by Mahamudul Hasan
Hefazat-e-Islam is planning to stage agitation in Dhaka city before January 5 general elections in guise of a separate platform named ‘Desh Raksha Mancha’ to protest the ‘autocratic’ activities of the government.
The decision of formation of the platform came at a crucial meeting of the Chittagong-based Islamist organisation held on Wednesday at Al Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Muinul Islam Madrasa at Hathazari upazila in Chittagong with its chief Shah Ahmad Shafi in the chair.
All the policymakers of the organisation and leaders of different Islamic parties were present in the meeting.
Meeting sources said that the Hefazat leaders elaborately discussed about the obstruction they were facing from the government to hold their programmes and next course of actions.
The meeting decided not to send their activists living outside the capital to the BNP’s ‘march for democracy’ programme on December 29 but decided to ensure the presence of all leaders and activists of its Dhaka unit and key leaders of its Chittagong unit in the Dhaka March announced by BNP chairperson Khaeda Zia.
Sources close to the intelligence agencies said that as the government was not allowing the Hefazat to hold its rallies and other programmes before the January 5 polls, they decided to hold programmes before the elections by floating another platform in the guise of different Islamic political parties.
Talking to New Age, several Hefajat leaders confirmed about the formation of the new platform.
Hefazat’s publicity secretary Munir Ahmed said that after the meeting presided over by organisation chief Ahmed Shafi, another meeting was held at the madrasa on Wednesday with leaders of different Islamic organisations to set the next course of action to protest the ongoing political impasse.
‘In the meeting it was decided to float another platform styled ‘Desh Rokkhya Mancha’ under the banners of different Islamic organisations but not under the Hefazat banner,’ he said, adding that under the new platform the Islamic organisations will hold programmes in Dhaka before January 5 elections demanding cancellation of the polls and immediate end of the political impasse.
Munir said that leaders of the Islamic organisations will have a meeting within a couple of days and might give formal announcement of floating the new platform.
Ashraf Ali Nizampuri, literary affairs secretary of the Islamist organisation, said that the new platform will be formed with most of the Islamic organisations including Islami Oikyo Jote, Khelafate Majlish, Khelafat Andolone, Muslim League, Jamiatul Olama Islam, Nezame Islam Party and Nastik Murtad Nirmul Committee of Bangladesh.
Hefazat-e-Islam was scheduled to hold a two-day Islamic conference in Chittagong on December 12-13 and a rally at capital’s Shapla Square on December 24 but the government did not allow them to hold their programmes for security reasons.
The Chittagong-based Islamist outfit had held its first rally at Shapla Square in April and another one on May 5 that resulted in violent clashes.
The police, Rapid Action Battalion and Border Guard Bangladesh dispersed Hefajat activists on early May 5, triggering criticism over the way of operation as many people were reportedly killed.
Hefajat-e-Islam as part of its 13-point demands has been demanding punishment to the Shahbagh bloggers and stoppage of anti-Islamic activities in the country. It is also demanding capital punishment to the people involved in blasphemy.