Victim testifies Good’s Hill, Salauddin’s family house, was torture cell in 1971
A prosecution witness on Monday testified that he was tortured by Al-Shams men led by detained war crimes suspect Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, MP, in his family residence in the port city of Chittagong during the war of independence.
Mohammad Salim Ullah, the second prosecution witness against Salauddin, told the International Crimes Tribunal-1 that he was abducted by the Al-Shams men on September 2, as he had gone to rescue two Hindu workers of his press.
Now 68, he said that he was confined and tortured at Good’s Hill, the house Salauddin’s father, Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, had bought from an Englishman in the port city.
He said that Good’s Hill was a torture centre in 1971.
The owner of Muslim Press in the port city, made the statement in his deposition before the ICT, also known as the war crimes tribunal.
The tribunal was constituted for trying 1971 war crimes suspects.
The witness said that Al-Shams men used to leave Good’s Hill in a red jeep, given by Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, roam around the port city and its suburbs, and the outlying areas of Satkania, Boalkhali, Patia, Raojan and Rangunia, to collect information from their sources about people supporting the war of independence of Bangladesh.
On the basis of information collected from their sources, they used to attack, loot and set afire houses, mostly belonging to the Hindus, said Salim.
He said that they used to abduct women and rape them at a makeshift camp they had set up by occupying the house of Nihar, a friend of Salim.
The witness said that they supplied some of these unfortunate women to the Pakistani occupation army and some of the abducted women were killed.
On September 2, said Aalim, one of his press workers came to his residence and informed him that two of his Hindu workers were being tortured.
Salim said he went to the spot, in front of the house of his friend Runu, where his workers lived as tenants, to rescue the two workers.
The witness said that as Al-Shams men, Hamidul Kabir Chowdhury Khoka, Syed Wahidul Alam, Mahbub and Yusuf, took the two picked up workers to Goods’ Hill ignoring his request to set them free, he headed towards Goods Hill to rescue them.
On his way, Salim said, he saw the red jeep of Al-Shams men was on its way back from Good’s Hill, escorted by a pickup van of Sindh Police, and the occupants abducted him and took him to Goods’ Hill.
Being sympathetic to Salim, a septuagenarian tailor, who lived at Runu’s house, got into the pickup van and both of them were brought to Goods’ Hill.
He said that they confined him and the tailor in a motor garage at Goods’ Hill and they were subjected to inhuman torture.
He said they used to torture supporters of independence by hanging them upside down at Goods’ Hill and hitting them with butts of rifles.
‘At one point I thought that I would be gunned down. Thinking about my only daughter who was four-month old, and other members of my family, I used to pray to Almighty Allah to protect my daughter in my absence,’ Salim recalled, bursting into tears, unable to check his emotion.
He said that they set him free on the next day, but he did not know as yet the whereabouts of the two workers, Dayal and Swapan, and the tailor.
He said that his apprehension was that they killed the three and concealed their bodies.
Salim said he had heard gunshots and groaning of people before the daybreak when his abductors confined him in the garage of Goods’ Hill after subjecting him to torture throughout the night.
‘I made my deposition before the tribunal as a persecuted person and I seek justice for which I have been waiting for 40 years,’ he said.
His testimony over, the defence counsel began cross-examining him.
Salim’s cross examination and Salauddin’s trial would resume today.
In 1971, Salauddin was a student.
In 1980s Salauddin was a leader of Jatiya Party and a minister in the government of military dictator H M Ershad.
He, later, quit Jatiya Party and founded National Democratic League and in 1991 was elected Member of Parliament representing his NDP.
From 1991 to 1996, Salauddin was in the anti-BNP government movement led by Awami League, for the introduction of non-party caretaker government for holding parliamentary elections acceptable to all.
Subsequently, Saluddin joined BNP and was elected to parliament a number of times on its ticket.