Saturday, February 19, 2005


PROFILE: Muhammad Asadullah Al Galib



01. 4 members of Islamist group held
02. Documents of another case against JMJB men missing
03. Brac, Grameen Bank under bomb attack 8 staffs wounded; 3 grenades recovered from a Brac office
04. RU teacher with 'militant link' operates in 42 districts Intelligence says he travelled to Afghanistan
05. Bomb attacks on BRAC, Grameen Bank offices
06. JMJB Man's Statement Bogra case docket disappears
07. JMJB firm on attacks to herald revolution - Arrested activist confesses to magistrate
08. 2 hurt as JCD, Shibir clash over Quran lessons
09. Shibir cadre killed in 'crossfire'
10. Harkatul demands Tk 20 lakh each from 11
11. 3 Brac staff hurt in twin bomb blasts
12. 3 accused placed on fresh remand
13. Bangla Bhai: from ‘saviour’ to ‘constant terror’
14. Police raid student messes in search of Bangla Bhai
15. Call to uphold Ahmadiyas’ rights
16. Gaibandha BRAC office bombed


01. 4 members of Islamist group held

Police on Thursday night arrested four members of Islamist militant group, Jam'atul Mujahidin, in the district town and at Laxmipur village in Sadar upazila.

Acting on a tip-off, police raided the WDB mosque in the town and nabbed Amanatullah, 26, son of Khijmatullah of Khalpara in the town, Mamunur Rashid, 22, son of Ruhul Amin of Dinajpur district, and Mahbub Alam, 27, son of Mojir Hossain of Sadar upazila.

On their statements, police later raided the house of Asiruddin at Laxmipur village and arrested him.

Police also recovered bomb manufacturing materials, printers, acid, electric wires, batteries, leaflets, toll receipts, some leaflets, dummy rifles and a motorcycle from them.

District Police Superintendent (SP) Khandaker Golam Faruq, Additional SP Shariful Alam and Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Sadar Police Station Roushan Mostafa interrogated the arrestees.

The police superintendent said the arrestees might have networks in different upazilas of the district.


02. Documents of another case against JMJB men missing

Documents of yet another case involving Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) operatives have gone missing.

The documents missing are of the case filed against JMJB operatives for carrying out bomb attack in a Bogra village.

Ahmedullah, first class magistrate of the court concerned, claimed that the documents are kept in the court. But court sources said that the case documents are now kept under lock and key at the Deputy Commissioner's (DC) office. They had been in the custody of Bogra police before.

Mostafizur Rahman Mridha, first class magistrate of Bogra, said, "According to the article 156 of criminal procedure, case documents can neither go to the deputy commissioner nor to the superintendent of police when the investigation is still on."

Despite repeated attempts, the DC of Bogra could not be reached to verify the information provided by the court source.

Earlier, documents of another case filed against three JMJB activists disappeared from the court after a first class magistrate of Bogra had officially recorded statement by the JMJB operative Shafiqullah on February 6. The case was filed with Gabtoli Police Station under the Explosives Substances Act.

Another source of the district police said investigations in both the cases have stalled unofficially for some unknown reason.

"Although some of the accused are included in both the cases, the investigation officers have stopped exchanging information," added the source.

The source also said that the Bogra police are considering handing over the cases to the Criminal Investigation Department due to slow pace of the investigations.

The investigation officers of the cases might be changed within a few days, the source added.


03. Brac, Grameen Bank under bomb attack 8 staffs wounded; 3 grenades recovered from a Brac office

Eight people -- six employees of Brac and two of Grameen Bank -- have been injured in identical bomb attacks on two Brac offices and a branch of the bank since Sunday, while three grenades were recovered from another Brac office yesterday morning.

In the last of these attacks, unidentified men last night hurled three bombs one after another at the Grameen Bank branch at Nabagram village in Ullapara upazila of Sirajganj district, leaving bank employees Kona Khatun and Nurul Islam critically hurt.

A similar attack was made on the Brac office in Porsha upazila in Naogaon district on Tuesday night that severely injured four of the office staff. They are Area Manager Abdur Rashid, 34, Programme Officer Wahiduzzaman, 38, and employees Enamul Haq, 32, and Rezaul Karim.

