FOR THE WAR CRIMINAL, BEING A JOURNALIST WAS A PRIVILEGED
Julfikar Ali Manik
Following the Shahbagh uprising, the National Press Club authorities said last year that they had cancelled both Quader Molla and Kamaruzzaman’s memberships
Sixty two-year old war criminal Muhammad Kamaruzzaman enjoyed a journalist’s status for more than three decades including a membership of the National Press Club.
With yesterday’s verdict, Kamaruzzaman became the second Jamaat-e-Islami leader whose death penalty got final confirmation from the Supreme Court, following his party colleague Quader Molla, who was executed in December last year.
For decades, Molla also enjoyed a journalist’s status and all the facilities of the National Press Club, becoming a member of which has always been hard even for professional journalists.
Molla got allotment of a plot in the journalist colony at Mirpur in Dhaka during BNP founder Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman’s regime, but later sold it out, said Hasan Iqbal, the eldest son of convicted war criminal Kamaruzzaman.
Iqbal said his father had not got allocation from the government; rather he had purchased senior journalist Matiur Rahman Chowdhury’s plot, who got it from the government. Matiur is now the chief editor of daily tabloid Manabzamin.
Ruhul Amin Gazi, president of a housing cooperatives society of journalists, told the Dhaka Tribune: “As far as I remember, Quader Molla was offered a plot but he never took it. But it is true that Kamaruzzaman purchased the plot from Matiur Rahman Chowdhury.”
Gazi also said the process of plot allotment began during Zia’s regime, the plots were registered to the allotee journalists by the Ershad government and handed over to them during Khaleda Zia’s 1991-1996 rule.
Iqbal said their family had moved to their own residence in the journalist colony in 2000 from the capital’s Moghbazar.
Kamaruzzaman, originally from Sherpur, was a student when he committed crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in the greater Mymensingh area. Father of five sons and a daughter, Kamaruzzaman was arrested as a suspected collaborator soon after the birth of Bangladesh.
Iqbal claimed that his father had been released from jail later and got a bachelor of arts (pass course) degree from the Dhaka Ideal Collage in 1973. Three years later, he obtained post graduation in journalism from Dhaka University. He was a boarder of the Salimullah Hall dorm.
As a student of DU, he started his career as the university correspondent of daily Sangram, Jamaat’s mouthpiece, Iqbal said. The Jamaat assistant secretary general joined monthly Dhaka Digest as editor after passing out. In 1981, he joined Sonar Bangla, a weekly publication of Jamaat-e-Islami.
Kamaruzzaman came back to Sangram as the executive editor and stayed there until 1993. Iqbal said his father had again joined Sonar Bangla as the editor and worked there until he had been arrested in 2011 as an accused war criminal.
Following the Shahbagh uprising, the National Press Club authorities said last year that they had cancelled both Quader Molla and Kamaruzzaman’s memberships.
“We did not get any formal letter from the National Press Club authorities regarding the cancellation of membership of my father. We just read about the matter in newspapers,” Iqbal said.
Apart from these two, another convicted war criminal Chowdhury Mueenuddin was also known as a journalist.
But the difference was that Mueenuddin committed war crimes in 1971 as a reporter of the then Bangla daily Purbodesh, while Molla and Kamaruzzaman came to be known as journalists after committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
Mueenuddin left Bangladesh a few days before the war ended and now lives in London as a British citizen.
NOVEMBER 06, 2014