Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following case:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. AKM Yusuf
ICT-2 recorded the cross-examination of PW-11 and then that of PW-10 in the case of against AKM Yusuf. After hearing cross-examination, the Tribunal recorded the examination-in-chief of PW-12.
PW-11 Cross Examination
Cross-examination of the witness began with PW-11 stating that she does not remember her date of marriage and clarified she was not involved in politics in 1971.
She stated that Rajakar forces looted Moralganj Bazar. The Rajakar forces went on to burn houses in the aera, however she clarified that her husband’s house was not burnt or looted. The witness did not know who the attackers were, but stated they were aligned with the Rajakars. The witness said that she went to a marooned house in Khaulia village to hide after the Bazar was burnt.
In response to questions posed by the defense, the witness replied that she did not know the distance between her house and that of Pijush Babu’s house. She had not come across Pijush Babu since 19 May 1971. The witness learned from Shantosh Babu that her uncle-in-law met Pijush Babu and it was most probably the day after the incident
PW-11 testified that she had never seen the accused, Yusuf, until yesterday when she came to the tribunal to give her testimony nor had she previously heard of his involvement in the alleged crimes. Finally, the defense sough to categorize her testimony as untrue, an allegation the witness strongly denied.
Cross-examination of PW-10 began with the witness confirming he was a student of Class-11 in Siraj Uddin Memorial College in 1971.
The witness testified that the Rajakar camp of Morolganj Baroikhali Union Parishad was established in May and had 20 to 22 Rajakars. The Pakistani Army did not have a separate camp, but visited the camp with other Rajakars for a few days at a time.
The witness then stated that 30 to 35 of them trained together on Moralganj Bazar Warehouse field. Liakat Ali Khan and his father trained the witness and others for approximately 25 days. The training included PT, parade training, and unarmed training with wooden rifle replicas. After few days, they started to receive armed training under the supervision of Liakat Ali Khan in the Sundarban Kalibari camp. The witness stated that he was unaware of any book Liakat Ali Khan had written on the war of liberation and has never been interviewed regarding his aforementioned experience. However, he claimed that a story on the training was published in Daily Purbachal in Khulna.
The witness recalled that there was a lot of firing on the day Abu Bakr died. He was hiding on his property, but hid in a bush to observe the Rajakar camp the following day along with a few others out of curiosity.
The witness then strongly rejected the defense’s suggestion that his story was fabricated, but then said that he heard about Abu Bakr’s death from other people. The witness immediately added that he heard it from Bakr’s brother, Tunu, adding that Yusuf was there and permitted the burial of the dead body. The witness denied the suggestion that Yusuf was falsely being incriminated with malicious intent.
The witness was then asked about the number of Rajakar forces who looted 300 to 400 shops and houses on 17 May 1971. In reply, the witness did not specify any particular number, only that it was done by armed Rajakars and a few other people with them. The witness testified that he saw flames from the area and witnessed that the aforementioned group looting the houses. Villagers ran for their lives and the witness took shelter in Kenubhanga village.
He stated that he came back to his house on 18 May 1971, but did not stay there. He came again in the evening of 19 May with two others from his neighborhood, where Rajakar forces came to his house and called him out by name. The Rajakar forces did not take his neighbors, but asked the witness to come with them. The witness clarified that there were approximately 13 members of the Rajakar forces, all of whom were armed.
In response to the defense’s queries, the witness testified that he did not know any of the people detained in the launch terminal, adding that the light was very dim (bhoot baati.) However, the defense objected as the tribunal recorded the phrase as revised by the witness that there was large light that remained continuously lit in the terminal. The defense strongly submitted that bhoot baati cannot be a large light and that the witness stated that upon realizing that such a departure helps the prosecution’s case. The Court ruled that the defense would get the opportunity to discuss the matter during defense summing up and closing argument.
