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Dhaka Tribune

SC seals gallows for al-Badr kingpin Mujahid

Update : 16 Jun 2015, 08:52 PM

The Supreme Court has upheld the capital punishment of “death squad” al-Badr commander Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid, also the Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general, for the killing of intellectuals during the nation’s struggle for independence in 1971.

The four-member apex court bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha yesterday confirmed the capital punishment of the 69-year-old Jamaat leader, who served as social welfare minister (technocrat) during the BNP-Jamaat alliance’s 2011-06 tenure.

Welcoming the verdict, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said Mujahid’s death sentence would be carried out after the release of the full text of the judgement. On the other hand, the defence said the convict would file a review petition with the top court.

Jamaat has called hartal for today in protest against the verdict. The party, labelled by the tribunal as criminal organisation for siding with the Pakistani occupation forces and committing genocide and other crimes in 1971, claims that the charges against Mujahid were false, baseless and conspiratorial.

Security measures have been beefed up across the country to thwart any possible subversive acts.

With this, the Appellate Division has delivered verdict in four cases. Earlier it upheld the death sentences awarded to Jamaat assistant secretaries general Abdul Quader Molla and Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, commuted death penalty of another Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee to imprisonment until death.

Quader Molla was executed on December 12, 2013 while Kamaruzzaman on April 11 this year.

Meanwhile, the same bench yesterday began hearing in the appeal case of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a former BNP lawmaker from Raozan. It has six other cases in the queue.

On July 17, 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal 2 ordered to hang Mujahid by the neck for the massacre of intellectuals including scientists, academics and journalists, and his involvement in the murder and torture of Hindus during the war.

He was found guilty in five out of the seven charges and sentenced to death in two of them.

The Jamaat leader was arrested on June 29, 2010 on charges of hurting religious sentiment and defying court orders. He was later shown arrested the war crimes case on August 8. The tribunal indicted him on June 21, 2012.

Mujahid appealed against the tribunal verdict on August 11, 2013 and the hearing began on April 29 this year. After the hearing for nine working days ended on May 27, the Appellate Division reserved yesterday for judgement.

The tribunal had given him death sentence on the first charge of abduction and murder of journalist Sirajuddin Hossain. This punishment was merged with the sixth charge, related to the systematic killing of intellectuals in the fag end of the war.

But the Appellate Division took into account the first and the sixth charges separately. In its judgement, the court acquitted the convict from the charge of abduction and murder of Sirajuddin but upheld the death penalty for the murder of the intellectuals at al-Badr torture camp set up at Mohammadpur Physical Training Institute of the capital.

On the sixth charge, the tribunal said during the war, members of razakar and al-Badr Bahini used to receive their “training” at the camp. Mujahid used to visit the camp regularly with his co-leaders with an intent to annihilate the “Bangali population,” to design planning and conspired with the senior army officers at the camp. Following such conspiracy and planning, the “intellectuals killing” began from December 10, 1971.

Mujahid was the secretary of the then East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha, then student wing of Jamaat, and subsequently became the head of al-Badr Bahini.

The tribunal had also sentenced him to death on the seventh charge of murder and torture of Hindus. The apex court, however, commuted it to life in prison.

The Appellate Division upheld the life-term jail for Mujahid on the fifth charge, related to the confinement and torture of composer Altaf Mahmud, Jahir Uddin Jalal alias Bichchhu Jalal, Shafi Imam Rumi, Badiuzzaman, Abdul Halim Chowdhury Jewel and Magfar Ahmed Chowdhury Azad at an MP Hostel in the capital’s Nakhalpara area.

Mujahid had been sentenced to five years in prison for the abduction and torture of Ranjit Nath alias Babu Nath of Faridpur’s Khabashpur. The Appellate Division has upheld the punishment.

According to news reports, Mujahid had mentioned that it had been a war waged by India and that their spies (freedom fighters) should be killed. He urged the Jamaat and Chhatra Sangha members to protect Islam and eliminate the enemies.

He addressed a rally of Chhatra Sangha at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque on November 7, 1971 on Badar Day and announced four-point declaration – not to take rest until India is diminished from the map, burning books written by Hindus or pro-Hindu people, staying alert on campaigns against the volunteers of Pakistan, and continuing the fight to recover Baitul Mukaddes from the enemies. He asked the fellow workers to implement the declaration with inspiration from the Qur’an and if needed, by conquering New Delhi.

After the four-member bench delivered the judgement, Mujahid’s counsel Khandaker Mahbub Hossain told reporters that his client would file a petition to review the Appellate Division verdict.

“We think that the prosecution have failed to produce adequate witnesses and evidence against the defendant. We will file a review petition within 15 days of the publication of the full verdict,” said Mahbub, president of Supreme Court Bar Association and also an adviser to the BNP chairperson.

Replying to a query, he said: “We are not disappointed by the verdict. This is the judiciary. There’s no reason to be dissatisfied over the judicial process.”

On the other hand, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam expressed satisfaction with the Supreme Court judgement. “I am satisfied with the judgement as it has fulfilled the nation’s long-standing expectation. There is no bigger crime than to eliminate a nation’s intellectuals. I do not find any difference between the cruelties of Hitler and them [al-Badr],” he told reporters immediately after the verdict.

Gonojagoron Moncho and Bangladesh Chhatra League central committee brought out separate processions in Shahbagh area and on the Dhaka University campus after the judgement.

Imran H Sarker, spokesperson of the platform that demands death penalty for all war criminals, said: “We thank government and the apex court for the judgement. Now we want quick execution of the verdict that will establish rule of law in the country.”

Who is Mujahid

According to the tribunal documents, Mujahid, son of Maulana Abdul Ali and Begum Nurjahan of Paschim Khabashpur in Faridpur was born on January 2, 1948. His father was a member of Provincial Assembly of the then East Pakistan during 1962-64.

Mujahid joined the Islami Chhatra Sangha while studying in Faridpur Rajendra College. 

During 1968-1970, he was the president of Faridpur district unit Chhatra Sangha. In 1970, he got himself admitted to Dhaka University’s law department. He was nominated as the president of Dhaka district unit Chhatra Sangha that year.

In the month of October in 1971, he was elected provincial president of Chhatra Sangha and also became the chief of al-Badr Bahini.

Mujahid also contested the parliamentary elections in 1986, 1991, 1996 and 2008 but never came out successful. 

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