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Bangladesh hangs Islamist leader Kamaruzzaman for war crimes ‘worse than Nazis’

19Jamaat-e-Islami henchman Mohammad Kamaruzzaman has been hanged for his atrocities that were ‘worse than the Nazis’ to stop the dawn breaking on Bangladesh in 1971.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia confirmed the 65-year-old was executed at Dhaka Central Jail at 10:01pm on Saturday.

Inspector General of Prisons Syed Iftekhar Uddin told bdnews24.com outside the prison that the entire process keeping the noose around his neck was completed around 10:30pm.

People gathered at Shahbagh intersection burst into celebrations at the execution, shouting slogans and saying justice has finally been delivered.

Kamaruzzaman’s relatives at his ancestral home at Kumri Bajitkhila in Sherpur district’s Sadar Upazila are prepared for his burial.

He will be buried there following his wish, according to his elder brother Kafil Uddin.

The Jamaat-e-Islami has called a shutdown throughout Bangladesh for Monday against the hanging of its senior leader.

A large contingent of police, RAB and detective police took position in the jail area in the evening in a standard procedure before the imminent execution.

Streets around the jail were closed to traffic soon after Iftekhar Uddin arrived just before 7pm.

A scanner was immediately set up in front of the jail gate.

Dhaka’s Deputy Commissioner Tofazzal Hossain Miah and Civil Surgeon Abdul Malek Mridha arrived at the jail around 9pm.

A magistrate and an Islamic cleric also entered Kamaruzzaman’s cell around half an hour later.

Hundreds of people thronged the area in the afternoon after Kamaruzzaman’s family entered the jail to meet him.

Police, using loudspeakers, asked the people to clear the area in the evening.

DMP’s Lalbagh division’s Deputy Commissioner Mofizuddin Ahmed said they were prepared for all eventualities.

There were plenty of indications that he would be executed on Friday as security was beefed up in and around the jail but it did not happen.

Kamaruzzaman is the second war criminal after fellow Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla to walk the gallows.

A special tribunal on May 9, 2013, sentenced the Al-Badr regional commander to death for his atrocities during the Liberation War.

A year later, the Appellate Division confirmed the verdict, calling him a ‘beast’, and observed his crimes were “worse than the Nazis”.

Last Monday, Chief Justice SK Sinha-led bench threw out his plea for a review of the death penalty.

The Jamaat-e-Islami senior assistant secretary general’s family met him in prison on Apr 6 following a call from the jail authorities.

A copy of the final verdict reached the jail on Apr 8 and was read out to him.

The only thing blocking his execution was the issue of presidential mercy.

Two district magistrates met him on Friday to ask him if he would seek pardon.

State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Saturday said the convict decided not to beg the president for mercy like the other war criminal Molla.

Later in the day, Kamaruzzaman’s family met him for one last time in jail. “He (Kamaruzzaman) is calm and well,” said his son Hasan Iqbal afterwards.

Several organisations demanded his execution while some international groups, opposing death penalty, urged the government to commute the sentence.

Sohagpur ‘happy’

But Sohagpur, the ‘village of widows’ in Sherpur’s Nalitabarhi, was happy.

On Jun 25, 1971, Kamaruzzaman led the Pakistan Army to the village, killing 120 men and raping their women.

So many were widowed that the place was called the ‘village of widows’.

The genocide was one of the two charges for which the ICT awarded him death.

“The acts of the accused (Kamaruzzaman) can be comparable with none but beasts,” the Appellate Division said in its verdict.

“Even Nazis did not perpetrate similar nature of brutal acts.”

The Awami League government constituted the International Crimes Tribunal in 2010 to try the crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.

From Al-Badr regional commander to Shibir president

Born in Bajitkhila on July 4, 1952, Kamaruzzaman was the chief of the Mymensingh unit of Jamaat-e-Islami’s then the student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha during the war.

He formed the Al-Badr force with the leaders and activists of his organisation’s Ashek Mahmud College unit in Jamalpur to collaborate with the Pakistani occupation firce on Apr 22.

Under his command, Al-Badr members were involved in genocide, killing, rape, looting, arson, and deportation of people in the then greater Mymensingh region including Jamalpur, Netrokona, Kishoreganj, Sherpur and Tangail districts.

In 1972, Kamaruzzaman cleared his higher secondary exams from Mymensingh’s Nasirabad College. He then went on to study journalism at Dhaka University and completed his master’s in 1975.

He served as the President of Jamaat-e-Islami’s student affiliate Islami Chhatra Shibir between 1978 and 1979, according to his official profile on the party’s website.

It introduced him as “a renowned politician, writer, orator, intellectual, journalist and Islamic thinker”.

Kamaruzzaman joined Jamaat’s Dhaka City chapter in October 1979 and was sworn in as a full Jamaat member (Rukun) in 1979.

In 1980, he joined as Executive Editor of monthly Dhaka Digest. A year later, he edited weekly ‘Sonar Bangla’. He also worked for Jamaat’s mouthpiece daily ‘Sangram’ as Executive Editor.

He was appointed Joint Secretary to Dhaka City unit Jamaat for the 1981-82 term and served as Publicity Secretary of the party from 1983 to 1991.