Dhaka, Apr 18 (EFE).- The police in Bangladesh on Sunday arrested a senior leader of Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam as part of an ongoing crackdown on the group following recent violence during protests over a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Iftekhairul Islam said Hefazat joint secretary general Mamunul Haque was arrested from an Islamic seminary he runs in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur area.
“We have arrested him from Jamia Rahmania Madrassah (Islamic seminary) around 1pm today as he is wanted in several cases,” Iftekhairul said.
Mamunul, joint secretary-general of the Hefazat, is the senior-most Hefazat leader to be arrested by the authorities.
Hefazat organising secretary Azizul Islam and Junaid Al Habib are among other senior leaders of the group who have been detained by the police in recent days.
The group’s spokesperson Jakaria Noman Foyezi told EFE that over 200 of their leaders and supporters were arrested following protests during Modi’s visit between Mar.26-27.
The Indian prime minister was on a visit to Bangladesh on the occasion of the country’s golden jubilee celebrations to mark its independence.
The protests left at least 12 people dead and scores injured, while Hefazat claimed 17 supporters of the group were killed in the violence.
“We strongly condemn these arrests. We are not afraid of these arrests. We will face this in legal and organizational ways,” Foyezi told EFE.
Hefazat – which describes itself as a non-political grouping of religious bodies – rose to prominence when thousands of students joined their rally in 2013 demanding criminal prosecution of an atheist.
Other controversial demands of the group included the imposition of the death penalty for blasphemy and demand for segregation of sexes in public spaces.
Hefazat also forced Bangladeshi authorities to remove the statue of the Greek goddess of justice, Themis, from the Supreme Court complex in Dhaka in 2017, condemning it as “un-Islamic”. EFE