Mamunul Haque, an influential leader of hardcore Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam in Bangladesh, was arrested by Dhaka police on Sunday on the charges of instigating violence, attempt to murder, assault and vandalism relating to a case filed last year. Harunur Rashid, a senior Dhaka Metropolitan Police official, informed in a short briefing that Haque was arrested from a madrassa in the capital of Dhaka’s Mohammadpur area.
The Islamist organization Hefazat-e-Islam of which Mamunul is the joint secretary is said to be the instigator behind violent riots and targeted attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Muslim-majority nation.
Several other Hifazat leaders have been accused in several cases, including planned attacks on police and police stations and vandalism which are being investigated.
More than 300 people have been arrested till now for their involvement in the cases of arson, vandalism and violence during the period 26-28 March in various towns of Bangladesh.
Mamunul Haq has been sent on seven-day remand after the police produced him before the court on Monday.
The Chief of the Hefazat-e-Islam Junayed Babunagari in a video message demanded unconditional release of all the religious leaders of the organization including Mamunul Haque and the party’s Organising Secretary Azizul Haque Islamabadi.
Violence in Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had extended an invitation to India’s PM Narendra Modi to join a March 26 celebration of the country’s 50th anniversary of independence. The radical group had warned the government of bloodshed if the visit took place.
The two-day visit was overshadowed by the violence. At least 17 supporters of Hefazat-e-Islam were killed in separate clashes with police as they attacked a police station and other government buildings, and blocked highways elsewhere in the country to wreck havoc in the country to supposedly oppose the visit.
What is Hefazat-e-Islam
Established in 2010, the Hefazat-e-Islam controls the largest number of madrasas running into thousands in Bangladesh. The organization came into prominence after its hardline Islamist demands during the 2013 Shahbagh protest movement in Dhaka.
In its 13 point demand, Hefazat-e-Islam demanded an anti-blasphemy law with death penalty as punishment, ban on erecting sculptures, declaring Ahmadiyas as non-Muslims and several restrictions on social gathering between men and women among others.
Mamunul, who is the joint secretary general of this radical group, is infamous for his hate speech and aggressive sermons in religious congregations and social media. For the same, he enjoys immense popularity among hardliners.
Haque and his associates also led a recent campaign against building a sculpture of independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Hasina’s father, saying sculptures are un-Islamic following which the government had to back off.
Attack on Hindu village
The same radical Islamist group was responsible for ransacking over 80 houses of Hindus in the village of Sunamganj, Bangladesh after a young Hindu man from the village, uploaded a video criticizing Mamunul Haque’s speech.
Many local Hindus had to flee their homes fearing for life which gave the attackers an opportunity to ransack and loot their homes.