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Mir Quasem Ali was hanged

[dropcap]Q[/dropcap]uasem Ali’s hanging comes nearly four months after Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami was executed. Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali was executed on Saturday night after deciding not to seek presidential clemency, the last option for a death row convict to avoid the gallows. Ali, a financial backer of the Jamaat and a business tycoon, was hanged at the high security Kashimpur jail in Gazipur district near Dhaka.

Quasem, who had led the ruthless Al-Badr militia — that supported Pakistan Army in the port city of Chittagong during nation’s Liberation War in 1971 — became the sixth individual to go to gallows for ‘crimes against humanity’, over four decades after Bangladesh emerged as an independent country through a war against Pakistan. When Bangladesh’s independence war broke out, Jamaat had opposed the struggle, siding with the military regime in Islamabad.As the president of its students’ wing, Islami Chaatra Sangha, the “Bangali Khan”, as Quasem was widely known, had reportedly set up a torture camp in Chittagong, where scores of pro-freedom individuals were tortured and killed.

Mir Quasem Ali, was a Bangladeshi tycoon, the former director of Islami Bank, and chairman of the Diganta Media Corporation, which owns Diganta TV. He founded the Ibn Sina Trust and was a key figure in the establishment of the NGO Rabita al-Alam al-Islami. He was considered to be the wealthiest member of the Bangladeshi political party Jamaat-e-Islami. He was sentenced to death on 2 November 2014 for crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 by a controversial war crimes tribunal. The charges were denied by his relatives, stating they were politically motivated.

He was hanged at Gazipur on 3rd September 2016. Mir Quasem was a first-year student of Chittagong College in 1971, where he was pursuing a bachelor degree in physics. He was the president of Chittagong Chhatra Sangha’s unit. He was elected a to the Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha’s provincial working council on 6 November. He was also general secretary of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha. Al-Badr was a paramilitary force composed of Jamaat e Islami’s then student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha to support Pakistan army and crackdown on pro-liberation groups. Al-Badr branch of Chittagong seized Mohamaya Bhaban building at Andrrkilla. The building was owned by a local Hindu family. They renamed it “Dalim Hotel” and used it as an interrogation and detention centre. Pro- Bangladeshi activists Jahangir Alam Chowdhury and Syed Md Emran testified at Quasem’s trial that the prison was used to torture suspected members of Mukti Bahini.

Mukti Bahini members “Jasim”, Tuntu Sen and Ranjit Das were killed at this place. Witnesses testified at the trial that guards at hotel Dalim would announce the arrival of Quasem with “Mr Quasem has come. Mr Commander has come. After independence Quasem fled to Saudi Arabia. He returned to Bangladesh and became the founding president of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the Jamaat’s student front, on 6 February 1977. The organisation is a successor to the Islami Chhatra Sangha.

Out of the 14 charges, Quasem was convicted in 10 charges in the trial at International Crimes Tribunal and he was awarded death sentence for two of the charges including murder and kidnapping. After the announcement of the verdict of the trial the lawyers from the defense said that justice had not been done on Quasem and he did not get proper judgment. Gonojagoron Moncho supported the verdict and expressed satisfaction. The defense pledged an appeal to Bangladesh High court. Quasem’s political Party Jamaat-e-Islami called for a nationwide three days strike as a protest of the verdict. He filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. The Supreme Court rejected the review petition on 30 August 2016.

Some critics of the current Bangladeshi Government said that Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of the country used the trials to target her political enemies. In 2016, Human Rights Watch reported that Mir Quasem Ali’s trial was flawed. It demanded a moratorium on the death penalty, after details emerged that the prosecution had for producing insufficient evidence in court. Brad Adams of HRW stated: “Allowing the death sentence in a case with such fundamental doubts about the evidence is unthinkable. Amnesty International raised serious concerns about the court proceedings. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also alleged that Mir Quasem Ali’s son Ahmed Bin Quasem disappeared on August 9, 2016. But finally no one is above the law; Mir Quasem Ali was hanged at Kashimpur Jail Gazipur on 3 September 2016. There were reports of street celebrations held in Dhaka and Chittagong after the news of Ali’s execution was broadcast live on television.

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