10 July 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – Nizami PW 13

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami

In the Motiur Rahman Nizami case, Tribunal heard the examination-in-chief of Shamoli Nasrin Chowdhury, Prosecution witness 13. The Defense then conducted the cross-examination. Shamoli Nasrin Chowdhury testified in support of Charge 16. After her testimony the Tribunal adjourned the case until 11 July 2013.

Shamoli Nasrin Chowdhury testified that she was married to Dr Abdul Alim Chowdhury, an intellectual who was killed in 1971. She stated that they were married on 21 December 1965. Shamoli testified that she worked in Udaon High School, Dhaka for 36 years and then retired as a Headmistress of that school. In 1971 she resided at 29/1 Purana Palton, Dhaka with his husband, daughters and parents. Shamoli testified that during the Liberation War her husband Alim worked at Sir Sallimullah Medical College and he had a chamber in the ground floor of their rented house at 29/1 Purana Palton. He was also involved with different social organizations. Shamoli stated that her husband Alim was arrested for his participation in the Language Movement on 21 February 1952. She testified that her husband’s chamber at Purana Palton was used as a meeting place by social and political activists and that her husband spent half of his income from this chamber supporting social and political activities.

Shamoli testified that beginning on 25 March 1971 her husband worked in support of the independence movement and helped party activists by allowing them to take shelter at his chamber and helping transport them to other safe places. She said that her husband assisted many people in this way, including Acting President of Bangladesh, Sayed Nazrul Islam.

Shamoli testified that in the middle of June 1971, at the request of their neighbor Motin, they gave a stranger, Moulana Abdul Mannan, shelter at their house. Shamoli testified that they gave him shelter for some days and then they find out that Mannan rented the ground floor from the landlord. Shamoli testified that Mannan came to their place on 22 July 1971 and that on the 2 or 3 of August some armed youth began to guard the apartment. Shamoli’s husband Alim asked Mannan about the youths and Mannn told him that they were members of Al-Badr and that he (Mannan) was an organizer of Al-Badr. Alim asked Mannan why they are in front of his (Alim’s) gate and Mannan replied that it was to prevent freedom fighters from entering and trying to kill Mannan.

Shamoli testified that she and her husband learned that Al-Badr was an armed group formed against the Liberation War. She stated that she learned that Islami Chhatra Shangho formed Al-Badr and that the leaders of Al-Badr were Gholam Azam, Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mujahid. Shamoli testified that they learned that along with the Pakistani Army, Al-Badr was responsible for all of the crimes during the war, including looting, mass killing, rape etc. Shamoli testified that Mannan always assured her family that they had nothing to fear because they gave Mannan and his family shelter and now he (Mannan) would protect them as well. Shamoli testified that they did not believe Mannan because they knew that Al-Badr had taken intellectuals such as professors, doctors, and engineers, who supported the independence movement to the Mohammadpur Physical Training Institute where they were tortured to death by the instructions of the Al-Badr high command. Shamoli testified that they learned this information from freedom fighters, Sadhin Bangla Betar Kendro, newspapers and leaflets.

Shamoli testified that on 15 December at 4:30, she and her husband were watching the one sided bombing of the Indian Air Force from their verandas. She said they were feeling happy hoping that the Pakistani occupation force would surrender to the allied forces. Shamoli testified that at that time they heard the sound of a microbus and saw a muddy vehicle stopped in front of Mannan’s gate. After 30 minutes they heard sounds outside of their gate and saw 2 or 3 Al-Badr men with guns who asked them to open the door. Shamoli said she was frightened and asked her husband what to do. Her husband had their help, Hakim and Momin, open the gate and he went to the ground floor to talk with Mannan. Mannan asked Alim to go with the Al-Badr members and told him not to be frightened. Alim tried to go back to their apartment on the first floor but the Al-Badr men prevented him from leaving and instructed him to put his hands up. Shamoli testified that Alim asked why they were acting in this way, and they responded that they were acting on the order of Al-Badr high command Motiur Rahman Nizami. Shamoli testified that Alim asked to be allowed to at least change his clothes, but they did not allow him to do so. The Al-Badr men then blindfolded Alim and took him away at gunpoint. Shamoli testified that when Hakim and Momin informed her of this she went to the house of Mannan in tears and sought his help. Mannan assured her not to worry and told her that Dr Fazle Rabbi was also taken by them in order to provide medical treatment. He said they would be sent back when their work was over.

