The situation in Bangladesh is fast deteriorating . The government has decided it cannot allow the Hefazat-e-Islam march to Dhaka from Chittagong to continue. Although it has fallen short of any official announcement, its actions speak louder than words. Also the red-eyed announcements of various government ministers talking of zero-tolerance towards any violence that might emanate from such a programme hints at a secret desire to actually prevent the rally from remaining peaceful. The myriad of measures propagated directly and indirectly by the government in this regard cannot be ignored.
It is mentionable that the Hefazat-e-Islam, a Qaumi madrasah based organisation of Islamic scholars, on March 9 announced a month's protest programmes, including a long march towards Dhaka on April 6, to press home its demand to stop the activities of all anti-Islamic bloggers and to bring them to book for such blasphemous activities. The main demand of the movement, as enshrined in its 13 point demand, is the modification of the currently prevalent blasphemy law to include the death penalty as the highest form of punishment for insults to Islam, Allah and His final prophet.
Meanwhile, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has given permission to Hefazat-e-Islam for holding rally at Shapla Chattar in Motijheel area of the capital Saturday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
However, the mission to thwart the rally has been extensive and covered many fronts,
Comments on media against Hefazat-e-Islam:
Shahriar Kabir, the executive president of the Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee, has more than once called the Hefazat-e-Islam fundamentalist miscreants. Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu has called the Hefazat-e-Islam as harboring 'bigots and munafiqs'. Prime Minister's advisor and Dhaka city unit party Awami League joint general secretary Mahbub-ul-Alam Hanif has called the Hefazat-e-Islami activists as terrorists. Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir reiterated his trigger happy mentality when he said that the government was ready to take appropriate steps if the situation 'got out of hand'. Seniors leaders of the Awami League have warned Hefazat-e-Islam against creating any anarchy, which they said would not be spared. The lists are growing by the moment.
Hartal called to thwart the rally:
Some 25 social, cultural, professional and freedom fighters' organizations at a press conference called a nationwide hartal from 6pm of April 5 to 6pm of April 6 to resist 'Dhaka bound long march' announced by 'Hefajat-e-Islam.' Nasir Uddin Yousuf Bachhu, President of Sammilito Sanskrit Jote, on behalf of the group read out a written statement at the Dhaka University (DU) Teachers and Students Centre (TSC). Among others, Acting President of Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee Shahriar Kabir, Prof Dr Muntasir Mamun, Prof. Mesba Kamal, DU teacher Rubayet Fesdaus and Poet Mohammad Samad were present at the conference. The Sector Commanders Forum of the War of Liberation of 1971 extended their moral support to the programme of the 25 organizations.
It is mentionable that there activists of the 25 parties are few and they look up to the administration to realize the hartal. The administration has not failed them yet, unless one counts the fact that it has granted Hefazat-e-Islam the permission to hold the rally.
Whoever heard of hartal on a Friday? This truly is a program by the atheists and communists. Who else could want to stop Muslims from going to the mosques on Friday?
Shahbag not to be left behind:
Protesters of the Ganajagaran Mancha of Shahbagh Square on Thursday announced countrywide 22-hour road-rail-and-waterways blockade from 6 pm Friday to 4 pm Saturday, in a bid to thwart the Dhaka bound rally of Hefazat-e-Islam from reaching Dhaka. It is mentionable that there are few Shahbag supporters left and there are even fewer activists to realize such a programme. All eyes at Shahbagh will presumably look up to the armed cadres of the Chatra League (student outfit of the ruling party) to realize the blockade. Shahbag is after all, an extension of the Awami League on the streets.
Measures by the government on the ground:
The ruling party has instructed all its activists on ground to take up positions to thwart the procession of the Hefazat-e-Islam, especially starting from Chittagong. The government has forcefully prevented many bus owners in Chittagong and other parts of the country from renting their vehicles to the Islamist marchers. Rumours abound of preparations to fire upon the long march protesters.
Help from unlikely sources:
In a surprise move, Jatiya Party (JP), a partner of the Grand Alliance government, has extended full support to the long march programme of the Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh. The meeting also decided to provide drinking water to the participants of the long march at different points of the capital. Shamim Osman, AL MP from Narayangonj, suddenly out of nowhere, announced support for the long march. Islami Andolon Bangladesh, led by Pir of Chormonai, has also extended support to the long march.
Apart from them there is the ususal support of BNP, Jamaat and the other members of the 18 party grand Alliance.
Hefazat-e-Islam's strong response:
“A nonstop hartal will be enforced on April 7 (Sunday) if the shutdown called by the government through different parties and organisations backed by it and its inconsiderate decision not to let buses hired is not withdrawn by 6pm today,” said a written statement of Shah Ahmed Shafi, ameer of Hefazat-e-Islam, reports UNB.
Since both demands have been shown the thumb by the government, we can expect hartal from Sunday onwards.
All avenues seem to point out to an impending conspiracy. Only Allah and time can tell what will happen. There is little alternative to mass participation and heartfelt prayer.
And Allah knows best.