No complete list of martyred intellectuals, 44 years on

The nation is still in the dark about how many intellectuals were killed by the Pakistani occupation army and their local collaborators, as successive governments could not prepare a complete list in 44 years after the independence. The liberation war affairs ministry has no complete and comprehensive list of martyred intellectuals while figures provided by various other government and private documents range between 232 and 1,111. Independence war researchers believe that even the figure 1,111 was not correct and it should be 10 times the number. Shaheed Buddhijibi Koshgrantha, a biographical encyclopedia of martyred intellectuals published by the Bangla Academy defined intellectuals as writers, scientists, artistes, singers, teachers from universities to primary schools, researchers, journalists, lawyers, physicians, engineers, architects, sculptors, government and non-government staff, people involved in film investigation agency chief Md Abdul Hannan Khan told New Age. The families of many martyred intellectuals filed cases under the order. Forty-two cases were filed as of March 28, 1972, according to an announcement of the police at that time. The number kept rising and might reach a few hundred, Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee executive president Shahriyar Kabir told New Age. Barring a few, the fate of the cases could not be known and none conducted any extensive research on it, he said.

The two International Crimes Tribunals, better known as War Crimes Tribunals, set up to hold trial of the war crimes suspects, sentenced Motiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Chowdhury Mueenuddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, to death on charges of killing intellectuals. All four were leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami’s erstwhile student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1971. The sentences are, however, yet to be executed. The tribunals found all the four as leaders of the Al-Badr Bahini, a death squad and also an auxiliary force of the Pakistani occupation army. ‘The workers belonging to Islami Chhatra Sangha were called Al-Badr,’ the tribunals found. The Pakistani occupation army and its auxiliaries, especially Al-Badr, committed target killings of intellectuals and professionals across the country towards the end of the war of independence in 1971. The ICT-1 found Nizami, the ex-officio chief of Al-Badr, guilty in committing genocide by killing professionals and intellectuals while the ICT-2 found Al-Badr chieftain Mojaheed guilty in killing intellectuals in Dhaka and Al-Badr chief executioner Ashraf and operation-in-charge Mueen guilty in killing 18 university teachers, journalists and physicians in Dhaka.

Of the condemned convicts, the appeals of Nizami and Mojaheed are now pending with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court and the rest two – Ashraf and Mueen – were tried in absentia and are still in hiding. After the promulgation of the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order 1972, widely known as the collaborators order, on January 24, 1972, the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman set up 73 special tribunals, including 11 in Dhaka, to try Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams members, defined as collaborators in the order. Shahriyar Kabir said that the government should immediately conduct extensive survey to identify the martyred intellectuals across the country and ensure that the families of all martyred intellectuals get justice.

- See more at: