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To oust Awami League, top Deobandi Hefazat leader held secret meeting with Khaleda in 2013

Junaid Babunagari, the then secretary-general of radical outfit Hefazat-e Islam, held a secret meeting with BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, just a week before the militant groups’ blockade programme at Shapla Chattar in Dhaka on May 5, 2013.

Hailing from Hathazari in Chattogram district, known to be a Hefazat stronghold, and some other places, thousands of Hefazat supporters had besieged the Shapla Square on May 5, 2013.

The militant supporters of the radical outfit had resorted to unprecedented violence in the national capital, beating up people, including several TV journalists, damaging vehicles, uprooting all the trees in the Matijheel area, besides setting fire on Qurans being sold by the hawkers on the streets.

They had allegedly planned to block the administrative center of the Bangladesh government the following morning in a bid to oust the Awami League from power, after being reportedly paid by the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and the Khaleda-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Mufti Fakhrul Islam, the then publicity secretary of the organization’s Dhaka unit, made the disclosure in a sensational confessional statement before Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate, Devdas Chandra Adhikari. The magistrate recorded Fakhrul Islam’s statement on Monday. Fakhrul Islam is presently the chairman of the Bangladesh Janoseba Andolon party.

In his confessional statement, Fakhrul Islam said that several top leaders of the then BNP and Jamaat had provided financial support for the May 5, 2013 arson in Dhaka. BNP-Jamaat leaders and activists also took part in the violence.

In 2013, the leaders of the militant outfit had made a 13-point demand, which included punishing the “atheist” leaders of Shahbagh, bloggers, and ‘anti-Islamists’. They also demanded to declare ‘Qadianis’ (Ahmadiyyas) as non-Muslims and stop their publicity and conspiracies.

Ban all ‘foreign culture’ including ‘free mixing of men and women’ and candlelit vigil and stop setting up sculptures at intersections, colleges, and universities across the country, they had said. The demands also included reinstating the phrase “Absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah” in the Constitution of Bangladesh as one of the fundamental principles of state policy.

They also wanted to make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels after scrapping the women’s education policy.

The other demands included stop threatening teachers and students of Qawmi madrasas, Islamic scholars, Imams, and Khatibs stop ‘anti-Islam’ activities by NGOs, evil attempts by Qadianis and conversion by Christian missionaries at the Chittagong Hill Tracts and elsewhere in the country.

Fakhrul Islam was arrested from the Lalbagh area on April 14 and later the Dhaka Metropolitan Detective Branch (DB) took him on a five-day remand. After recording his statement, the court sent him back to jail.

The Bangladesh government had tackled the situation on May 5, 2013, cautiously. The Hefazat supporters could not spend the night at Shapla Square, as the law enforcement agencies led by the elite force RAB had forced them out using third-degree methods.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline)

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