Bangladesh

Top Hefajat leaders meet with home minister over recent arrests

In an apparent bid to come to an understanding about the arrest of several of its top leaders, a delegation of Hefajat-e Islam held a meeting with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal at the latter's residence in the capital last night.

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Senior police officials were also present at the time.

Hefajat Nayeb-e-Amir Ataullah Hafejji, Hefajat Secretary General Nurul Islam Jihadi, Qwami Madrasa Education Board (Befaq) Secretary General Mahfuzul Haque -- who is also the brother of arrested Hefajat leader Mamunul Haque -- and Habibullah Siraji, among others, were present from Hefajat's side. 

There was no formal briefing from any side after the meeting.

When leaving the meeting, Nurul Islam Jihadi said he is very sick and would not be able to talk about the meeting.

The home minister did not answer his phone despite repeated attempts to contact him.

Earlier in the day, five top Hefajat leaders held a meeting with an intelligence agency. Nurul Islam Jehadi led the meeting on behalf of the organisation, sources said.

A Hefajat leader wishing anonymity said they have requested the home minister not to arrest any more of their leaders and to release their arrested leaders.

He did not comment whether the meeting was part of an initiative from both sides to reach an understanding over the recent differences between the government and Hefajat.

Hefajat-e-Islam had staged violent protests in different parts of the country between March 26 and March 28, leaving at least 17 persons died.

They were protesting the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country at the time.

So far, nine top leaders of Hefajat. including its Joint Secretary General Mamunul Haque have been arrested by police.

A total of 73 cases were filed in Dhaka and five others districts against 45,000 unnamed people for the mayhem and arson attacks that took place between March 26 and 28.

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