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Saturday, October 25, 2014, Kartik 10, 1421, Zilhajj 29, 1435 Hijr

Wartime crime charges against Ghulam Azam
Staff Correspondent
Publish Date : 2014-10-25,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 13
Jamaat-e-Islami guru Ghulam Azam was indicted on five charges involving 61 counts of wartime crimes and all the charges were proved. The crimes include incitement, conspiracy, planning, abetment and failure to prevent crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971.
Six counts of charges were for conspiring with the Pakistan army, three for assisting them, 28 for incitement, 23 for affiliations with them and not preventing killings and tortures, and one for murder and torture.
International Crimes Tribunal-1 observed that the mastermind of crimes against humanity deserves death penalty, but awarded him 90 years jail term considering his advanced age.
"We are convinced in holding that accused Prof Ghulam Azam was the pivot of crimes and all the atrocities revolved around him during the War of Liberation," the three-member tribunal said in the judgment passed on July 15, 2013.
The tribunal awarded  him 10 years' imprisonment each for conspiring and planning to commit crimes against humanity and genocide. It gave him 20 years each for incitement to and complicity in committing crimes against humanity, genocide and other war crimes. It also sentenced him to 30 years for torture and the killing of police officer Shiru Mia and three others.
"The period of the aforesaid sentences awarded to the accused shall run consecutively or till his death," the judges ordered.
Charge No 1: The first charge brought by the prosecution says, Ghulam Azam and 11 others including Nurul Amin, Maulavi Farid Ahmed, Khawaja Khayer Uddin, AKM Shafiqul Islam, Maulana Nuruzzaman, Hamidul Huq Chowdhury, Mohsinuddin Ahmed, Advocate AT Sadi, met Lt Gen Tikka Khan, the Chief Martial Law Administrator of the "Kha" Zone of occupied Bangladesh on April 4, 1971 and plotted to form the 'Nagorik Shanti Committee'.
He met Tikka Khan again two days later as part of the conspiracy. In continuation of the conspiracy, he held a high-level meeting with then Pakistan President Yahiya Khan. Again on December 1, the same year he took part in a conspiratorial meeting with Yahiya Khan and suggested strengthening the Razakar forces.
Azam was instrumental in setting up the infamous Shanti Committee or Peace Committee. The Razakars, an auxiliary force set up to thwart the liberation forces were mobilised through the Peace Committees across Bangladesh.
Among the most notorious vigilante militia was the Al Badr, which was formed incorporating the members of Jamaat's student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha. Al Badr carried out execution of the intellectual elites of Bangladesh a few days before the victory on December 16, 1971.
Charge No 2: As part of a plan to form 'Shanti Committee' all across Bangladesh, on April 9, 1971 Ghulam Azam and others formed a 140-strong 'Nagarik Shanti Committee' in Dhaka.
On May 4, a meeting of the 'Shanti Committee' was held at the residence of AQM Shafiqul Islam at Elephant Road in presence of Azam.
Presided over by Khawaja Khayer Uddin, the meeting planned the formation of Shanti Committee at various Unions of the Dhaka City.
Charge No 3: The prosecution brought 28 counts of allegations of inciting crimes against humanity.
On April 7, 1971, Ghulam Azam in a joint statement termed the Bangladeshi people struggling for freedom 'Indian infiltrators' and called for destroying them.
On April 22, after a meeting of the Peace Committee, he issued a statement where he termed members of all the fronts under his command as 'patriotic citizens' and called upon them to 'resist' the 'destructive activities' of the country's general people.
In a meeting on May 17, Ghulam Azam termed the nation's struggle for freedom as an 'anti-state activity' and the freedom fighters 'traitors'.
Azam had also praised the barbaric 'Operation Searchlight' - in which hundreds of thousands of unarmed people were killed - to quell the Bangalees' freedom struggle.
He had issued instigating statements against freedom fighters in rallies arranged at Rajshahi on July 16, in Brahmanbaria on July 18, in Khulna on August 4 and in Kushtia on August 7. He also made various provocative comments on the occasion of Pakistan's 25th Azadi Day on August 14 at Dhaka University's Curzon Hall, at party meetings on August 17 and 23 and at a Jamaat-e-Islami programme in Peshawar on August 26.
While visiting Physical Education Centre on September 17, a training camp for Razakars, Ghulam Azam asked them to arm themselves. He made similarly provocative comments on October 3 at a meeting of Jamaat's Majlish-e-Shura.
Charge No 4: The fourth charge against Ghulam Azam includes 23 counts of his assistance and involvement in crimes against humanity.
The prosecution said Ghulam Azam and others met with Lt Gen Tikka Khan on April 4 and April 6 and gave him full assurance of their support. The Nagorik Peace Committee was formed on April 9 with Ghulam Azam's assistance. The name was changed to Central Peace Committee on April 15. He was among the 21-member working committee of the Peace Committee.
On June 18, Azam at Lahore Airport said the people want to fully assist the army. Azam met President Yahiya Khan at Rawalpindi on June 19 and proposed that the Razakars, Al Badr, Al Shams be supplied with arms so they can assist the army and confront the freedom fighters.
The next day, he told a press conference at the West Pakistan office of Jamaat-e-Islami that 'miscreants' were active in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and that the arms were required to combat them and to ensure the safety of the peace-loving citizens.
Charge No 5: The prosecution brought one count of allegation of murder and torture in the fifth charge against Ghulam Azam.
It says, Comilla's Homna Police Station's Sub-Inspector Shiru Miah, of Ramkrishnapur village, was employed as a Sub Inspector in Dhaka's Mohammadpur Station in 1971. After the war began, he along with his wife Anwara Begum, minor son Anwar Kamal returned to this house at Chamelibagh on March 28.
They began helping the people who were fleeing to India as refugee. On October 25, 1971, Shiru Miah and his son Anwar Kamal and others left their home to go to India armed with two revolvers. They were arrested by Razakars at Tantar checkpost of Kashba on October 27 and taken to the Razakars camp where they were tortured for several days and then sent to Brahmanbaria prison.
Shiru Miah's wife learned of their capture and got in touch with Ghulam Azam believing that an intervention by the chief of East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami and a central leader of the Peace Committee might be able to save them. The husband of Shiru Miah's sister-in-law was a house tutor of Azam's two sons, Abdullahil Aman Azmi and Abdullahil Amin Al Azmi. The teacher requested Azam to get Shiru Miah and his son released.
Ghulam Azam however sent a letter to Brahmanbaria's Peace Committee leader Peyara Miah ordering that Shiru Miah and his son be killed.
Consequently, the two along with 38 others were taken out of the jail but a person named Shafiuddin was released as he spoke Urdu. The rest were taken to Pourotola and shot by Razakars and Al-Badr.
Ghulam Azam, as the leader of Jamaat and allegedly playing a pivotal role in setting up the Razakars, has been charged with the murder of 38 people as he could have supposedly prevented that from happening by dint of his standing and office in 1971.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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