Hasina Khatun, maternal cousin of juvenile freedom fighter Jasim Uddin who was tortured to death in Dalim Hotel, expressed satisfaction that the court upheld the death penalty for the condemned war criminal.
In her immediate reaction, Hasina said she would be happy with the speedy execution of the death penalty.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune over phone yesterday morning, Hasina said: “Members of al-Badr, led by Mir Quasem, abducted my cousin from Chittagong after Eid-ul-Fitr in 1971. He was tortured to death at Dalim Hotel was Quasem and his men dumped his body in Karnaphuli River.”
Jahangir Chowdhury, a prosecution witness and deputy chief of Joy Bangla Bahini, said the infamous war criminal spent an astronomical amount of money to save himself.
“His family members tried to bribe me with a huge amount of money, but I did not succumb to their influence and testified against him at court. I am happy that the nation has finally been cleansed of a stigma with his death penalty,” he said.
Jahangir was one of Quasem's victims who were held and tortured at Dalim Hotel, Quasem's torture cell in Chittagong during the Liberation War in 1971.
“I was held there and subjected to inhumane torture by al-Badr members for 23 days, before freedom fighters rescued me on December 16.”
Dalim Hotel was one of the makeshift torture cells in Chittagong in 1971. Local members of al-Badr, a vigilante force affiliated with Pakistan occupation army, grabbed Mohamaya Bhaban in the city's Anderkillah area from a Hindu family and named it Dalim Hotel.
Among other victims of Dalim Hotel were Syed Md Emran, another prosecution witness and a group commander of Bangladesh Liberation Force, freedom fighter Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, and Prof Dr Irshad Kamal Khan, former vice-chancellor of Chittagong Independent University.
“Quasem and his men forcefully detained me and my elder brother from my house in the morning of November 30, 1971,” said Emran. “They took us to Dalim Hotel where we found 10-12 more freedom fighters captive. We were held there until December 16.”
During confinement, the captives were kept blindfolded and their arms and legs tied, said Irshad.
“We were served one meal per day. I am not sure how long I was held there. I used to hear groans and screams coming from different rooms of the building every day.”
“The captives were tortured brutally for information on other freedom fighters. They gave us electric shocks, hung us upside down and beat us with iron rod. They burnt us with cigarettes,” said Nasir.
Dr Mahfizur Rahman, eminent researcher on the Liberation War, said: “I several tortured victims of Mir Quasem. Based on their accounts, I wrote a book titled ‘Nationalistic Struggle of Bangalis and Liberation War in Chittagong’ which was used as a reference during the war crimes trial proceedings.
“The witnesses said when Mir Quasem visited the cells, the al-Badr members who were on guard would address him as Commander. During the war, Quasem established a reign of terror in Chittagong by committing various crimes against humanity like killing, looting, abduction, persecution, genocide, rape, extortion and arson attacks in collaboration with Pakistan occupation forces.”
The activists of Gonojagoron Moncho demanded yesterday that Dalim Hotel be acquired for preserving the torture cell as a memorial of Liberation War.