Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rajshahi mayor-elect visits den of militant kingpin

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Even before taking oath, Rajshahi mayor-elect and Awami League leader AHM Khairuzzaman Liton has drawn considerable controversy for his activities like visiting the den of militant-kingpin Asadullah Al Galib.

Referring to the visit, even his party men say he bagged votes from many of Galib's followers.

They add Liton during campaign avoided clearing his stance on militancy fearing impact on his vote tally and now made the visit.

He visited central offices of Galib's outfit Ahle Hadith Andolon, Bangladesh (Ahab), its youth front Ahle Hadith Jubo Sangha (AHJS) and Ahab-run Al Markajul Islami As-Salafi Madrasa in Nawdapara on Sunday and was accorded a reception.

An AHJS press release says Liton in his speech observed that Ahab and AHJS [suspected militant outfits] leaders and workers faced atrocities during BNP-Jamaat rule as Galib and his men were detained over "false" accusation.

The release also claims Liton demanded Galib's release as none of the cases against him was proved.

Acting Ahab Ameer Shayekh Abdus Samad Salafi chaired the reception. Ahab Organising Secretary and AHJS Central President ASM Azizullah were present.

Salafi and Azizullah were arrested with Ahab chief Galib in February in 2005 on charge of scheming militancy and the outfit's connections with different international militant outfits.

Among others, councillor-elect Shahadat Hossain Sahu, Ahab-run monthly At Tahreek editor Dr Muhammad Shakhawat Hussain and Rajshahi Ahab chief Abul Kalam Azad were present during the reception.

Some arrested militants of the outlawed Jama'atul Mujahideen, Bangladesh (JMB) across the country have named Galib as their supreme leader.

"He [Liton] has now become mayor of all citizens and so he can look after everyone's well-being. But the news is alarming if the mayor's relation with militant outfits is deep," said Rajshahi district Awami League chief Tajul Islam M Faruk.

"We wanted a clear stance regarding militancy from the mayor hopefuls before the election. As none of them gave us [voters] their opinion, they are now taking the opportunity," said Abdul Bari, a voter and victim of JMB torture.

Liton also drew flak from party men for visiting the house of Rafi-us Shams, a former general secretary of Rajshahi District Sports Association on August 6. Shams is an accused in a graft case for misappropriation of around Tk 22 lakh from the association fund.

Many of party insiders also question his personal visit to Dhaka on Monday using a microbus provided by Rajshahi road transport owners group.

Talking to The Daily Star, Liton denied Ahab claim of his demanding Galib's release and refuted other allegations.

"Why should I want his release when he is being tried for militancy?" he said. "I went to visit the madrasa, not Galib's den."

"Besides, no-one can be called guilty unless judgement is delivered by a court... our chief Sheikh Hasina is also accused in a case; will I stay away from her?" he said on his visit to Shams' house.
 

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