Earlier on Sunday, Krishnakumar and Saiful Islam fell victim to another bomb attack on the Brac (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) office in Kalai upazila sadar in Joypurhat district.

On yesterday morning, three powerful hand grenades were recovered from the premises of a Brac office in Rangpur Town.

The attacks are guessed to be made by Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), as an arrested JMJB operative in a statement to a Bogra magistrate last Monday said the ultra-militant Islamist outfit has been carrying out and is determined to continue bombing NGO offices.


Our Bogra correspondent reports: A group of about three men arrived in front of the bank branch at 7:30 last night riding motorbikes, hurled three bombs into the office one after another and fled, locals said.

The attack critically injured Kona Khatun and peon Nurul Islam, who were working inside the branch office at Nabagram village under Ullapara upazila. They were rushed to a local hospital.

No-one was arrested until filing of this report at 11:00pm. Police were still clueless about the attack.


A group of unidentified bikers hurled three bombs one after another at the Brac office in Porsha at around 9:30 Tuesday night and sped away, said local police.

The critically injured four Brac employees were first rushed to a local medical centre and, as their condition aggravated, they were later transferred to Naogaon Sadar Hospital.

Police arrested two people -- Noor Mohammad of Chakdebpara in Naogaon Sadar upazila and Apple Mahmud of Shitpati village in Porsha upazila -- at Matinagar village in Patnitala upazila with a motorbike at around midnight, suspecting their involvement in the attack.

Police said, on primary quizzing, the arrestees claimed to have gone to the spot out of curiosity, learning that some Brac employees died in a bomb attack.

The earlier attack in Kalai upazila was also made in the same manner. Kalai police said three youths on motorbike threw three bombs successively on the Brac office and fled.

Police so far have not arrested any one in this connection.

A five-member probe committee headed by Superintendent of Police (SP) ABM Shawkat Ali of Joypurhat district has been formed into the incident and asked to come up with its report within a week.


Our Rangpur Correspondent reports: Three powerful hand grenades were recovered from the premises of Brac office at Darshana in Rangpur Town yesterday morning.

A team of explosives experts from Rangpur Cantonment disposed off the grenades in an open field, about 150 yards off the office six hours after the detection.

Brac Regional Manager Nishanur Rahman lodged a general diary with Rangpur Kotwali Police Station in this connection.

Police officials seeking anonymity said the grenades were very powerful and the office and its staff had narrowly escaped a great danger.

But the officer in-charge of the police station termed the incident an isolated one. He said, "This incident has no connection with the bomb attacks carried out in other different places of the country."

Rangpur SP Mahbub Morshed told The Daily Star they are yet to detect who planted the grenades on the office premises.

Brac Rangpur Area Manager Abul Hossain said he saw a bottle shaped object wrapped with black tape at 6:45am in the backyard of the office. He took it up and found it to be unusually heavy.

Fearing it to be an explosive device, Hossain carefully put it back on the ground and informed the regional manager and other colleagues. The staff then started searching the whole office premises and found two more similar objects -- one in front of a training room and the other near a toilet.

Nishanur Rahman said, after detecting those objects, he promptly informed police, who reached the spot at 9:30am.

He said all Brac employees in the region are panic stricken.

At about 11:00am a team of explosives expert from Rangpur Cantonment came to the Brac office and took away the grenades. They detonated the grenades in an open field nearby at around midday in presence of police.

Police sources said the grenades were connected to Taiwan-made 12-volt batteries.

According to a police official the grenades were locally made but the technology is definitely foreign.


An arrested JMJB operative, Shafiqullah, in his statement given to First Class Magistrate Mostafizur Rahman Mridha in Bogra last Monday admitted that JMJB has been responsible for a number of bomb attacks on NGOs.

He said the JMJB bomb squad would continue attacks on NGOs like Brac and Karitas and on cultural activities that they consider as anti-Islamic until an Islamic revolution takes place in the country.

Shafiqullah, arrested with explosives in a fellow operative's house on January 16, one day after JMJB had carried out a bomb attack on a jatra (folk theatre) show at a village in Bogra, also said they use motorbikes for making these attacks.

