16 April 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – Nizami Examination-in-Chief of PW 4, Abdus Sobhan Submission of Investigation Progress Report

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami
  2. Investigation of Moulana Abdus Sobhan

In the Nizami case the Prosecuttion and Defense respectively conducted the examination-in-chief and cross-examination of Prosecution witness 4, Habibur Rahman Habib. The case was then l adjourned until 18 April 2013.

In the ongoing Investigation of Moulana Abdus Sobhan the Prosecution a progress report.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Nizami – Prosecution witness 4
Today the Tribunal heard testimony from Prosecution witness 4, the former freedom fighter Habibur Rahman Habib.

Prosecution’s Examination-in-Chief
Habibur Rahman Habib first testified about his personal details, including his profession, family, and education. He stated that in 1971 he was Zilla Muktijuddha Commander, the Pabna district commander of freedom fighters. The witness claimed that until 10 April 1971 Pabna had been free from Pakistani occupation. On 11 April 11 the Pakistani forces took control of Pabna. The witness stated that he, his elder brother Shahidullah and as many as 300 or 400 students fled to India. In India he took shelter at Kachuadanga Camp in Shikarpur. Later he went to Deradun with a 45 member team where they received 45 days of training. Then they left Deradun to return to Pabna.

Habib testified that while in India he learned that Moulana Kasimuddin, the headmaster of the Pabna Zilla School, had been killed. The witness stated that he had been close friends with Shibli, the son of Moulana Kasimuddin. The night of 19 August 1971 Habib said he went to meet Shibli to convey his sympathies and Shibli told him the story of his father’s murder.

Habib testified that Shibli told him that on 4 June 1971 his father, Moulana Kasimuddin, told the family members that he would not be safe in his house because Motiur Rahman Nizami had made a list of people to be killed and Kasimuddin’s name appeared on the list. Kasimuddin attempted to hide himself and boarded a bus from Tematha. However some Jamaat leaders identified him on the way and handed him over to the Pakistani Army. Habib testified that Kasimuddin was then taken to the Nurpur army camp. Shibli told Habib that his father was physically and mentally tortured at the camp. Shibli told him that his mother, brother and sisters went to Nurpur camp and begged for the life of Kasimuddin. Shibli also said that his family members begged Nizami for mercy and asked him to free Kasimuddin. Shibli told Habib that in reply Nizami told Kasimuddin’s wife “Tell your husband to give training to the freedom fighters.” Habib testified that Kasimuddin had given training to students with dummy rifles during the Oshohojog Movement at Pabna Zila School.

Habib testified that Shibli told him that on 10 June 1971 Kasimuddin was taken from Nurpur army camp to the bank of Madhopur Ishamoti river where the Pakistani occupation forces shot him and two others to death. Shibli told Habib that his family went to the spot and found the grave of Kasimuddin. Habib also claimed that Shibli told him that Motiur Rahman Nizami was present when the Pakistani occupation forces were killing Kasimuddin and two others. Habib said that his friend Shibli and his mother, brothers and sisters all went to America 15 years ago and now live there.

Habib testified that on 14 October 1971 his father Kobad Ali was killed in front of their house by Al-Badr members Azizul, Masud, Lalu, Forkan, Chaton and 4 to 5 others. His father had been returning from Magrib prayer at 6:30 pm. Habib testified that the Al-Badr targeted his father because he (Habib) and his elder brother Shahidul supported the Liberation War. He testified that learned of the news 3 or 4 days after the even because he was already engaged in the war and was not at home.

Habib testified that after the Liberation War ,on 9 December 1971, he caught Azizul and some other members of the Razakar and Al-Badr forces. He testified that Azizul confessed that they had killed his father based on Motiur Rahman Nizami’s orders. Habib stated that he handed Azizul over to the police station.

Habib testified that from April to 16 December 1971 the Pakistani army, Al-Badr and Razakars killed 50,000 people, raped thousands of women, torched thousands of houses in Pabna district and as a result 8 to 10 lakhs people fled to India for safety.

Habib stated that at that time Motiur Rahman Nizami was the president of the Islami Chhatra Shangho. He testified that Nizami order the Al-Badr and Pakistani occupation forces to commit atrocities in Demra, Dholauri, Atgharia, Pakshi, Roppur, Wapda pump house, Shatbaria, Bharara and many other places. Habib testified that when he caught the Al-Badr and Razakar member, he confiscated their ID cards which sowed the signature of the Motiur Rahman Nizami as the Chief of Al-Badr. He testified that Al-Badr was so powerful that they could detain any person, beat or kill them; and oculd also hand over women prisoners to the Pakistani army camp. Habib claimed that they had so much power that even the Pakistani army was afraid of them.

