Hefajat’s hartal Monday, Dhaka siege May 5

In the biggest-ever showdown by Islamists in recent times, Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh here on Saturday gave the government until April 30 to meet its 13-point demand or face a ‘Dhaka Siege’ programme on May 5. The Islamist group also called a daylong countrywide hartal for Monday protesting the government obstructions to its long march programme and repression of its activists on their way to Dhaka.
Hefajat also announced plan to hold rallies at different parts of the country, including Sylhet, Khulna, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Faridpur, Brahmanbaria, Barisal and Bogra from April 11 to April 30 to force the government to meet its demands.
Secretary general of Hefajat-e-Islam Junayed Babunagari announced the programmes at a post-long march grand rally at Motijheel Shapla Chattar in the afternoon.
Ameer of the Islamic group Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi led the post-long march rally that began around 10:0 am.
Spelling out the series of programmes, Babunagari termed the government an enemy of Muslims. “It has no right to stick to power even for a moment. If Awami League claims itself as Muslim it must renounce friendship with atheists and apostates (murtad),” he said.
In his written speech, Hefajat ameer Shah Ahmad Shafi demanded immediate arrest and punishment of the atheist bloggers, and quick enacting of a law ensuring punishment to those who defamed Islam and prophet Mohammad (pbuh).
Anas Madani, publicity secretary of Hefajat-e-Islam, read out the statement at the rally.
Accusing the government of giving shelter to anti-Islamic forces, he said, “They (govt) will face dire consequences if they continue to do so.”
Mentioning that devout Muslims are now facing various difficulties in all mosques across the country, he demanded the government ensure a congenial atmosphere in mosques, including the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque.
Earlier, Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh’s much-hyped rally began at Shapla Chattar in the capital’s Motijheel area around 10 am, aiming to push for its 13-point demand, including punishment of the bloggers who reportedly denigrated Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Tens of thousands of people, mainly devout Muslims, thronged the venue from different parts of the country responding to the Dhaka-bound long march programme announced by Hefajat.
The long march formally began after Jum’a prayers on Friday amid obstacles and obstructions reportedly by the government. Hefajat leaders claimed that many of their supporters and sympathisers could not reach Dhaka to join the rally due to hartal and roadblock enforced by pro-government organisations and transport owners and associations.
The rally formally kicked off with the recitation from the holy Quran with Hefajat-e-Islam’s Dhaka city unit ameer Moulana Nur Hossain Kashemi in the chair.
Leaders from different tiers of Hefajat-e-Islam addressed the rally before announcing the next course of action programme in the afternoon.
The mammoth rally spilled over on to RK Mission Road, Dainik Bangla crossing, Arambagh and Dilkusha areas and the nearby roads with the long march supporters chanting slogans against the atheists and the government as several thousand activists of Hefajat-e-Islam started for Mothjheel from several parts of the city after Fajr prayers.
In their speeches, the leaders accused the government of siding with the Shahbagh ‘atheists’ and vowed to save Islam at any cost.
The speakers said the movement of Hefajat-e-Islam is to save Islam and humanity from the ‘atheist’ bloggers. They warned that the government will burn to ashes if the government obstructs their movement.
The leaders of the Islamist group demanded the Prime Minister remove Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu and Planning Minister AK Khandaker from her cabinet.
They labeled writer Muntassir Mamoon, Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee acting president Shahriar Kabir, Sammilito Sangskritik Jote president Nasiruddin Yusuf Bachchu and Ganajagaran Mancha spokesperson Imran H Sarker as “atheists” and demanded their immediate arrest.
Mentioning that some newspapers have unveiled the anti-Islamic activities of the government, the Hefajat leaders claimed that the current regime is harassing Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman for this reason.
They warned the government that they will paralise the country if any move is taken to arrest Mahmudur Rahman.
Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh Ameer Moulana Shah Ahmed Shafi arrived at the Shapla Chattar venue at 2.50 pm amid slogans by thousands of his supporters.
Around 3.00 pm, the main opposition BNP expressed solidarity with the post-long march programme of Hefajat-e-Islam.
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain and BNP city unit convener Sadeque Hossain Khoka went at the Shapla Chattar rally venue to express their solidarity with the programmes.
Meanwhile, Jatiya Party also expressed solidarity with Hefajat-e-Islam’s programmes.
Party presidium member Quazi Jafar Ahmed, on behalf of Jatiya Party, went to the rally venue around 3:25pm and expressed solidarity with the Islamist group.
Huge law enforcers were deployed in and around the rally venue to avert any subversive acts. They also guarded different city streets to maintain law and order.
Meanwhile, Home Minister MK Alamgir praised Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh greeted the Hefajat activists for completing the long march peacefully. He conveyed appreciation to the law enforcing agencies for their patience and dutifulness toward holding such a long march successfully.
Besides, Doctors Association of Bangladesh and National Doctors Forum provided medical treatment to those fell sick at the gathering.
Different organisations, political parties, socio-cultural bodies and individuals provided huge food and drinking water and soft drinks to the people attended the rally.
Earlier in the morning, a ruling party activist was killed and 50 others injured in a triangular clash between the activists of Hefajat-e-Islam, police and Awami League men at Bhanga Chourasta in Bhanga upazila.
The deceased was identified as Nowsher Ali, 25, an Awami League activist and resident of Gazaria village in the upazila.
In the capital, activists of Hefajat-e-Islam swooped on a makeshift Ganajagaran Mancha at Amtoli under Mohakhali flyover in the capital around 10:15am and vandalised its furniture.
Witnesses said president of Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee Shahriar Kabir was addressing a rally at the Ganajagaran Mancha around 10.15am when activists of Hefajat-e-Islam were passing by the area.
Shahriar delivered ‘provocative and abusive’ words regarding the long march programme of Hefajat-e-Islam.
The Hefajat activists then swooped on the Ganajagaran Mancha and ransacked it. Later, police brought the situation under control.UNB

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