Banned group leads flash procession through Shahbagh in Dhaka
The banned militant outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir has stepped up its activities ahead of the 11th general election by distributing leaflets, putting up posters, and leading a procession through Dhaka calling for the creation of a caliphate in Bangladesh.
In its posters and leaflets, the militant organization - notorious for its anti-democratic and anti-election sentiment - is urging the Bangladeshi people to remove the incumbent government and unite under a “Khilafah Rashidah”.
The same call for a caliphate was made when around 30 Hizb ut-Tahrir activists led a flash procession through Shahbagh in Dhaka on Monday.
“Hizb ut-Tahrir is trying to reorganize in secret (but) we are monitoring their present activities,” Mohibul Islam Khan, the deputy commissioner of the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of police, said.
“Several members have already been arrested and we are making an effort to detain the organization’s top leadership based on information gleaned from members already in custody.”
Monday’s marchers were seen carrying a banner and chanting slogans in a video posted on social media by a member of the banned militant outfit who filmed the procession while riding on a motorbike.
Shahbagh police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Abul Hassan said police HAD received a tip off and arrived at Shahbagh, but could not find any sign of a procession there.
“We are trying to identify the people who participated in the procession through the video posted on social media,” he said.
Who are Hizb ut-Tahrir?
Islamic thinker Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani formed Hizb ut-Tahrir in 1953 in Jerusalem, five years after the creation of Israel.
The organization’s Bangladesh chapter was launched in 2000 by Nasimul Gani and Kawsar Shahnewaz under the leadership of Dr Syed Golam Maula, who was then a teacher at Dhaka University.
In September, 2008, Dr Syed Golam Maula was among 10 Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders detained by Rajshahi police. They were released within two weeks after the group threatened to oust the army-backed caretaker government.
In 2009, detectives said Hizb ut-Tahrir had links to Jama’atul Mujiheedin Bangladesh, Harkat ul-Jihad, and the Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed.
In October 2009 the group was banned but it remains operational, silently picketing in front of mosques, recruiting merit students as its members and leaders, and maintaining a well-managed online presence.
Of the 650 Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders and members arrested since the ban, more than 450 have since been let out on bail and are now absconding.
Highly educated, technologically adept
According to data collected from the agencies concerned, different units of law enforcement have arrested a total of 49 Hizb ut-Tahrir members between 2015 and November this year. Most of the detainees are students of various universities and colleges.
“Hizb ut-Tahrir is reorganizing with a long-term agenda,” an official of the CTTC said on condition of anonymity. “They usually target merit students for recruitment, as having members in high government positions will help them in the long run.”
Sources said the Hizb ut-Tahrir members are highly-educated and technologically-adept, which allows them to carry out their organizational activities under the radar fo the law enforcement agencies.
Along with their online presence, members of the organization distribute leaflets in mosques and on streets after prayers, and put up posters.
According to several eyewitnesses, Hizb ut-Tahrir members distributed leaflets featuring anti-government propaganda in the capital’s Bangla Motor area on November 22.
Two days later, five Hizb ut-Tahrir activists were detained by a team of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 4. Among the suspects was a Dhaka University student, the director of a coaching centre, and three students from Mirpur University College and Tejgaon College.
“The group [Hizb ut-Tahrir] has become active centering on the upcoming general election,” RAB 4 Commander, Additional DIG Chowdhury Manjurul Kabir, told the Dhaka Tribune.
“They are distributing leaflets and putting up posters. We are trying to get for information about their top leadership by interrogating arrested members of the banned organization.”