Twelve operatives of Jama'atul Muzahidin, the former name of JMJB, arrested in Natore, also gave similar statements confessing to have carrying out bomb attacks on 'anti-Islamic' cultural shows and NGOs.


04. RU teacher with 'militant link' operates in 42 districts Intelligence says he travelled to Afghanistan

The Rajshahi University teacher with suspected 'militant links' visited Afghanistan, Pakistan and India several times during 1998-2002, using both fake and legal travel documents, intelligence sources said.

But Dr Muhammad Asadullah Al Galib, a professor at the Arabic department, yesterday told The Daily Star he did not travel to those countries for any armed training or meetings with members of international extremist groups.

However, Asadullah admitted that his Islamist outfit, Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (AHAB), operates in 42 districts with a mission of turning the country into an Islamic state.

"Of course, we have political ambitions for an Islamic state, but we do not follow traditional politics. We have our Islamic way of invitation and jihad, which are devoid of terrorism. We will continue our movement unto death," said the bearded man, whom the arrested Islamist militants in Bogra and Natore mentioned with awe as the linchpin in the recent spate of bombings in the northern region of the country.

Sitting in his Naodapara office in Rajshahi, Asadullah told The Daily Star that a vested quarter is out to link him with extremism and that he does not support terrorism in the name of jihad.

He has called a press conference for this morning and a countrywide demonstration to protest against the allegation of his involvement with militants.

Asadullah has been exposed in newspapers since 2000 for his alleged underground role in various Islamist militant groups.

His name first surfaced in 2000, when militant organisation 'Qital Fee Sabilillah' circulated leaflets calling AHAB its ally, and then again in 2001 after the bomb blast in a JMB den in Dinajpur.

In August 2003, police arrested 23 JMB men from Mohespur in Joypurhat after some 150 militants fought with police and looted three of their shotguns and 60 bullets. Several diaries and other documents left by the militants at Montajer's house (camp) also carried Asadullah's name.

Last Monday, 12 arrested militants of Jama'atul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB) in Natore, as well as Shafiqullah, a bomb squad member of Bangla Bhai's Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, admitted before magistrates that Asadullah was their leader.

Asadullah said he knew Bangla Bhai's spiritual leader, Abdur Rahman, very well. "Rahman is the son of Abdullah Ibne Fazal of Dinajpur. I helped him to study at Madina University, but he later derailed from mainstream Islam."

Replying to a question, he said he last met Rahman in 2000 and did not see him during any Bangla Bhai operations in Rajshahi, Natore and Naogaon.

Bangla Bhai's group belonged to AHAB, according to sources. The JMJB leader at Bogra and JMB activists at Natore confirmed that Asadullah used to visit them and inspire them to take action against NGOs and anti-Islamic activities.

Founded in 1978, AHAB now has three wings -- for youths, women and children -- as well as branches at the villages and upazilas of 42 districts.

Asadullah claimed that his organisations have been functioning legally with the financial assistance from abroad and that they have constructed several hundred mosques at various villages. He also runs a large madrasa built on 19 bighas of land at Naodapara, a NGO named Tawhid Trust and Ahle Hadith Foundation, a publication outfit.

05. Bomb attacks on BRAC, Grameen Bank offices

At least six employees of two leading non-government organisations, BRAC and Grameen Bank, were injured in bomb attacks at their respective offices in Naogaon on Tuesday night and in Sirajganj on Wednesday night.

In Naogaon, unidentified assailants hurled bombs at an office of BRAC in Porsha upazila of the district on Tuesday night leaving four of its employees, including the manager, injured.

The injured, manager Abdur Rashid, 32, programme organiser Kobaduzzaman, 36, Rezaul Islam, 34, and Enamul Haq, 30, are now undergoing treatment at the Naogaon Sadar Hospital.

The police picked up two people, Nurunnabi and Apel Mahmud, suspecting them to be involved in the attack.

The Naogaon police and witnesses said that more than five assailants, wearing black clothes, stormed into the BRAC office while the injured, along with three to four others, were working there at about 9:30pm.

