Bangladesh arrests hardline leader of Islamist group after violent protests

Anisur Rahman
·2-min read

Dhaka, Apr 18 (PTI) An influential hardline cleric of an Islamist group was on Sunday arrested in Bangladesh on charges of instigating deadly violence in the Muslim-majority country.

A joint team of police and detectives raided an Islamic seminary in Mohammadpur area of the capital Dhaka on Sunday and arrested Hefazat-e-Islam Joint Secretary General Mamunul Haque, who has been in the limelight due to some recent controversies, officials said.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Joint Commissioner (Detective Branch) Mahbub Alam said that 47-year-old Haque was arrested around 12:30 pm.

Teachers and students of the seminary initially staged protest and tried to obstruct the raid. However, Haque was detained from a room on the first floor of the building, officials said.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Deputy Commissioner Harun-ur-Rashid said that Haque and other Hefazat leaders had been accused in several cases, including attacks on law enforcers and police stations and vandalism. These cases are being investigated.

He had been watched for some time now, said the senior officer.

The Hefazat leader has been sued in several cases filed over violence in Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in Dhaka and following his confinement with a woman at the Sonargaon resort.

DB officials said Haque is also an accused in a number of cases.

Earlier, the Hefazat leader made the headlines by his controversial remarks regarding sculptures. He is also accused of threatening the government in the past.

In November last year, he demanded an immediate halt to the installation of a sculpture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the capital's Dholaipar.

The Islamist group is yet to issue any statement over Haque's arrest but one of its leaders preferring anonymity said the group planned to face the cases constituting a strong lawyers panel.

Dozens of Hefazat leaders and activists have been arrested in recent weeks after the hardline Islamist group waged anti-government protests.

Officials said Haque and fellow Hefazat leaders were likely to be charged for instigating violence during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bangladesh tour last month and ruthless demonstrations in 2013 when several other people were killed as the group was demanding a blasphemy law.

Seventeen people were killed and scores injured in violence in different parts of Bangladesh during the protests in late March.

Meanwhile, a local court in Dhaka on Sunday placed Hefazat-e-Islam Dhaka city President Junayed Al Habib and its Assistant Secretary General Jalal Uddin on seven-day remand each in a case lodged over the group's 2013 violence in the capital.

Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Shahinur Rahman passed the order as police produced them before the court and pleaded to place them on 10-day remand in the case lodged with the capital’s Paltan police station.

Separate units of police arrested Junayed from the capital’s Baridhara area and Jalal from the Mohammadpur area on Saturday. PTI AR/ZH ZH ZH