Hefajat "Long March" in Dhaka: A sing...

Hefajat "Long March" in Dhaka: A single event that changed Awami Government's Calculations

There are 90 comments on the CNN story from Apr 6, 2013, titled Hefajat "Long March" in Dhaka: A single event that changed Awami Government's Calculations. In it, CNN reports that:

Since last night till this evening, Bangladesh underwent a new history of people's upsurge centering round the heart of Dhaka City and also disseminating to some other remoter cities outside her capital; an upsurge, reportedly a biggest one, ever seen in the history of her independent entity.

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#49 Apr 19, 2013
Hasina urges no more strike during exams
http://bdnews24.com/politics/2013/04/19/hasin...

“The BNP is destroying future of hundreds of thousands of HSC examinees by enforcing strikes,” Hasina alleged.

Tests of 17 subjects of the ongoing HSC and equivalent examinations have been shifted to later dates due to opposition-enforced strikes.

Hasina came down hard on her arch political rival for the atrocities during the opposition’s recent shutdowns.

She alleged the opposition was orchestrating violence during their shutdowns in the pretext of waging anti-government campaign.

“…Why are you enforcing frequent strikes?… Is it because trials of the war criminals have started?” Hasina asked.

She renewed the resolve to complete the war crimes trials which is an electoral pledge of her party

Hasina again alleged the BNP was trying to save the war criminals through its movement.

The BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami and its allies have been running riot since November last year. Activists of Jamaat and its student front, Islami Chhatra Shibir, intensified their attacks on police across Bangladesh and on the rail sector after a tribunal convicted two of its leaders on war crimes charges.

Ruling Awami League top-brass and several ministers have branded the opposition movements ‘attempts to impede the war crimes trials’.

Hasina alleged the opposition had attacked a peaceful procession at Fatikchharhi and killed up to five people.“Many are still missing. They (the opposition) are threating many more with death,” she alleged.

The Awami League chief claimed everyone knew that “killing people is a trait of the opposition”.

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#50 Apr 20, 2013
‘Thwart anti-liberation forces’
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/04/20/thw...

It said the Jamaat and its student front, Islami Chhatra Shibir, were once again challenging the very ethos and spirit of the Liberation War, atrtacking the religious minorities, raising demands to curb women rights -- all to draw a curtain over the war crimes trials .

They said religious fanatics were trying to drag the country back to the middle-ages.“The main opposition party (the BNP) has joined hands with these forces,” the platform alleged.

Little-known Hifazat-e Islam held a rally in the capital to press for their 13-point charter of demands, even demanding public mixing of sexes and scrapping the women policy . The BNP supported their demands.

“During this moment of crisis, we need a national unity of the people infused with the spirit of the Liberation War to thwart the negative forces,” Sarwar Ali said.

He urged everyone to come forward to join their effort.

The platform lauded the Shahbagh demonstrators saying they have kept up the spirit of the Liberation War high through peaceful demonstrations.

Just part of Article all in the link below title.

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#51 May 3, 2013
‘Govt met, meeting Hifazat demands’
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/03/gov...

Sheikh Hasina has asked the Hifazat-e Islam to shelve its Dhaka siege plans on May 5 as she said her government has met most of the 13-point charter of demands.

A major part of the Prime Minister’s press briefing on Friday dealt with the radical organisation’s demands and the government’s measures to meet them.

She read out 12 demands and urged them to call off their Sunday’s programme to facilitate rescue and rehabilitation efforts at the site of the biggest industrial disaster at Savar where 525 people, mostly readymade garment workers, have been confirmed dead.

“…Several of their (Hifazat’s) demands have already been met. Some of the logical demands are being implemented,” she said at the briefing at her official Ganabhaban residence in Dhaka.

About their first demand to reinstate ‘Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah’ in the Constitution, Hasina said the Constitution contains ‘Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim' and has Islam as the state religion.“And so, Islam has not been excluded from the Constitution,” she argued.

Hasina concurred with the Hifazat that those insulting Allah, Islam, Prophet Muhammad, and running propaganda campaign against the Muslims should be punished. She reiterated that laws to try such offences are already in place.

She said the Special Powers Act, penal codes, and Information and Communication Technology Act have provisions for punishment for defaming religion and the Prophet.

About tough punishment of ‘atheist’ bloggers and ‘anti-Islamists’ who have insulted Islam and the Prophet, she said the government had blocked YouTube as certain offensive materials on the Quran and Prophet Muhammad were run on it.

Hasina said four blog activists have been arrested and the government will ensure punishment of people if they are found guilty of such offences in future in line with recommendations by a probe committee.

Police had detained Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, Mashiur Rahman Biplob, Russell Parvez, and Asif Mohiuddin in the first week of April on suspicion of hurting religious sentiment through their work.

On the Hifazat’s demand to end abuse and killing of protesting Alem-Ulama, madrasa students,‘Tauhidi Janata’ who love Prophet Muhammad, Hasina said the government had not adopted any steps to ‘oppress’ the peace-loving and innocent people talked about.

