War hero testifies against SayedeeResuming his deposition yesterday, Ruhul Amin Nabin told the International Crimes Tribunal that Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee and other collaborators had compelled 60 Hindus to convert to Islam during the Liberation War in Pirojpur. He said they also helped the Pakistani army rape several women in 1971.
Freedom fighter Nabin, who was 21 years old at the time, said some of the Hindus of Parer Haat area, forced to convert, fled to India as they were unable to deal with the humiliation. They, however, returned after the liberation of Bangladesh and followed their own religion, he said.
Now 61, Nabin began his deposition Wednesday and resumed and completed giving his testimony yesterday. He is the second prosecution witness to testify against Sayedee, who has been charged with crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 war.
Detained Sayedee, 71, was present in the dock of the tribunal during the testimony.
A three-judge tribunal led by its Chairman Justice Nizamul Huq recorded the testimony of Nabin. It fixed December 11 for cross-examination of Ruhul Amin Nabin and Mahabubul Alam Hawlader, who completed his deposition Wednesday. There are 66 more prosecution witnesses yet to testify in the case.
Nabin yesterday narrated how during the Liberation War Sayedee helped the Pakistani occupation forces loot valuables from Awami League activists, freedom fighters and the Hindu community in Pirojpur.
The Pakistani occupation forces went to Pirojpur district on May 3, 1971. Around 52 members of the force arrived in 26 rickshaws at Parer Haat area of Pirojpur on May 7, Nabin told the court, a fact which supports the statement of Hawlader made a day before.
Sekandar Ali Shikder, Danesh Ali Mollah, Mawlana Mosleh Uddin and Sayedee, among other collaborators, welcomed the Pakistani force led by one Cap Ejaz. Fluent Urdu speaker Sayedee managed to form a close and friendly relationship with the Pakistani occupation forces, Nabin said, echoing witness Hawlader's statement made on Wednesday.
With the help of collaborators, the Pakistani force looted over 50 houses and shops in the area, including the shop of a local businessman Makhan who had around 20kg of gold (22-sher) and silver jewellery buried under his shop.
They looted eight more houses in Pirojpur's Badura Chithalia village the following day and torched them, he said.
“On a Thursday sometime in mid-June, I took a boat to Parer Haat to gather rations for freedom fighters…It was a haat day [weekly bazaar]…I stood in front of Masud's store and observed the atmosphere of the surrounding area,” Nabin said.
It was then that he saw Sayedee in the distance. “He was wearing a panjabi and lungi,” said Nabin, adding, “He carried a corrugated iron sheet in one hand, and brass utensils in a wooden basket on his head.”
Nabin watched Sayedee, then known as Delwar Hossain Shikder, make his way to a shop, which used to be known as “Panch Tahabil”.
He directed passerby Moulvi Nurul Haque's attention towards Sayedee and said, “See, Delwar Saheb is taking away the loot.”
Nabin, who carried a revolver then, turned angry and told Nurul Haque, “I will shoot this robber right now!”
“Nurul Haque stopped me and said if I created a scene the Pakistani occupation forces would torch the remaining houses too and commit genocide.”
Nabin then made his way towards another shop in the bazaar area where he learnt from locals that Madan Saha's shop had been looted. He then saw Sayedee appear with five men. They began demolishing Madan Saha's shop.
The looted goods were then taken to Sayedee's father-in-law's house in the area, Nabin said.
According to Nabin, the collaborators took over two shops in Parer Haat to store the booty. Sayedee was in charge of the shops, Nabin said.
Nabin told the court that during their stay in Parer Haat the Pakistani occupation forces raped a number of girls with the help of the collaborators.
The collaborators also forced 50 to 60 Hindus to convert to Islam. The victims included Rony Saha, Makhan Saha, Dr Ganesh Chandra, Dr Sudhir Chandra Roy, Gouranga and Ajit Chandra Roy, he added.
“Everyday, they were taken to mosques and forced to pray five times. They were also forced to learn two to four suras [verses of the holy Quran] and were provided with materials for prayers.”
Unable to accept the insult, many of them escaped to India, he added.
On June 21, 1971, Nabin along with a number of freedom fighters went to India to receive guerrilla training. On his return, he took part in armed warfare against the Pakistani occupation forces, Nabin said.
Nabin, along with his fellow freedom fighters, returned to Parer Haat on December 18. The freedom fighters then searched different houses to get hold of the collaborators.
While some were arrested, identified collaborators like Danesh Ali, Maulana Mosleh Uddin and Sayedee could not be apprehended, he said. “We came to know that they had fled,” Nabin told the court.
Some looted goods were recovered from the houses of the collaborators. They were handed back to their original owners.
On behalf of the freedom fighters and the victims of the atrocities committed during the Liberation War by the Pakistani occupation forces, Nabin pleaded for justice.