Bangladesh

Hefajat Mayhem 2013: CID asked to probe 23 cases

Irked by Hefajat's violent activities starting with the protest against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit last month, the government has decided to bring to book everyone involved in the mayhem in different parts of the country, especially Brahmanbaria.

To ensure punishment of the perpetrators and to properly collect evidence of the Hefajat-e-Islam's mayhem at different times including at the capital's Shapla Chattar in May 2013, law enforcers on Sunday handed over the charge of investigation of over 23 cases to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

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This move was made to gather digital and forensic evidence of vandalism and mayhem, following directives from the government, sources said.

Government high-ups have also directed law enforcement agencies to take stern action against Hefajat men involved in the violent activities since 2013.

MAMUNUL PLACED ON REMAND

A Dhaka Court yesterday placed Hefajat Joint Secretary General Mamunul Haque on a seven-day remand in an attempted murder case filed with the Mohammadpur Police Station on March 7 last year.

Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Debdash Chandra Adhikary passed the order after Investigation Officer Md Sajedul Haque, also a sub-inspector of Mohammadpur Police Station, placed Mamunul before the court.

In the remand prayer, the IO said as per the direction of Mamunul and his brother Mahfuzul Haque, five named and some 70 to 80 unnamed students of Jamia Rahmania Arabia madrasa attacked the complainant and others, and obstructed them from performing a sermon at a mosque in the capital's Mohammadpur on March 6 last year.

Moreover, Mamunul provoked the devout Muslims and madrasa students through his anti-state comments, which also hurt religious sentiment. That is why he needs to be remanded to glean information about others responsible for committing such offences, the IO added.

From the court, Mamunul was taken to the DB office on Minto Road yesterday. Police said Mamunul will be interrogated there.

A joint team of Tejgaon division police and DMP's Detective Branch arrested Mamunul on Sunday.

On March 7 last year, one GM Alamgir Shahin filed the case with Mohammadpur Police Station, accusing Mamunul and six other named and some 70-80 unnamed persons, accusing them of attempted murder, vandalism, looting a Samsung phone, Tk 7,000, US$ 2,000 and a Brac Bank debit card during an attack at a local mosque, and also threatening devout Muslims.

CID TO INVESTIGATE CASES

Of the total 23 cases handed over to CID, 18 were filed regarding the violence and arson attacks that took place from March 26-28 in different districts including Chattogram and Brahmanbaria, according to law enforcement officials.

Besides, the CID was also given charge of investigation of five other cases filed in 2016 in Brahmanbaria following mayhem and arson attack in the town by Hefajat supporters.

Some more cases will be handed over to the CID, who specialise in forensic, cyber and digital evidence analysis, said the officials.

Talking with The Daily Star yesterday, Barrister Mahbubur Rahman, additional inspector general of police and also the chief of the CID, said, "We will provide technical and forensic evidence of sabotage activities of those cases.

"We have already started collecting evidence. We have collected CCTV footage and videos of those incidents," he said.

He further requested the media to provide footage and still pictures to assist in the investigation.

The CID chief said if the forensic investigation could prove sabotage, then the culprits will not find any scope to get away.

"The perpetrators will be brought under punishment," he said.

Regarding the transfer of Hefajat cases to CID, several police officials said it could be difficult to get all the details of the cases filed in 2013 as a lot of time has already elapsed.

For this  reason, it could be difficult to prove crimes in those cases and so police are placing focus on forensic and technological analysis to prove these cases, they added.

Over 350 people, mostly Hefajat supporters, have already been arrested by police for their involvement in the cases. Besides, some nine top leaders including Mamunul of Hefajat were also arrested by police for their alleged involvement in the violence in 2013.

In the last eight years since May 2013, more than 160 cases were filed against leaders and activists of Hefajat-e-Islam, the Qawmi madrasa-based organisation.

Of the total cases, 83 were filed in seven districts including Dhaka, accusing 3,416 named and 84,796 unnamed people centring the Hefajat mayhem on May 5, 2013 at Shapla Chattar in the capital.

Of the cases, police have so far pressed charges in 18, and gave final reports in two other cases filed in 2013. Only one of the cases, in Bagerhat, has been disposed of.

But all the accused were acquitted as neither the police nor the prosecutors could prove them guilty of the charges of attempted murder, arson and vandalism, according to law enforcement officials.

Besides, 73 more cases were filed in Dhaka and five other districts against 45,000 unnamed people for the mayhem and arson attacks that took place between March 26 to 28 of this year centring Hefajat's protest against the Indian prime minister's two-day visit to Bangladesh from march 26.

Narendra Modi visited the country to be part of the twin celebrations of Bangladesh's silver jubilee of independence and the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Hefajat Amir Junayed Babunagari yesterday demanded unconditional release of all "Ulema-Masayek" of Hefajat and all its leaders including the party's Joint Secretary General Mamunul Haque and Organising Secretary Azizul Haque Islamabadi, who were arrested in the last several days.

In a video message, the Hefajat chief also demanded that the government stop filing "false" cases, harassment and arrest of its leaders in different parts of the country.

Babunagari claimed some vested quarters are spreading propaganda that Hefajat-e Islam is involved in bringing any political party to power. He also requested the government and the country's people not to pay heed to this propaganda terming it a "blatant lie".

TOP LEADERS UNDER SURVEILLANCE

Intelligence sources said some two dozen top leaders of Hefajat remain under surveillance of law enforcement agencies, including the Secretary General Nurul Islam Jihadi.

These leaders would be arrested by phases once evidence is collected against them, added law enforcement sources.

Asked about giving charge to CID on investigating Hefajat cases, Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general of Police Headquarters, said there is scope to engage proper authorities for proper investigation of any case.

"Therefore, whenever the involvement of any particular unit or officers is essential, they are engaged. This is done within the purview of usual legal provisions," he told The Daily Star.

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