Already volatile following months of violent campaign by Jamaat-e-Islami, which is opposing the war crimes trial, the political climate in Bangladesh is likely to become worse with the planned “long march” to Dhaka by radical Islamists later this week.
“Hefazat-e- Islam”, a newly floated Islamist organisation based in Chittagong, has announced a “long march”on March 6, claiming that it would be be joined by thousands of Islamists demanding punishment to “atheist bloggers” of Shahbagh. Being a counter move to the Shahbagh campaigners, “long march” is seen as an orchestrated bid to play national politics along religious lines.
Besides Islamist groups, it has got vital support from the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by Khaleda Zia, and also by the Jatiya Party led by Gen H M Ershad, a key component of Awami League-led ruling alliance. Allegedly the “B Team” of Jamaat, Hefazat has threatened to enforce nonstop nationwide hartal from April 7 should the government obstruct their Dhaka long march . Adding fuel in the fire, the BNP and Jamaat-led alliance is also set to announce a more intense action programme on April 10 to intensify their “oust government” campaign. The Khaleda-led alliance has also demanded the restoration of the phrase “absolute faith and trust in the Almighty Allah” in the constitution and enactment of a blasphemy law, and harsh punishment to the “atheist bloggers”.
Understandably to tame the radicals, the government has already formed an expert committee to find out and punish if any blogger had defamed Islam or its prophet.
‘Face any situation’
Sources indicated that Hefazat is conducting preparations as its joint secretary general, Mufti Fayezullah, said a group of 313 hardcore cadres — who will comprise suicide squads — will be ready “to face any situation to uphold Islam”. Shah Ahmed Shafi, ameer of Hefazat, on Monday administered oath to 4000 people, who would from their squads, at Chittagong Laldighi maidan.
Bid to revive Huji
Against this backdrop, police have detected a bid to revive Harkat-ul-Jihad-al- islami (Huji) under the leadership of a former Jamaat leader Farid Uddin Ahmed in coordination with some Afghan war veterans, former Shibir cadres and leaders of different militant outfits.
Law enforcers also held Afghan war veteran Farid Uddin Masud, a leader of Huji in Pakistan, and 12 others, including four Pakistani nationals in Dhaka recently.
Investigation reveals, the arrested militants were not only preparing to conduct subversive activities, they, reportedly, were also planning to carry out political assassination.
Keywords: Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh politics, Hefazat-e-Islam, Bangladesh crisis, Shahbagh Square, Bangladesh protests, Bangladesh liberation war, Bangladesh war crimes, International Crimes Tribunal