Anti-Modi protest rally of Chhatra, Jubo O Sram Odhikar Parishad in Dhaka
File photo

Police have detained 53 members of Chhatra, Jubo O Sram Odhikar Parishad (Students, Youths and Workers Rights Council), the organisation of former vice-president of DUCSU, Nurul Haque for their alleged involvement in the demonstrations against the visit of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh.

DUCSU’s social affairs secretary and law faculty student of Dhaka University Aktar Hossain was picked up by a team of a law enforcement agency on Tuesday, the council claimed.

Among the 53 detained, there are at least 10 students, adolescents and professionals who were not named in the case filed over the protests.

The Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police have been investigating the lawsuits.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, convener of Chhatra, Jubo O Sram Odhikar Parishad and former vice-president of DUCSU, Nurul Haque said all of the lawsuits are filed just to harass them. Different intelligence agencies warned them beforehand saying that tougher action would be taken if they take to the streets.

Nurul said they told the agencies that organising processions and rallies is their democratic right and they would carry out programmes. As per the decision, they brought out a procession in the capital’s Motijheel area on 25 March. Police detained 38 from there.

The former DUCSU VP said on 27 March, they gathered in front of the National Press Club to attend a programme organised by Bhasani Onushari Parishad (council of the followers’ of late Maulana Bhasani). One of their activists was detained from there and a fresh case was filed.

At least four people were subject to enforced disappearance over the visit of Modi, Nurul claimed. One of them, Najmus Sakib, was released by police after 84 hours' detention. Three others were shown arrested after three days, he added.

Those who have been arrested even though not named in the case statement are -- Sramik Odhikar Parishad central joint convener Ariful Islam, Chhatra Odhikar Parishad’s female student affairs secretary Rokeya Jabed Maya, Jubo Odhikar Parishad’s central member Ibrahim Khokon and Momin Akand, Sramik Odhikar Parishad’s Asaduzzaman Nur Asad, Shipon, Dhaka (south) city sports affairs secretary Arefin Farhad, Chhatra Odhikar Parishad central joint convener Shakil uz Zaman, YouTuber Sirajul Islam Siraj and an ‘enthusiastic’ person Shipon.

Arrested Sramik Odhikar Parishad central joint convener Ariful Islam’s brother Shariful Islam Arafat told Prothom Alo that Ariful went to Noakhali for work related to his job in February. His home is there and he was supposed to get married on 29 March. When the commotion was going on in Dhaka over the visit of Modi, he (Ariful) was in Noakhali. He came to Gazipur two days after his marriage and was arrested.

Four more people, including Rokeya Jabed, were arrested on the day. Rokeya’s brother Solaiman Sumon said his sister went with her party members to visit the arrested party members in jail. Police arrested his sister and three others from there.

On 4 April, two members of Nurul Haque’s organisation, Yamin Molla and Arefin Farhad, were arrested from Badda, Dhaka. Another person, Shipon, was detained as he was taking photographs of the police at the time.

Nurul Haque said Shipon is not a member of his party. He was taking pictures just out of interest.

Two cases were filed against the arrested people with Paltan and Shahbagh police stations on 25 March and one with Shahbagh police station on 27 March. Fifty-one people were accused in the case filed with Paltan police station on allegations of perpetrating violence with lethal weapons, organising illegal rallies and obstructing government employees from carrying out their duties. The statement of the case filed with Shahbagh police station said that 11 people tried to snatch away an accused Abul Kalam Azad from the emergency department of Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Abul Kalam Azad was made accused in a case filed over the incident in Motijheel. The statement of another case filed with Shahbagh police station said that the accused were trying to set fire to a bus in front of the National Press Club.

The evidence produced by the police included a few festoons that read ‘Stop Border Killing’, ‘We Don’t Want to See Any Rioter in this Country’, ‘Stop Social, Cultural, Economic, Commercial Aggression’, ‘Stop Aggression’, a bamboo pole around 4 feet long, five green plastic pipes, four pieces of charred wood, five green coconut husks, eight brick pieces and three shields. In the case filed for trying to set fire to a bus, police mentioned to have seized as evidence 500 ml petrol, 1.2 kg sand, 300 grams of chilli powder, 10 bamboo poles and 10 brick pieces.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, DMP joint commissioner (DB) Mahbub Alam said, the allegations of harassment are not true. They had attacked the police at Shapla Chattar, Motijheel in medieval barbarism style. Most of these attackers were students of Rajshahi University and leaders and activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir. They have joined Nur’s party. They were detained after this information was confirmed. The police have now gone into ‘action’.