Leaders of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh (HIB), on Saturday, announced that they were firm in their intention to besiege Dhaka, at any cost, today, despite the Prime Minister’s call to postpone their programme. Premier Sheikh Hasina had urged them to defer their blockade programme, so as to help rescue operations at the building that collapsed in Savar, killing at least 550 garment workers and injuring several thousand. HIB had given the call for the programme, at its April 6 long march rally at Shapla Chattor, to press home its 13-point charter of demands. The demands include restoration of the clause of trust and faith in Almighty Allah, in the Constitution.
Addressing a press conference at the office of the city unit of HIB at Lalbagh, the Hefazat leaders alleged that police personnel and ruling party cadres were obstructing HIB activists at different places in the country and trying to prevent them from joining the siege programme.
As part of the programme, they said HIB activists would sit in at all the entrance points of the capital, including Jatrabari-Kanchpur, Jatrabari-Demraghat, Postagola, Babubazar, Gabtoli and Uttara, at the crack of dawn after performing Fazr prayer.
HIB has also sought permission to hold a rally in front of Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, at 3:00pm.
The ameer of HIB, Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi, called upon leaders and activists of HIB and devout people to take to the streets at all the entry points of the city, peacefully taking with them jainamaj (prayer mats), tasbih, meswaq (toothbrush) and dry food after Fazr prayer to make the Dhaka blockade programme a success. He issued the call in a written statement read out by HIB joint secretary-general Mufti Faizullah, at the press conference.
Allama Shafi said taking the Savar tragedy into consideration, motor vehicles carrying dead bodies and local and foreign visitors, and those engaged in rescue operations, as well as ambulances and fire services, will remain out of the purview of the siege programme. Hefazat leaders, however, requested the authorities involved in rescue operations to use stickers on their vehicles.
In the statement, the HIB ameer said they had not found any assurance in the Prime Minister’s speech, at her press conference, on Friday, that their 13-point charter of demands would be accepted. He alleged that the Prime Minister tried to mislead the people about their demands and HIB. There was no reason for suspending the Dhaka siege programme, he added.
He reiterated that their movement was not aimed at forcing any quarters to quit power or help any quarters gain power, adding that they do not wish to make any quarters at home and abroad, either their friend or their enemy.
Allama Shafi accused the government of providing state patronage to the free mixing of males and females in different parts of the country, including Shabagh Square, and also accused ministers and ruling party leaders of making what he said were objectionable remarks about the HIB movement and its demands.
He described the PM’s speech about HIB as “insignificant” and called upon the Prime Minister to accept the 13-point charter of demands and shun tactics of deceiving and misleading the people.
The Hefazat chief demanded that compensation should be provided to the family members of those killed during the HIB movement, and that Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman should be released. He sought cooperation from all, for carrying out all their programmes, including the siege programme. “The government will have to face severe consequences, if it plans to move forward in any other way,” he warned.
Replying to a question, HIB secretary-general Maulana Jonayed Babunagori said they expect the administration will allow them to hold a rally at the north gate of the Baitul Mukarram, at 3pm. “The next course of action will depend on the prevailing situation if such permission is not given,” he added.
Regarding the apparent move to hold a dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties, Maulana Jonayed said it would not have any impact on their movement as their organisation and demands are non-political.
Senior nayeb-e-ameer of HIB, Maulana Muhibullah Babunagori, Maulana Jafrullah Khan, Maulana Moinuddin Ruhi, Maulana Abdul Latif Nezami, Maulana Noor Hossain Kashemi, Mufti Mohammad Wakkas, Maulana Mohammad Ishaque, Maulana Abdur Rab Yusufi and Maulana Jonayed Al Habib, and others, were present at the press conference.
-With The Independent input