Immediately, they hurled a bomb at the manager’s room and two others at the adjacent room and left the scene. The injured were taken to the hospital.

The deputy commissioner of Naogaon, Golam Mortuza, and the superintendent of police, Jamil Ahmed, visited the spot.
The police collected evidence of the explosion from the spot.

Talking to New Age, manager Abdur Rashid said that some identified fundamentalists have threatened them since the office was set up in Porsha.

Some local people told New Age that the attack on BRAC office was committed by the same group who hurled bombs at cultural functions in Gaibandha, Joypurhat and Bogra in the recent past.

‘Shafiqullah, an activist of extremist Jamaatul Mujahideen, in a statement to the court recently said that they had been instructed to launch bomb attack on NGOs and other non-Islamic organisations’, they hinted.

BRAC manager Abdur Rashid filed a case with Porsha thana and the officer-in-charge, Khondokar Miraj Billah, was given the charge of investigating the incident.

In Sirajganj, a band of criminals hurled three bombs storming into the Grameen Bank office at Nabagram village under Ullapara upazila of the district at about 8:00pm Wednesday and left two of its employees, Nurul Islam and Kona Khatun, injured.

Following the incident, local people became panicked and the passers-by started running for shelters. The assailants, in the meantime, managed to escape.

Local people later rescued the victims and took them to local hospital.

Meanwhile, news agency BDnews reports from Rangpur: three powerful hand grenades were recovered from a BRAC office in the town Wednesday and army explosive experts later detonated those.

Abul Hossain, area manager of BRAC, first saw a grenade in the office at Darshana soon after he stepped there Wednesday morning.

Immediately he informed the matter to his colleagues, who after a search found two others – one near the kitchen and the other beside a toilet.

Being informed by the BRAC officials, police immediately brought the matter to the notice of the army authorities.

‘A team of explosive experts, led by Captain Anwar and Captain Nasir, rushed to the spot and recovered the live grenades’, said a police official.

Later, the army team detonated the grenades at an open place beside a graveyard near the BRAC office.

Army experts said the grenades inscribed with (JMG-3) were non-service handmade, but enough to blow up a building or an establishment.

Panic gripped the town dwellers as soon as the news of recovery of grenades spread.

The Detective Branch of police is investigating the matter.


06. JMJB Man's Statement Bogra case docket disappears

The docket of the case filed against three Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) operatives went missing after an arrestee made a confessional statement on February 14 about a regional leader and his radical strategies for an Islamic revolution.

A source in Bogra Court said the docket, filed on February 6 against Shafiqullah, his associate Joynal and Joynal's wife with Gabtoli Police Station under the Explosives Substances Act, was could not be found till 4:00pm yesterday.

The docket disappeared from the court after it was taken to Mostafizur Rahman Mridha, the first class magistrate of Bogra, who officially recorded the statement given by JMJB operative Shafiqullah, court sources said.

The magistrate said he returned the docket along with his notes after recording the statement of the accused, as per normal procedure.

Court officials concerned said a top staff of the Bogra police then took the docket to the office of the Superintendent of Police (SP) although SP does not have the authority to read the statement.

Sources in the police department are not sure of the whereabouts of the docket, but said that it may not have been sent back to the court in order to make some changes to Shafiqullah's statement.

But any such changes to the statement after it had been recorded would be a violation of law, the magistrate concerned confirmed. "There is no scope to change the statement given under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)," he said.

However, SP Kazi Mortaz Ahmed said he did not go through the statement that Shafiqullah gave to the magistrate while the investigating officer (IO) of the case knew nothing about the docket.

Meanwhile, Shafiqullah told police that JMJB chief Abdur Rahman Shai Bhai is indoctrinating JMJB trainees in jihad using quotes from religious scriptures. He lures the operatives with rewards after death for performing 'jihadi' activities and also imparts various forms of training, Shafiqullah said, adding that he himself has attended such lectures.

Meanwhile, the investigation of the two bomb attack cases currently underway by the Shahjahanpur and Gabtoli police stations could not be proceeded after the names of certain college and university teachers were exposed. The arrestees named a teacher of Bogra Azizul Haq College and Dr Asadullah Al Galib, head of the Arabic department at Rajshahi University, as regional leaders of JMJB.

