Three JI leaders remanded to custody in Bangladesh

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 20:41

Dhaka: Three top leaders of Bangladesh`s
biggest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), including its
chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, were remanded to custody on Wednesday in
five cases, even as angry party members threatened to launch a
countrywide agitation, protesting the arrests.

Additional metropolitan magistrate Ali Hussain ordered
Nazami, secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and
another party stalwart Maulana Delwar Hossain Sayeedi to be
quizzed for 16 days in custody, a court official said.
Three charges relate to police assaults or obstructing
the police in discharging duties, other charge relates to
setting vehicles on fire and third is a sedition charge.

"The magistrate granted the total of 16 days of remand
for each of them against a police prayer for a total of 37
days in five cases," a court official said.

However, they were granted bail in the case relating to
"hurting Muslim religious sentiment" for which they were
arrested yesterday.

Tight security was enforced around the downtown court
complex with deployment of some 800 policemen and elite
anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) troops as Nazami,
Mujahid and Sayeedi appeared on the dock after five police
cars escorted the fundamentalist party leaders.

Police, meanwhile, arrested overnight and today at least
65 JI leaders and activists from different parts of the
country, 28 of them from the court compound as they tried to
stage a protest march in line with party`s decision to launch
a countrywide protest.
But witnesses said supporters of ruling Awami League
later amassed outside the court and shouted slogans demanding
"death sentences" for accused JI leaders for their "crimes
against humanity" during the country`s 1971 Liberation War.

JI, a crucial ally of ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia`s
main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), is widely
castigated for actively siding with Pakistani troops against
1971 independence during the Liberation War.

At a press conference late yesterday the party announced
its protest saying the three leaders were arrested defying an
earlier high court order.

Dhaka city secretary general Makbul Ahmad, at a press
conference last evening, however, said they expected the
government to release them by today "showing their positive
attitude."

The three were arrested hours after a court issued arrest
warrants against four JI leaders as they failed to appear
before the court to face a charge accusing them of "defaming
Prophet Muhammad".

But Dhaka`s police commissioner AKM Shahidul Haque last
night told the state-run BSS that the three were indicted or
shown arrested in two other cases, including a murder charge
linked to the February 2010 assassination of a ruling party
student wing activist, in northwestern Rajshahi University.
The university murder case, however, was not raised
during the court hearing today.

Activists of JI`s student wing Islamic Chhatra Shibir
allegedly hacked to death Hossain, a fourth year student and
activist of Chhatra League and injured several others sparking
a countrywide protest and tensions in public university
campuses.

"Nizami, Mujahid and Sayeedi were shown arrested in the
case in line with confessional statements of two earlier
detained suspected Shibir workers who said the murder was
carried out in line with a blueprint drawn by central Jamaat
leaders," Haque said.

Metropolitan Magistrate Mehdi Ahsan Talukdar yesterday
issued the warrants against the four Jamaat leaders as they
"failed to appear" before the court to face hearing on a
charge accusing them of "hurting the Muslim sentiment."

Tariqat Federation, which preaches interfaith harmony in
line with ideals of Islamic Sufi saints, in March accused the
Jamaat leaders of hurting the Muslim sentiment comparing
Nizami with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saying they were exposed
to "tortures" in an identical manner in preaching Islam.

Police, meanwhile, cordoned off the main offices of JI in
Dhaka and southeastern port city of Chittagong after the
arrest of its top leaders to "thwart its supporters from
creating chaos."

The developments came as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s
government said it was set to expose "soon" several
high-profile Jamaat leaders, including Nizami, to justice
under for "crimes against humanity" during the 1971 atrocities
allegedly siding with Pakistani troops when the process of
"war criminals" trial was underway.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 20:41

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