Eight Years of Hefazat Mayhem

Police now gear up for probe

Md Solamain Salman

5 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Eight years have elapsed but no significant progress has been made over investigations into most of the cases filed on charges of murder, vandalism, and arson centring the Dhaka-siege programme of Hefazat-e-Islam on May 5, 2013.

There was an allegation that the government had reached an understanding with Hefazat after the incident as there was no progress in the Hefazat’s cases for a long time.

But the government recently initiated tough legal action against Hefazat in the wake of widespread acts of violence and vandalism by the group on March 26 this year protesting the visit of Indian Prime Minister to Bangladesh.

Police sources said the police headquarters has already directed the agencies concerned to complete the investigation into the pending cases filed against Hefazat men over the 2013 violence.

Following the instruction, the law enforcement agencies are gearing up their investigation into the cases filed against thousands of Hefazat leaders and activists over the violence.

Around 30 senior Hefazat leaders, including Mamunul Haque, Ahmed Abdul Kader, Azizul Haque Islamabadi, Maulana Jubair Ahmed, Maulana Jalaluddin Ahmed, and Mufti Harun Izhar, have already been arrested in connection with the 2013 mayhem.

Syed Nurul Islam, deputy commissioner of Motijheel Crime Division, on Monday said that Hefazat carried out mayhem at Shapla Chattar in Motijheel on May 5, 2013, to unseat the then Awami League government.

They (Hefazat) thought that if they came to power by ousting the government, Allama Shafi would be the president of the country and Junayed Babunagari the prime minister, he said.

Nine Hefazat leaders, including Mamunul, are facing interrogation in two cases filed against them with Motijheel and Paltan Model Police Stations and they made the disclosure to police, he added.

According to police and Dhaka court sources, a total of 83 cases were filed across the country over violence centring the Dhaka-siege programme of Hefazat-e-Islam on May 5, 2013.

Of the cases, 53 were filed with different police stations in Dhaka including thirty-two cases with Paltan, six with Motijheel, three with Ramna and two with Shahbagh police stations on charges of murder, arson, vandalism, looting and attacks on law enforcers.

Meanwhile, 30 more cases were filed with Narayanganj, Chattogram, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Laxmipur and Cox’s Bazar over the Hefazat violence.

Police completed probes into only four out of the 53 cases filed in Dhaka. Dhaka Metropolitan Police is still investigating 33 other cases while the rest of the 16 cases are being probed by detective branch (DB) of police.

Police sources said a total of 84,976 people were made accused in all 83 cases filed over the Hefazat violence while names of 3,416 people were mentioned in the cases. A total of 88 people, including the then Hefazat’s General Secretary Junaid Babunagari, were arrested over the cases at that time but all of them later came out of jail on bail.

Eight years have elapsed since the Hafazat mayhem in 2013 but no significant progress has been made in the probe into 61 out of the 84 cases filed over the May 5 mayhem.

Police submitted charge sheets only in 22 cases in the last eight years while probes into the rest of 61 cases are still going on. The trial in only one case completed with a court in Bagerhat but all the accused got acquittal in the case.

Eight years back, during the Hefazat mayhem on May 5, 2013, Hefazat rowdies had gone berserk in Motijheel, Baitul Mukarram, Paltan and Dainik Bangla intersections, harming businesses and damaging public property.

They also clashed with law enforcers, leaving some people, including sub-inspector Shajahan, dead. At night, law enforcers during a joint operation flushed them out from Shapla Square area.

Although it was claimed that 2,000 Hefazat activists were killed, the government put the figure at 13 only. The Islamist group failed to provide names and addresses in support of its claim. The then Hefazat’s General Secretary Junaid Babunagari, the key accused in SI Shajahan murder case, was held on May 6, 2013 but released on bail on May 29 the same year on health grounds.

After arrest, Babunagari gave a confessional statement to a Dhaka metropolitan magistrate, saying that the activists of Hefazat, Jamaat, BNP and its front organisations were also involved with the anarchy.

Later, several BNP leaders, including Moudud Ahmed and Sadeque Hossain Khoka, had also been shown arrested in the cases, but later they got bail in the cases.

Court sources said Dhaka magistrate courts have been asking the investigating officers to submit probe reports one after another but the investigators apparently failed to do it.