South Asia

Bangladesh war criminal Ghulam Azam dead

Bangladeshi war criminal Ghulam Azam, who led the Jamaat-e-Islami during the country’s liberation war in 1971, died at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University here on Thursday. The 92-year-old ideological linchpin of Jamaat was a year and three months into his 90-year jail term for crimes against humanity.

Doctors said he was kept on life support as he was suffering from kidney problems, lung infection and complications arising out of old age.

Azam is the second war-crime convict to die in the hospital’s prison cell after Abdul Alim, a Minister in Gen. Ziaur Rahman’s cabinet.

Azam, the brain behind the conspiracy to thwart the birth of Bangladesh, had backed a united Pakistan and led both the political and the auxiliary forces manned by Bengalis that assisted the Pakistan military.

On July 15 last year, the International Crimes Tribunal-1 handed down 90-year jail sentence to Azam, saying that though he deserved death he was being given the jail sentencedue to his old age. The verdict was challenged by both the government and the defence, and the hearing of the appeals were scheduled to start on December 2.

Ten days after the Bangladesh Liberation War started in March 1971, he met Pakistani General Tikka Khan, known as the ‘Butcher of Balochistan’, to extend his support to the Pakistan military.

His party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, and its student wing, the Islami Chhatra Sangha (now the Islami Chhatra Shibir), played formed peace committees and othercollaboration forces such as Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams.

In November 1971, he went to Pakistan and formed the ‘Purbo Pakistan Punoruddhar Committee’ (East Pakistan Retrieval Committee) and campaigned until 1973 to build public opinion against Bangladesh and its recognition in the Islamic world.

In London, he published a weekly, Shonar Bangla, to spread anti-propaganda and consequently the government revoked his citizenship in 1973. After the assassination of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Azam returned to the country in 1978 on a Pakistani passport. He became the Jamaat’s ameer in 1990 and later saw his citizenship restored by the high court during Khaleda Zia’s tenure.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 4:30:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/jailed-bangladesh-exjamaat-leader-ghulam-azam-dies/article6529839.ece

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