Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following case:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. AKM Yusuf
Due to ongoing unrest and blockades, our researcher was unable to be physically present in court this day. Accordingly, our coverage was compiled from direct communication with the Tribunal and the Parties to the proceedings.
On this day, ICT-2 recorded the examination-in-chief of PW-13 in the case against AKM Yusuf. Junior defense counsel then began the cross-examination of the witness, but said that his senior would continue at a later date. The Tribunal fixed 2 December 2013 for continuing to record the cross-examination of the witness.
The witness testified that he became a member of the local movement under the leadership of Commander Jabed after the historic speech of Bangabandhu (Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) on 7 March 1971.
On 19 April 1971 around 2pm, the witness attended a peace meeting in Rampal auditorium. In between 3pm to 3:30pm, one “launch” (machinery vessel) from Bagherhat arrived at the Rampal college terminal. Approximately 30 people got out of the vessel with slogans “Pakistan zindabad, AKM Yusuf Ali zindabad” and joined the meeting. In that meeting, Mr Rajjab Ali (deceased), Mojam Doctor, Moslem Doctor, and finally, AKM Yusuf gave their speeches. In his speech, Yusuf advocated that Malauns (Hindus) must be annihilated and that this country does not belong to Hindu. Yusuf further stated that there is nothing wrong in enjoying the belongings and women of Hindus. Lastly, he ordered members to loot the belongings of the Hindu and to “finish them.” Right after this speech, the affiliates of Yusuf attacked the houses of Jadob Mistri, and Krishnadhan Mistri located in Rampal Sadar. After looted their belongings, they went to the launch terminal to leave for Bagherhat. The witness returned home and told everyone about the incident he witnessed.
The witness further stated that AKM Yusuf became the Chairman of Khulna Peace Committee and formed the Rajakar forces. He ordained the Rajakar forces to kill Hindu people and loot their properties.
On 21 May 1971, thousands of Hindu people took shelter in Dakra Kalibari under Rampal Police Station for deportation to India. Yusuf ordered Rajakar Rajjab Ali and Shiraj Master of Bagherhat to destroy them all. Pursuant to the instruction, Rajakar forces attacked Dakra Kalibari on 21 May 1971 and killed 500 to 600 Hindu people. At this point, the Court asked the witness as to how he came to know about this mass killing and that it had been done upon the instruction of AKM Yusuf. The witness replied to the court that he heard it from the Peace Committee leaders of his area, Siddik Master and Shahadat Kazi (alias Bashar Kazi,) both of whom are now dead. The witness claimed to know one of the survivors of this attack, Narayan Chowkidar, whose house is located two miles away from that of the witness. On 22 May 1971, Narayan visited the witness and proclaimed that it was not going to be possible to live in the country anymore and that all of them must leave for India. Accordingly, everyone from their village left for India and took shelter in Bashirpur.
The witness then entered Bangladesh with Abzal Commander through Sector 9 after 27 days of training. The witness claimed he fought in various places in Bangladesh.
Lastly, on 13 October 1971, the witness and others rested at the freedom fighters’ camp in Ghonshampur Primary School under Bagherhat Police Station. That very day, Rajakar Rajjob Ali and his men surrounded the camp from all directions. A massive firefight took place, however the freedom fighters failed to sustain in that fight, as they did not know the area well. During the fight, about five freedom fighters took shelter in a garden nearby. One man discovered them on 14 October 1971, and advised them not to move from the area. The man said that some freedom fighters that were caught by the Rajakar forces had been taken to Chulkathi Bazar (marketplace) where they were going to be killed. Later on, the same man informed the witness that seven men had been killed on the wooden bridge near Chulkathi Bazar in compliance with Yusuf’s instruction.
The same man who provided the witness with this information took the witness to Batiaghata in Khulna District by boat.
The witness concluded by saying that he gave statement to the Investigation Officer on 8 January 2013.
(End of examination-in-chief)
The witness denied suggestions that Yusef did not give the speech on 19 April 1971, but clarified that it was mainly Mojam Doctor who gave the speech.
The witness said that he was not present in any further Peace Committee meetings after 19 April and that no further meetings took place in Rampal Police Station until the witness left for India.
(Cross-examination to be continued)