Abul Kalam Azad, the first war crimes accused convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal-2, has fled to Karachi in Pakistan, detectives say.
Azad, also known as Bachchu, left his Uttarkhan house just hours before the tribunal ordered to arrest him on April 3 last year. He crossed over to India through the border in Dinajpur, and then set off to Pakistan via a third country, said Monirul Islam, deputy commissioner of detective branch.
He remains absconding since.
He was born on March 5, 1947, to Abdus Salam Mia and Magfura Khatun in Faridpur. Both his parents are now dead. Azad has two houses in Dhaka -- one in Uttara and the other, Azad Villa, in Uttarkhan. He has two sons and a daughter.
According to the testimony of Noor Hossain, investigation officer of the case, Azad was a first-year intermediate student of Faridpur Rajendra College in 1970, but he discontinued his studies in 1971.
In his college life, he was involved with Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, and was a close associate of Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, the then president of East Pakistan Chhatra Sangha.
At the time, Azad along with Mojaheed held several processions and meetings in Faridpur and neighbouring areas in support of the then Pakistani government, said Noor Hossain.
Quoting witnesses' statements and other evidence, the investigation officer said Azad, being an active accomplice of the then Pakistani army, was directly involved in killings, genocide and other crimes in Faridpur and its neighbouring areas in 1971.
He was in charge of the district's Razakar Bahini, which was equipped with 12/13 rifles. Azad could speak Urdu well as he studied in Madrasa, according to sources in the investigation agency.
Noor said Azad had been arrested in 1972 under Collaborator Order-1972 but the district administration of Faridpur could not provide related documents as all government documents related to the Liberation War in Faridpur were destroyed in a “planned way” after August 15, 1975.
He had once been a "rokan" (member) of Jamaat-e-Islami but the party expelled him for “violating discipline” of the organisation in 1992.
Sanaul Huq, co-coordinator of the investigation agency, told The Daily Star Azad was involved with several local and international organisations before going into hiding.
He was the chairman of Masjid Council, a non-government organisation, founding general secretary of Council for Interfaith Harmony, country representative of Islami Fiqah Academy of Jeddah and editor of monthly Jiggasa, added Sanaul.
According to three issues of February 2001 of Bangla daily Janakantha that the prosecution submitted before the tribunal as evidence, Azad took part in a programme of ATN Bangla but amid controversy over his role in 1971, he was removed from the programme.
Azad, however, took part in an Islamic programme named “Ajker Jiggasa” (today's quarry) aired by NTV.
The investigation agency started investigating the case on April 10 of 2011 and completed it on July 26 last year.
His Bara Khardia village home was found locked yesterday, reports our district correspondent.
Neighbours said Azad and his family members stopped visiting their village home around five years ago.
"We used to see them coming during the Eids. But suddenly they stopped coming here and we are about to forget their family members," said Abdul Hannan, a neighbour.
Meanwhile, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed yesterday said a red alert would be issued through the Interpol against the fugitive accused of the 1971 war crimes, including Abul Kalam Azad.
He added the government would sign extradition treaties with the countries concerned, if necessary, to bring them back and put them on trial.