24 November 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – AKM Yusuf, PW-9, PW-10, and PW-11

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following case: 

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. AKM Yusuf

ICT-2 recorded the cross-examination of PW-9 and the examination-in-chief of PW-10 and 11 in the case against AKM Yusuf. Cross-examination of PW-10 and 11 will be conducted by Defense counsel on 25 November 2013.

PW-9 Cross-Examination

Questioning began with the witness stating that he was involved in the politics of Chatra League in 1971 and is still involved in the politics of Bangladesh Awami League.

He testified that he trained from 1 April to 30 April 1971 in Tafalbari High School. Though it was designed to prepare members for war, he acknowledged it was an unarmed training in which 20 to 25 people participated. Ansar Commander Fulmiah Haoladar and Police Constable Shakhwat Hossain supervised the training. While both of them were still in their respective services at that time, the witness was uncertain of their posting. Amongst those who participated in that training were Sikandar, Abdul Huq, Ismail Kabiraj, Abdul Razzak Akand, Habib Mridha, Jamil Haq, Malek and many others. After training, they went to the Sundarban Forrest, where their commander was Lieutenant Anwar Khan. They occasionally came to the locality to gather information from their secret sources.

The witness then explained that Rayenda Bazar (marketplace) is near the bank of Bolesshor River. Blesshor River on in the east side of Rayenda Bazar. Rayenda Boys’ School was situated in the west of Rayenda Bazar. In the South, there was Rayenda Girls’ High School. The witness denied the suggestion that the Bolesshor River was 3 km away from Rayeda Bazar, adding that it is now 1.5 km away.

He said that the Investigation Officer interviewed many people, including Yusuf Shikder, Hanif Molla, Joynal Munshi, Abdul Latif Hawladar, Abu Razzak Akand, Asia and her son. The witness stated that the Unit Commander of their local Muktijudda Shangshad (akin to a union of freedom fighters) is M A Khaleque Khan. He sits in the Command Office of Sharonkhola Police Station. In response to the question posed by the defense as to whether the witness had any problem with Mr. M A Khaleque, the witness replied that he complained against Khaleque regarding some internal irregularities but the matter was subsequently resolved. The witness, at this point, accepted the defense suggestion that the complaint was found to be incorrect.

When asked if he was familiar with the term “recky,”the witness replied that it was a code used by the freedom fighters as a secret signal. The defense counsel proceeded to outline the various contradictions between the testimony of the witness and what he previously stated to the Investigation Officer.

Finally, the defense counsels suggested that the witness had neither heard nor seen the incident on 9 June 1971 and that he is giving false evidence incriminating the accused, Yusuf. The defense further suggested that the incident on 7 June, 1971 is also not true and the men alleged to have been killed on that day actually died in a battle between the Pakistani Army and freedom fighters on 16 July 1971 near the police station. The witness stringently denied these allegations.

PW-10 Examination-in-Chief

The witness stated that he is the son of Babu Nokulesshor Gharai and comes from Moralganj Bazar in Bagherhat District. On 25 March 1971, following the call of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the people of Moralganj started to prepare for participation in the war. Under the leadership of Mohammad Liakat Ali Khan, the witness joined a team of 35 freedom fighters. The witness further alleged that Yusuf was a top-tier leader of Jamaat at the time formed the Central Peace Committee in Khulna, where he was elected as its Chairman. Yusuf then formed the Rajakar forces with 96 members of Jamaat supporters in the Moralganj and Sharonkhola region. After providing them with arms, ammunition, and uniforms, he then deployed them to various parts of the country.

The witness further stated that 20 to 22 members of the Rajakar forces were sent to Moralganj and a Rajakar camp was established in Boroikhola Union Parishad Office. They raped, tortured and killed Awami League supporters and pro-liberation forces. They also looted and burned houses of Hindu community.

On 13 May 1971, the witness heard heavy firing. The next morning he found out that one of freedom fighters, Abu Bakr, had been bayoneted to death. The witness then went to the Rajakar camp and hid in a bush thereby. From there he saw Joynal Abu Bakr’s dead body. He also saw that the victim’s brother, Tunu, sought permission from Yusuf and took the body away.

Few days later, on 17 May 1971, the witness was in Moralganj Bazar. Around 10 am, Yusuf arrived in a launch with 15 to 20 Rajakar. After his arrival, 40 to 50 Rajakars gathered there, where Yusuf ordered them to destroy the Hindu community and pro-liberation forces. Upon receiving such order, the Rajakar men started to attack the locality. The witness said that his house and shop, along with that of Commander Liakat Ali Khan, was burnt to ashes. They also burned 300 to 400 shops and houses in that locality.

On 19 May 1971 around 10 pm, Yusuf came in the river terminal in a gunboat along with 15 to 20 members of Pakistani Army and Rajakars. He then ordered the killing of freedom fighters, Hindu and pro-liberation forces. They then launched an attack in the locality. The witness said that he was inside a house, where they called him out and started to beat him. At one point, they took him with them. Near the launch station, he saw that five freedom fighters, named Shanti Ranjan Das, Shatta Ranjan Das, Keshob Chandra Das, Shankar Das and Amar Das, were being detained and beaten. Around 12 am, each of them was shot one by one. At this point, the witness said that he opened his lungi and suddenly started to run for his life. The witness also stated that Amar was shot in the hand, but dived in the river and managed to escape.

On 26 July 1971, a person who worked for social welfare, called Dr. Abdul Majid was abducted from his home and killed at the instruction of Yusuf. The witness went on to say that many people of his area had been compelled to leave for India for fear of torture. The Rajakar forces also compelled them to change religious belief. Lastly, the witness positively identified the accused in the dock.

PW-11 Examination-in-Chief

The testimony of the witness relates to Charge-1 and 3.

The witness is the wife of martyr Shanti Ranjan Das. She stated that Maolana Yusuf was the President of the Peace Committee of Khulna District. She said that Yusuf had formed the Peace Committee in various places and also formed the Rajakar forces. He formed camps in various areas, where he attended meetings. The witness testified Yusef also ordered Rajakar forces to kill members of the Hindu community.

The witness confirmed that on 17 May 1971, Rajakar forces, under the leadership of the accused Yusuf, looted and burnt shops. She further stated that on 19 May 1971 at 9:30 pm, Yusuf and his forces surrounded her house. Some of them entered inside and looted her belongings. They then captured her husband Shanti Ranjan Das, her brother in law Shatta Ranjan Das, Keshob Ranjan Das, her younger brother Shankar Chandra Das, and her uncle-in-law Shantosh Kumar Das. However, they soon released Shantosh Kumar Das. Two to three hours later, the witness heard gunshots and recalled her mother-in-law starting to cry, suspecting that her son might have been killed by those shots.

The following day, the witness came to know that those who abducted her husband and other family members had killed them. Pijush and Liakat saw the incident. The witness testified that she heard about the incident from Pijush (PW-10). She also heard that Amar Shaha managed to escape despite being shot in hand. The witness then escaped to India. She said that she never found the bodies of her family members. Despite being overcome with emotion, the witness concluded her testimony by saying that she wants justice for the brutal killings that had taken place in 1971.