“Alems (religious scholars) are respected persons. There has been no incident of law keepers torturing, oppressing and opening fires on Alem-Ulamas.”

The Prime Minister claimed no Alem-Ulama or madrasa student had been detained. She asked for a list of innocent Alems who have been detained and said the government would release them.

Hasina agreed with the Hifazat’s demand to halt all efforts to stop religious programmes and removing obstructions to the faithful going to the national mosque Baitul Mukarram. She, however, requested them to keep an eye open so that no ‘gibata’– the act of equating others with Allah – takes place during ‘khutbah’ or sermons.

The Hifazat had demanded prohibition of all imprudence, misconduct, adultery, public mixing of men and women, lighting of candles in the name of individual rights and freedom of speech.

She said the misconduct, adultery and such other things in the name of private space and freedom of speeches are ‘conflicting’ with the Bengalee values and the culture of Bangladesh’.“The government is always alert to stop the infiltration of such ‘foreign cultures’.”

Hasina said adultery was punishable under Section 497 of Bangladesh Penal Code. She said candles are lit in times of power cuts and gave example that torches were lit in Makkah and Madinah.

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#52 May 3, 2013
On the demand to stop attempts to turn Dhaka, the city of mosques, into a city of statues and establishing statues in the name of building sculptures in intersections and colleges, universities, the Prime Minister said there are sculptures in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and many other Muslim countries.

She said when a statue is built for worshipping purpose it becomes an idol but when it is made as an example of something it becomes a statue. Hasina said the government would not let anyone build any ‘obscene’ statues.

Regarding the demand for scrapping ‘anti-Islam women’s Acts’, the ‘godless education system’ and mandatory Islamic religious studies starting at the primary school, the Prime Minister said the education policy has provisions for mandatory religious education until secondary level.

About the women policy, she said a line had been added in the amendment which prohibited anti-Islam or anti-Quran policies.

She pointed out that Islam granted the highest rights to women and argued it was not the religion’s policy to curb that right.

About the demand to stop ‘conspiring’ against teachers and students of Kawmi Madrasa, Ulamas and Imam for mosques, Hasina said the government was not issuing threats to them.

Hasina ‘fully agreed’ with the Hifazat’s demand to prohibit all jokes about beards, caps and Islamic culture in the visual media along with negative characterisation of actors in religious attire.

“The matter moves forward when moves are made to identify the Razakars. It is right that anyone with caps and beards are not Razakars. The Awami League has the largest number of people with beards and caps.”

She urged the visual media to refrain from cracking jokes that hurt religious feelings.

Hifazat demanded the government brought an end to all activities by NGOs, Christian missionaries and attempts of conversion including in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Prime Minister Hasina said proselytising was a punishable act. She said the government was working for the development of the people and their lives in the Hill Tracts and added that the law-enforcing agencies were alert so that no NGO or any organisation could exploit the people’s poverty and their helplessness.

“Come, let us all carry Islam, the religion of peace, in our hearts and work together for the development of the country and the people,” she urged the Chittagong-based organisation.

Hasina urged the religious scholars to keep an eye and take proper steps so that no one can defame Islam in the name of militancy and terrorist activities.

“The country, the nation and democracy can be harmed by the imprudence or senseless acts or speeches. None of us expects it,” the Prime Minister reminded all.

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#53 May 4, 2013
Transport strike at several places
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/04/tra...

Both BNP and Hifazat alleged that the suspension of transport services was prompted by the government to foil their agitations.

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#54 May 4, 2013
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/04/hif...

Hifazat to go ahead with Dhaka-siege

Hifazat-e Islam on Saturday decided to go ahead with their pre-scheduled besiege Dhaka programme on Sunday terming the Prime Minister’s claim of addressing most of its 13- point demands as ‘devoid of merit’.

An announcement to this regard was made by the radical organisation’s chief Ahmed Shafi. Its Joint Secretary General Mufti Faizullah read out a written statement of Shafi at a press conference at its Dhaka office.

On Friday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had urged the Chittagong-based group to call off its programme saying the government had met most of its 13-point charter of demands.

“The Prime Minister’s statement is devoid of any merit. She has tried to sidestep the demands,” said Shafi, whose organisation is widely believed to be backed by the Jamaat-e-Islami.

He claimed Hasina’s statement did not contain clear directions for implementation of the demands.

Its Secretary General Junaid Babunogri, however,‘thanked’ Hasina for ‘fully agreeing’ with its demand to prohibit all jokes about beards, caps and Islamic culture in the visual media along with negative characterisation of actors in religious attire.

The anti-Ganajagaran Mancha group claimed its 13-point charter of demands were the ‘public demands’.

The organisation’s publication secretary Munir Ahmed had already disclosed the activists of the group would take positions at six points around the capital – from Jatrabarhi to Kanchpur Bridge, from Jatrabarhi to Demra Bridge, Postgola Buriganga Bridge, Babubazar Bridge in Old Dhaka, Tongi Bridge in Abdullahpur, and Baliarpur in Aminbazar—to lay a siege to Dhaka on Sunday.