A district police official admitted that the investigation of the two cases -- one involving the bomb attack on Laxmikola village under Shahjahanpur upazila on January 14 and the other regarding the recovery of explosives from Chakshadu village under Gabtoli upazila on January 16 -- has not gone far.

The investigation faltered as the two major accused -- JMJB operatives Osman and Joynal -- could not be arrested.


07. JMJB firm on attacks to herald revolution - Arrested activist confesses to magistrate

Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), an ultra-militant Islamist outfit, is determined to carry on attacks on all forms of anti-Islamic activity until an Islamic revolution takes place in the country, an arrested JMJB operative told a magistrate here Monday evening.

A band of trained militants is scattered across the country with a mission to bomb cultural programmes, including one on the Valentine's Day, said a source, as JMJB considers such activities as violations of the Islamic Shariah. However he refused to speculate whether Monday's bomb attack on a Valentine's Day party at Dhaka University was carried out by JMJB.

The JMJB operative, Shafiqullah, arrested with explosives in a fellow operative's house on January 16, in his statement given to First Class Magistrate Mostafijur Rahman Mridha also revealed details about a Rajshahi University (RU) teacher, who he said is leading JMJB.

"Dr Asadullah Al Galib, a teacher at the Arabic department of RU, is involved with JMJB and is leading it towards an Islamic revolution," said Shafiqullah, also a member of the JMJB bomb squad.

Dr Galib earlier had denied a similar allegation made by Jama'atul Mujahidin operatives arrested in Natore, saying it was an attempt to frame him.

Our staff correspondent in Natore reports: Seven of the 12 Jama'atul Mujahidin members in their confessional statements to a magistrate here on Monday confirmed that JMJB chief Abdur Rahman Shahi Bhai is their leader too.

They also confessed to their involvement with an Islamic revolutionary movement spearheaded by Dr Galib.

Police and court sources said Farman Ali, one of the arrestees, admitted that he was one of the leaders of Jama'atul Mujahidin in Natore. He said he joined the group in Ramadan at the invitation of Khabbar Ali, Natore district ameer of Mujahidin, adding Dr Galib is the regional leader of the north.

In his statement to the Bogra magistrate, Shafiqullah said Shahi Bhai is the chief of JMJB and Siddiqur Rahman Bangla Bhai his operations commander.

He said he was introduced to Galib and Shahi Bhai at an Islamic function in a Narayanganj graveyard. The three of them discussed JMJB operations including training on bomb attack on 'anti-Islamic' programmes.

Many hard-liners of Ahleh Hadis, another Islamist group, also took training in Narayanganj, he added.

He said, "I was also introduced to Joynal of Gabtoli in Bogra, who was present at the Narayanganj function, and to Hamid, a student of the Rajshahi Uuniversity Arabic department and an active participant in such operations. I used to go there often for training."

According to his statement, JMJB operatives often held meetings at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque and Kakrail Mosque in Dhaka to thrash out their action plans.

He said, "We use bombs that will injure people but not kill them."

Galib and Shahi Bhai also train youths in the hope to send them as fighters to Iraq and Afghanistan, Shafiqullah told the magistrate, adding a horde of students has been trained across the country to work for and participate in the Islamic revolution.


08. 2 hurt as JCD, Shibir clash over Quran lessons

Two people were injured when activists of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal and Islami Chhatra Shibir clashed over forced participation in holy Quran lessons at a college hostel in Rajshahi yesterday.

The injured -- Jewel and Wahidul -- belong to JCD, the student wing of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party. They were admitted to Rajshahi Medical College hospital.

At least six rooms of the Shamsuddin Hostel of Rajshahi New Government Degree College were damaged during the half an hour-long clash.

Police later took control of the hostel and arrested two workers of ICS, student front of the ruling coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami.

Rajshahi city JCD President Abul Kalam Azad Sweet alleged that ICS workers had forced one JCD activist to attend holy Quran lessons at room no 118.

