Hizb ut-Tahrir men won't be charged for past offences
Law enforcers will neither start any manhunt to detain leaders and activists of the just banned Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh nor charge them with the anti-state offences they have committed so far as the government has a lenient attitude towards them.
"But if we find them to continue their activities, the law enforcement agencies will take action as per laws," Director General of Rapid Action Battalion Hassan Mahmood Khandkar told The Daily Star yesterday.
Inspector General of Police Nur Mohammad said although Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders have been making statements against the conventional laws, the country and the government, legal steps could not be taken against them because of inadequate laws.
The IGP said they have enough evidence and grounds to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh; they even found some dubious foreign links of the outfit, which needed to be stopped urgently.
"After the ban, now it will be easy to take legal action against them," Nur Mohammad told The Daily Star. The Anti-Terrorism Act 2009, which has provisions for punishment to the members and patrons of a banned organisation, will be helpful in this regard, he added.
Home Minister Sahara Khatun on Thursday said the organisation has been banned because of its activities that go against the state, the government, people and democracy.
Asked about their activities against the country's laws, Bangladesh chief coordinator of the outfit Mohiuddin Ahmed, an associate professor at Dhaka University's Institute of Business Administration, yesterday said, "Democracy or any rules--whatever you mention is imposed by the western world."
Under section 18 of the anti-terrorism act, becoming or claiming to be a member of a banned organisation is an offence punishable with imprisonment for up to six months or fine or both.
Even supporting a banned organisation or asking anyone to support it or organising or conducting or helping organise a rally of such organisation, or addressing it is also a crime.
Telecast or broadcast of such rallies on radio and television or printing information with a view to making any banned organisation active or seeking support for it is also an offence.
Anyone found guilty of such offence will be sentenced to imprisonment for two to seven years and in addition may be fined.
If anyone, except for the parents, spouse and children of such offenders, provide them with shelter knowing their offences, the person will also suffer jail term.
In the last few years, Hizb ut-Tahrir appeared in Bangladesh as one of the most controversial Islamist organisations because of its vigorous provocative campaigns against not only the government's role, but also against the US, Britain and some other countries.
Its campaigns often provoked people into violence against the outfit's "enemies", a source in a law enforcement agency observed.
Despite its campaigns through leaflets and posters, the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh came to the notice of law enforcers after the grenade attack on the then British high commissioner to Bangladesh Anwar Choudhury at Hazrat Shah Jalal's Shrine in Sylhet on May 21, 2004.
Tahrir men had put up anti-British and anti-US posters around the shrine two days before the attack and this made investigators suspect about the organisation's involvement with the attack. The outfit has since been alleged to have militant links at home and abroad, said an official.
So far law enforcers arrested many of its leaders and workers for carrying out similar provocative campaigns across the country but could not take any legal action.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a pan-Islamist group whose goal is to establish a global Islamic caliphate. It has been banned in a number of countries, mainly in Central Asia and the Middle East.
Tahrir's Bangladesh chief coordinator claimed that they have units at all divisional headquarters and have around 10,000 members.
Apart from four banned militant organisations, law enforcers had prepared a list of 30 others, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, for their suspected link to militancy in the country a couple of years ago.
However, the high officials of the law enforcement agencies told The Daily Star on different occasions that they were not in a position to launch a crackdown on the suspected organisations as it requires government policy in this regard.
Of these listed organisations, some are large, but all of their activities are apparently limited to mosque- and madrasa-based discussions and Islamic invitation.
The law enforcers observed that the objectives and statements of many of these organisations are identical to those of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Harkatul Jihad al Islami. But this is not enough to take stern actions against them since such activities are allowed in the country unless they commit serious crimes as the JMB and Huji did.
The other outfits on the list include Islamic Democratic Party, Hizb-ut Towhid, Allahr Dal, Islami Samaj, Al-Harat al-Islamia, Jama'atul Faliya, Towhidi Janata, Bishwa Islami Front, Juma'atul al Sadat, Shahadat-e-Nobuwat, Jama'at-e Yahia al Turat, Joyshe Mostafa Bangladesh, al Jihad Bangladesh, Woarat Islamic Front, Jamaat-as-Sadat, al Khidmat, Harkat-e-Islam al Jihad, Hizbullah Islami Samaj, Muslim Millat Shariah Council, World Islamic Front for Jihad, Joysh-e Mohammad, Hizbul Mahadi, Kalemar Dawat, Islami Dawati Kafela, al Islam Martyrs Brigade, Dawat-e Islam, Tanjim, Hizb e Abu Omar, and Jadid al-Qaeda Bangladesh.
Police yesterday foiled a press conference and an attempt of holding a protest rally of the banned Islamist political party Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh in the city.
The government on Thursday imposed ban on the party as it has been carrying out activities against the state, government, people and democracy.
Police stopped the chief coordinator of the party Mohiuddin Ahmed's press conference immediately after he started reading a written statement at his Green Road residence around 11:00am, said journalists present on the occasion.
Chowdhury Manjurul Kabir, deputy commissioner (DC) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Tejgaon zone told The Daily Star that police stopped the press conference because the government had banned the organisation.
Police have been deployed at Mohiuddin's residence to keep him from holding any publicity, he said.
Meanwhile, members of Hizb ut-Tahrir tried to hold a protest rally at Baitul Mokarram mosque at Paltan but failed due to the presence of a large number of law enforcers.
Khandaker Mahid Uddin, DC Motijheel zone, said they took all preparations beforehand to stop any attempts of holding demonstration by the banned party.
Eyewitnesses said several hundred policemen with riot-car and water cannon were deployed at the mosque premises.
Talking to The Daily Star Hizb ut-Tahrir leader Mohiuddin Ahmed denied the allegations brought against them and said they would take legal steps against government's ban on the party.