Hefajat-e-Islam last night demanded release of "Ulema and religious-minded general people" who were arrested over violence by the Islamist organisation in March during demonstrations protesting Indian Prime Minister Narandra Modi's visit to Bangladesh.
A 10-member Hefajat delegation, led by Secretary General of its convening committee Nurul Islam Jihadi, put four-point demand to Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan during a meeting with him at his city residence.
Describing the minister as a guardian of Ulema, mosques, and madrasas, the Hefajat leaders also demanded stopping the "ongoing harassment of religious-minded general people" across the country.
Their other demands include withdrawal of cases filed in connection with the Hefajat mayhem at the capital's Shapla Chattar in 2013 as per an earlier decision.
Under pressure from the government due to an ongoing crackdown on Hefajat high-ups, leaders of the Qwami madrasa based organisation called on the home minister to reach a consensus on release of its arrested leaders, sources said.
The meeting started around 9:20pm and continued for more than two and a half hours.
Under pressure from the government, Hefajat Amir Junayed Babunagari was forced to dissolve its central committee on April 26. He named a five-member convening committee, headed by him.
State Minister for religious affairs Faridul haque Khan, ruling Awami League MP RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury from Brahmanbaria-3, among others were also present at the meeting last night.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Hefajat leader Nurul Islam Jihadi said the home minister assured them of considering their demands.
Hefajat insiders said leaders of the organisation at the meeting tried to convince the government side of their non-involvement in the violence from March 26 to 28.
The government side responded saying that Hefajat leaders who were involved in recent violent activities must be brought to book.
Hefajat leaders also said they wanted to end the "misunderstanding" between the government and their organisation centring the demonstrations against Narendra Modi's visit to Bangladesh.
The Islamist outfit on March 26-28 had carried out mayhem in different parts of the country, particularly in Brahmanbaria, during the protests.
So far, 142 cases have been filed and around 21 top leaders of Hefajat and 890 people, mostly supporters of the organisation, have been arrested in connection with the violence. Among the arrestees is Hefajat leader Mamunul Haque.
3 MORE HEFAJAT MEN HELD
Meanwhile, police yesterday arrested three more Hefajat leaders in connection with the violence during the anti-Modi protests in Chattogram and Brahmanbaria in March.
In Chattogram, police arrested Mowlana Mohammad Arif, science and technology affairs secretary of Hathazari municipality Hefajat unit; and Mowlana Mohammad Tajul Islam, assistant dawah affairs secretary of Hefajat Hathazari upazila unit, reports our Chattogram correspondent.
Rafiqul Islam, officer-in-charge of Hathazari Police Station, said the arrestees' involvement in recent Hefajat mayhem at Hathazari municipality was found during the investigation of the cases filed in this connection.
They were shown arrested in two cases filed with the police station after the March 26 violence, he said.
Four people, including three madrasa students, were killed during the violence in the area.
In Brahmanbaria, police arrested Mufti Abdur Rahim Quasemi, the joint general secretary of Hefajat district committee, yesterday.
Quasemi was arrested from Bhadughar in Brahmanbaria municipality area around 4:00pm, reports our Brahmanbaria correspondent.
The Hefajat leader had earlier resigned demanding the authorities bring those involved in the March 26 and 28 violence in the district to book.
In another development, Hefajat's former joint secretary general Mamunul Haque and its Dhaka city unit's former president Junayed Al Habib were placed on different terms of remand yesterday in five cases filed with Paltan Police Station over the 2013 mayhem and the recent violence in Dhaka.