War Crimes Facts Finding Committee (WCFFC), a research organisation, yesterday unveiled a list of 1,597 war criminals responsible for the mass killings, rapes and other atrocities during the Liberation War.
Of those on the list, 369 are members of Pakistan military, 1,150 are their local collaborators including members of Razakar and Al Badr [forces formed to aid the occupation army] and Peace Committee, and 78 are Biharis.
Publishing the list at a press conference at the Women's Voluntary Association auditorium in Dhanmondi, the fact-finding committee said this is not the final list, and they would soon come up with another one with more evidence and documents.
The list and evidence would be handed to the government and Election Commission to help them try the war criminals and disqualify them from elections. Besides, those would be circulated to the international community.
Four women who were tortured by the Pakistan forces were present at the programme.
Local collaborators who are on the list and still alive mostly belong to Jamaat-e-Islami. Some of them who were then involved in Muslim League and Nezame Islam politics are now leaders of BNP and Jatiya Party.
Jamaat's former ameer Golam Azam, present chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid, Assistant Secretaries General Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and AKM Yusuf, central committee members Delawar Hussain Sayedee, Abdus Sobhan, Abul Kalam Muhammad Yusuf and Abdul Quader Molla are among the high-profile Jamaat leaders on the list.
Former BNP lawmakers Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Abdul Alim, and Anwar Zahid, a former minister during Ershad rule, are also on the list that contains division- and thana-wise names of Razakar, Al Badr, and Peace Committee members.
"We have drawn up the list on the basis of field-level investigation, statements of eyewitnesses and victims, and examination of relevant documents for 17 long years," said Dr MA Hasan, convener of the committee dedicated to research on acts of genocide and atrocities committed in 1971.
He said they are ready to place all the necessary evidence and documents once the government forms a special tribunal to try the war criminals.
“We have prepared the list not to take revenge but to break the silence of impunity,” observed Dr Hasan.
Gen AM Yahya Khan, former president of Pakistan, Lt Gen Tikka Khan, governor and martial law administrator of the then East Pakistan, Maj Gen Khadim Hussain Raja, general officer commanding (GOC) of the then East Pakistan, Maj Gen Rao Forman Ali, adviser to governor of the then East Pakistan, Gen Abdul Hamid Khan, the then chief of staff of Pakistan army, Maj Gen AO Mittha Khan, Gen SGM Pirjadah, Gen Iftekhar Janjua, Brig Jahanjeb Arbab and Lt Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, the then commander of Eastern Command, are among the Pakistan military personnel listed as war criminals. No-one of the above mentioned ones are in the service now.
According to the list and documents produced at the press conference, Golam Azam met Yahya Khan on June 19, 1971 and requested him to “supply arms to those who believe in the ideals of Pakistan”. He also lauded the government for military crackdown in the then East Pakistan.
He and Nizami led the procession brought out in Dhaka on April 12, 1971 to hail the formation of 'Peace Committee'.
Nizami was then the chief of Islami Chhatra Sangha. Under his supervision, paramilitary Al-Badr Bahini was formed to eliminate Bangalee intellectuals.
At the press conference, the fact-finding body displayed clippings of various newspapers published in 1971 that speak volumes about Jamaat leaders' role against the struggle for independence.
In an article published in the Daily Sangram, mouthpiece of Jamaat-e-Islami, on November 14, 1971, Nizami wrote, “Look how fortunate we are to have formed Al Badr Bahini with help from Pakistani army to bear the spirit of Badr War.”
He continued, "Those days are not far off when youths of Al Badr will fight shoulder-to-shoulder with the Pakistan army to defeat the Hindu Bahini [the phrases Jamaat used to refer to freedom fighters] and Islam's flag will fly across the world."
The caption of a photograph in the Daily Azad of December 11, 1971 read, "Al Badr chief Mojahid addresses a meeting arranged to warn those spreading propaganda [against Pakistan]."
The committee at the press conference said Nizami and Mojahid were in the central leadership of Al Badr while Imran, Ashrafuzzaman Khan, Harun or Rashid Shelly and Chowdhury Mainuddin led Dhaka unit, Ajharul Islam led Rajshahi [presently assistant secretary general of Jamaat], Ashraf Hussain Mymensingh and Jamalpur, Kamaruzzaman Sherpur and Jalil led Barisal unit.
Kamaruzzaman and 10 other Badr Bahini members killed Badiuzzaman. Hasanuzzaman, the victim's brother, filed a case (No. 2/5/72 and GD No. 250/2/72) with the Nalitabari Police Station in this connection after the Liberation War.
Ashrafuzzaman of Jamalpur, who was one of the masterminds behind the killings of intellectuals in 1971, now lives in the United States, Dr Hasan said.