B’desh launches crackdown against Jamaat-e-Islami

B’desh launches crackdown against Jamaat-e-Islami Dhaka: In a major crackdown on fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party, Bangladeshi police on Tuesday arrested hundreds of its activists, a day after its violent protests against detention of its five leaders for alleged war crimes during the 1971 liberation struggle left over 100 people injured.

JI's acting Secretary General ATM Azharul Islam, Editor of the party's mouthpiece 'Sangram Abul Asad', and several hundred others were arrested while authorities lodged eight cases against them for yesterday's street violence.

Officials said elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and policemen in coordinated raids so far arrested 261 people alone in Dhaka while reports of arrests of several hundred more from other districts were still pouring in.

"A countrywide police campaign is underway to arrest more," a police spokesman said.

His comments came a day after the party staged the nationwide street protests demanding release of their five detained leaders facing charges of crime against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.

All the 261 Jamaat leaders and activists, who were arrested from the capital alone in connection with the violent protests, were produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court this afternoon. Police wanted them to be remanded into their custody for 10 days each.

"The hearing on the remand prayer is still underway," a court official said.

Police said most of the accused were expected to be tried in a common case under tough Speedy Trial Tribunal which is obligated to complete the trial in 135 days.

Six high-profile suspects, including JI chief Matiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojaheed, are in jail to face charges of crime against humanity in 1971.

JI earlier launched a campaign against the trial of their stalwarts but this was the first such street demonstration they staged to press home their demands.

The lone detainee beyond the Jamaat leaders is Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury MP, a stalwart of ex-premier Khaleda Zia's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Bangladesh last year constituted a high-power three-member International Crimes Tribunal headed by a High Court judge along with a special investigation agency and prosecution cell in line with the election pledges of Premier Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League to bring the war criminals to justice.