This story was first published on May 4, 2014 at http://thedailystar.net
Immediately after independence, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was arrested in Dhaka as a collaborator of the Pakistan army and was thrown into jail for several months. He, however, escaped trial due to unknown reasons.
In the last four decades, the Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary general was successful not only in dodging trial but also in establishing himself as a national level leader of the party. He enjoyed a free life until July 2010 when he was arrested.
Though families of martyrs and victims who were tortured by the Jamaat leader have got justice following the death sentence given by the International Crimes Tribunal-2 on May 9 last year, an apprehension gripped them that the verdict could be overruled by the Supreme Court as Kamaruzzaman's appeal was pending there.
Ending all apprehension and speculations, the apex court yesterday upheld the death penalty for his crimes against humanity committed in 1971. Now the justice seekers demand quick execution of the verdict.
Son of Insan Ali Sarkar of Kumri Mudipara in Sherpur, Kamaruzzaman was born on July 4, 1952. He got involved in Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat, when he was a student of class X, according to prosecution documents.
He passed the Secondary School Certificate examination from GKM Institute in Sherpur in 1967.
Soon he became the general secretary of Islami Chhatra Sangha of a dormitory unit at Jamalpur Ashek Mahmud College and then the president of Chhatra Sangha of greater Mymensingh (Mymensingh, Jamalpur and Sherpur) in 1971.
Prosecution documents also show that Al-Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pakistan occupation army, was formed after the army entered Jamalpur on April 22, 1971. The entire Mymensingh district Chhatra Sangha joined Al-Badr within a month under the leadership of Kamaruzzaman.
The identity of Kamaruzzaman as the chief organiser of Al-Badr is very much evident from a report published in Jamaat's mouthpiece, the daily Sangram on August 16, 1971.
The report said Momenshahi [Mymensingh] Al-Badr had organised a rally and symposium at local Muslim Institute on August 15 marking the 25th independence day of Pakistan and Kamaruzzaman, as the chief organiser of Al-Badr, had chaired the programme.
After taking short training, Al-Badr members started committing atrocities targeting the Hindus and unarmed Bangalees of greater Mymensingh, say the prosecution documents.
After the Liberation War, law enforcers arrested Kamaruzzaman in the capital on December 29, 1971 as one of the collaborators of the Pakistan army.
The Bangla daily Purbadesh ran a report headlined "15 more collaborators including Deen Mohammad arrested" on December 31, 1971. The Dainik Bangla published another report headlined "15 more collaborators arrested" in the same issue.
Kamaruzzaman was 14th on the list of arrestees published in the reports. He was 287th on a list of arrested collaborators of Dhaka that was prepared by the Directorate of National Security Intelligence (NSI) Bangladesh on April 13, 1972.
News of his arrest was substantiated from the testimony of Kafil Uddin, elder brother of Kamaruzzaman as well as the fourth defence witness in the case.
During his cross-examination, Kafil said Kamaruzzaman was detained at Kamalapur Railway Station when he had gone to Dhaka towards the end of 1971 but was released after 90-105 days.
Sources in the investigation agency of ICT say Kamaruzzaman sat for the HSC examinations from Dhaka Central Jail in 1972 and got released after around nine months as no case was filed against him in the capital. But a case was filed against him in Mymensingh under the Collaborator Act, 1972.
However, he was not arrested in connection with that case.
After the rebirth of Jamaat's student wing which assumed the name Islami Chhatra Shibir after independence in 1977, Kamaruzzaman became its president in the second executive committee, according to prosecution documents.
The war criminal joined Jamaat in 1979.
He obtained his bachelor's degree in 1974 and master's in journalism from Dhaka University in 1976, according to defence documents.
He joined the monthly Dhaka Digest as an executive editor in 1980. Thereafter he took charge of the weekly Sonar Bangla as its editor in 1981 and remained in that position even after his arrest. He joined the daily Sangram as an executive editor in November 1983 and served in that capacity until 1993.
He joined Jamaat's Dhaka city unit in October 1979 and served as a joint secretary in 1981-82. He was the central publicity secretary from 1983 to 1991. He has been serving as an assistant secretary general of Jamaat since 1992, according to defence documents.
Kamaruzzaman, father of five sons and one daughter, contested the parliamentary elections in 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2008 but never won.