Shamoli testified that on 16 December 1971 at about 11am two freedom fighters, Kabir and another one is the son of journalist Salam, came to their house and asked her who was responsible for handing Alim over to Al-Badr. She said that they all searched for her husband but that by 17 December it was confirmed that who had been taken by Al-Badr had been killed. On the morning of 18 December 1971 Shamoli’s brother-in-law Hafiz Chowdhury, Hakim, Momin and other relatives went to the Rayer Bazar and recovered the corpses of Alim, Dr Fazle Rabbi, Ladu, journalist Selina Pervin and many more. She testified that her husband’s body was taken to their home where she saw that his hands had been tied behind his back, he was blindfolded and he had been both shot and bayoneted.

Shamoli said she later learned that someone called Delwar survived and wrote that intellectuals such as doctors, engineers, and writers had been taken to the Mohammadpur Physical Institute where they were tortured before being taken to Rayer Bazar where they were shot and killed. She identified Nizami in the dock and acknowledged that she had been interviewed by the Investigation Officer.

Cross-Examination of Prosecution witness 13
The Defense asked the witness when she first met Nizami. She replied that today was the first time she had seen him in person. She added that she had also seen his photos in the newspapers published in 1971 and later on, on television.

After the lunch break, the Defense asked the witness about the news reports she had read mentioning Nizami and asked what title Nizami was given by those reports. Shamoli replied that the reports described Nizami as the founder of the Al-Badr forces and high-command of all of Pakistan. The Defense asked whether the witness recalled the name of the newspaper and the date of the report. Shimoli replied that she saw that news in the month of August in the daily Shangram but that she did not keep this paper.

The Defense then questioned the witness for details about the rented house she and her husband lived in. Shamoli stated they rented the house in 1969. The Defense asked the witness whether she and her husband were informed by the landlord Zia Uddin that Mannan rented the ground floor. She said they were. Defense asked the witness when Mannan and his family left the rented house. The witness replied that Mannan’s wife and children left the house on 16 December 1971.

The Defense claimed that on 4 December due to the attack of allied forces the Tejgaon airport became useless. They asserted that on 14 December the Indian Army took control of Dhaka and the adjacent areas. The witness agreed that this was true. The Defense claimed that on 14 December Pakistan Army gave an offer regarding the transfer of power. Shamoli stated she didn’t know about those things. Defense claimed that Dhaka Intercontinental and Holy Family Hospital was declared as neutral Zone, which Shamoli said she had heard. The Defense claimed that Mannan took shelter in that neutral zone. The witness replied that she did not know. The Defense claimed that Mannan was arrested two times before the return of Bangabondhu after the victory and once after the return of Bangabandhu. The witness replied that she had heard this. The Defense claimed that before 1971, Mannan was involved with the politics of Muslim League. The witness replied that she was not sure. Defense claimed that the witness’ husband Alim joined government service after his return from London during the tenure of Ayub Khan. The witness admitted that.

During examination in chief Shamoli testified that their neighbor Motin, who was part of the PDP party, recommended Mannan and asked them to give him shelter. The Defense asked whether the witness or her husband had inquired why Motin recommended Mannan. The witness replied that she did not ask him. Defense asked the witness whether she gave any interview to the media regarding the killing of his husband Alim and whether she had written any book regarding this killing. The witness replied that she gave interviews to the media and wrote a book titled ‘ Ekkatorer Sahid Dr Alim Chowdhury’ regarding the killing of her husband Alim.