Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hizb ut-Tahrir gives 48-hr deadline to free its leaders

Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh yesterday threatened to oust the government by launching a movement if its 10 leaders and activists arrested in Rajshahi on Thursday are not released within 48 hours.

The threat issued at a meeting of the organisation in the capital was apparently in violation of the state of emergency but no action was taken in this regard as of filing of this report at 10:00pm yesterday.

Akramul Hossain, assistant commissioner of Special Branch of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police, said, "We may seek necessary government approval for filing a sedition case against the arrested persons."

Addressing the meeting at the city's Engineers' Institute of Bangladesh, the organisation's Chief Coordinator Mahiuddin Ahmed said, "The Hizb ut-Tahrir will stomp the city streets and no one will be able to live in peace on the soil of Bangladesh if our leaders are not released in 48 hours."

Asked about the open threat against the government amid the state of emergency, Home Secretary Md Abdul Karim told The Daily Star last night that the law would take its own course.

Our staff correspondent from Rajshahi reported that law enforcement agencies were waiting for the government approval to file a sedition case against the Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders and activists for plotting against the country.

Four teachers including Dr Syed Golam Mowla, a Dhaka University teacher and Hizb ut-Tahrir coordinator, and Ahmed Jamal Iqbal, teacher of electrical engineering at South East University and a senior member of the Islamist group, were arrested along with eight others on Thursday in Rajshahi.

They were arrested prior to holding a press conference at the Rajshahi City Press Club. Later, police produced them before a Rajshahi court under section-54 and the court sent them to jail.

In his address, Hizb ut-Tahrir Chief Coordinator Mahiuddin Ahmed vowed to establish Khelafat rule in the country.

"We always want to oust all governments in all Muslim countries in the world to establish Khelafat states. We have been asking for establishing Khelafat rule in the country instead of the present servile government since our first procession in the country," he said.

Mahiuddin said their organisation always opposes all mainstream political parties, including the Awami League and BNP. "We will always oppose all ruling governments and opposition political parties. We also oppose both the democratic and caretaker government systems," he said, labelling the caretaker government as a "puppet government".

Pointing at the media, he said, "We do not have confidence in the present media. Why do you not brand the USA as a terrorist state? Why do you not say the Fakhruddin-led government is a puppet government?

"Police arrested our leaders and activists for circulating leaflets because the caretaker government is afraid of our leaflets," he said and asked all Hizb ut-Tahrir activists to spread the organisation's leaflets across the country to oust the government and establish a Khelafat state.

Mahiuddin said his organisation would stage tougher agitation programmes at all educational institutions including Dhaka University if their leaders are not released within 48 hours.

Ramzan Ali, officer-in-charge of Boalia Police Station in Rajshahi, said the police need to interrogate the arrestees for further investigation and that they would seek remand for the arrestees from the court today.

A senior police official yesterday told The Daily Star that the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir are clearly anti-state as the contents of their leaflets distributed are provocative and call for militancy and toppling the government.

Seeking anonymity, he said, "The leaflets are sufficient for bringing sedition charges against them but we want further investigation since the organisation has been active in the country for several years."

At the top of the Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflet, the organisation calls upon Muslims, saying, "Take oath for establishing the rule of Khelafat by ousting the present rulers in this holy month of Ramadan and this will help unite the Muslims and revive their lost glory."

The leaflet criticises sending of forces to the United Nations peacekeeping missions instead of turning them into "flag bearers of Islam".

Security has been beefed up in and around Rajshahi city and adjacent upazilas following the arrest of Hizb ut-Tahrir activists.

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