"When he refused to attend the session, they hit him on the head with an iron rod. And in such a way they teach Quran," Sweet quipped.

ICS leaders claimed that the JCD workers launched the attack first while they (ICS activists) were in a meeting.

General students said that ICS leaders often put pressure on them to attend ICS meetings and Quran lessons.


09. Shibir cadre killed in 'crossfire'

A listed criminal was killed in 'crossfire' between Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and his accomplices in the early hours yesterday at Mirerkhil of Hathazari upazila.

Hossain Ahmad alias Foyez Munna, who hailed from Panchlaish in Chittagong, was a cadre of ruling coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir, said sources.

With his death, the toll in crossfire rises to 231.

Earlier on Friday morning, a four-member team of Rab-7 with assistance of Rab-2 men arrested Munna at Motijheel Shapla Crossing area of Dhaka, sources said.

He was brought to Rab-7 headquarters at Patenga on Friday evening. He under interrogation said that Gittu Nasir, Sajjad Khan, Gias Hajarika, Taleban Sohel, and other Shibir cadres at different places of Chittagong possess a huge number of firearms. Besides, he confessed to having a few arms hidden at South Mirerkhil in Hathazari.

A Rab team took him to South Mirerkhil at around 4.30am yesterday. But his gang already lying in wait there opened fire on Rab men to snatch him. Rab men returned fire, and at one stage, Munna got shot. He was rushed to the Hathazari Health Complex, where doctors declared him dead.

Rab men recovered a number of firearms from Munna's village hideout. The arms included five guns, 49 rounds of ammunition and eight cartridges.

Sources said Munna was accused in five cases including one for triple murder. He and his men were involved in the double murder of Awami League leader Faruk Mahmud Siddique and businessman Solaiman Chowdhury in 2003.

Munna was reportedly second-in-command of the gang of notorious Gittu Nasir, who had been sentenced to death in the sensational principal Gopal Krishna Muhuri murder case.

He had been absconding since the murder of Shibir cadre Chhota Saiful, his brother and sister last year.


10. Harkatul demands Tk 20 lakh each from 11

The religious extremist group Harkatul Jihad has sent letters to as many as 11 recipients, including teachers, physicians and politicians, demanding they each pay Tk 20 lakh or else they will face death.

One police official of Naogaon has acknowledged the incident, saying one Hamidul Huq, an activist of the Communist Party, has lodged a diary with police in this connection.

The police official said the sender of the letters is Abdullah Ibne Jahed, self-proclaimed second-in-command of the banned political organisation Harkatul Jihad.

The letters, which were printed with red ink on the organisation's letterhead and contained a picture of a mosque and sword, advised the recipients to ready the sum when demanded.

The letter warned against disobeying the order or speaking out against Al Qaida, saying the consequences would be like those suffered by Prof. Yunus of Rajshahi University. Prof. Yunus was brutally killed by unknown miscreants.

Amullya Chandra, Sadhu-chzaran, Ajit Master, Prof. Mimol, Dr. Pulok, among others, received such threat letters.


11. 3 Brac staff hurt in twin bomb blasts

Three Brac employees were injured in two powerful bomb blasts at Brac office, Mohimaganj in Gaibandha district on Thursday night.

As the first bomb exploded on the tin-shed roof, the employees rushed to the main gate. Fifteen minutes later, another bomb exploded, injuring Faridul, Swapan Kumar and Shaheen.

They were rushed to a local clinic.

"I don't know why the Brac office was targeted by the terrorists," said Motlubur Hossain, manager of the office.

Locals said two motorcycle riders threw the bombs and just after explosion of the first bomb, they managed to escape at 9:00pm.

Local people suspect activists of Jamaat-ul-Mujaheedin, an extremist outfit active in Shaghata and surrounding areas might be involved in the incident.

Police recovered abandoned batteries used in the bomb blasts from the spot.

On December 18 last year a bomb blast on a drama stage adjacent to the Brac office injured ten people.

Twenty-one people were injured in bomb blasts on a Jatra (folk drama) stage at Takier Bazar in Palashbari upazila on December 25, 2004.


