Executed war crimes convict Salauddin Quader Chowdhury was buried at Chittagong’s Raujan on Sunday morning, agencies report. Chowdhury, infamous as the ‘terror of Chittagong’ in 1971, was hanged at the Dhaka Central Jail just past midnight on Sunday. Another war crimes convict, Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, was executed simultaneously at 12:55am, said prison authorities.
An ambulance carrying the body of Chowdhury, a six-time MP and a former minister, left the prison for Chittagong around 2:55am. The vehicle arrived at his ancestral home in Raujan’s Gahira village in Chittagong around 9am. His son Hummam Quader Chowdhury received the body from the prison authorities.
He was buried at the family graveyard around 9:55am after a funeral prayer, which was conducted by Hifazat-e Islam leader Mahibulla Babunagri. Chowdhury was found guilty by the war crimes tribunal in nine out of the 23 charges levelled against him by the prosecution. In its verdict, delivered on Oct 1, 2013, the court sentenced him to death over four charges. He was given prison terms of different durations for the other charges.
The BNP Standing Committee member appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court. The apex court’s verdict on July 29 this year acquitted him of one of the nine charges and upheld the sentences in the remaining eight. The full verdict was published on Sep 30 after the Supreme Court judges had signed it.
The International Crimes Tribunal issued a death warrant for him the next day. Chowdhury had then filed a plea with the apex court for a review of his sentence, which was rejected on Wednesday. The last option to avoid the noose was a possible presidential clemency, which he had sought on Saturday. But that too was turned down.
His family, however, said that Salauddin Quader had not filed a mercy petition. Speaking to the media after the burial, son Hummam Quader Chowdhury said his father had told him there was no question of seeking clemency. “When I spoke to him yesterday, he said ‘Your 6 feet 2 inches tall father is a tiger; he can’t bow before anyone’.”
Hummam Quader alleged that the government had implemented an ‘illegal verdict’. Salauddin Quader is the eldest son of AKM Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, a Muslim League leader who was in the 1960s a minister in the central government of Pakistan led by Field Marshal Ayub Khan and also speaker of its national assembly.
Fazlul Quader served as Pakistan’s acting president on Ayub’s trips abroad. In 1971, he and his son Salauddin actively collaborated with the Pakistan army in murdering Bengalis. Salauddin Quader changed parties a few times before settling down in the BNP to become one of its key policymakers.
Ever at the centre of controversy with his remarks and actions, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury becomes the first BNP leader to walk the gallows for war crimes committed in 1971.