Bangladesh arrests key Hifazat leaders

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Law enforcers have arrested at least two leaders of Hifazat-e Islam in cases over violence the Islamist group unleashed in Dhaka eight years ago
The Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested Sharifullah, assistant publicity secretary of the organisation, at Mir Hajirbagh in the capital’s Jatrabari on Tuesday.

Ajhar Mukul, an additional deputy commissioner of DMP’s DB, said Sharifullah had been absconding for a long time in a case over violence in Jatrabari on May 5, 2013.

The Hifazat leaders and activists carried out vandalism and arson attacks on vehicles in Jatrabari on that day while fleeing Motijheel after a mayhem, said Mukul.

The police started a case under the Special Powers Act over the incident at Jatrabari Police Station the next day, naming Sharifullah and others.

He will face legal action now, said Mukul.

A court on Monday remanded Azizul Hoque Islamabadi, central organising secretary of Hifazat, in police custody for seven days following his arrest in Chattogram in a case over Hifzat’s mayhem in Dhaka’s Motijheel in 2013.
It was the first arrest of a top leader of the radical group since the violence unleashed by its activists amid protests against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in March.

Hifazat and some other groups objected to Modi’s visit because of his government’s policy towards the minority Muslims of India.

The Rapid Action Battalion or RAB arrested Ilias Hamidi, assistant finance secretary of Hifazat’s central committee and vice-president of the group’s Dhaka Metropolitan Unit, at a madrasa in Dhaka Keraniganj on Monday.

The institution, Tarbiyatul Ummah Madrasah, is run by Hifazat Joint Secretary General Mamunul Haque, who has recently been mired in controversies over his “wives” and threats to demolish Bangabandhu’s statues, according to the law enforcers.

Abdullah Al Mamun, an assistant superintendent of police at RAB-2, said the charges against Ilias included planning violence, spreading religious extremism, and conducting propaganda.
Jamal Uddin, the warrant officer at RAB-2, started a case against Ilias and eight others at Keraniganj Model Police Station, said Inspector Kazi Ramzanul Haque.

A RAB team raided the madrasa on Monday night on information that some people had gathered there to conspire against the state, Ramzanul said.

The RAB arrested Ilias but the others fled, he said.

The Hifazat leader admitted the presence of operatives of the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir besides the eight others named in the case, according to the police.

The accused are Sharif Hossain, 35, Zakir Hossain, 29, Shafiqul Islam, 28, ‘Yusuf’, 52, Fazlur Rahman, 40, ‘Helen’, 52, ‘Mamun’, 40, and ‘Yunus’, 55.

Ilias backed recent violence during the protests against Modi’s visit in Dhaka, Brahmanbaria and other parts of Bangladesh, according to the case dossier.

A court granted the police seven days to quiz him in custody.

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