Bangladesh on Sunday executed two leading opposition leaders simultaneously for war crimes during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan, provoking occasional violence by their supporters, including attacks on the media.
Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, 67, secretary general of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, and Salahuddin Quader Chaudhry, 66, a BNP leader, were hanged at Dhaka Central Jail at 12.55am, a senior prison official who witnessed the execution said.
Hours after the president sought clemency in a last-ditch attempt to escape execution, President Abdul Hameed rejected their clemency petitions yesterday evening. Both were the first war criminals to receive the president’s mercy.
However, their family members have denied reports that the men made such appeals, which would also require them to plead guilty.
Deputy Deputy Commissioner of Investigation Sheikh Nasmul Alam said the two were not “insulted” when they were hanged.
The two were silent as they were taken to the gallows. They did not react. The ropes were pulled at the same time, ”he quoted the media as saying.
As soon as the execution was carried out, ambulances carrying the bodies came out of the prison premises with the help of the elite anti-crime rapid reaction battalion (RAP) and armed police.
Chaudhry, a six-time MP and former minister, was buried after the funeral at the family cemetery at his ancestral home in Rawjan’s Kahira village in Chittagong.
He was buried at the Mujahid Ideal Cadet Madrasa premises following a funeral service attended by family members and Jamaat activists at his ancestral home in Boshim Kabashpur in Faridpur district.
Mujahid, the second most senior member of the Jamaat, was seen as the mastermind of the massacre of the country’s leading intellectuals before the December 16, 1971 war of independence victory.
Chaudhry, a senior aide to BNP leader and former prime minister Khaleda Zia, carried out the atrocity in his home district of south-eastern Chittagong and launched a campaign of violence against Hindus.