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Ershad seeks Hefazat chief's blessing

  • Published at 09:53 pm November 17th, 2013
Ershad seeks Hefazat chief's blessing

Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad has assured Hefazat chief Shah Ahmed Shafi that if elected to power, he will try to implement the Islamist outfit’s 13-point demands.

The 13-point demand charter, that Hefazat-e-Islam raised from a rally in Dhaka in April, include death penalty for “atheist” bloggers for allegedly defaming Islam and Prophet Muhammad (SM), and revoking “anti-Islamic” women and education policies.

Former military ruler Ershad gave the assurance to Shafi during a meeting at the Hatharazari Madrasa – the headquarters of Hefazat – in Chittagong on Sunday.

Emerging from a 45-minute meeting with the 90-year old leader of Hefazat, Ershad told reporters that they had not discussed anything about the current political scenario of the country.

He claimed that he had only gone there to seek Shafi’s blessings.

Replying to a query, the leader of one of the key components of the ruling alliance said they would form a new combine immediately and take part in the election against the Awami League-led government.

“We have informed him [Ershad] that Hefazat will neither take part in the election under its own banner nor be linked with any political party or combine,” Hefazat Secretary General Junaid Babunagari told reporters after the meeting. He also said Ershad had visited the madrasa only to seek Shafi’s blessings.

Shafi’s Press Secretary Monir Ahmed told the Dhaka Tribune that the JP Chairman had sought support for the upcoming polls because one of his party activists was killed in the violence that followed Hefazat’s May rally in Dhaka; and also because his party had always been supportive to Hefazat.

“In reply, Shafi Huzur said Hefazat was a non-political Islamic organisation whose main aim was to fulfil the 13-point demand,” Monir said.

According to Monir, in reply to a question from a Hefazat leader about whether JP would contest polls, Ershad said his party would join the elections to save democracy.

The former army chief said his party would not directly join the “all-party” interim cabinet but would have representatives in it.

A few months ago, JP extended a proposal to Hefazat for forming an election alliance. The outfit, however, rejected that proposal because one of its influential sections wanted to stick to its “non-political” outlook.

Last week, the former autocrat hinted at breaking the tie with the Awami League and forming a new alliance with Badruddoza Chowdhury’s Bikalpadhara, Kamal Hossain’s Gonoforum, Kader Siddiqui’s Krishak Sramik Janata League, ASM Abdur Rob’s Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and some religion-based political parties, for contesting the upcoming national polls.