Dhaka: Bangladesh wants to limit the proposed trial of "war criminals" -- those who killed unarmed civilians in the 1971 freedom struggle -- to a symbolic few, according to a ruling party leader.
Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam on Sunday said the government will bring a handful of "war criminals" to justice in a display of symbolism.
"The trial of war criminals doesn`t mean trials of thousands. It will be symbolic and those who led the massacres in 1971 will be tried," the Daily Star Monday quoted Islam as saying.
But those who fought the Pakistani troops in 1971, when the war led to the birth of Bangladesh, are upset with Islam`s comments.
They say three million people perished in 1971 at the hands of the Pakistani military and Islamists allied to them.
Shahriar Kabir, acting president of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, said: "Such comments will make the trial of war criminals a farce.”
"Thirty lakh (three million) people were killed during the liberation war and every family has the right to get justice.”
"It is the government`s responsibility to set up a tribunal, appoint prosecutors and investigation agencies. The government will only play the role of a plaintiff," he said.
Lt Gen (retd) Harun-ar-Rashid, coordinator of the Sector Commanders Forum, said: "Let the government set up the tribunal first and then it will decide on the number of war criminals to be tried."