BNP extends cautious support to radical Jaamat leaders
Last Updated: Friday, July 02, 2010, 21:42
Dhaka: Bangladesh's main opposition party BNP on Friday extended cautious support to the country's top Islamist party Jamaat whose senior leaders were quizzed in custody following their arrest for defying court orders.

The radical Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) is a key partner of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

JI chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, secretary general Ali Ahsan Mujahid and another senior leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedi were held earlier this week after a court issued arrest warrants against them as they failed to appear before it to answer charges that they had hurt sentiments of Muslims.

The leaders of the main Islamist party is being quizzed after being remanded to custody on Wednesday on a series of charges, including sedition and murder.

"We've condemned the arrest of the Jamaat leaders. However, the party's agenda are their own and they will carry it out alone. However...they have BNP's full support," Delwar Hossain, Secretary General of BNP told mediapersons here on Friday.

"As Jamaat has supported us so we will also help the party to carry on its programmes," he underlined.

The Jamaat earlier called for a countrywide protest against the arrest of their three stalwarts, prompting the police to take into custody some 100 activists from different parts of the country.

BNP supremo Zia has demanded the release of the top Jamaat leaders.

Police yesterday showed them arrested on a slew of new cases, including in connection with "war crimes" linked to the genocide committed during the country's 1971 'Liberation War'.

On March 25, the government set up a three-member special tribunal for the trial of "war criminals" accused of genocide and those who sided with the Pakistani military during the 'Liberation War'.

Nizami and Mojahid led the so-called Al-Badr forces, which is widely believed to have been involved in genocide, rape and murder of frontline intellectuals in an effort to cripple the emerging nation.

The ruling Awami League government, which has vowed to bring to justice the war criminals, has hinted that it will soon expose several high-profile Jamaat leaders linked to the the atrocities on the people.

According to official figures, Pakistani troops, aided by local collaborators, killed an estimated 3 million people, raped about 200,000 women and forced millions more to leave their homes during the bloody nine-month guerrilla war.

BNP secretary general Hossain, however, termed as "undemocratic and illegal" the government's strategy as the JI leaders were arrested in one case and remanded in others.

In an analysis, The Daily Star newspaper said due to the arrests the government "got some extra time to question the trio on their alleged war crimes".

The newspaper, quoting an influential but unidentified source in ruling Awami League, said the main reason behind the arrests of the three was to "start off the war crimes trial soon" under a political decision of government.

"The government has proof that Jamaat tried to destabilise the country to scuttle the trial of war criminals," the daily quoted the leader as saying.

Fearing sabotage and violence from the Islamist groups, the Home Minister Sahara Khatun has directed the forces to step up security in the country.

"The law enforcement agencies are on alert to thwart any kind of sabotage as per the information received by different intelligence agencies," the minister told mediapersons.


First Published: Friday, July 02, 2010, 21:42

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