During its April 6 rally in Dhaka, several journalists, including a female scribe, were attacked near the programme venue. They had also hurled water bottles at DMP Commissioner Benazir Ahmed on the day.

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#55 May 5, 2013

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#56 May 5, 2013
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/2-s...

http://bdnews24.com/politics/2013/05/05/1-kil...
Shahadat Hossain, a witness, told bdnews24.com he had seen several men carrying small firearms. He suspected the Jammat-e-Islami and its student affiliate Islami Chhatra Shibir activists were behind the attacks.

bdnews24.com Senior Correspondent Reazul Bashar, who is at the scene, said at least 15 vehicles were smashed during the skirmish.

At one point, suspected Hifazat activists locked horns with the police in front of the Awami League headquarters and fought pitched battles. Police lobbed teargas shells to bring the situation under control.

The bus driver ‘Jewel’ told bdnews24.com his assistant Siddiqur Rahman, 28, who was standing beside the stadium during the clashes, was hit by a bullet on his face.
He succumbed to his injuries after he was taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Jewel said.

A doctor at the hospital said the Rahman had died of excessive bleeding.

During the clashes, several slogans were chanted which are usually used by the Jamaat and Shibir activists. The clashes spread to the stadium, RAJUK Bhaban, Gulistan, and Golap Shah areas.

The ruling party activists got involved in the clashes but Awami League’s metropolitan unit General Secretary Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya alleged that they were orchestrated with the help of the Jamaat and BNP.

“Our activists foiled the attacks with assistance from police,” he added.

http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/man...
Mancha activists take out anti-Hifazat procession

Ganajagaran Mancha activists, pressing for maximum penalty for the convicted war criminals, brought out processions, brandishing sticks, for the second time on Sunday following news that supporters of Hifazat-e Islam were advancing towards the Shahbagh intersection.

May 05 2013
During the procession, the Mancha activists shouted anti-Jamaat and anti-Hifazat slogans, bdnews24.com ’s Ashik Hossain reports from the spot.

He said tension ran high as words came out that Hifazat activists, who are expected to hold a rally at Motijheel, were advancing towards Shahbagh, where the Mancha activists had been demonstrating for three months now.

On Apr 6, several activists of the Hifazat had tried to advance towards Shahbagh after a rally but were barred by the Mancha activists. Hifazat activists had exploded several crude bombs as they retreated on the day.

The Mancha took out the second procession, brandishing sticks, around Sunday noon protesting against Jamaat-e-Islami and its student affiliate, Islami Chhatra Shibir, and Hifazat’s 13-point charter of demands.

A large number of police have been deployed at Shahbagh to maintain order.

Jamaat behind AL office attack:
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/jam...

Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir has alleged the activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student affiliate Islami Chhatra Shibir had carried out the attacks on the Awami League headquarters and engaged in clashes ‘in the guise’ of Hifazat-e Islam supporters.

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“No anarchy will be tolerated,” spokesperson Syed Ashraful Islam warned at a press briefing amid Hifazat’s rally in the Motijheel business district.

The ruling party’s spokesperson told the Chittagong-based Islamic radicals to not mistake the government’s magnanimity for weakness.

Hifazat blamed for attacks, fire at CPB building
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/hif...
He termed the Chittagong-based organisation as an ‘undemocratic fascist force’ and said,”

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#57 May 5, 2013
Three die in Hifazat mayhem
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/thr...
Two more people have died of their injuries in the ongoing clashes in Dhaka between the activists of Hifazat-e Islam and law keepers, pushing the toll to three so far, police say.

http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/hif...
Hifazat-e Islam has threatened to drive the Awami League out of the capital Dhaka if the government did not accept its 13-point charter of demands.

Speakers at the radical group’s rally on Sunday also rejected the ruling party spokesperson Syed Ashraful Islam’s call urging the Hifazat activists to leave Dhaka after their rally without causing any trouble.

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#58 May 5, 2013
Hifazat men burn CPB office
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/hif...

4 die in Hifazat havoc
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/4-d...
At least four people lost their lives in the clashes between activists of Hifazat-e Islam, backed by Jamaat-e-Islami, and police in the streets surrounding the Baitul Mukarram in the capital on Sunday.

http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/gov...

Hifazat chief skips rally
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/hif...
Four people have been killed in the clashes between activists of Hifazat-e Islam, backed by Jamaat-e-Islami, and the law enforcers in the streets surrounding the Baitul Mukarram in the capital.

Hifazat-e Islam activists have vandalised and torched the headquarters of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) at Purana Paltan.

Some Hizajat activists, who were already at Motijheel, clashed with law enforcers at around 12pm near Paltan. Soon the clashes spread to Kakrail, Naya Paltan and other adjacent areas turning the whole area virtually into a battlefield.

