Bachchu Razakar used to preach Islam on private television channels. No one, apparently, was aware of his complicity in killing, rape, abduction, torture and arson attacks during the 1971 Liberation War in Faridpur until a war crimes tribunal issued arrest warrant against him upon a prosecution plea.
He fled his house – amid surveillance of law enforcers – in between filing of the plea and issuance of the warrant that took a week. Unofficial sources say he went to Pakistan via India and Nepal – without a passport or visa.
He never came back, neither to prove himself innocent during the trial period nor to challenge the death sentence he was awarded on January 15, 2013 by the International Crimes Tribunal.
He was the first war crimes accused to face judgement after a trial in absentia.
The law enforcers, however, have not been able to locate him until date let alone bringing him back. Even no agency or government official agrees to confirm that he fled to Pakistan.
Abul Kalam Azad, known as Bachchu Razakar during the war, had been an associate of Zahid Hossain Khokon of Faridpur. Khokon and another convicted war criminal Mohammad Abdul Jabbar managed to flee the country.
Campaigners say the suspected war criminals would not have fled the country had the law enforcers been sincere.
Bachchu Razakar managed to flee the country sensing that he could be arrested. He got several days to chalk out an exit route, and with the help of family members and aides, he went to Dinajpur from his house at Dhaka’s Uttarkhan, then to India through Hili Land Port, and finally reached Pakistan via Nepal.
The prosecution sought a warrant for his arrest on March 25, 2012 and the tribunal issued the warrant on April 2 after receiving a report from its investigation agency. But it was too late to catch him.
Bachchu Razakar was under watch, police and detectives said, since the prosecution had sought the arrest warrant. He left the capital on March 30.
The tribunal on October 7 the same year decided to continue the trial in absentia. He was indicted on November 4 on the eight charges brought against him by the prosecution. After the trial, the tribunal handed down death penalty for the committing war crimes.
The law enforcers later detained sons, relatives and friends of Bachchu Razakar for assisting him to leave the country. Interrogating them, the law enforcers came to know about his escape route.
Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (media) of the DMP, said the police were trying to locate and arrest Bachchu Razakar.
Similar statement came from Commander Mufti Mahmud Khan, media wing director of the force Rapid Action Battalion.
Alongside the law enforcers, a high-powered task force comprising several ministers has also been working to bring back all the fugitive criminals inclining the war criminals staying abroad.
But there has been no breakthrough as yet.