DHAKA – In what appeared to be a government-backed crackdown against the opposition parties, Bangladesh police arrested nine people including the top leaders of the country´s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami.
The police raided a house in Uttara, located in Dhaka’s northern side and took Islamic party’s head Maqbul Ahmed, secretary general Shafiqur Rahman and former member of parliament Golam Parwar among others into custody.
According to police, the raid was conducted following a tip off regarding secret “meeting” being held by them in Uttara, while some documents have also seized from the place on which investigation is underway.
Reasons behind their arrest have not been disclosed, but police claimed that most of the arrested people are absconders.
A Bangladesh-based newspaper, Prothom Alo claimed the leaders were apprehended following allegations of sabotage.
The move came after the opposition parties slammed the way the government, being run by Prime Minister Haseena Wajid, is handling the Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar.
A Jamaat spokesperson condemned the arrests of top leaders, adding that they were attending “a social gathering”.
He termed the arrests “motivated”, adding that the party is following the democratic rules and there is nothing against the democratic ways.
Maqbool Ahmed, 79, has not attended any public gathering since becoming the chief of the party in October 2016 following the execution of his predecessor Motiur Rahman Nizami for his involvement in war crimes during 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.
It is important to mention here that a high court of Bangladesh had imposed a ban on Jamaat from contesting elections in 2013 due having a party charter, which is against the nation’s secular constitution.
A controversial war crimes tribunal was set up in 2010 by Sheikh Hasina’s government. This tribunal had announced death sentence to Jamat leadership, inciting nationwide protests in which hundreds of supporters died.
The Jamaat-e-Islami has announced a nationwide protest for Tuesday (today) against “unlawful” arrest of its chief, secretary general, and seven other leaders and activists.
Condemning the arrest, Jamaat’s nayeb-e-ameer and former MP Mujibur Rahman in a statement said, “Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is a democratic and lawful political party. Jamaat runs its activities following the country’s constitution, laws and rules.”