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Dhaka Tribune

Molla’s war crimes case most eventful so far

Update : 13 Dec 2013, 11:04 PM

The case of war criminal Abdul Quader Molla has been the most eventful yet among more than a dozen war crimes cases.

Sometimes it was nerve racking and tearful for the justice seekers and victims while being jubilant for Molla and his supporters. Some moments were triumphant for the nation in overcoming hurdles to ensuring justice while being defeating for Molla.

Molla flashed the victory sign after a tribunal sentenced him to life on February 5 although the nation had expected the capital punishment. This irked millions of justice seekers, prompting them to unite in an unprecedented peaceful but massive movement at Shahbagh and elsewhere in the country in demand for the highest punishment.

The movement, spearheaded by bloggers and online activists, also demanded a ban on the politics of the Jamaat-e-eIslami and Islami Chhatra Shibir, putting the parties along with business organisations run by them in a serious crisis of existence.

It prompted the government to amend International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 to ensure the right of the state to appeal on behalf of the war crimes victims of 1971. Before the February 17 amendment, the state could appeal only against an acquittal.

The state and the defence appealed against the tribunal verdict in March. Molla’s lawyers challenged the amendments but could not win.

Meantime, Jamaat, with the help of the main opposition BNP and fundamentalist organisation Hefazat-e-Islam, came down hard on the Shahbagh protesters, labelling them as “atheists.”

A group of religious fanatics campaigning against the Shahbagh movement also killed blogger Rajib, one of the organisers of the movement.

Hefazat and some other Islamist organisations took to the streets, demanding introduction of anti-blasphemy law. They also launched a propaganda against eminent writers and intellectuals, using the social media, also labelling them as “atheists.”

Hefazat’s two major rallies one in April and another in May attacked the government, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League, often calling them atheist or patrons of atheists.

From May, Hefazat was helping the BNP-Jamaat alliance to topple the government. It did not want to leave the street after its May 5 rally at Shapla Chattar in Motijheel.

Even BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia asked her party men to join the Hefazat rally that night.

But a night-time police operation compelled Hefazat men to leave the street, but the BNP launched a propaganda that police operation killed 2,500-3,000 Hefazat men that night.

The propaganda was so strong and put the government in a huge embarrassment. Human rights organisation Odhikar’s report also created a controversy. Following this controversy, the government arrested top officials of Odhikar, and for this it was criticised widely at home and abroad.

Although the BNP, Odhikar and Hefazat’s claims did not stand, all these developments brought many challenges for the government: Hefazat men openly campaigned against the Awami League-supported candidates in the five city corporation elections after May.

All the ruling party-backed candidates conceded defeats.

Finally, obtaining the Supreme Court verdict that sentenced Molla to death, when the government took steps to execute the war criminal, known as the Butcher of Mirpur, on December 10 midnight a new drama surfaced.

Despite the debate over Molla’s scope of filing review petition, everything was set to execute Molla at 12.01am Tuesday night.

The prison authorities arranged the family members’ last meeting with the condemned war criminal at Dhaka Central Jail.

But, Molla’s counsels went to the residence of chamber judge Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain to seek a stay order on the execution and the chamber judge stayed the hanging until 10:30am on Wednesday.

Interestingly, Molla’s wife showed the victory sign on Tuesday evening on her way to meet her husband.

After around 38 hours, the Appellate Division on Thursday rejected Molla’s review petition, clearing all legal bars to carrying out the capital punishment.

The government finally executed the first of the war criminals on Thursday night.

But this brought another new challenge containing Jamaat-Shibir’s widespread violence and killings across the country.

Earlier, Jamaat-Shibir threatened to wage a civil war and burn 56,000 sq-km of the country if Molla was executed.  

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