12:50 AM, August 03, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:32 AM, August 03, 2013

Jamaat Registration

Ban not on govt's plan

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Shakhawat Liton and Hasan Jahid Tusher

Ministers and Awami League leaders may keep echoing the popular demand for banning Jamaat-e-Islami, but the government is unlikely to ban the party in the existing political reality.
The government will instead wait for the Appellate Division's disposal of Jamaat's appeal against the High Court verdict that on Thursday declared illegal the party's registration with the Election Commission.
According to a number of ministers and top AL leaders, it is for the Appellate Division to decide whether Jamaat can now contest the upcoming national polls, due between October and January.
Any executive move to ban the party before the Appellate Division's verdict will prove counterproductive and trigger fresh controversies. The opposition parties, including Jamaat, will in that case spread propaganda against the government and label the move as one against religion-based politics. This will harm the AL ahead of the election, they said.
One minister told The Daily Star that the AL-led government did not intend to ban religion-based politics. This is why the government did not restore to the charter the 1972's constitutional restriction to this effect.
It may be mentioned that the government brought the 15th amendment to the charter in June 2011, restoring some articles of the original constitution. Through this amendment, the government also scrapped the caretaker government system.
"We had the opportunity to reinstate the constitutional ban [on religion-based politics] imposed in 1972. But we had to sacrifice it given the country's political situation," said the minister, preferring not to be named.
Two other ministers, also requesting anonymity, said the government would not ban Jamaat at the moment.
They added that the government's strategy to weaken Jamaat had been effective and law enforcers had been directed to tackle Jamaat's street agitations.
On Thursday at an Iftar party at Gono Bhaban, a leader of a component of the ruling alliance drew Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's attention to the HC verdict.
To this, sources said, Hasina smiled and said: "Something needs to be done now."
But the alliance leader, who himself has been demanding that Jamaat be banned, said the government would go slow on the issue.
He said the government had yet to begin legal proceedings against Jamaat under the International Crimes Tribunal Act, even five months after the law had been amended empowering the tribunals to try organisations for war crimes.
Thursday's verdict raised hopes among people that the government could now easily ban Jamaat.
But the ruling party policymakers differ.
"We will ask all concerned to wait for the final verdict of the Supreme Court on Jamaat's registration," said Suranjit Sengupta, minister without portfolio.
AL presidium member Nooh-Ul-Alam Lenin said they would make a decision on the matter following the Appellate Division verdict.
He, however, added that his party's stance was clear: Jamaat could do politics as long as it followed the law. "If it resorted to violence, the government would be compelled to take action against it."
Mahbubul Alam Hanif, AL joint general secretary and a special assistant to the prime minister, said the issue of banning Jamaat gained further momentum after the HC verdict.
"But no discussion on the issue has been held in the party forum yet," he added.

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