Militant body gives Dhaka 48 hours to free its leaders

September 20th, 2008 - 4:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 20 (IANS) Banned Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) Bangladesh, an arm of an international Islamist militant body, has threatened to oust the government if its 10 leaders and activists arrested Thursday were not released within 48 hours, ending Monday.The threat issued at a meeting of the organisation in the capital was apparently in violation of the state of emergency but no action was taken in this regard, The Daily Star newspaper said Saturday.

Akramul Hossain, assistant commissioner of special branch of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police, said: “We may seek necessary government approval for filing a sedition case against the arrested persons.”

The organisation has been banned, but has been functioning normally for the last two years.

HuT’s chief coordinator Mahiuddin Ahmed said: “The Hizb ut-Tahrir will stomp the city streets and no one will be able to live in peace on the soil of Bangladesh if our leaders are not released in 48 hours.”

Asked about the open threat against the government amid the state of emergency, Home Secretary Mohammed Abdul Karim told The Daily Star Friday night that the law would take its own course.

A report from Rajshahi in western Bangladesh, where the arrests were made, said that law enforcement agencies were waiting for the government approval to file a sedition case against the HuT leaders and activists for plotting against the state.

Four teachers including Syed Golam Mowla, a Dhaka University teacher and HuT coordinator, and Ahmed Jamal Iqbal, teacher of electrical engineering at South East University and a senior member of the Islamist group, were arrested along with eight others.

They were nabbed on suspicion after documents with inflammatory contents were found just before they were to hold a press conference.

Mowla protested saying that he had held such a conference in Dhaka earlier without police hindrance.

Mahiuddin Ahmed vowed to establish “Khelafat rule” of an Islamic state in the country, which is the basic objective of the organisation that is funded by West Asian countries, but is banned in several countries including Pakistan, Libya and Nigeria.

“We always want to oust all governments in all Muslim countries in the world to establish Khelafat states. We have been asking for establishing Khelafat rule in the country instead of the present servile government since our first procession in the country,” he said.

Mahiuddin said their organisation always opposes all mainstream political parties, including the Awami League and BNP.

“We will always oppose all ruling governments and opposition political parties. We also oppose both the democratic and caretaker government systems,” he said, labelling the caretaker government as a “puppet government”.

A senior police official Friday told The Daily Star that the activities of HuT are clearly anti-state as the contents of their leaflets distributed are provocative and call for militancy and toppling the government.

“The leaflets are sufficient for bringing sedition charges against them but we want further investigation since the organisation has been active in the country for several years,” he said requesting anonymity.

HuT was proscribed after its leaders figured in the Aug 21, 2004 attack on a rally being addressed by former prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

While she had a narrow escape, but damaged her eyes and ears, 23 of her party activists died and a hundred were injured.

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