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War Crimes Trial Hindus forcibly converted into Muslims: PW

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Staff Reporter Prosecution witness (PW-7) Nimai Chandra Das on Monday told the International Crimes Tribunal-1 that most of the slain 42 unarmed Hindus were earlier converted into Muslims under duress. The PW stated this during cross-examinations by the defence counsel for detained war crimes accused Razakars Sirajul Huq, Akram Hossain Khan and Abdul Latif Talukder. On November 5 during the Liberation War, the trio-accused accompanying their armed cohorts had swooped on Sankharikathi bazar of Kachua in Bagerhat killing 42 captives after scrutiny. “In 1971, I was also made victim of forced conversion into Muslim from Hindu by Razakars and named Nazrul Sheikh with memorization of some Islamic verses,” said the PW. “After Bangladesh was liberated, I returned to my religion (Hinduism).” During the defence cross-examinations, PW Nimai said that during the wartime local union level action committee was formed to back the liberation struggle while Peace Committee (collaborator) was set up to form Razakar militia, an auxiliary force of the Pakistan occupation army. “The PC had played a major role in the formation of Razakar in our village Raghuduttakathi,” he added. Denying a defence suggestion, the PW said it was not true that the 42 Hindus had been killed in a war with the occupation army in 1971. A group of Razakars both from local and outside, including the three accused in the dock, had gunned down the 42 captive Hindus, Nimai added. Denying another defence suggestion, the PW said, “It’s not true that I gave false evidence against the accused being politically influenced by others and with a hope of financial gain.” After closing the evidence of the PW-7, the three-member tribunal, headed by Justice M Enayetur Rahim, adjourned the trial proceedings for Wednesday. On November 5, the tribunal indicted detained accused Sirajul Huq alias Kashai Siraj, 72, Akram Hossain Khan, 61, and A Latif Talukder, 68, of Bagerhat for their involvement in crimes against humanity during the Liberation War. The three commanders of Razakar, an auxiliary force of the Pakistan occupation army, face seven counts of charges of crimes against humanity that include killing, genocide, loot, arson, rape, abduction, torture, and conversion of Hindus to Muslim under duress during the Liberation War in Bagerhat district. ASP M Helal Uddin, investigation officer of the case, listed 65 prosecution witnesses (PWs) to testify before the tribunal against the three accused to prove the war crimes charges. On September 15, the tribunal took cognisance of the offences of the 1971 war crimes against them as it found prima facie case for trial after examination of the formal charge, investigation report, and the papers, documents and evidence submitted by the prosecution in connection with the case. Among the seven charges, four have been brought against Sirajul alone for the killing of more than 600 people, two against all three of them for the killing of 47 people, and one against Akram and Latif for killing a person.