On January 19 in 1992, Jahanara Imam along with pro-liberation politicians, prominent cultural personalities and intellectuals organised the Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee (Committee for Eradicating the Killers and Collaborators of ’71), and became its public face. The committee called for the trial of people who committed crimes against humanity in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War in collaboration with the Pakistani forces. The Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee set up mock trials in Dhaka on 26 March 1992 known as Gono Adalat (People’s Court) and ‘sentenced’ persons they accused of being war criminals.
Though this trial had no basis in law, as an expression of public wish it caught the imagination of the people in general and a ground swell of public opinion started to form in favour of holding war crimes trial. After the murder of The father of Bangladesh, Sheikh Muzibur Rahman, and following the state-supported activities to distort and blur the memories of our independence struggle, Jahanara Imam’s Gono Adalat was the most significant initiative that can be said to have culminated in the present trial.
The BNP government took a hard line against this initiative and filed sedition charges against 28 of its organisers, including Jahanara Imam. Jahanara Imam breathed her last due to cancer on June 26, 1994. This case was withdrawn by the caretaker government headed by Justice Habibur Rahman. The Nirmul Committee was deftly steered by her successors, especially Shahriar Kabir who, to his great credit, kept the issue of the trial of war criminals alive even when political focus appeared to have shifted away from it.