12. 3 accused placed on fresh remand

Police on Thursday took on a fresh three-day remand three of the four persons arrested in connection with the murder of Rajshahi University professor Muhammad Yunus.

They are Rummon, leaders of Jubo Moitree, youth front of Workers Party and Monirul and Bachchu, leaders of its student front Chhatra Moitree.

The court did not place the other accused-- Islami Chhatra Shibir leader Sirajus Salekeen-- on a fresh remand because of a writ petition filed him with the High Court challenging fresh remand.

Sixty-three year-old Prof Yunus, also RU Bangabandhu Parishad p, resident was killed by masked assailants during morning walk on December 24 last year.


13. Bangla Bhai: from ‘saviour’ to ‘constant terror’

Followers of the self-styled vigilante leader Bangla Bhai may soon take vindictive actions against those they consider ‘enemies’ of their ‘cleansing operation’, fear many people in Bagmara in Rajshahi district.

Some of them, especially public representatives of the entire upazila, expressed apprehension that the ‘core followers’ of the extremist leader might turn into self-styled guerrillas, threatening the security of the area.

They said the emergence of Azizur Rahman alias Bangla Bhai, the leader of the Jagrata Muslim Janata, was supported by a section of the local people, apparently to combat the self-styled outlaws, the Sarbaharas, who have been engaged in terrorist activities in the region for long.

With his actions under the scrutiny of the global media now, Bangla Bhai is on the run, but many residents of the area are afraid of further repercussion if and when his activists get a chance to launch further attacks.

‘Their operation to uproot the underground party members has apparently come to an end. So, now they may launch another operation against the persons they believe to be their enemies,’ a local representative of Taherpur told New Age last week.

Abdul Khalek, senior vice president of the Taherpur municipality unit of the Awami League, said the Jagrata Muslim Janata had earlier killed members of so-called underground parties, gaining tacit support from the local people.

The Bangla Bhai-men, as a result, established their own stronghold in the area. ‘Now it is their turn to launch another operation to kill Awami League leaders,’ he added.

A municipality chairman, also an Awami League leader, admitted that they had initially supported the Bangla Bhai people to get rid of the Sarbahara-men.

‘The result is now at our hands. But we have now realised that we have committed a mistake by supporting an extremist force against another such group,’ he said, citing the example of Bangla Bhai’s supporters’ recent attack of Mokbul Hossain, who is not a member of any extremist party.

Mokbul, chairman of Sreepur union parishad and president of Bhabaniganj unit Awami League, once helped Bangla Bhai ‘by every possible means’, but he was not spared from the alleged JMJ attack.

Hearing his cry for help and an announcement over mike that claimed Sarbahara men had fired gunshots and hurled bombs to kill the UP chairman, the villagers chased the attackers and beat three of them to death.

Mokbul used to attend meetings of Bangla Bhai and many of his family members and close associates joined the JMJ and took active role in elimination of Purba Banglar Communist Party activists from the area.

Following the January 25 incident, the inhabitants of the locality have become frustrated that the JMJ might turn into a new ‘Frankenstein’ of the area.

‘Most of the JMJ leaders who went into hiding may abruptly return and conduct attack on their opponents,’ a cell phone trader at Bagmara Bazar told New Age.

According to the locals, Bangla Bhai established his organisation at a time when there was a great need for such an organisation. ‘We welcomed it as our saviour from the grip of the underground parties,’ said a man of the locality.

Press reports say a total of 41 people at Raninagar and Atrai upazilas of Noagoan district were killed by the Purba Banglar Communist Party since 1998 and 19 people in Rajshahi district since April 1995.

Of the 41 killed in Atrai and Raninagar, 13 belonged to the Awami League and 7 to the BNP and its front organisations.

Of the 19 persons murdered in Rajshahi district, 7 were elected representatives of union councils and the metropolitan.

Of them, the most gruesome incident was the murder of six people in Atrai in April 2003.

Bangla Bhai launched his ‘crackdown’ on the extremists on April 1, 2004. The militant has tortured 15 suspected outlaws to death and maimed dozens of others since he launched his operations.

People united and helped Bangla Bhai against the outlaws after having been brutalised for so many years.


