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During the hartal (general strike) called by Hefazat-e-Islam on 28 March, an attack was launched on Brahmanbaria press club and property was damaged. The press club president Reaz Uddin was assaulted. In response, the Brahmanbaria press club called for a boycott of Hefazat. Then suddenly on Monday afternoon, a few central and local leaders of Hefazat turned up at the press club.

The Hefazat leaders called for an investigation into the incidents of Brahmanbaria, studying video footage of the attacks, damages, arson and violence carried out from 26 to 28 March, and then to identify the actual culprits. During those three days, attacks were carried out on the district’s railway station, various government and non-government establishments, property was damaged and set on fire and violence was unleashed.

Hefazat’s central naib-e-amir Sajidur Rahman, district Hefazat general secretary and principal of the Jamiya Islamia Yunusia madrasa in the district town, Mufti Md Mobarakullah, Maulana Alo Azam, Mufti Borhan Uddin Kasemi, Mufti Noman Habibi, Mufti Borhan Uddin Al Matin and other arrived at the Brahmanbaria press club on Monday.

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The press club general secretary Jabed Rahim said that the journalists, as part of their collecting news, took videos and photographs of the attacks, damages, arson and violence in Brahmanbaria on 26 to 28 March. But district Hefazat men obstructed them from carrying out their duty. He asked the Hefazat leaders, “Have journalists become the target of Hefazat?”

District Hefazat general secretary Mobarakullah first spoke on behalf of the organisation. He said they had brought out a peaceful procession on 28 March morning. After praying, they returned. But they have no idea what happened later on. He said, “As far as I know, none of us were involved in these incidents. We condemn the damages and all these incidents. The culprits will be identified through investigations.”

Hefazat’s central naib-e-amir Sajidur Rahman said, “We have come to offer you our condolences and express our sorrow. We were observing a peaceful hartal (one 28 March). We said that no one was to damage any government office or establishment. If anyone did so, they were not our men. We brought out a peaceful procession and took position in front of the madrasa. We do not know who carried out the despicable deeds at the press club, the land office and other buildings. We condemned the incidents then and do so again now.”

He said, “It is your duty to study the video footage and find out the actual culprits. Those who carried out these criminal activities and damaged property can never belong to Hefazat. We condemn these incidents and delayed in arriving as we had gone to express our condolences to the families of those who were killed.”

Concerning the sudden arrival of Hefazat leaders, the press club general secretary Jabed Rahim said, “The Hefazat leaders suddenly turned up unannounced. Since they expressed their condolences and demanded punished of those involved in the incidents as seen on video footage, we will discuss the matter with the other members of the press club and reconsider the decision regarding the boycott of Hefazat news.”

Speaking to Prothom Alo, the press club president Reaz Uddin who was injured in the attack on the day of Hefazat’s hartal, said the culprits had assaulted him. Hefazat and the law enforcers would have to take responsibility for this.

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