A senior BNP leader said yesterday his party had made a mistake by backing the May 5 rally of Hefajat-e Islam at Shapla Chattar in the capital.
“I had told the party high-ups right from the beginning that it would be wrong to support Hefajat's programmes, and it would harm the BNP's image,” said the BNP leader on condition of anonymity.
He didn't refute Hefajat leader Babunagari's statement in court to the effect that the BNP-led alliance had patronised Hefajat's May 5 rally at Shapla Chattar. “I cannot talk about it with anyone now,” he said.
BNP spokesperson Shamsuzzaman Dudu, however, cast doubts over the authenticity of the confessional statement of Babunagari, detained secretary general of Hefajat-e Islam.
“Only Allah knows what really happened at the time when he gave the statement. No lawyers or journalists were present there at that time,” he told journalists at the party's Naya Paltan office.
Several statements were made under Section 164 in the past, but those statements later lost their legal basis, he said.
This correspondent called seven BNP leaders yesterday, and only three of them responded.
One of them, a BNP standing committee member, termed the publication of Babunagari's statement in The Daily Star an example of yellow journalism, raising doubts about the report's authenticity.
Two others were embarrassed to talk about the Hefajat issue.
The correspondent several times phoned BNP Vice Chairman Sadeque Hossain Khoka, who is alleged to have played a key role in organising the May 5 rally. But no one picked up the phone.
In his statement, Babunagari blamed some activists of Hefajat-e Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir, and Chhatra Dal and Jubo Dal for the mayhem in and around Shapla Chattar and Baitul Mukarram mosque.
Babunagari, who was arrested on May 6 in the capital, also named 14 Hefajat leaders who had financial dealings with the 18-party alliance.
He said some of his party leaders had told him that “the next day, May 6, the former Dhaka mayor and an 18-party alliance leader would supply us with breakfast and lunch during our stay at Shapla Chattar. Don't worry. Insha'Allah [God willing], we will stay at Shapla Chattar until the fall of the government.”
Meanwhile, Hefajat-e Islam claimed that its Secretary General Babunagari could have never made such statement before the court.
Raising doubts about the confessional statement, it said, "Even if he had made such statement, we think he did it under coercion."
In a statement, the Islamist group again said it has no ties with BNP or Jamaat, and its agitation was not aimed at toppling the government.
Babunagari fell very ill, as he was subjected to torture while on remand, it alleged.