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Bangladesh Islamic party warns of civil war

Publication Date : 05-02-2013


The Jamaat-e-Islami, a political Islamic party in Bangladesh, has called a countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal for today, protesting the verdict to be delivered in a war crimes case against its leader Abdul Quader Mollah.

Yesterday, it also threatened to enforce non-stop hartals from tomorrow "if the government's blue print of punishing Jamaat leaders reflects in the verdict" due today at the International Crimes Tribunal-2.

"Don't push the country into a civil war by delivering one-sided verdicts against our leaders. If anything happens against Quader Mollah, every house will be on fire," Jamaat acting secretary general Rafiqul Islam Khan said at a press release declaring the hartal.

The government would be responsible for the consequences, he added.

Jamaat's ally Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), however, did not lend support to today's shutdown. The main opposition party backed most of the Jamaat programmes in the past, including the latest hartal on January 31.

ICT-2 registrar AKM Nasiruddin Mahmud around 1:00pm yesterday made an announcement that the tribunal would deliver its verdict in the case against Jamaat Assistant Secretary General Quader Mollah today.

Hours after that Jamaat declared the hartal, demanding scrapping of the ICTs and release of its seven leaders who are being tried on charges of crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War in 1971.

Meanwhile, a man was burnt to death when some unruly people set fire to a bus around 10:00pm in the capital's Uttara.

"We found a burnt body of an unknown passenger inside the vehicle after we doused the fire," said Zakir Hossain, senior station officer of Tongi Fire Station.

The body was burnt beyond recognition. But one man named Rashed claimed the dead to be his brother, Russel Mahmud.

Around 6:00pm, Jamaat-Shibir activists brought out a procession at Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue and blasted three cocktails when police intercepted them, witnesses said.

The law enforcers fired 30 rubber bullets when they tried to set fire to a bus, Apurbo Hasan, officer-in-charge of Tejgaon Police Station told The Daily Star.

Two more cocktails were exploded near the High Court area around 7:00pm, witnesses said.

Earlier in the day, over thirty to forty thousand activists of Jamaat and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir held rallies and marched in procession in the capital's Kakrail and Motijheel Shapla Chattar, blocking traffic movement. They warned the government not to "deliver controversial verdicts" against its detained leaders.

At a rally at Motijheel Shapla Chattar, they also threatened that Jamaat-Shibir leaders would not remain idle at home if the government took the matter lightly.

"The butcher Quader [of 1971] and our leader Abdul Quader Mollah are not the same man. We will not remain idle at our homes if the tribunal [International Crimes Tribunal-2] shift butcher Quader's blame to our Quader," said Selim Uddin, assistant secretary general of the Jamaat city unit.

Asked about the latest strategy that the party adopted regarding the issue, a top Jamaat leader of Chittagong (north) unit told The Daily Star that a section of the party leaders were trying to reach an "understanding" with the ruling Awami League.

The Jamaat leader, who requested not to be named, refused to elaborate any further.

Since November last year, Jamaat-Shibir activists have been launching a series of hit-and-run attacks on police in different parts of the country, demanding scrapping of ICTs and release of its top leaders.

At least 20 policemen sustained injuries in three such attacks in Narayanganj, Bogra and Joypurhat on Saturday.

In the last hartal on Thursday, a policeman, a CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver and three Jamaat-Shibir activists were killed in violence.

"We want to say clearly that the country's people will resist the government's 'vindictive conspiracy' in the name of trial [of war criminals]," Jamaat leader Rafiqul said while announcing today's hartal.

People would even spill blood to resist "vindictive verdicts" by ICTs, he added.

Islami Chhatra Shibir last night held an emergency meeting in the capital, in which its top leaders warned that thousands of party activists are ready to sacrifice their lives to get the top leaders of Jamaat freed from jail.


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