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Tuesday, January 22, 2013
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He is now in Pakistan

Say police; homes under lock and key; govt to seek Interpol help

House of Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu Razakar at Boro Khardia village in Jodunandi union of Faridpur. Locals say that no one has visited the house in the last five-six years. Photo: Rezaul Karim

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.

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We are sceptical about Bachchu Rajakar's absconding without some internal help. Definitely there was somebody within who divulged his arrest warrant and the charge against his crimes which he knows is correct. He worked for Pakistan to especially exterminate Hindus from their ancestral land which was one of the most sought for 'Operation Searchlight' agenda. What a post 1975 Bangladesh we were rewarded by Zia and later his BNP -- heinous criminals came to power and hoisted our heard earned flags in their cars and houses with the direct shameless legal support of that govt.

: naabaj

All this hue and cry by the International (?) Crimes Tribunal seems nothing but wild goose chasing and spending public money for nothing. Most importantly, any trial after 40 years does not carry any weight especially when the trial itself appears not free and fair. That is what neutral people at home and abroad believe. I am one of them.

: S. Ahmad

Comments

  • Mufassil Islam
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013 08:05 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    There is a problem with this; firstly Azad left the country before the arrest warrant was issued. Secondly, the neutrality of the Tribunal is questioned by the main opposition political party. Thirdly, this is widely viewed as a single party agenda to hold the trial (though we all want justice) where most of the accused belong to a particular political opposition. He cannot be classified as an absconder accused as he did not abscond after the warrant as well. This is a special tribunal and the appointment of judges and lawyers would be questionable as well when judges are being appointed at the High Court even by dint of political affinities. Azad has no obstacle in seeking refuge in any country if that country is a signatory of the Geneva Convention 1951 and an extradition treaty with Pakistan owing to present relations would be impossible in reality. Even if it is reached then the process to work retrospectively would be very difficult and by that time the present government might not sustain. The trial at a latter date and under the new government might be appealed in the interest of justice out of time at the Appellate Division for mistrial to quash the decision and verdict reached in absentia. So, I believe Azad has no chance of facing the gallows.

  • shafique ullah
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013 11:00 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Bangladesh should move to all circles of international bodies for his extradition. If Pakistan is found for his sheltering, criminal case must be brought against Pakistan to the international court of Justice. Pakistan is already proved to the international community as a safe heaven for world criminals.

  • niloufar sarker
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013 01:00 PM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    It is true that justice delayed is justice denied. But we needed a closure however late. It is unfortunate that some readers see it as one party agenda, though it should have been a national agenda and not as divisive. To patriotic Bangladeshis and to people directly affected by genocide and rape do not think of it as waste of public money or wild goose chase, to them it is real. If it is true that Azad took shelter in Pakistan goes to show how anti-liberation force is still very much alive and we need to be vigilant.

  • iftekhar Ahmad
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013 01:26 PM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    It is very good to see that the people who did crime against our people is finally coming under the law of the land and is being tried for the crimes they have committed. As Bangladeshis we are happy for this. But for Gods sake let's not use this to divide the nation any more. Let's not use this as a political tool by any quarter. Let's move on and work together to build the country for us and for our next generation.

  • raz
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013 01:54 PM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    This is politics of vengeance and hatred! Who decides who is Razakar and who is patriot? All have only nasty political stance. If it has true meaning of justice, we welcome also to try the killers of all others including Siraj Sikder and also recent killing in day light i.e. Biswajit. All should get the punishment for any crime; their life is not less valuable than any one's husband or father.


 

 


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