Habib testified that in the middle of November 1971 the Pakistani occupation forces and Al-Badr raided Nazirpur and Hemayetpur Union in order to capture freedom fighters. Failing to do so, they instead killed 175 civilians. The witness alleged that there are mass graveyards in those locations due to the massacre. Habib stated that he saw photos of Motiur Rahman Nizami and Abdus Sobhan and articles written by them in the Daily Shangram. He identified Motiur Rahman Nizami in the dock and testified that he had been interviewed by the Investigating Officer of the case.

Defense’s Cross-Examination
The Defense sought to undermine the witness’ credibility by pointing out contradictions in his testimony. Originally, he testified that he joined student politics during the Liberation war. Then he contradicted himself and stated that he was not involved with student politics. Later he again said joined politics but clarified that it was as an Awami League activist after the Liberation War.

The Defense also asked about the witness’ personal details, including the location of his home in 1971, his education and his father’s profession. He reiterated that until 10 April 1971 Pabna was under the control of supporters of the Liberation War. He stated they were led by Amzad Hossain MNA. He reasserted that he and the other freedom fighters left for India on 11 April and reached Kachuadanga after 3 or 4 days. He testified that he stayed at Kachuadanga camp 25 to 30 days. He again claimed he next went to Mujibnagar but could not say how long after the formation of the Mujib government he arrived. He said that he heard that Khashru from Dhaka and Montu were in charge of the camp. He stated that he did not meet Mahbubuddin during the Liberation War.

Habib testified that it took three days to go from Deradun from Kachuadanga. He testified that after taking training returned to Bangladesh and participated in the Liberation War from Pabna Shadar and Shujanagar. He testified that they did not have an official camp and resided in different houses along the bank of the Padma river. Habib claimed tthat he engaged in direct combat against the Pakistani occupation forces in Pabna Shadar and Shujanagar. He also claimed that in the first week of November he and other freedom fighters again went to India for two days in order to bring back heavy weaponry. After their return he stated that he lived in an area 5 or 6 kilometers away from his house. He could not remember the name of any person in whose house stayed during those days.

Habib testified that on 30 August 1971 he was in Chorsudhirajpur, Pabna. He said that he did not know whether Motiur Rahman Nizami was detained by the freedom fighters on that day. He did not know about Nizami’s movement on 30 August 1971 or one week before or after that date. He testified that he first  saw Nizami when he gave a speech in the election campaign of Moulana Abdus Sobhan. Habib said he did not know who the MP was in 1966 or 1967 from his area. He also did not know whether Moulana Abdus Sobhan was the MP of the Pabna area during Pakistan’s occupation. Habib claimed that he was acquainted with Moulana Abdus Sobhan before the Liberation War. He stated that in 1969 Motiur Rahman Nizami was the secretary of the Pakistan Chhatra Shangho and that Moulana Abdus Sobhan was the Ameer of the Pabna district Jamaat-e-Islami.

Habib testified that on 16 December 1971 he was fighting in Shujanagar, Pabna. He stated that he and other freedom fighters detained a Pakistani army fighter who was part of member of Beluch regiment and surrendered to them. Habib said that after Independence the soldier left for Pakistan, but he did not know how he left. He could not name the secretary of the Shujanagar Peace Committee in 1971. He claimed that at that time Montu was the OC of Shujanagar Police Station. He could not name the Adjucent of Pabna district or the secretary of Pabna Shadar Peace Committee. He testified that he did not see any camp of Razakars and Al-Badr in Shujanagar. He testified that the nearest Razakar camp was Shadhupara, which was about one thousand yards away from his house. He could not name the commander of that Razakar camp. He stated that the Pabna district Razakar and Al-Badr camp and office was located at the Aliya Madrassa. He said that he did not go there until the end of Liberation War. He could not name the official in charge of the Pakistani Occupation forces because he claimed different people were in charge at different times.

Habib could not confirm whether in Pabna Razakar force was formed for the first time at the end of August 1971. Similarly, he could not confirm whether Al-Badr was formed in September or October. He said that he became familiar with the terms “Razakar” and “Al-Badr” at the same time during the Liberation War when he returned to Bangladesh from Deradun. He said that he could not remember the name of the Razakar who was first captured by him from Dubulia village, Chortarapur Union. He testified that that Razakar is was killed after being captured.