UP IN THE SKY BOY CAN NOW SMILE
Mahbubur Rahman Khan
It was around noon on November 28, 1971. Several people were held captive at a room of Dalim Hotel, torture camp of notorious Al-Badr Bahini, in Chittagong town.
Suddenly, the room’s door was flung open. Three to four men rushed in carrying a person on their shoulders. They threw him on the floor.
“As the door was shut, I removed his blindfold, untied him and took him in my lap. When we lifted his face to the sunlight coming through the ventilator, we were shocked.
“It was teenage freedom fighter Jasim! His head almost slipped off my lap. We realised that Jasim was no more,” advocate Shafiul Alam, who was among the captives, wrote in his book “Sei Se Somoy Anonde Bedonay” published in 2006.
Fifteen-year-old Jasim Uddin fought to his last breath to free the nation from the clutches of the Pakistan occupation army. His dream came true but he had to pay with his life.
Al-Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pakistan army, tortured Jasim to death at Dalim Hotel, and dumped his body into the Karnaphuli river. And the man behind the killing was the then Al-Badr commander Mir Quasem Ali.
“Jasim, a brave youth freedom fighter was murdered in unlawful captivity at the Al-Badr camp where he was brought on capture. He was non-combatant at the time of his forcible capture,” observed the International Crimes Tribunal-2 in its verdict yesterday.
The three judges of the tribunal unanimously handed down death penalty to Quasem for Jasim’s killing.
“The AB [Al-Badr] camp at Dalim Hotel transformed into a ‘murdering machinery’ to which war criminal Quasem was a part and had acted as a cog of the squad which in accomplishing the pattern system criminal activities used to dump dead bodies of murdered detainees to the river of Karnaphuli”, said the tribunal.
“The pained relatives could not have trace even of their dear ones. What a brutality! What a grisly felony attacking the humanity!
“JEI [Jamaat-e-Islami] the architect of AB [Al-Badr] force formed of workers of its student wing ICS [Islami Chhatra Sangha, student wing of JEI] knowingly endorsed such activities in the name of saving Islam and solidarity of Pakistan. But the holy religion Islam does not endorse anyone to go with such criminal act of murdering human being, as it is against entire humankind”, the tribunal said.
Jasim was an HSC candidate at the Chittagong College when he joined the Liberation War. He used to visit regularly the house of his cousin Hasina Khatun at Bepari Para in Chittagong. He met Hasina the last time on an Eid day in 1971.
The young freedom fighter asked Hasina, the 17th prosecution witness in the war crimes case against Quasem, to cook scented rice, and she did.
“Sister, please pray for us so that we can be successful,” these were the last words Jasim uttered to Hasina before leaving her house on that evening.
“Killing Jasim, a youth freedom fighter in captivity at the Al-Badr camp was the ending phase of the organised and system cruelties that, as revealed, were practised as routine activities at the torture and detention camp directing the detained civilians brought there on capture,” said the judgment.
Al-Badr members abducted Jasim from an unknown place in Chittagong any time on the day after the Eid-ul-Fitr. They then took him to the torture centre at Dalim Hotel in Andarkilla.
Apart from Hasina, five witnesses, who were tortured by Al-Badr members, corroborated Jasim’s killing.
Second prosecution witness Sanaullah Chowdhury, who was abducted on November 27, 1971 and held captive at Dalim Hotel for 12 days, said a boy, who had endured severe torture, was brought to the room on November 28.
“Pointing to that boy, someone told the Al-Badr men ‘he is not dead yet, throw him in so that the captives understand the consequence of not telling the truth’. Then they [the Al-Badr men] left the boy in the room,” said Sanaullah.
“Advocate Shafiul Alam told me that he [who gave the orders] was Mir Quasem Ali, commander of [Al] Badr force,” he said.
The tribunal observed, “It was done consciously to terrorise the detainees about the consequence of non-cooperation in providing information.”
The detainees later learnt from Swapan, who supplied food to the torture camp, that Jasim’s body had been dumped into the Karnaphuli river.
In his reaction after the verdict, Jasim’s brother Dr Rajib Humayun, former professor at Dhaka University, said, “I have been crying for my brother since 1971. Sometimes, I thought he would come back.”
“This verdict will lessen my pain a bit.”
Humayun said he would find peace if all war criminals are tried and punished for what they did in 1971.
Jasim, the youngest of 10 children of school teacher Syed Ahmed, was immediate junior to Rajib.
The other charge on which Quasem was given capital punishment was the killing of Ranjit Das alias Lathu and Tuntu Sen alias Raju.
On Quasem’s instructions, Al-Badr members abducted Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, Ranjit and Tuntu Sen from their houses in Chittagong in November, 1971.
They were taken to the torture centre at Dalim Hotel.
Jahangir was released the following day. But, on Quasem’s instructions, Al-Badr members killed Ranjit Das and Tuntu Sen, and dumped their bodies into the Karnaphuli river.
The prosecution produced six witnesses, including two relatives of the victims, to prove the charge.
The tribunal, however, gave split verdict on it.
Two judges awarded Quasem capital punishment for the killing while the other judge acquitted him of the charge.
NOVEMBER 03, 2014