Swadhinata Award recipient Amir Hamza was a murder accused

Amir Hamza

Md Amir Hamza, the Swadhinata Award recipient in literature in 2022, was made an accused on charges of allegedly killing a man in Magura in 1978.

The incident took place in Magura’s Barishat village under Sreepur upazilla. A case was filed against Hamza and five other men for killing Md Shahadat Fokir.

The relatives of the murder victim and the other murder accused said that all six accused were handed down life sentences. Hamza’s elder son Md Ali Mortuza admitted that his father was accused of a murder, but denied that his father was awarded the life imprisonment.

The names of the Swadhinata Award recipients were announced on Tuesday. This year, 10 persons and one organisation were named as recipients. Amir Hamza, who passed away on 23 January 2019 at the age of 87, was posthumously named for the award.

Social media has been buzzing with debates since Hamza’s name was revealed as an award recipient. Hamza is a hardly known figure in the country’s literature sphere and doesn’t have any notable literary works that would make him eligible for such an honour.

When asked about Hamza being a convict, convener of the cabinet committee for national awards and liberation war affairs minister AKM Mojammel Haque told Prothom Alo, “I have heard about Amir Hamza being involved in a murder case. We are looking into it right now.”

Amir Hamza was the prime accused in the murder of Shahadat. The murder victim resided in the Sreepur upazilla’s Barishat Purbopara. He was murdered in 1978 (30 Ashwin 1385) by rivals in a dispute over harvesting paddy from land.

Md Diyanat Ali Fakir, 64, son of slain Shahadat Fakir spoke to this correspondent. He said the court sentenced six people to life in prison about seven years after the murder. Those who faced imprisonment were Md Amir Hamza, his brothers Golam Rabbani Sardar, Hashem Mollah, Nurul Mollah, Omed Chowdhury and Afzal Mollah. All were from Barishat village.

Diyanat Ali Fakir told Prothom Alo that “Although all the accused were sentenced in the case, they walked out of jail in a general amnesty in 1991 when BNP came to power. We had to struggle in making a living after the murder of my father. That’s why we were not able to move ahead with this [case].”

Two accused in the murder case, Md Amir Hamza and his brother Golam Rabbani, passed away. However, an accused Afzal Molla, 80, is still alive. The correspondent met him at his house in Barishat on Tuesday.

Afzal admitted that six people, including Md Amir Hamza and Sardar, served the prison in the murder case.

He told Prothom Alo, “I was a victim of conspiracy. I was released from the prison in 1991 with others, including Amir Hamza, after serving nine years in jail.”

It is known that two and half years old child, Shilpina, was killed in the clash that claimed the life of Shahadat Hossain Fakir. Shilpina was the daughter of Md Golam Kibria alias Shaban Molla, 73, a resident of Barishat village.

Shaban Molla said his daughter was in her maternal grandfather's house on that day. She was killed after a spear piercing through her rib while she was in her maternal grandmother’s lap.

He claimed that the court sentenced six people, including Amir Hamza, in the case filed over killing her daughter. However, it could not be confirmed whether Amir Hamza and five others were accused in this case or not.

Locals said Amir Hamza was involved in business and local politics in addition to doing music at various places. He was a member of ward no. 8 of Sreeikol union parishad twice.

According to several politicians of the district, Amir Hamza was active in BNP’s politics once. He maintained a direct link to an influential minister of BNP in Mangura.

Many of the local residents observed Amir Hamza and other people were released from jail at the ‘interference’ of that certain minister.

When asked about Amir Hamza, a BNP leader on condition of anonymity said Amir Hamza had an excellent quality. He could score a song on the guest at any event instantly. Once, he sang many songs on president Ziaur Rahman.

Denying the allegation of being convicted in murder case, Md Ali Murtaza, elder son of Md Amir Hamza, told Prothom Alo his father had been accused in a case and he was in the jail for some days. He, however, was released and the case was filed on a false allegation. And such conspiring incident often occurs in the village, Ali Murtaza added.

When asked on Shahadat Hossaini Fakir murder case, Sreepur police station officer-in-charge (OC) Shukdeb Roy told Prthom Alo over phone it is not possible to comment on such an old case. They need to find out whether the documents of this old case are in the police station or not, he added.

*This report appeared in the online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam, NH Sajjad and Hasanul Banna