Top Hefajat-e Islam leader Mamunul Haque was arrested in the capital yesterday as the government continues crackdown on the Islamist outfit for its recent violent activities.
He was shown arrested in a case filed last year over vandalism by activists of the Qawmi madrasa-based organisation in the capital's Mohammadpur area.
Besides, law enforcement agencies arrested 31 people, mostly Hefajat men, over their alleged involvement in violence in different parts of the country, especially in Brahmanbaria, from March 26 to 28 in protest of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit.
Of them, 30 were arrested in Brahmanbaria and one in Narayanganj. With this, more than 300 people, mostly Hefajat activists, have been arrested over the incidents of violence.
Around 12:30pm yesterday, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Tejgaon Division) and the Detective Branch in a joint drive arrested Mamunul from Jamia Rahmania Arabia Madrasa in Mohammadpur.
Mrityunjoy Dey Sajal, DMP additional deputy commissioner of Tejgaon Division, said Mamunul was staying in a room on the second floor of the madrasa.
Upon confirmation of his presence at the madrasa, more than a hundred policemen cordoned off the madrasa and made the arrest, said the police official.
According to sources, the teachers and students at the madrasa tried to resist the policemen but eventually stepped back seeing a huge number of law enforcers.
Mamunul was first taken to DMP deputy commissioner's office (Tejgaon Division) and then to Tejgaon Police Station for primary interrogation. Later, he was brought to the DB office.
Talking to this newspaper, Harun-or-Rashid, DMP deputy commissioner (Tejgaon Division), said, "We are investigating a case filed with Mohammadpur Police Station last year following vandalism by Hefajat men. We found evidence that Mamunul was involved in the incident and we arrested him.
"Besides, there are cases against him at different police stations, including Paltan Police Station. We have learnt that he will be shown arrested in those cases later."
He further said Mamunul was under watch following recent incidents of violence by Hefajat men in different parts of the country.
The Hefajat leader had given provocative speeches during the 2013 Hefajat mayhem at the capital's Shapla Chattar, mentioned Harun-or-Rashid.
At different programmes recently, he instigated people, leading to attacks on police stations, police outposts and other establishments across the country, he said in reply to a query at his office.
He will be produced before a court today, added the DC.
Mamunul, son of late Bangladesh Khilafah Majlis leader Allama Azizul Haque, became a known figure at waz mahfil. In recent times, he was seen using helicopters to reach waz mahfil venues in different areas, sources said.
If organisers of a waz mahfil wished to have him as a speaker, they had to contact him at least a year before the programme, added the sources.
Recently, Hefajat supporters took part in protests against Modi's visit and carried out widespread violence in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Chattogram and Brahmanbaria.
From March 26 to 28, at least 17 people were killed in violence, and 73 cases were filed with different police stations over violence and mayhem in different districts.
Mamunul was one of the instigators of these acts of violence, say police.
On April 3, the Hefajat leader was confined by locals and Awami League men in a resort in Narayanganj, along with a woman who he claimed to be his second wife.
A group of Hefajat leaders and activists then blocked the Dhaka-Chattogram highway, staged demonstrations, vandalised vehicles and ransacked the resort.
Six cases were filed against Mamunul and Hefajat supporters following the vandalism. Since then, he had taken shelter at the madrasa to avoid arrest. While staying there, he went live on Facebook and made posts on the social media platform several times.
Meanwhile, law enforcers beefed up security in and around Brahmanbaria town following Mamunul's arrest, reports our Brahmanbaria correspondent.
Over the last seven days, law enforcers arrested eight central leaders of Hefajat, and made them accused in cased filed over the 2013 Hefajat mayhem.
On May 5, 2013, thousands of Hefajat members clashed with law enforcers and AL men, turning Motijheel and Paltan areas into battlefields.
A total of 83 cases were filed in seven districts, including Dhaka, against 3,416 named and 84,796 unnamed people. Many of the accused were from Hefajat, Jamaat-e-Islami and the BNP.
Police have pressed charges in 18 cases and given final reports in two. Probe reports in 62 other cases are yet to be submitted to court.
Law enforcers recently sped up the pace of investigation and started arresting Hefajat leaders following the government's green signal, said sources.
AL insiders said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was irked by Hefajat's violent protests against Modi's visit on March 26 -- the day of celebration of the golden jubilee of the country's independence.
Talking to this newspaper, Agriculture Minister and AL Presidium Member Abdur Razzaque said the government is very annoyed by Hefajat's anti-state activities and acts of violence.
"We will handle them with an iron fist like we did in case of the anti-liberation element Jamaat in the past.
"What they are doing in the name of religion is totally unacceptable. The government will not spare them," he said.
Hefajat first appeared on the scene in 2009 by protesting a draft national women development policy that provided equal inheritance rights to women.
Things changed after the 2013 mayhem at Shapla Chattar, and the then Hefajat ameer Shah Ahmad Shafi and the AL government got closer. But a faction of Hefajat, led by Junayed Babunagari, was totally against the outfit's "soft approach" towards the government, according to several Hefajat leaders.
Babunagari was declared Hefajat ameer in November last year, about two months after Shafi's death.
Soon after the formation of the new committee, Hefajat hogged the headlines as it strongly opposed the construction of Bangabandhu's sculpture in the capital and gave anti-government statements.