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A dead man

Saydee appeared in court wearing a Salwar suit and a ‘Jinnah’ cap

It was an experience of a lifetime to be able to experience the sensational verdict session of Delwar Hossain Sayedi, an infamous war criminal in Bangladesh. I entered the court building at 9:40 am last Friday with my friend Udisa. We waited outside the court building for security clearance and finally entered the main room by 10:30 a.m. Then we waited for the judge to arrive. Every reporter, lawyer and civil society activist was busy speculating. Exactly at 11:15 a.m. the accused arrived with the Quran in his hand: a fairly tall man with long red beard, wearing a white Salwar suit (the local dress comprising trousers and a long shirt) and a “Jinnah” cap.  He was the focus of nearly 100 people present in the courtroom. Everyone wanted to have a look at Bangladesh’s “most wanted” person, a man accused of 20 charges of war crime, including genocide, rape, murder, forced conversion to Islam and loot.

The judges came and we took our seats, the verdict began. The judge Fazle Kabir began reading the verdict: “Delwar Hossain Sayedi is a well known person. He is a prominent Maulana whose sermons draw huge crowds of believers. Another identity of him is that he is a Jamaat-e-Islami Nayebe Aamir.  But we have sat here not to hold trial of any Maulana or Jamaat leader. We are here to try Sayedi who was known as Delu Razakar (war criminal) during 1971”. The 120 pages of verdict were reduced to 60 pages.

As a member of the audience, several thoughts crossed my mind. At one time I began feeling bad for the guilty. I was thinking if the death penalty is really necessary. Do I really want him to hang until death? Then the charges and details of the proceedings began. I prayed to God that justice prevail justice, to grant Bangladesh the best possible option. One after another 20 charges has been read out aloud. He was found guilty of the charges against him. 12 other charges couldn’t be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Nearly three hours after the session began the judge sentenced Saydee to hang until death under two charges and didn’t pass a verdict for the rest of the six charges for obvious reasons.

One of the charges, of raping a woman called Mohamaya, came up. In my thoughts, I relived the incident that happened nearly 42 years ago. I tried to picture the three hindu sisters who were gang raped by the Pakistani Army, led by a local ally party of the Peace Committee, headed by Saydee. It became increasingly difficult to comprehend what Mohamaya, her three sisters, Bhagirothi and other women who were raped on Sayedi’s orders went through. It was unbearable for me to hear about the other charges of murder and genocide against Sayedi. How low can people get, once they are struck by animal instincts. They turn into nothing less than cannibals.

When the final part arrived, I was determined and I knew I wouldn’t go back with anything less than a death for Sayedi. I only wanted justice. I wanted Mohamaya, Bhagirothi and other victims of rape, to sleep, finally after 42 long years. I wanted them to know that the youth of Bangladesh won’t let their dignity go in vain. The sentence was pronounced, Sayedi stood up, and accused the judge of being influenced by Shahbag movement. The entire court room screamed: “Shut up, you animal!”

I know the Quran has had its last laugh, as far as Sayedi is concerned. I know, with tears falling silently along her wrinkled cheeks, Mohamaya is sleeping in peace, finally.

Author: Paula Aziz

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


04.03.2013 | 9:48