Dhaka: Bangladeshi security forces today
arrested 20 senior leaders and cadres of the country?s largest
Islamist party Jamaat from the capital, amid the government`s
effort to put their top leaders on trial for committing
"crimes against humanity" during the 1971 `Liberation War`.
"They were arrested from an apartment at Mirpur area
where they were holding a secret meeting," said Additional
Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
He told reporters that during the raid they also
seized some bomb-like substances from the spot.
Police, however, said they would lodge a case "in due
course" against the arrested people belonging to the
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), a key ally in the previous four-party
coalition government of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
A spokesman of the Jamaat said the arrested persons
included the party`s assistant secretary general and
ex-lawmaker Mujibur Rahman and Shafiqul Alam, the chief of the
JI southwestern Khulna city unit.
"We will issue a statement later on the arrests," the
spokesman said, without giving any immediate details on the
On March 25, the ruling Awami League government set up
a special tribunal for the trial of "war criminals" accused of
genocide and those who sided with the Pakistani military
during the 1971 `Liberation War`.
Jamaat and several other rightwing groups have been
accused of helping the Pakistani military.
Five of Jamaat`s top leaders, including its chief
Motiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad
Mojahid, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, Muhamad Qamaruzzaman and
Abdul Kader Mollah are under detention since August this year
to face trial on charges of "crimes against humanity".
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.
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.
On March 26, 1971, Bangladesh - then East Pakistan -
declared its independence from West Pakistan.
The latest arrests today came amid speculations over
Jamaat`s existence as a political party in future after a
landmark Supreme Court judgment several months ago declaring
illegal the Fifth Amendment to the constitution in 1979 that
allowed religion-based parties and legitimized the post 1975
Law Minister Shafique Ahmed has said it is now up to
the Election Commission (EC) to review the registration of
Jamaat. However, the Chief Election Commissioner ATM Shamsul
Huda has made it clear that the Election panle would only
consider the case when a party would contest polls.