Shafi followers out to reclaim Hefajat helm

With Hefajat-e-Islam’s central committee dissolved, followers of its late amir Shah Ahmad Shafi now eye top posts in the new committee.

Leaders of the Qawmi-madrasa based organisation said the government was backing the leaders of the pro-Shafi group to take up posts in the new committee.

Most of the pro-Shafi leaders were not included in the previous committee.

Meanwhile, two cases were filed against Hefajat Amir Junayed Babunagari on Thursday in connection with the violence in Chattogram’s Hathazari upazila during demonstrations over Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s visit to Bangladesh.

Hours after dissolving its central committee, Hefajat early yesterday named a five-member convening committee, with Muhibullah Babunagari as chief adviser, Junayed Babunagari as amir and Nurul Islam Jihadi as secretary general.Nurul Islam Jihadi, secretary general of the dissolved committee, announced the convening committee in a video message.

Salah Uddin Nanupuri and Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury were made members of the committee.

Around 11:30pm on Sunday, Junayed Babunagari in a video message from Hathazari madrasa in Chattogram announced that the 249-member central committee of the organistation has been dissolved.

Speaking to The Daily Star, wishing anonymity, several Hefajat leaders yesterday said the government was putting pressure on the outfit to include leaders having no direct involvement with any political party in the new committee.

They said Hefajat has been under tremendous pressure from the government to restructure its central committee by removing those involved in last month’s violence in different parts of the country.

At least 17 people were killed as Hefajat men clashed with law enforcers in several districts of the country, especially in Brahmanbaria, from March 26 to 28 during demonstrations protesting Modi’s visit.

On November 15 last year, Babunagari was declared Hefajat amir at the end of its council held at Darul Ulum Moinul Islam Hathazari Madrasa in Chattogram. Before that, he was the secretary general of the organisation.

The council was held around two months after the death of Shah Ahmad Shafi in September.

Hefajat again hit the headlines when it opposed Modi’s Bangladesh visit on March 26, the day the country celebrated golden jubilee of its independence.

Following the Hefajat mayhem, the government launched a crackdown on the Islamist outfit.MAMUNUL PLACED ON FRESH REMAND
Former Hefajat joint secretary general Mamunul Haque yesterday claimed he went to Baitul Mukarram national mosque on March 26 at the request of a DIG-ranked police official, reports our court correspondent.

Asked if he had anything to say, Mamunul told a Dhaka court that he was in a mosque in the capital’s Banglabazar when the police official called him and requested him to go to Baitul Mukarram after a clash between police and Hefajat men broke out there.

He said he went to Baitul Mukarram where he was requested to deliver a speech to pacify Hefajat men.

He addressed Hefajat supporters and pacified them, Mamunul’s lawyer Syed Zainul Abedin Mesbah told The Daily Star quoting him as saying.

“But now I have been shown arrested in the case,” Mamunul told Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Sadbir Yasir Ahsan Chowdhury.

Mamunul claimed that he did nothing wrong. He said they would not be able to go anywhere if police requested them to do so in future.

Opposing Mamunul’s comments, the state lawyer said he could not make such a statement. The court, however, allowed Mamunul to continue his speech.

“You [judge] can check my call records of that day if you want,” Mamunul said.

The magistrate placed Mamunul and former Dhaka city Hefajat president Junayed Al Habib on seven-day remand each in two cases filed with Motijheel and Paltan police stations over the 2013 mayhem and recent violence in Dhaka after the investigation officers of the cases submitted 20-day remand prayers for each.

Habib, who was arrested on April 17, was also placed on three-day remand in another case filed with Paltan Police Station over the March 26 violence.

Mamunul, who was arrested on April 18, was produced before the court yesterday on completion of seven-day remand in an attempted murder case filed with Mohammadpur Police Station on March 6 last year.

Police on Thursday filed two cases with Hathazari Police Station accusing Junayed Babunagari and some other local Hefajat, BNP and Jamaat leaders, reports our staff correspondent in Chattogram.

Asked about the delay in filing the cases, Chattogram Superintendent of Police SM Rashidul Haque told this newspaper that police had to verify the identities and addresses of the accused before filing the cases.

Babunagari and other Hefajat leaders were sued over attacking policemen, and vandalising the police station. The cases were lodged under the Special Powers Act, the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Penal Code, the SP added.

With this, a total of nine cases have so far been lodged with Hathazari Police Station over the March 26 violence by Hefajat men.

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