Detained Islamist leader reveals `plot` to oust Bangladesh govt

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 16:25

Dhaka: A detained leader of a radical religious group has told a court that Bangladesh`s opposition alliance had hatched a plot to oust the Sheikh Hasina-led government by supporting the Islamists` violent anti-blasphemy protests earlier this month, media reports said on Wednesday.

Mainstream Bangladeshi newspapers carried the report on the alleged "plot" a day after Hefazat-e-Islam group`s detained leader Junaid Babunagari gave a confessional statement before a magistrate after two weeks of police interrogation.

The reports quoting unidentified officials familiar with the statement said Babunagari disassociated himself from the plot but said other leaders of the radical group were sponsored by the opposition Khaleda Zia-led BNP and Jamaat to stage violent protests against the Awami League government on May 5 and 6.

"Those Hefazat leaders told me that our movement is not only to press for our 13-point demands only. Now this will be a movement to oust the government as we have an understanding with the opposition leaders," the reports quoted Babunagari as telling the court.

He said the 18-party opposition alliance promised to provide all sorts of assistance money, food and water as the Hefazat enforced a Dhaka siege blocking the capital`s entry points from rest of the country on May 5.

On the same day, the group had staged a large rally in the heart of the city demanding enactment of an anti-blasphemy law with tougher punishment for humiliating Islam and the Prophet.

The newly-floated radical group, mainly comprising teachers and students of unregistered `Madrasahs` or Islamic religious schools, later defied a government warning to leave the city after their rally which sparked off the violence.

Officials said 21 people were killed while unofficial figures put the toll as high as 28 during the violence in Dhaka and its outskirts and in south-eastern port city of Chittagong, the stronghold of Hefazat.

The 62-year-old Babunagari was arrested from the capital hours after the group`s elderly top leader Allama Ahmed Shafi was expelled from the city.
Babunagari said he came to know from the group`s volunteers that apart from some Hefazat workers, BNP and Jamaat activists were on the rampage and indulging in looting in many areas.
BNP chief Khaleda Zia who was leading an anti-government campaign over restoring the scrapped caretaker government system, had issued a statement asking her party leaders and activists to stand by the Hefazat in their mission to "protect Islam", Babunagari said.


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First Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 16:25

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