A freedom fighter prosecution witness on Sunday said Pakistan occupation army in association with Razakar and Al Badr, led by Motiur Rahman Nizami, had launched a horrendous operation at three villages in Pabna on May 14, 1971, killing 450 unarmed people.
The villages that saw the atrocities are Rupashi, Baushgari and Demra in Sathia upazila of the district.
“The perpetrators during the operation had also plundered and torched about 300 houses, including bazaars and raped women from both Muslim and Hindu families,” recalled Mohammad Jamal Uddin, while testifying against accused Nizami, now ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami, before the International Crimes Tribuinal-1 as PW-17.
Earlier, Nizami, then president of Islami Chharta Sangha (ICS), a student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, had formed Razakar and Al Badr at a meeting held at the Rupashi Government Primary School, he said.
Jamal further said in the same month of May 1971 occupation army along with Razakar and Al Badr, led by Nizami, had carried out another operation at the house of Megha Thakur at village Karamja and gunned down nine innocent people. They had also raped daughter and daughter-in-law of Megha Thakur.
On November 12, 1971, the PW told the tribunal that Nizami and his associates had launched a raid on village Haria to capture Zahurul Huq, a freedom fighter, but failed. On their return, they set fire to several Hindu houses and raped two women of the minority community, the PW added.
Recollecting the warfare with the Pakistan occupation army along with its auxiliary forces, Jamal, a guerilla freedom fighter, said on November 27, 1971, they had lost the battle at Dhulari in which nine of their comrades-in-arms and 14 unarmed local people were killed.
The PW said during the warfare freedom fighter Abdus Samad, a student of Pabna Edward College, was captured with a live grenade. The army and its associates had also torched several houses before they left the area, he said.
The PW told the tribunal that later captured Samad was taken to Sathia Police Station where the perpetrators bayoneted him to death after hanging him up from a tree.
Jalal told the tribunal that while in operation he had captured some Razakars and Al Badrs, who claimed themselves poor, confessed to him that they got recruited at the behest of Nizami.
PW Jalal identified detained Nizami in the dock before concluding his deposition.
The deposition over, Jalal, now 60, was cross-examined by defence counsel Mizanul Islam, which remained inconclusive.
The Jamaat chief, being tried on charges of involvement in murders and torture of unarmed people along with hatching conspiracy, planning, incitement and complicity to commit genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War in collaboration with the Pakistan occupation army.
Also the president of Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS), the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1971, Nizami faces 16 counts of charges based on 16 separate incidents of crimes against humanity, in which at least 600 unarmed people were killed and 31 women raped during the Liberation War.
On December 11, 2011, the prosecution submitted the formal charge against Nizami before the tribunal.
On January 9, 2012, the tribunal took cognisance of the formal charge against Nizami for facing the trial of crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War.
On May 28, 2012, the tribunal indicted the Jamaat ameer for committing the 1971 crimes against humanity.
Nizami, detained in connection with other criminal case, was shown arrested on August 2, 2010, in connection with the war crimes case.