The violence first erupted after authorities permitted the Hifazat to hold its 3pm rally in the day. The clearance came amidst the Hifazat's Dhaka blockade that has effectively cut off the capital from most districts since early Sunday.

The Hifazat blockade programme aims to pressure the government into accepting the controversial 13-point charter of demands.

Hifazat sets vehicles on fire
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/hif...

At least 50 vehicles and several buildings were vandalised and torched in Dhaka by supporters of the Hifazat-e Islam during their rally at Motijheel on Sunday.

The Hifazat activists, while heading towards the rally, unleashed the mayhem in Paltan, Bijoynagar and the surrounding areas after involving with the law enforcers in clashes at Gulisthan in the noon.

They set fire to the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) headquarters in Mukti Bhaban, House Building Finance Corporation Bhaban and numerous buildings until night in Dhaka. Vehicles parked in front of the building were also torched.

Smokes were billowing out from those building at around 10pm.

Hundreds of shops on pavement were also set ablaze in areas stretching from Fakirapool to Paltan. The fire-fighters were not being able to douse the flames due to the ongoing clashes.

The Hifazat activists also vandalised and torched the shops on the ground floor of Mukti Bhaba, breaking open the gate of the building. They threw brickbats to break the window panes up to the fourth floor.

The flames soon spread from the foothpath to the adjacent buildings.

Six vehicles parked caught fire then.

Fire Service Official Mohammad Mohsin said they could not reach the scene due to fierce clashes.

Fire Service officials told bdnews24.com that at least 10 vehicles were set on fire between the afternoon and evening at Mouchak, Malibagh and Tejgaon in the capital.

He added that two toll plazas on the Babubazar Bridge in Old Dhaka were also set on fire.

Eye-witnesses say Hifazat supporters also set on fire at least 30 government vehicles in front of the Housing Building Finance Corporation in Purana Paltan.

The fire which started in the small shops on the pavement in front of the House Building gradually spread to the ground floor.

At 8:30pm, the fire services personnel were seen trying to tame the flames after police took the area under their control.

A Fire Service official told bdnews24.com that clashes prevented them from reaching those places which were engulfed in fire.

Police constable Piaul Islam, 35 sustained burn injuries after the attackers set the traffic box at East Bijoynagar on fire.

He has been admitted to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital’s burn unit for treatment.

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#60 May 5, 2013
Leave Motijheel, AL tells Hifazat
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/lea...

“We had permitted them (Hifazat) to stage the programme considering every organisation’s right to stage rallies. But Hifazat has abused that.”

The former Home Minister also slated Hifazat for setting on fire the Quran at Baitul Mukarram, House Building, CPB headquarters.

He castigated BNP Chairperson as she had directed her party activists to rally beside the Hifazat supporters.

Nasim alleged several people got stuck in the buildings in Motijheel.

Hifazat activists flee Motijheel
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/05/hif...

Police and RAB flushed out the protesters of purportedly Jamaat-e-Islami-backed Hifazat-e Islam from Dhaka’s Motijheel in a 15-minute drive amid a blackout in the early hours of Monday.

The Hifazat has been asking for curbs on women rights, free mixing of sexes in public and abolition of the national women development policy.

After a day of deadly violence that left several people dead, security forces started moving in from all directions toward the Shapla Chattar soon after the day started.

The law keepers were trying to clear the commercial hub where police say the rally was continuing way beyond the time granted.

The whole area was cordoned off first. Staying put there were some 25,000 people, most of whom were activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir, according to police.

bdnews24.com Correspondent Sulaiman Niloy said three corpses were lying beside the rally stage at Motijheel after the activists of Hifazat had fled the scene.

The three were believed to have died when the supporters fought pitched battles with police in the capital earlier in the day as their bodies were already covered in cloths.

Another four people lost their lives in the clashes that broke out in the streets surrounding the Baitul Mukarram on Sunday.

Niloy, who was at the scene before the final push began at around 2:30am, said at least 100 people were injured during the operation. Police suspect one of them has died.

Private station Ekattor Television said several of the injured had been brought to the DMCH.

The protester had taken refuge in many buildings after police fired rubber bullets, tear shells and sound grenades at them.

Thousands of protesters fled towards the Notre Dame College with their hands raised up to show police they wanted to run away. Several were arrested then.

”We tried to discuss with them until the very last moment. We tried to convince them that their demands would be fulfilled,” RAB-1 Commander Kismat Hayat told bdnews24.com .

”We were forced to conduct the drive as they repeatedly ignored our calls,” he said.

After retreating from the Shapla Chattar, some protesters started hurling brickbats and hand bombs at the police and RAB personnel from the alley beside the ALICO building, leaving two law keepers injured.

Television footages showed some of the police riot cars were patrolling the whole Motijheel area. Tear shells and rubber bullets were also being lobbed.

Thousands of papers, sandals and some bags lay on the streets after the protesters had made off.

