Bangladesh`s opposition lawmaker named as `collaborator`

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury denies any involvement in the killing of Hindus.

Chittagong: A group of witnesses belonging to the minority Hindu community has accused a senior opposition lawmaker of being a `collaborator` who killed at the behest of the then East Pakistan regime in 1971. The lawmaker has denied the charges.

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a member of the standing committee of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), denied any involvement in the killing of Hindus.

Those who killed unarmed civilians during the freedom movement are considered war criminals.

There was communal harmony in the country now and that could be "disturbed", he warned at a press conference in this port city Saturday, hours after a team of investigators from the Bangladesh International War Crimes Tribunal met families of those who had been killed during the liberation struggle.

"I had no role to play in `71. I left for Pakistan on April 8 in 1971...I was not involved in any politics in 1971. After the war, people of the country brought me into politics," he was quoted as saying in The Daily Star newspaper.

Among those who appeared before the investigators was Profulla Ranjan Singh, whose father Natun Chandra Singh was killed during the Liberation War of 1971.

Prafulla told investigators that Pakistan Army personnel with local collaborators, including Salahuddin, came to their house April 13, 1971.

They dragged Natun out of the house and shot him in front of the temple within the house compound. After Natun fell to the ground, they sprayed bullets on him.

The local collaborators had twice earlier brought in the Pakistan force personnel to raid the house, he said.

Bangladesh is currently conducting investigations to eventually try those who targeted unarmed civilians when there was a rebellion against the then Pakistan regime.

Prafulla told investigators that killing of his father was prompted by the fact that 27 families of Chittagong University teachers had taken shelter at their home.

He alleged that Salahuddin`s father, Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, a former president of the Muslim League, had organised the attack.