the barricade and then went to the office of the People’s Newspaper. He said that  he saw the ashes of two bodies at the office.

Jalal said that he does not know who was elected as a Member of Parliament from the area where he resided in 1970. Jalal said that he was not aware of student politics at that time but read about them in different newspapers.

Defense counsel Mizanul Islam referred Jalal to his answers during the examination-in-chief when Jalal answered that the supporters of Islami Chhatra Shangho (Student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami) used to come to the Ghulam Azam’s house which was located just beside the Ramna Thana. Jalal said that he cannot remember the names of the students but stated that he saw Nizami go there. In answer to a question whether he knew any of the members of Islami Chhatra Shangho of Ramna Thana Jalal replied that he knew two of them: one being Nizami and the other being Mujahid. Jalal claimed that he knew them because his father had introduced them. Mizanul Islam asked the witness whether he saw either Mujahid or Nizami any time before the month of April. Jalal responded that he could not remember whether he saw them before April 1971 or not.

Mizanul Islam said that during the examination-in-chief Jalal mentioned ‘Gunda Panda.’ He asked who that name referred to. In reply Jalal said that those living at the Circuit House were called the ‘Gunda Panda,’ but he said he could not remember particular names  except that Guhra was one of them (Gunda Panda).  Jalal said that he does not know what Guhra’s occupation was.

Jalal testified that other than 11 April 1971, he saw Nizami on 30 August 1971. He said that he left Dhaka to join the Liberation War on April 12, 1971. Jalal also testified that after the oath of Tikka Khan on 9 April 1971, the members of Islami Chhatra Shangho and “miscreants” of the Muslim League collected the addresses of members of the Awami League and Hindu community and raided their houses. Mizanul Islam asked him to state specifically who was affected due to this raid (from April 9 to 12) in Eskaton Garden area. Jalal replied that on April 11 a woman who was a cultural activist of Awami League was captured by Nizami and others from Chamili building of Eskaton and that they also raided the house of singer Anjum Ara. Jalal said that he could not remember the name of the woman who was captured. Jalal said that he did not mention the incident to the Investigation Officers (IO) or in any interviews to the newspapers because the IO and others did not ask him about the incident.

Jalal stated he can’t remember how many interviews he has given to the media and said he did not know if 15-20 interviews was accurate or not. He admitted that in these interviews he did not mention the name of Nizami or Mujahid and added that this is because no one asked him about them. Mizanul Islam asked whether he could remember any names of those he allegedly witnessed being detained. Jalal replied that Dipok Shen and a Hindu Public Prosecutor were captured but that they (did make it clear who) failed to take them away due to the interference of Panjabi ADC Afzal. Mizanul Islam asked Jalal about where he learned the terms ‘Razakar’, ‘Al-Badr’, ‘Al-Shams’ and ‘Al-Mujaheed’. Jalal said that he heard the word ‘Razakar’ when he was taking training in India and cannot say whether he heard about ‘Al-Badr’, ‘Al-Shams’ later on or not. Regarding Al-Mujaheed he said that he knew they were against the Liberation War but cannot say anything more than that about their group.

Jalal testified that he met with Shahidul Huq Mama in Khelaghor, India in September 1971 but could not say when Mama entered into Bangladesh. Jalal said that he did not talk with Mama regarding the killing of national intelligence agents but he said he has read Mama’s writing and learned that some documents regarding the plan of national intelligence [unclear whose plan] was found from the house of a Pakistani minister. Jalal further said that he did not know the name of the persons who captured him on 30 August 1971. He said that just before his release he was made to sign two papers and give his finger prints to a Captain Kaium in a house located behind the MP Hostel. He said that Colonel Hezazi also took another signature from him. Jalal said that among the persons with whom he met on August 30,  Colonel Hezazi was the most powerful. Mizanul Islam asked who had authority over Colonel Hezazi. Jalal replied that he did not know but said that Panjabee ADC Afzal was his brother.