Hifazat’s chief Shah Ahmad Shafi was expected to roll out its future agitation programmes, but he did not join the rally citing security reasons.

A police official, who preferred to be unnamed, told bdnews24.com the activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Chhatra Shibir were taking hold of the street stretching from the Shapla Chattar to the Dainik Banglar intersection in the guise of the Hifazat activists.

At least 50 vehicles and several buildings were vandalised and torched in the adjacent areas of the rally by supporters of the Hifazat during their rally.

They also attacked the Mukti Bhaban, where the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) is headquartered. CPB has been vocal for a ban on Jamaat-e-Islami which opposed Bangladesh’s birth.

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#61 May 5, 2013
Hifazat men ‘fleeing’
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/06/hif...

Police and RAB have started a decisive drive amid a blackout to disperse protesters who converged on Motijheel for Hifazat-e Islam’s rally.

After a day of deadly violence that left at least four people dead amid a blackout in the capital, RAB, police and other security forces started moving in from all directions toward the rally venue in the early hours of Monday.

The law keepers were trying to clear the business district where police say the rally was continuing way beyond the time they had granted.

At aound 2:30am Monday Police fired tear shells and rubber bullets from the side of Notre Dam College in Motijheel targeting the demonstrators first up as they had not paid heed to their call to evacuate immediately.

Simultaneous drives were launched from the Dainik Bangla intersection at around the same time.

Dumbstruck by the attack, the protesters started fleeing the scene through several streets.

The law enforcers are chasing them away after taking the position of Shapla Chattar, the venue of the rally.

The whole area was cordoned off first. Staying put there were some 25,000 people, most of whom are activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir, according to police.

Police continued to position themselves on the street stretching from Paltan to Dainik Bangla intersection since 8:30pm.

Some 600 members of RAB and BGB were deployed at Paltan at around 11:30pm.

bdnews24.com Correspondent Sulaiman Niloy said the RAB members started marching towards Motijheel at around 12:45am Monday.

He said the RAB team crossed the Dainik Bangla intersection at around 1:45am and the protesters started to chant slogans as soon as the law enforcers reached in front of the City Center.

http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/06/sha...

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#62 May 5, 2013
Old wine in new bottle
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/06/old...

Hifazat-e Islam’s Dhaka blockade is a demonstration of the muscle power of religion-driven politics, but under a non-political banner in a year when parliament elections are due, political analysts say.

The radical Islamist organisation enforced the Dhaka blockade within a month of its successful 'Long March'.

Political analysts say several small religious parties, which had earlier failed to draw public attention, have now come together under the Hifazat's banner .

The Chittagong-based Hifazat, an organisation of madrasa teachers and students, held a huge rally in Dhaka on Apr 6, from where its leaders raised a 13-point charter of demands.

Political scientist Harun-or-Rashid, told bdnews24.com :“Hifazat is in no way devoid of politics. Check the background of its leaders and you will find they were involved in politics.”

“Now they (the parties) are trying to draw the people by playing up bringing religious passions through madrasa and mosque-based campaign,” Rashid said.

Professor Harun, now the Vice Chancellor of the National University, described Hifazat's apparent new non-political look ‘a disguise’.

“There is no doubt that Hifazat is a communal force now displaying their muscle power in politics by questioning the foundation of the secular state. They have emerged alongside the Jamaat-Shibir and other older likeminded forces but with a new look.”

He believes Hifazat will emerge as the ‘new version’ of Jamaat-e Islami and its student affiliate Chhatra Shibir if the Jamaat-Shibir combine is banned.

Prof Harun said:“Leaders and activists of several organisations like Islami Oikya Jote, Khelafat Majlish, Jamiat-e Ulemae Islam and Nejame Islam joined Hifazat in disguise. Their fund sources are the same. Their 13-point charter of demands doesn’t include trial of the war criminals. It exposes their intention.”

“Hifazat’s tendency to create chaos and use violence indicates the organisation will try to emerge politically in future.”

Hifazat claims it has no political agenda and or any link with Jamaat and Shibir.

But senior BNP leaders were present at Hifazat’s Apr 6 rally and Chairperson Khaleda Zia supported their Dhaka blockade. Jatiya Party, a component of the Awami League-led ruling Grand Alliance, also expressed solidarity with the Hifazat at the rally.

Senior journalist Mozammel Hossain Manju says electoral players, specially the BNP-led 18-Party alliance, are trying to 'take advantage of the Hifazat rise.”

Dhaka University Vice Chancellor AASM Arefin Siddique said:“Hifazat-e Islam campaign against the democratic forces in the name of religion is acceptable in no way. They’re trying to impose their own opinion on others.”

He said Hifazat has not emerged suddenly this year.“The organisation has links with many likeminded political parties. Their main target is to obstruct the trials of the war criminals. They have links with Jamaat-Shibir has been evident.”

With the Jamaat routed in the last elections and now with its top leadership implicated in the war crimes trials, there might be a void for religion-driven politics , a void that the Hifazat is trying to fill .

