Column
Nizami and Mir Quasem Ali to hang

03 Nov 2014

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On October 30, International Crimes Tribunal -1 (ICT-1) awarded death penalty to Jamaat chief Matiur Rahman Nizami for committing crimes against humanity during Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

Just three days after that, ICT-2 handed down death penalty to Mir Quasem Ali, a member of Jamaat’s Executive Committee, on identical charges. Both were involved in committing genocide, systematic murder of intellectuals, conspiracy to commit killings and rapes. While Nizami was the chief of al-Badr (Jamaat’s secret death squad), Mir Quasem Ali was Chittagong al-Badr Commander.

 

Apart from killing freedom fighters and supporters of liberation movement of 1971, the objective of ideological warfare waged by al-Badr militia was to Islamize Bangladesh. With this object in view they short listed the Bengali secular intellectuals, both Hindu and Muslim, and eliminated them. Horrifying stories of killing of intellectuals by Nizami and Mir Quasem Ali and their al-Badr militia were published in newspapers, both home and abroad, during and after the liberation war.

 

Both Nizami and Mir Quasem Ali directly participated in killing freedom fighters, torturing / maiming them, looting their properties and raping Bengali women. Jamaat and its then student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha which converted to al-Badr, historically known as anti-liberation forces, actively collaborated with the Pakistani occupation army that committed nine month-long atrocities and did everything possible to foil the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.

 

“No punishment other than death will be equal to the horrendous crimes for which Nizami has been found guilty”, Justice M Enayetur Rahim, Chairman of ICT-1 remarked while delivering the judgment. “Justice is to make sure that the perpetrators have to pay for what they have done. Considering the extreme gravity of the crimes committed, it is indeed indispensable to deliver justice to the relatives of brutally murdered intellectuals, professionals and unarmed civilians”, added the judge.
Nizami was also a top ranking Razakar, a force created by the Pakistani ISI. Razakars were the predecessors of today’s Taliban. Although the term Razakar means volunteer in Arabic, in Bangladesh context it means traitors and collaborators of the occupation forces of Pakistan.

 

 

During the liberation war it was the Razakars who provided intelligence to the occupying Pakistani forces about the whereabouts of the freedom fighters and their supporters / sympathizers; abducted and killed them with the help of Pakistani forces in various army camps and killing zones; burnt their homes and looted their properties; kidnapped Bengali women, trafficked them to various Pakistan Army camps across the country; and molested / raped more than 250,000 women.

 

As Jamaat’s ideologue, Nizami was responsible for inciting and instigating his cohorts and followers by means of public speeches or newspaper articles supporting the Pakistani occupying forces for their onslaught against the freedom fighters. The Jamaat mouthpiece Dainik Sangram in its issue of November 14, 1971 quoted Nizami as saying “The day is not far off when the young men of al-Badr, hand in hand with the patriotic Pakistani armed forces, will defeat ‘the Hindu forces and their collaborators’ (a term used by the pro-Pakistan forces to mean the liberation struggle and freedom fighters) and raise the victorious banner of Islam, all over the world after destruction of India”.

 

On perusal of the reports published in the Daily Sangram in 1971, it becomes evident that Nizami and other senior Jamaat leaders used to deliver speeches to their followers giving wrong interpretation of Islam with the intent to incite young generation into countering freedom fighters and pro-liberation forces, treating them as enemies of Islam. In the context of the war, the wrong messages, namely ‘Pakistan is the house of Allah’, ‘Hindus are enemies of Muslims’ and ‘Pakistan and Islam are one and indivisible’ were infused in the mind of the young people as truth. On being inspired by this propaganda in the name of Islamic ideology they committed more atrocities in collaboration with the Pakistani forces.

 

On the other hand, Mir Quasem Ali whose name became synonymous with genocide, rape, looting and arson in Chittagong during the liberation war happened to be the third man in command of the al-Badr militia. He became the eight Jamaat leader sentenced to death so far by the war crimes tribunal set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010. ICT-2 pronounced the death sentence putting an end to all speculations about lesser punishment for Ali who had paid millions of dollars to a lobbying firm to move the US administration and exert pressure on Bangladesh authorities.


The shipping and real estate tycoon Mir Quasem Ali was arrested in 2012 on 14 war crimes charges. He heads the Diganta Media Corporation which owns pro-Jamaat daily Naya Diganta and a TV channel Diganta Television. The television station has been shut down last year for inflaming religious tension by intensifying communal divide.

 

Ali is Secretary of Islami Bank Foundation, an organization that oversees all projects of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited and profits generated by it. He is also in charge of Ibn Sina Trust and Director of Ibn Sina Pharmaceutical Industries.

 

On December 14, 1971, just two days before surrender of the occupying Pakistani forces, all leading intellectuals and professionals of the country were massacred en - masse by al-Badr in order to intellectually cripple the new nation. Nizami and Mir Quasem Ali were the main architects of this massacre. Others who were in league with them in this mission included among others Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid who has also been sentenced to death.

 

Report in the newspapers published immediately after the liberation gives enough proof of the war crimes committed by them and peoples’ cry for justice. On December 19, 1971, the daily ‘Ittefaq’ carried a banner headline,” Golden Bangla sees the worst massacre in human history”. “Bangabandhu said that if Hitler lived today even he would have been ashamed to see what happened in his Golden Bengal,” Bangladesh Observer reported on January 15, 1972.

 

One thing that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is very conscious of, is that if the war crimes trial process is kept incomplete halfway through, under any compulsion or pretext, the biggest casualty would be Bangladesh\'s ‘pro-liberation\' politics that will suffer a deadly blow. Those who had opposed the country\'s independence and perpetrated the worst crimes against humanity on religious grounds will be able to further consolidate themselves. And there would be no space left for the progressive and secular forces to operate.

 

Sheikh Hasina understands the implications and the risks involved. She has urged the people to remain ‘alert and united\' so that the trial process is not disrupted by ‘conspiracies\'. She knows that the move will get meaningful support from the majority of the people. A confident Sheikh Hasina said: “We\'re not afraid of any plot by the defeated forces”. She expressed confidence that the trial would be completed soon to free the nation from the stigma.




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