Then Defense counsel Mizanul Islam questioned Jalal in detail about the Muhammmadpur Physical Training Institute. Jalal said that they (the Bichchu Bahini) had only one camp in Mushurikhola, Keraniganj. He further said that Mohammadpur Physical Institute was 3 to 5 kilometers away from their camp. Jalal said that in the middle of June 1971, after returning from India, he found out that the Pakistani Army was conducting training in the Physical Institute. Jalal said the Bichchu Bahini  attacked the camp on 13 September 1971. Jalal said that he did not go inside this camp and did not know who was in charge of tit. He said that he knew Rustom Ali used to go in the camp and stated that his father was the gateman of the Physical Institute. Jalal further said that Rustom now lives in Muhammadpur. He testified that Rustom Ali, an Indian journalist named Bicoch Datho, another foreigner and others went inside the Physical Institute on 17 December 1971 and stayed there for a while. Jalal said that he saw the boxes of bullets, food, and looted products there but did not personally find any arms there, though he heard that arms were found. Jalal said he does not know who took these goods later on. He said that he does not know whether there was any government or non-government office beside the Physical Institute.

Regarding the name of the road, Asad Avenue, Jalal said that he heard that after the killing of Asad in 1969 it became Asad Avenue instead of Eyub Avenue. Jalal said that at that time he was in Sylhet and his uncle Bahauddin Ahmed was in Dhaka city DMP (Dhaka Metropolitan Police). Jalal said that one or two months before the Liberation War they (Jalal and his family) moved to the house of his uncle in Armanitola and stayed there till 1973. Jalal said that it was basically his aunt’s house and he did not know whether she bought it or received it as hereditary property. Jalal said that his aunt’s paternal home was in Damrai. Jalal denied that the house which he claimed as his aunt’s house was the house of a Hindu family that his family took by force. Jalal said that he did not know whether his uncle shot Asad in 1969 or not. Jalal said that the house where he is presently residing was allotted by the government. Jalal admitted that his father was not a freedom fighter and that the previous Awami Leabue government served them an eviction notice. Mizanul Islam suggested that Jalal filed a civil suit in response to this eviction notice, claiming that his father was a freedom fighter. In reply Jalal admitted that he himself filed a civil suit but stated that he only claimed that he (Jalal) was a freedom fighter. He sought protection of his as the family of a freedom fighter. Jalal said that his father died on 16 May 2009. He further said that his siblings were not parties of the civil suit. He denied that he did not file any application claiming that he was a freedom fighter until 2005. Jalal denied that he did not mention in any previous interview that he was injured as a freedom fighter.

Jalal said that he did not read the book ‘Ekattorer Dinduli’ written by Jahanara Immam; ‘Ma’ written by Anisul Huq; ‘Altaf Mahmud’ written by Hedayat Hossen and Morshed; ‘Altaf Mahmud: Ekkattorer Dinguli’ written by Motiur Rahman; or ‘Altaf Mahmud: Rakto dia Likhe Gelo Jiboner Gan’ written by Anisul Huq. He denied that he actually had read those books but is only denying it because they do not collaborate his testimony and there never mention Nizami. Jalal asserted that his testimony is true and accurate. He denied that the real reason that he did not file a case against Nizami after the Liberation War was because he was not injured. Mizanul Islam asked him how many times he had provided incorrect testimony before the two Tribunals.  The Prosecution objected to this question. Jalal replied that he cannot say.

Thereafter, Mizanul Islam referred to some contradictions between Jalal’s statements to the Investigation Officer (IO) and those given before the Tribunal. In reply Jalal asserted that he had told everything to the IO. He denied that he did not tell the IO that he received training from Mejor Khaled Mosharaf in using the hit and run technique. He denied that he failed to tell the IO that Jewel told him that Nizami would kill them within 2 or 3 days. Jalal denied that he did not tell the IO that on 5 September 1971 in Kaium’s room Nizami threatened that before the general clemency of they would kill us [Jalal and associates] and hide our corpses. He denied that he did not mention the name of Rustam Ali to the IO. He denied that he was not actually a member of the Bichchu Bahini.

The Defense questioned why, on 14 December 2012, the ball boy Alam of Mukthijudha Krira Chakra alleged to the Chairman that Jalal  took 3,000 taka each week from the weekly grocery shopping of Mukthijudha Krira Chakra. Jalal said that the allegation was false. He denied that he was giving testimony against Nizami only for political purpose.

Courtroom Dynamics

At one point in the cross-examination Defense counsel Mizanul Islam became angry and objected to ongoing commentary from the Prosecution. He stated that the Prosecution was making counter-questions and disturbing his examination.