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#63 May 6, 2013

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#64 May 10, 2013
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Ganajagaran Mancha activists on Monday welcomed dispersing of Hifazat-e Islam functionaries from Dhaka’s Motijheel but expressed anguish over dismantling of their platform. Mancha has been asking for maximum punishment for convicted war criminals and outlawing the Jamaat-e-Islami.

http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/06/hif...
“The so called Hifazat activists came to Dhaka with petrol, diesel, kerosene, high explosives, axes and other materials to perpetrate violence,”
Khaleda had extended support to the radical group in her desperation for power.
indulging in violence attacking police, setting fire to trains and rail tracks since last year.

http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/06/mad...
Family members of one madrasa student from Narsingdi district, who was killed in violent clashes between Hifazat-e Islam activists and police in the capital’s Shapla Chattar, have alleged that teachers of a local madrasa brought the students to Dhaka without informing their families.
His namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayer) was held at the local Nuria Hafizia Madrasa ground at around 10am. His relatives attended the funeral prayer, but no Hifazat leaders and activists were seen there.
The locals said that the two madrasa teachers left after bringing in Zubair’s body at his residence by ambulance.

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Hifazat burns Quran, Hadith in blind rage
Followers of Hifazat who claim to be the keepers of Islam did not even spare the Holy Quran, books of Hadith and other religious books. The blackened pages of the holy scripture of Islam now lie scattered as ash under the pedestrian feet.
The people who had gathered to see the sight were erupting with disgust for those who assert themselves as ‘keepers of Islam’ but are also desecrators’ of the holy book of Islam.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police in a media briefing on the day before Sunday’s Dhaka siege said they had information that suggest ‘cadres’ of Jamaat-e-Islami and their student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir were going to join Hifazat’s plan and commit violent acts to render the city unstable.
“They had snatched books from the stores to burn them in the middle of the street. They knew they were copies of the Quran and Hadith but still went ahead to desecrate them.”
The religious-book shops from the national mosque’s south gate came next.
“All we used to sell here (south gate) were copies of Quran, Hadith and booklets on Islam. They did not feel the least reluctance before setting these books on fire!”
There were at least 15,000 copies of the holy Quran and Hadith here in these 11 shops, but they are all ashes now.
A total of 18 stores selling religious caps and six stores for prayer beads (tasbih) and incense bottles were also subjected to the arson attacks by the radicals on Sunday.
A middle-aged businessman, Abdul Wadid, who was among the spectators who had gathered to witness the arson at the mosque’s south gate, said,“They burned these books while chanting slogans to save the religion. They didn’t care to burn the holy book of the religion they belong to. They are enemies of Islam and humanity.”

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Hifazat activists – police say most of them were Jamaat-e-Islami supporters in disguise -- had enforced a siege on Dhaka to press for their 13 demands which include punishing the 'atheist' bloggers and annulment of the women policy.

Since: Jun 12

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#65 May 10, 2013
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Hifazat-e Islam chief Ahmad Shafi arrived at Hathazari in Chittagong on Monday evening after several people died there from clashes on rumours that had been arrested.
The rumour of Shafi being arrested spread at around Monday noon while heavy deployment of police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) were seen around the premises since morning.
The rumour led the students of Darul Ulum Muinul Alam Madrasa and Hifazat supporters to go berserk at Hathazari. They also clashed with police who had obstructed them. At least five people were killed and up to 25 injured in the clash.

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http://bdnews24.com/world/2013/05/07/global-s...
Democracy wins slight majorities in key Middle Eastern states - 54 percent in Iraq, 55 percent inEgypt - and falls to 29 percent in Pakistan. By contrast, it stands at 81 percent in Lebanon, 75 percent in Tunisia and 70 percent in Bangladesh.
In most countries surveyed, Muslims were more worried about Islamist militancy than any other form of religious violence.

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After Hifazat-e Islam supporters were flushed out from Dhaka’s Motijheel on early Monday, they had blocked the Dhaka-Chittagong highway in three areas of Kanchpur and Siddhirganj locality in Narayanganj since morning and started damaging vehicles.

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Police detained the Hifazat activists on charges of obstructing security personnel from discharging duties, vandalism and arson during the radical organisation’s Motijheel rally on Sunday.
Widely believed to be funded and guided by the Jamaat-e-Islami, the group came to prominence by opposing the Ganajagaran Mancha, a secular platform pressing for maximum penalty for convicted war criminals and banning the Jamaat.

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The Left party said the chief opposition BNP could not escape the blame as it had extended support to Dhaka-siege programme of the Hifazat.

