Top Jamaat-e-Islami leader Muhammad Quamaruzzaman was on Sunday buried at his ancestral home after his overnight execution for committing war crimes and mass killing during Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan even as his supporters called for nationwide protests.
Quamaruzzaman, the 63-year-old Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary general and its third most influential leader, was buried at his village home in northern Sherpur after he was hanged late last night, officials said.
“He was buried at his village home at Kumri Mudipara at about 5:10 in the morning (local time) while people at the neighbourhood joined the namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayers) ahead of the burial,” a police official at the scene said.
He is the second leader of the fundamentalist Islamist party to be executed for the 1971 offences after Abdul Quader Mollah, known as the butcher of Mirpur, met a similar fate on December 12, 2013.
Nine vehicles of paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police escorted an ambulance which carried his body to the village even as the execution met with an angry reaction from his party which called for a protest strike on Monday and a mass prayer on Sunday.
“But police stopped us one kilometre off Quamaruzzaman’s village for security reasons,” a reporter who followed the convoy said.
Bangladesh in 2013 had witnessed violent protests and counter protests when the tribunal pronounced its initial verdict on Quamaruzzaman.
The grave was dug yesterday on a paddy field as Quamaruzzaman was set to be executed after his prolonged trial which began nearly four decades after the crimes he committed against humanity during Bangladesh’s Liberation War, siding with Pakistani troops.
The US had yesterday asked Bangladesh not to proceed with the execution, saying the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) trials must be fair and transparent, and in accordance with international obligations
“Until these obligations can be consistently met, it is best not to proceed with executions given the irreversibility of a sentence of death,” State Department acting spokesperson Marie Harf said.
The apex court had called his crimes “worse than Nazis” when it upheld the judgment of the ICT, which found him guilty of mass killing, murder, abduction, torture, rape, persecution and abetment of torture in central Mymensingh region in 1971.
Quamaruzzaman, however, in his last ditch legal effort to escape the gallows filed a petition seeking the apex court to review its own judgement, which a four-member bench rejected after hearing on April 6.
According to international human rights groups, however, the tribunal’s procedures fall short of international standards, an accusation the government denies.