The witness stated he was able to see the faces of those confined, as he was quite close to them. Seeing his opportunity, the witness began sprinting to escape his captors. In response to the defense inquiry as to why he attempted to escape despite knowing the consequences if he was caught, the witness stressed that he was a champion runner in the in 400 and 800 meters sprint, thus he was confident that no one could catch him.
The witness saw light coming from behind, but did not know about its source. The testified that two rounds were fired at him, but fortunately missed. While running, he hit tree and fell, injuring himself. As a consequence of the entire incident, he could not sleep for two months. He said told the tribunal that he remained in hiding at various villages and in the Sundarbans until August. Finally, he left for India in August 1971.
Additionally, the witness said that he heard about Yusuf’s involvement and also read about it in newspapers.
The witness stated that he joined East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) in the year 1956, but left the barrack after the father of the nation’s historic speech in 1971. He was in Sylhet’s Borogram camp. The witness along with 14 to 15 other Bengali soldiers fought against the Pakistani army, but upon realizing they did not have adequate arms and heavy weapons, they left for India in May 1971.
The witness then met the Sector Commander for Sector 9, Major M A Jalil in 24 Porgona District’s Hasanabad Police Station, in Tokipur camp. The witness was sent to an operation in Botiaghata, along with 20 other fellow fighters. This occurred around the time of the Bengali month of Srabon / Bhadro. After attacking Batiaghata Police Station, they returned to India. Later on, Major Jalil sent the witness along with 300 soldiers of Naval forces to the Bagherhat District. There, the witness established a camp in the Rampal Police Station’s Kalekhar Ber Dighi. Local freedom fighters undertook training in that camp.
The witness testified that his forces grew from the original 300 to nearly 800 fighters in August 1971. They were attacked on numerous occasions by the Rajakar forces of Rajjab Ali. At one point, the witness received a letter from the Commander of Bangladesh Liberation Force, Mr Kamruzzaman Tuku, who instructed him to head towards Bagherhat with some soldiers for battle, while the remaining forces shall remain in the camp. Accordingly, the witness along with 100 soldiers proceeded towards Chulkathi Bazar on 13 October 1971 and stayed in Ghonshampur High School at night.
That night, around 11 pm, the witness heard uproar of people coming from all directions. It appeared to him that they were under attack and immediately instructed his soldiers to become alert. The nephew of the local Awami League leader informed the witness that the Rajakar forces under the leadership of Yusuf were advancing towards in an attack. Soon after, the two sides faced each other, with the witness’ forces taking fire from all sides. The fighting raged on until they ran out of ammunition. The witness then stated his forces fled towards the river in the west side. He was soon hit by a bullet in his right leg however, with the assistance of an engineering team, he was able to plant time bomb in 4 to 5 places and leave the area. Upon reaching the riverbank, the witness found no one from his team. About fourteen of them took shelter in the house of a boatman and spent the night there.
The following day, on 14 October 1971, the witness reached Chulkathi village around 8 in the morning. There, he found that the Hindu areas were burning and saw people are shouting and panicking. The witness took shelter in a nearby forest in the south of Chulkathi bazaar (marketplace.) From there, he saw Rajakars bayonet 5 to 7 people who were caught and brought to the east of the bazaar. The Rajakars were wearing civil dresses with Khaki pants and shirts. One of them, wearing a white Panjabi and had little beard, was saying that there is no point keeping these people alive and that they should be shot. Accordingly, they were shot and thrown in the canal. The victims included a Muslim named Khorshed Baki and six Hindus. The witness recalled two of them named Shunil and Rakhal, but did not know the names of the others.
While the witness was later going back to his village, he came across one of his relatives, Ashraful ,who told him that the person with white Panjabi and beard was Maolana Yusuf, the man who ordered all the killings. The witness then said that Yusuf formed the Peace Committee in Khulna District and organized men for the formation of Rajakar forces. Approximately a week after the incident, the witness and his co-fighters went back to India where he undertook treatment for his injured limb.
The witness concluded by saying that he is now faced with some visual impairment, therefore is unable to clearly see the oath note and take it.
(End of examination-in-chief)