An additional freedom fighter prosecution witness on Tuesday said he had seen two army-laden pick up vans, one carrying Motiur Rahman Nizami and a Pakistani major, taking three Bengali captives blindfolded, stopped at Pabna’s Madhpur Bazar intersection on June 10 in 1971.
“At that time, I along with my two friends had been waiting for breakfast at a tea stall there. Hanging around for a while, the two pick up vans moved towards Sathia road after getting signal from Nizami,” recalled Yusuf Ali Biswas, while giving his deposition as PW-21 before the International Crimes Tribunal-1.
PW Yusuf said that after some 15-20 minutes, he had heard gunshots coming from the bank of the river Ichhamati.
“Sensing insecurity of our lives, I along with my two friends, Arshed Ali and Quddus, had hid into a nearby thatched cottage to watch the situation through a tiny hole,” he said.
Yusuf further said: “After 15-20 minutes of the shooting, I marked the two army-laden pick up vans carrying Nizami and the Pakistani major going back towards Pabna.”
“As we returned to Madhpur Bazar, we came to know from the locals that the army coming from Pabna had done the operation killing three people,” he said.
The PW said that later he along with his two friends and some locals had visited the place of occurrence and found three bullet-riddled blood stained bodies, still blindfolded, dumped in a hole.
“After entering into the hole, I identified the body of Kasim Uddin, a head Maulana at Pabna Zila School, also an organiser of the War of Liberation. I couldn’t identify the two other bodies,” he said.
Yusuf further said: “Before we returned to our village Bharara, we heard from the locals that Nizami got the killings done using the Pakistan occupation forces as he did in different areas of Pabna and its suburbs during the 1971 Liberation War.
Before concluding his deposition PW Yusuf identified Nizami in the dock.
The deposition over, the PW was cross-examined by defence counsel Mizanul Islam, which remained inconclusive.
Replying to defence question, Liberation War hero Yusuf told the tribunal that he had also seen from the tea stall at Madhpur the face of Nizami flanked by a Pakistani major beside the driver of an army pick up van.
“The army pick up van was covered with canvas keeping its back open,” said Yusuf, a defected jawan of the then East Bengal Regiment stationed in Chittagong in 1971.
Nizami, now ameer of Jamaat-e Islami, is 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 chief 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.