Abul Kalam Azad (politician)
He was the first of nine prominent Jamaat suspects accused of war crimes by the International Crimes Tribunal-2 of Bangladesh to be convicted for crimes against humanity, including murder of unarmed civilians and rape committed during the War. On 21 January 2013 Azad was sentenced to hang for his crimes.
For years, Bachchu had anchored an Islamic television show, called Apnar Jiggasa (আপনার জিজ্ঞাসা), or Your Questions on a private TV channel in Bangladesh. He discussed questions of Islam and its interpretation.
Azad is the son of Abdus Salam Mia and his wife of Barakhardia village, under Saltha Police Station of Faridpur District. He was born on 5 March 1947. After attending a madrasa, he was a student at Rajendra College in Faridpur.
Bangladesh Liberation War 1971
During the Liberation war of 1971, at age 24 he was a close associate of Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, then president of the East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS), the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the major Islamist party in the country. It opposed the war, as its leaders believed that breaking up the Muslim state of Pakistan went against Islam. Before the formation of the Razakar paramilitary force, Azad is known to have actively aided the Pakistani army in committing criminal acts.
Azad assisted the Pakistani occupation force as the chief of the Al-Badr force in Faridpur; the members of the force were young men mostly drawn from colleges. He could speak Urdu well because he had studied in a madrasa. As a close associate of the Pakistani army, he participated in committing atrocities on civilians, including the Hindu community and pro-liberation Bangalee people.
In the 1980s Azad became a regular speaker at a major mosque in Dhaka. He also led an Islamic charity.
He was nationally influential, as he anchored a TV show on a privately held station, in which he explained Islamic virtues. Described as a televangelist, he is thought to have used his TV shows to influence many Muslim residents of Bangladesh, who were chiefly of Sufi-inspired Islam, to move toward the Saudi-style Wahhabi Islam, considered more fundamentalist.
International Crimes Tribunal
In 2010 the Bangladesh government established the International Crimes Tribunal under a 1973 act of Parliament. It has indicted nine suspects who are prominent Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, and two who are Bangladesh National Party leaders. The government was responding to popular support to have the trials and settle longstanding accusations dating to the liberation war of 1971. The United Kingdom, France and Germany are among governments that have supported Bangladesh undertaking the war crimes trials to provide justice to victims of atrocities committed during the war.
The trial was held in absentia because Azad went into hiding hours before Tribunal-2 issued an arrest warrant against him on 3 April 2012. He is believed to have fled to India or Pakistan. The court appointed a defence attorney for him, Supreme Court lawyer Abdus Sukur Khan.
Azad was indicted on eight counts for murder, rape and genocide. Investigators said they had identified 14 people murdered by Bachchu: three were women he had raped and nine were other abducted civilians. Testimony was offered by 22 prosecution witnesses, including friends and families of the victims. The prosecution said that Bachchu had burnt down at least five houses, looted 15, and forced at least nine Hindu persons to convert to Islam.
On January 2013, his trial was the first to be completed; he was convicted of war crimes, on six of eight counts, including murder of unarmed civilians and rape committed during the War. On 21 January 2013 Azad was sentenced to the death penalty.
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- , The Daily Star
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