It also came down hard on the government for giving permission to the radical organisation to hold a rally. During the daylong mayhem at Paltan and Gulistan, the activists also vandalised and set fire to the CPB headquarters.
CPB President Mujahidul Islam Selim at a press conference on Tuesday said,“Keeping the agenda of Hifazat in front, the Jamaat is out to unleash anarchy in the country in a bid to foil the ongoing war crimes trial. On the other hand, the BNP extends its support to such activities to advance of their public and secret agenda.”
“What the Hifazat did was it waged a war against the state. We better know how to fight since we had fought for the country’s independence in 1971. They (Hifazat men) had plotted unleashing a large-scale anarchy using a surprise element. They planned to snatch the state power by waging an uprising like the Russian revolution.”
The Hifazat supporters, instigated and bolstered by Jamaat and Shibir activists, set fire to police outposts, hundreds of shops and makeshift vending stalls, including dozens of religious book shops, on footpaths around Paltan, Baitul Mokkaram and stadium markets as on Sunday.
The Quran and the Hadith, incense perfumes, prayer beads and mats were not spared during the violence. A few thousand shops, including jewellery, electronics and furniture shops, were looted.

Since: Jun 12

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#66 May 10, 2013
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Hefajat activists, in collaboration with the Jamaat and Shibir, had unleashed spate of violence in the city’s Motijheel area on Sunday.

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UN chief calls for end to violence
He urged political and religious leaders “to engage in constructive dialogue and help defuse the tensions”.
At least 30 people including law-enforcing personnel were killed in Sunday and Monday when an Islamist group Hifazat-e Islam besieged the capital Dhaka and paralysed its business district Motijheel unleashing violence.

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Leaders and activists of the Hifazat-e Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir and the BNP have been accused in 16 cases of murder, vandalism, arson, damage to property and several other crimes during Sunday’s mayhem in Dhaka.

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Bangladesh project wins the Bobs

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Mosques have once again been used to announce ‘false arrest and attacks’ to incite locals during the Monday’s mayhem in Narayanganj and Hathazari in Chittagong, police say.
Police believe Jamaat-e-Islami activists were behind that rampage.
“Hifazat men blocked Hathazari Sadar road for two days,” Chittagong Additional Police Superintendent Farid Uddin said,“When we tried to move them near Bara Madrasa (Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Muinul Islam Madrasa), they attacked us.”
“At that time, some mosques in the area announced that Shah Ahmad Shafi (the chief of Hifazat) has been arrested and madrasas are being vandalised,” he said as he recalled how the mayhem started.
Islamic Foundation and police also said that they would take steps to prevent ‘misuse’ of mosque loudspeakers.
Witnesses and family of those killed in Narayanganj said similar announcements had been made from Madaninagar Madrasa before the clashes that killed at least 15 people.

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When asked if the decision to allow Hifazat to stage a rally in the capital came from good judgement, he said,“There are two reasons behind the permission granted to Hifazat. We considered their democratic rights and paid heed to the religious sentiments of Bangladesh.

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Hifazat-e Islam had lost control over its Sunday’s rally, Junaid Babu Nagari, Secretary General of the organisation, told detectives during interrogations on the first day of his police remand.
When asked who were then controlling the rally, Monirul Islam, Joint Commissioner, Detective Branch, quoted the Hifazat leader as saying,“18-Party alliance took control of the rally.”
Those who had clashed with police on Sunday were not supporters of Hifazat but activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and their student front Islami Chhatra Shibir, Babu Nagari reportedly said during his interrogation.
Almost 80,000 activists of Jamaat, Shibir were supposed to be present in Dhaka ahead of the siege and BNP’s rally. But they failed to reach Dhaka in such large numbers due to precautions taken by detectives, Hifazat leader reportedly said.

Since: Jun 12

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#68 May 11, 2013
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday sought to know from the Opposition as to where do all corpses disappear after the alleged ‘mass killing’ of Hifazat-e Islam supporters during the flush-out drive in Motijheel.
“Where are the bodies? The opposition must provide the answer”, said the Prime Minister during a discussion with Awami League leaders from Feni on Thursday.

The President of the ruling Awami League said main opposition claimed more than 2,000 people were killed during the law enforcers drive to free Motijheel from Hifazat supporters in the early hours of Monday.

“How much ammunition does it take to kill 2,500 people? How many bullets? How many would have been injured?”

Where are the relatives of these people who were killed?” the Prime Minister quipped.

The BNP has been spreading these rumours said Sheikh Hasina.

“BNP must say how many corpses can fit in one truck.”

“She (Khaleda Zia) is the wife of an army officer. She should have good knowledge of arms and ammunition.”

BNP in a statement released on Tuesday claimed the government had committed a ‘mass atrocity’ to remove Hifazat supporters from their indefinite sit-in at Motijheel.

“The fascist government took away their (Hifazat’s) rights and conducted the drive in Motijheel on May 5 killing and injuring several people.”

Police said the Hifazat-e Islam supporters had plans to attack the Secretariat and loot important financial institutions during the demonstration at the heart of Dhaka’s commercial hub, Motijheel.

RAB, police and BGB combined forces conducted a pincer operation on the Hifazat supporters at 3:32 am on Monday.

Police said the weapons they used - water cannons, sound grenades, rubber bullets - were not meant to kill.

