A prosecution witness wednesday told the war crimes tribunal that the recent interview of fugitive accused Chowdhury Mueen Uddin in a media appearance clearly shows that he had been involved in the killing of intellectuals during the 1971 Liberation War, supporting other historical documents and evidence.
The twelfth prosecution witness Anirban Mostafa, son of martyred journalist ANM Golam Mostafa, also observed that if one carefully listens to Mueen’s interview with Al Jazeera which aired on July 20, “s/he can easily understand that all the fugitive war crimes suspects want is to hide their wrongdoings.”
Mueen and Ashrafuzzaman two alleged leaders of al-Badr are jointly accused of killing prominent Bangladeshi intellectuals in December 1971. Mueen was the “operation in charge” while Ashrafuzzaman played the role of “chief executor” of the paramilitary force, according to the prosecution. al-Badr was formed by Jamaat-e-Islami’s student activists under Islami Chhatra Sangha, which helped the Pakistani occupation army in committing atrocities against Bangalees.
“In that interview, he [Mueen] admitted his link with Islami Chhatra Sangha. Mueen also said all he had done in 1971 was done based on a political stance since he believed in Pakistan’s sovereignty in 1971. But, he referred to freedom fighters as ‘so called freedom fighters’. I believe this interview was given by him to try to hide his wrongdoings,” Anirban, presently a professor at Khulna University, added.
He also confirmed that he came to know about Mueen and Ashraf’s ties with the al-Badr force through reports published in the daily Purbadesh and other media during and after the war. “And it is historically true that al-Badr was formed by the Islami Chhatra Sangha men in 1971,” the witness said.
“I also studied a bit on the duo since I was always keen to know about my father’s killers. Using the internet, I came to know that Mueen has been involved with a London-based organisation named Muslim Aid till 2013,” Anirban said.
He made the remarks at the International Crimes Tribunal 2 led by Justice Obaidul Hasan.
Later, when Anirban was cross examined by defence lawyer Salma Hye, he reconfirmed that Mueen in his interview did not mention that he quit al-Badr in a stand against the atrocities committed by the Pakistani occupational army in 1971.
“Rather, he just mentioned generally that he left the post of the chief of the al-Badr sometime in 1971,” Anirban answered to the state-appointed lawyer.
The witness said he was nine-months-old when his father was abducted and later killed by the al-Badr members. He heard about the abduction from his mother, his uncle ANM Golam Rahman and his father’s colleague Kamal Lohani.
Mentioning that his father had been non-communal in his personal life, Anirban also said he used to work as a sub-editor in a Bengali newspaper named Dainik Purbadesh during 1971. He believed in the freedom of the Bangalee nation. He was imprisoned for participating in the anti-Ayub Movement in 1969.
Anirban also mentioned that his father was one of the organisers who had chosen the name “Bangladesh” for the liberated portion of the then Pakistan.
“Particularly between 1970- 71, he [Golam Mostafa] strongly believed that this portion of the then Pakistan would be liberated soon and he wanted to call it Bangladesh. From this point of view, he had even taken interviews of poet Sufia Kamal, Jasim Uddin and Dr Kazi Motaher Hossain at that time,” Anirban added.
He also mentioned that Mueen used to work with his father in the same newspaper. “During 1971, everyone was facing pressure to not talk about Pakistan’s atrocities. But my father, being a very bold man, used to criticise the Pakistani occupation army and the Pakistani government. I heard that one day Mueen and my father engaged in an altercation and at one point Mueen threatened my father saying ‘such remarks will not bring anything good for you’.”
Quoting his mother, the witness said on December 11, 1971, his father was walking on the balcony to comfort him since he could not sleep well the previous night. “Around 6am, some people with a jeep came to our house. They came with my uncle Shamsuddoha who was being held by them for the purpose of showing them our house,” Anirban said.
“I came to know from my uncle ANM Golam Rahman that after the abduction, he later went to the Purbadesh office to know my father’s whereabouts. My uncle informed my father’s colleagues Ehtesham Haider Chowdhury and Atiqur Rahman about the abduction,” he said.
“I also came to know that my uncle went with Mueen Uddin to Mohammadpur Physical Training Centre and guards showed as much respect to Mueen as they used to show for senior officers of that centre,” Anirban testified.
The physical training centre was infamous for being used as a torture cell by the Pakistani occupation army during the war.
The tribunal set August 19 for further proceedings in the case.