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Who is going to take Hefazat’s helm?

  • Published at 02:39 pm November 11th, 2020
File photo: Hefazat-e-Islam activists chants slogans during a blockade program at one of Dhaka’s entry point Syed Zakir Hossain
File photo: Hefazat-e-Islam activists chants slogans during a blockade program at one of Dhaka’s entry point Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Schism out in the open as the organization prepares to hold its first council on November 15 after Shah Ahmad Shafi’s death

Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh is preparing to hold its first council after the demise of the platform’s supreme leader Shah Ahmad Shafi amid swirling speculations as to who will take the helm of the Qawmi madrasa-based radical Islamist party.

Speculation is rife that incumbent Secretary General Junayed Babunagari and Nayeb-e-Ameer and Dhaka city unit President Nur Hossain Kasemi are likely to be made the next ameer and secretary general of Hefazat-e-Islam, respectively.

Azizul Haque Islamabadi, central organizing secretary of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, told Dhaka Tribune that the organisation had taken all-out preparations to hold the council scheduled for November 15.

Also Read - Hefazat chief Ahmad Shafi passes away

“Several hundred councillors, advisers, top Islamic leaders and scholars are going to attend the council to be held at Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam, known as Hathazari Madrasa. The existing committee of the organization will be restructured through the council. The council will also pick the next Ameer of Hefazat-e-Islam,” said the Hefazat leader.

Meanwhile, the rift within the party has resurfaced as a faction of Hefazat-e-Islam announced that it would boycott the forthcoming council.

File photo of Hefazat-e-Islam chief Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi | Collected

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Hefazat’s central Joint Secretary General Mainuddin Ruhi said they had decided to boycott the council as they were not invited.

“So far as I know, the five joint secretaries general, including myself, and 26 out of 35 Nayeb-e-Ameers have not been invited to the council. Allama Shafi’s two sons, Anas Madani and Md Yusuf, have not been invited to the council as well. Under such circumstances, it is embarrassing for us to attend the council uninvited,” said Ruhi.

Replying to a query, the Hefazat leader said the followers of Ahmad Shafi had been left out of the council on purpose and instead of being a participatory council, it would be a unilateral one.

Ruhi went on to say that militant elements would infiltrate Hefazat if Junayed Babunagari was made ameer.

Also Read - Babunagari relieved from duty, Allama Shafi's successor will be Sheikh Ahmed

“The chain of command will collapse if Junayed Babunagari and Nur Hossain Kasemi are made ameer and secretary general, respectively. Babunagari will supersede Kasemi since he is the nayeb-e-ameer of Hefazat,” said Ruhi.

“Hefazat will lose its strength as an organization under the leadership of Babunagari. Hefazat will no longer remain a force to be reckoned with if the division deepens,” said Ruhi.

Ruhi also feared that the Babunagari-led faction might swoop on them if they attended the council.

File photo of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh Secretary General Junayed Babunagari | Dhaka Tribune

It is mentionable that Ruhi came under attack during the two-day long student unrest at Hathazari Madrasa which led to the resignation of Shafi from the post of rector of the Madrasa and removal of his younger son Anas Madani from the post of assistant director.      

Junayed Babunagari began to consolidate his position after the death of Ahmad Shafi.

As Babunagari began to strengthen his position, the followers of Shafi were increasingly being cornered.

Earlier on June 17, the Madrasa Shura Committee relieved Junayed Babunagari of his post of Assistant Director. 

Soon after the death of Shafi, Babunagari became chief shaikul hadith and nazim-e-talimat (director of education).

On September 18, Shafi breathed his last while undergoing treatment at Asgar Ali Hospital in the capital.

Hefazat was formed in 2010 and came to prominence by mobilising opposition to the Shahbagh Movement in early 2013. It was then that its leaders issued their now infamous 13-point charter, which included demands for a ban on the free mixing of men and women, and death penalty for atheists.

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