The three-judge tribunal found the former Jamaat chief guilty of all the charges levelled against him that included conspiracy, incitement and complicity to war crimes as well as murder. The court also urged the government to take measures to prevent anti-Liberation elements from holding public offices.
A former Dhaka University student leader, Azam was also found guilty for his superior role as head of Jamaat.
The tribunal in its damning indictment stated that Jamaat had played a ‘foul role’ during the independence of Pakistan, under the leadership of the party’s founder Syed Abul A’la Maududi, and also during the independence of Bangladesh — this time under the leadership of Maududi’s disciple Ghulam Azam.
The judgement states under the section on Jamaat’s role during the ‘independence struggle of Pakistan and Bangladesh’ that the party had opposed ‘the idea of a separate state for Muslims’ but turned its colours as soon as Pakistan got its independence in 1947. It then “claimed itself as the only Islamic patriotic political party of Pakistan”.
Noting Jamaat’s opposition to Bangladesh’s independence also, the judgement states, “But as soon as Bangladesh got its independence in 1971 at the cost of millions of lives then Jamaat-e-Islami claims itself as a true patriotic party of Bangladesh, terming those pro-liberation parties as Indian agents.”
The judgement then bins the party’s political wisdom saying that it had played a ‘foul role’ during both the historic occasions and goes further saying that Jamaat “utterly failed to realise the pulse of the common people” both times likely “due to its lack of farsightedness caused by fanaticism”.
The judgement then turns its attention to the accused saying that ‘based on facts of common knowledge and evidence’ it could be gathered that “under the leadership of Ghulam Azam almost all the members of Jamaat-e-Islami along with its subordinate organs actively opposed the very birth of Bangladesh in 1971…”
It goes on to say that after 42 years, some of the anti-liberation people are still at the helm of Jamaat-e-Islami. As a result, said tribunal Chairman Justice A T M Fazle Kabir, in a stiffening tone, the younger Jamaat members “are being psychologically reared up and nurtured with anti-liberation sentiment and communal feeling which is a matter of great anxiety for a nation”.
The judgement noted that there was no proof of Jamaat ever changing its attitude towards the Liberation War by way of repentance or showing respect to the martyrs.
The tribunal chief went on that in the interest of a democratic and non-communal Bangladesh “no such anti-liberation people should be allowed to sit in the helm of Executives of the Government, social or political parties including government and non-government organisations”.
“We are of the opinion that the Government may take necessary steps to that end for debarring those anti-liberation persons from holding the said superior posts in order to establish a democratic and non-communal country for which millions of people sacrificed their lives during the War of Liberation.”
The final part was perhaps the most damning for Jamaat.
The tribunal’s judgement states, “Taking the contextual circumstances coupled with documentary evidence into consideration, we are led to observe that Jamaat-e-Islami as a political party under the leadership of accused Prof. Ghulam Azam intentionally functioned as a ‘Criminal Organisation’ especially during the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.”