BNP extends cautious support to radical Jaamat leaders

Bangladesh`s main opposition party BNP extended cautious support to the country`s top Islamist party Jamaat.

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


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