Hefajat-e Islam yesterday backed out of its decision to hold a rally today in the capital's Motijheel Shapla Chattar to press its 13-point demand.
“As the government didn't give us permission for the rally, we are not holding it,” Nur Hossain Kasemi, convener of the Dhaka city unit Hefajat, told a press conference at Madrasa-e-Jamia Madani at Baridhara.
Earlier, around 11:00am, law enforcers in Chittagong barred Shah Ahmad Shafi and Junaid Babunagari, Hefajat ameer and secretary general, from coming to Dhaka when they, along with their followers, came out of the Moinul Islam Madrasa at Hathazari, the headquarters of Hefajat.
The central leaders of the Qawmi madrasa-based organisation then sat in an emergency meeting at its headquarters and Kasemi later announced the decision at his Baridhara madrasa.
Police, however, denied the Hefajat allegation of having barred its leaders from going to Dhaka. “We just requested them [Hefajat leaders] not to go outside on security grounds due to the opposition's ongoing blockade,”
said AFM Nizamuddin, assistant superintendent (Hathazari) of police.
Hefajat high ups, many of whom are also top leaders of the BNP-led 18-party alliance components, said they were likely to announce a fresh programme today from Dhaka protesting the “government's pressure on it” to cancel the Shapla Chattar rally.
Meanwhile, talking to The Daily Star, a Hefajat leader said BNP spokesperson Nazrul Islam Khan on Saturday phoned the Hefajat's central joint secretary general and enquired about the rally.
“He [Nazrul] wanted to know whether we would stick to our stance on holding the rally on Tuesday. The BNP leader also said they [BNP] would consider if we requested them to shorten the blockade programme [ends 5:00pm today],” mentioned the Hefajat leader, who was present during the telephone conversation.
Hefajat's 13-point demand includes a reinstatement of the phrase “Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah” in the constitution as one of the fundamental principles of state policy.