Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah yesterday claimed that he received training for the Liberation War along with some youths at Amirabad village in Faridpur.
Quader Mollah said this while giving testimony before the International Crimes Tribunal-2 as the first defence witness in the war crimes case against him.
The assistant secretary general of the party added that he had left Dhaka on March 11 or 12 in 1971 for his village and spent the rest of the year and almost entire 1972 running a business there.
According to the charges framed against him, the Jamaat leader had “actively taken part” in the killing of at least 381 unarmed people in Dhaka's Mirpur and Keraniganj areas in six separate incidents in between March 26 and November 25 in 1971.
At least three prosecution witnesses--Shafiuddin Mollah, Amir Hossain Mollah and Abdul Majid Palowan--have testified that they saw Quader Mollah with rifle in his hand directly taking part in the killing of Bangalees.
During his around one-and-a-half-hour testimony, the accused said he had passed the SSC examination in 1964 and HSC from Faridpur Rajendra College in 1966 and BSc from the same college in 1968.
“I enrolled on MSc in physics at Dhaka University in December 1969 and was a residential student of Dr Mohammad Shahidullah Hall,” said Quader Mollah, adding that he had worked as a teacher for one year before his enrolment at DU.
According to the charge-framing order, Mollah, then president of Dhaka University's Shahidullah Hall unit Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat, organised the formation of Al-Badr with the members of the student body in 1971.
Al-Badr, an anti-liberation force, collaborated with the Pakistani army in committing crimes against humanity and genocide, especially killing the intellectuals at the fag-end of the war, according to the prosecution documents.
He said he had an examination on March 12-13 but the exam was postponed following the historic March 7 speech of founder of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
He claimed he had left Dhaka for his village on March 11 or 12 following the advice of the chairman of his department, adding, students who had returned to their village used to meet at Amirabad High School ground every day.
He added following a call from a retired “JCO", whose name he said could be Mofizur Rahman, a number of university, college and high school students had assembled there.
“Mofizur Rahman said he would train us for war and for this purpose, he collected some dummy rifles,” said Mollah, adding, “He said the political problem might not be solved and we have to take preparation.
“On that evening, as per his advice, around 30 to 40 students assembled and after taking preliminary test he selected almost all of us. From that day, we started PT [physical training] and parade,” Mollah claimed.
Their training was postponed when the Pakistani army arrived in Faridpur on April 30 or May 1, said the Jamaat leader. It resumed a few days later but again stopped after the Pakistani army had marched towards Barisal from Faridpur.
During his stay at home, Mollah used to visit the house of Moulavi Mohammad Ishak alias Dhala Mia Pir and give private tuition to his two daughters, said the accused. Ishak gave him some money to run a business at Ishak shop at Choddarashi Bazar formally known as Sare Satrashi Bazar, he added.
“The rest of 1971 and almost entire 1972 I used to go to the market on Saturdays and Tuesdays and sit at Pir Saheb's market house and run the business,” Mollah continued.
Mollah's statement contradicts with his earlier speech he made before the tribunal on May 28 after the charge-framing order in the case.
On that day, Mollah said he had left Dhaka on March 12 or 13 and returned to Dhaka once in July for some 15 days to take part in an examination.
Mollah yesterday said he had communication with Faridpur Awami League leaders Advocate Mosharraf Hossain and Shahjahan Talukder in 1971.
Around noon, the three-member tribunal headed by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir with members Justice Obaidul Hassan and Judge M Shahinur Islam, adjourned the case proceeding till 2:00pm as Mollah felt unwell.
Later, the tribunal adjourned the case proceeding until Sunday as the accused did not recover.
Mollah is expected to give the rest of his testimony on Sunday.
Earlier on May 28, the tribunal framed six charges against Mollah for his alleged involvement in murders and mass killings during the war.