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“This verdict is important because it established war crime charges against the leadership of Al-Badr. In the ruling it was mentioned that Al-Badr was a death squad” Turin Afroz said.

The prosecutor said,“Tribunal’s in its order even stated that it is inhumane to publicly insult one’s teacher, so I believe this will have an international significance.”

Kamaruzzaman and his associates had stripped lecturer Abdul Hannan, garlanded him with shoes, smeared his body with limestone and charcoal before whipping and parading him around Sherpur town during 1971. Abdul Hannan was a lecturer in Islamic History and Culture Department of Sherpur College.

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Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu has asked the BNP to come up in the next 48 hours with the list of those it claims to have been killed and gone missing during Monday’s pre-dawn actions to drive away Hifazat-e Islam activists from Motijheel.

“Soon after the war crimes trial started,(BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia), the Jamaat-e-Islami and afterwards Hifazat-e Islam have been spreading lies as their main political strategy.‘Falsehood theory’,‘Islam in danger theory’,‘genocide theory’,‘theory of forced disappearance’ and ‘theory of Sayedee’s image on the Moon’ are now their main theories.”

At Thursday’s press conference, Inu claimed that pro-opposition Naya Diganta and Inqilab newspapers were running propaganda that over 2,500 to 3,000 people had died in the drive.

Criticising BNP Standing Committee Member MK Anwar, Inu said:“He not only resorted to falsehood, but also tried to instigate a communal violence. A vested quarter is trying to instigate a (sectarian) violence through the political strategy of falsehood.”

“Today’s Bangladesh is conscious. The people know that no incident can be hushed up in this era of flourishing media. But the BNP and the 18-Party (Alliance) wouldn’t admit this.”

Since: Jun 12

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#70 May 11, 2013
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Bangladeshi peacekeepers have always been highly praised in UN missions for their sense of duty and tact.
Dr Momen said this is why the UN is keen to take more and more peacekeepers from Bangladesh.

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Before that deadline expired, the radical Hifazat-e Islam, widely believed to be backed by BNP’s key ally Jamaat-e-Islami, ran amok during a blockade of the capital, leading to tough police action.

The Awami League described the May 5 violence during the so-called blockade as an attempt to topple the government.

When the BNP did not announce any fresh agitation after May 5, Prime Minister Hasina claimed the ultimatum had failed and asked the BNP chief to attend the budget session of the parliament.

The BNP has to attend the budget sessions if it wants to maintain its seats in the Parliament.

A seat in parliament becomes vacant if the MP does not attend the house for 90 business days. The BNP MP have been absent for 83 days now.

Awami League chief Hasina and BNP chief Khaleda have alternated as Prime Ministers since Bangladesh returned to democracy from military rule.

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Opposition BNP lawmakers have no option but to attend the next parliament session -- unless, of course, they are prepared to lose their seats.

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Women groups in Bangladesh are holding a rally in the National Press Club to oppose Hifazat-e Islam’s 13-point charter of demands that seeks to deny gender equality in Bangladesh.

“We want a non-communal, democratic Bangladesh that can ensure equality of men and women,”is the slogan of the rally.

The organisers had urged men and women to join their cause against the demands of the radical Hifazat-e Islam.

Hifazat-e Islam's anti-women tirade came in for severe criticism from female rights activists.

Hifazat demands scrapping of the National Women’s Development Act and even asked for immediate prohibition of public mixing of men and women.

Since: Jun 12

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#71 May 11, 2013
UN Secy Gen praises PM’s talk overture
http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/05/11/un-...
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's dialogue offer to the opposition for resolving the current political impasse in the country, saying “it’s a brave and noble initiative”.

Visiting Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the UN Oscar Fernndez Taranco conveyed this to the Prime Minister when he had called on her at her official Ganabhaban residence on Saturday.

The Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad briefed reporters after the meeting.

Azad said that the UN Secretary General praised Sheikh Hasina for her statesmanship and condemned the recent violence in Bangladesh and urged all to maintain peaceful atmosphere in the country.

Laying emphasis on creating conducive atmosphere for holding a free, fair and neutral election, Ban Ki-moon said there should not be any pre-condition for the dialogue.

Taranco said Bangladesh is a symbol of cooperation between the UN and other member states.

He praised the government for its all-out efforts for the rescue of the victims from the rubble of the collapsed building at Savar as a large number of victims have been rescued alive.

In response, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her government strengthened the Election Commission to ensure the voting rights of people.

Hasina mentioned that the President has appointed the commissioners to the Election Commission through a search committee which had held discussions with all political parties.

In this context, she mentioned the holding of over 5,500 elections, including by-polls of Parliament, in a free, fair and neutral manner, and said no allegation has been raised about the elections.

In many cases candidates of the opposition parties won the polls, she added.

Hasina told the UN official that UN observers are always welcome to Bangladesh to oversee the situation here.

The Prime Minister’s Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi, Ambassador at-Large Md. Ziauddin and Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad were present during the meeting.

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