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
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