Column
The 14th December

21 Dec 2017

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Bangladesh observes ‘Martyred Intellectuals Day’ on December 14 by paying tribute to the intellectuals and professionals who were massacred on this day in 1971 by the Pakistani occupation forces and local collaborators, mainly Jamaat. This year’s observance is different because six war crimes masterminds – Matiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Abdul Quader Molla Muhammad Kamruzzaman, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Mir Quasem Ali – have been hanged. They have been convicted of rape, torture and genocide during the 1971 liberation war and subsequently executed following a due process of law.

The intellectuals became victims of systematic execution for having discarded the Two Nation theory propounded by Pakistan and ‘inciting’ the people during the liberation war. The Pakistani forces were assisted in this mission by the extremely rightist groups Razakar, al Badr and al Shams formed by the Jamaat and its student organ, then known as Islami Chhatra Sangha.

 

 

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed was second in command of the infamous al Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pak army. It was he who orchestrated massacre of the front line intellectuals and professionals, hours from the independence in 1971. He was the key man of the Jamaat killing squad al Badr and the charges brought against him included genocide, murder, torture, rape, planning incitement and complicity in atrocities.
In fact intellectuals and professionals were killed throughout nine months of the liberation war, but the largest number of execution of intellectuals in one day took place on December 14, 1971.

 

The horrors of December 14, 1971 are the main focus of the ongoing trial of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bangladesh. Leading Jamaat figures now stand accused of masterminding brutal killing of intellectuals that occurred only two days before the Pakistani forces surrendered on December 16, 1971.
Jamaat chief Matiur Rahman Nizami who was then President of Jamaat student front Islami Chhatra Sangha, its Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojaheed, then chief of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha along with their Razakar/al-Badr/al Shams cohorts committed the most horrendous crimes and murders to crush the liberation war. The motive was to intellectually cripple the yet to be born Bengali nation and deprive it of able leadership.

 

Most notable among the charges brought against Nizami at the International Crimes Tribunal is his role in systematic elimination of the country’s intellectuals and professionals on December 14, 1971. Nizami himself admitted that as head of the infamous Razakar and al Badr militia he had campaigned across the country to foil the birth of Bangladesh, although he claimed that he was not involved in the killings.

 

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed was second in command of the infamous al Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pak army. It was he who orchestrated massacre of the front line intellectuals and professionals, hours from the independence in 1971. He was the key man of the Jamaat killing squad al Badr and the charges brought against him included genocide, murder, torture, rape, planning incitement and complicity in atrocities.

 

A report published in the vernacular daily Purbodesh of January 9, 1972 describes Ashrafuzzaman Khan, a Jamaat leader, as Commander of al Badr militia and killer of intellectuals of Bangladesh. He was a member of the Central Committee of the Jamaat student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha. After liberation of Bangladesh he went to Pakistan and worked for Radio Pakistan for quite some time. After the liberation, Ashrafuzzaman's personal diary was recovered from his residence. Two pages of his diary registered names and residential addresses of some teachers and medical officers of Dhaka University who were killed by him. He has been tried in absentia and sentenced to death for the war crimes committed in 1971. Now he is living in New York for more than three decades and presently he heads the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). 

Killing of intellectuals constituted the most shameful chapter of the genocide that took place during the Bangladesh liberation war. The architect of these gruesome killings was Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali, a high profile Army officer who was Military Adviser to the Governor of East Pakistan in 1971. After the liberation, a diary of Rao Farman Ali containing list of the intellectuals killed on December 14, 1971 was discovered from the Governor House, indicating that it was he who blueprinted the massacre of intellectuals in 1971.

 

Another al Badr commander who played a key role in killing of intellectuals in Dhaka in 1971 was Chowdhury Mueen Uddin who is now Vice Chairman of East London Mosque and presently heads the British charity ‘Muslim Aid’ which has an annual budget of over 20 million Pound. Mueen Uddin, who was a journalist of the daily Purbodesh in Dhaka, was also a Jamaat activist during the liberation war. He rounded up, tortured and killed many prominent citizens to deprive the soon-to-be-born state of its intellectual and cultural elite. He has also been tried in absentia and sentenced to death for war crimes committed in 1971.

 

Intellectuals of erstwhile East Pakistan were the targets of the Pakistani rulers since the beginning and as the war started the Pakistani occupying forces began systematically killing them. On December 14 as the war was nearing its end and victory of Bangladesh became imminent, thousands of Bengali intellectuals and professionals including professors, doctors, engineers, journalists, writers, artists, teachers and other eminent personalities were picked up from their houses and  blindfolded before being taken to torture cells where they were executed en masse in brush fire.

 

Killing of intellectuals constituted the most shameful chapter of the genocide that took place during the Bangladesh liberation war. The architect of these gruesome killings was Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali, a high profile Army officer who was Military Adviser to the Governor of East Pakistan in 1971. After the liberation, a diary of Rao Farman Ali containing list of the intellectuals killed on December 14, 1971 was discovered from the Governor House, indicating that it was he who blueprinted the massacre of intellectuals in 1971.
 




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