14. Police raid student messes in search of Bangla Bhai

The police are allegedly harassing the students of Rajshahi University by searching their messes and hostels outside the campus to pick up Bangla Bhai and his associates as well as criminals.

The students of different messes at Binodpur, Kazla, Motihar, Budhpara, Mirzapur, Dharampur, and Meherchandi told newsmen that the police continued their raid on the hostels in search of Bangla Bhai and his associates.

The Motihar police have already directed the mess owners to send photos and bio-data of the students within February 15.

They were asked to follow the directives not for harassing genuine students but for the arrest of Bangla Bhai and criminals, they added.

Earlier the police issued notices, signed by the officer-in-charge, Akram Hossain, to the mess owners to send photos and bio-data of the boarders.

The police said a number of criminals, including the members of underground Purba Banglar Communist Party, were taking shelter in the messes. To ensure security of the students, the measures had been taken, they said.

The university proctor told newsmen that he was aware of the police raid on the student messes outside the campus but he has yet to receive any written complaint from the student.


15. Call to uphold Ahmadiyas’ rights

The government should uphold the basic rights of the Ahmadiyas to exercise religious functions and should withdraw the ban on their publications, the community leaders said at a congregation on Friday.

The three-day congregation, National Salana Jalsa, began on Friday in the central office of the Ahmadiya Muslim Jamaat at Bakshibazar in Dhaka.

Firoz Alam, representative of the community’s grand imam, Mirza Masrur Ahmad, opened the function.

The inaugural session was also addressed by Justice KM Sobhan, the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president, Hasanul Haq Inu, Justice Mizanul Haq Nasim, the New Age editor, Enayetullah Khan, columnist Shahriyar Kabir, lawyer Sara Hossain, Tarique Ali of the Sammilita Samajik Andolan, the organisation’s Bangladesh chapter nayeb-e-amir, Mir Mobassher Ali, Maulana Abdul Awwal Khan Chowdhury and Ahmad Tabshir Chowdhury.

Firoz urged the Ahmadiyas to stand united to face the hurdles in practising their religion.

Hasanul Haq Inu urged all to unite to effectively face the armed Islamist bigots and criminals were dominating politics.

‘The government has turned a bind eye in political interests although the criminals and the armed Islamist bigots are dominating politics,’ he said. ‘We are to face them [criminals and bigots].’

Enayetullah blamed the government for showing weaknesses in facing the bigots, who attempted to intrude into Ahmadiya mosques.

He also blamed the leading political parties, engaged in a struggle for power, for providing lip-service only to the Ahmadiyas.

He demanded withdrawal of the ban on Ahmadiya publications and returning of the control over the Ahmadiya mosques forcefully dispossessed by the bigots.

KM Sobhan put out a call for all to protest against the armed communal bigots.
‘We are to face the people who want to turn Bangladesh into a religion-state, on all fronts,’ said Shahriyar. ‘They will have to be fought politically, socially, culturally and theologically.’

It is the constitutional rights of the Ahmadiyas to practise religion, but the government curtailed their rights by imposing the ban, said Sara Hossain, referring to the January 8, 2004 ban on Ahmadiya publications in the face of pressure from the Islamist radicals.

The Ahmadiyas are passing their days in disarray as the Islamist bigots continue threatening them across the country and the government has kept silent about it, the speakers said.


16. Gaibandha BRAC office bombed

Three employees of the country’s leading non-governmental organisation BRAC were injured, when a couple of bombs were hurled at its local office in Mahimaganj under Gobindaganj upazila in Gaibandha, on Thursday night.

The police and the NGO sources said four suspected criminals riding on two motor cycles first hurled a bomb at the office at about 9:00pm that badly damaged corrugated iron sheet roof of the office.

As the panic-stricken employees were coming out of the office through the main gate, the second bomb was hurled, leaving Faridul Islam, Swapan Kumar and Shamim Ahmed injured, the sources said.

The injured were later treated at a local clinic.

The police cordoned off the area after the incident and the district police super, Bhanu Lal Das after visiting the spot said the bomb attack that was carried out was similar to that of some other previous attacks in the area.