Chhatra Dal deprived leaders suddenly being arrested

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BNP hardly has any substantial movement on ground, but even so, the Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police have launched a drive to nab former and present leaders of the party's student front Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal.

There has been news over the past few days of raids being conducted on the houses of at least six Chhatra Dal men. Plainclothes men have picked up four of them, according to their families.

Those involved in Chhatra Dal are puzzled over this sudden spree of arrests. Speculations are on as to whether these arrests are being made at the behest of the government or administration, or if there is actually instigation from within the party. BNP leaders have said that the arrest of the Chhatra Dal leaders and the attacks on BNP rallies at various districts on Thursday, are a part of the move to thwart the party's ongoing movement and programmes.

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Attacks were launched on BNP programmes on Wednesday in Natore and Patuakhali held in demand of Khaleda Zia's release. It was also learnt from BNP and Chhatra Dal leaders that former joint secretary of Chhatra Dal, Marzuk Ahmed, had been picked up at 2:30am Tuesday night by plainclothes law enforcement persons from Dhaka Shishu Hospital in Shyamoli of the capital. Marzuk had been visiting his ailing niece at the hospital.

There are also allegations that persons identifying themselves as members of the DB police picked up former Chhatra Dal joint secretary and Dhaka College unit vice president Atiqur Rahman and another joint secretary Zahir Hasan. It is alleged that Atiqur Rahman was picked up Tuesday evening from in front of Azimpur Agrani School and Zahir Hasan on Thursday evening from in front of Square Hospital in the capital.

Of these three, police took Marzuk Ahmed and Zahir Hasan to the Dhaka chief metropolitan magistrate's court yesterday, Thursday. They were accused of a crude bomb attack on 25 June at Naya Paltan. Chhatra Dal leader Atiqur Rahman still remains missing. His father Md Abul Hossain on Tuesday filed a GD at the Lalbagh police station about his son going missing.

DB raided the homes of two other Chhatra Dal leaders too, to arrest them. These are Chhatra Dal central committee vice president and Dhaka University unit former president Khorshed Alam (Sohel) and the central committee's former joint secretary Jihadul Islam. They were not at home during the raid.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Khorshed Alam said, "There are 13 cases against me. I am out in bail in all of these cases. On 26 December last year, the police arrested me. I was freed on bail after two months and five days. I have no idea why the police are looking for me now."

The two Chhatra Dal leaders who were arrested and presented to court yesterday, Thursday, as well as those whose houses the police had raised, were all deprived from posts in the new committee of Chhatra Dal. There all sorts of speculations and suspicions within the organisation as to why only those deprived of posts have been arrested. Many of the leaders and activists of the organisation are questioning whether any student-related leader of the party is behind these arrests.

However, Chhatra Dal central president Rakibul Islam, speaking to Prothom Alo, said, "The DB police are carrying out these arrests and nabbing. We are not clear as to why this is suddenly being carried out."

On 15 June the 260-member Chhatra League central committee was announced, with Rakibul Islam as president and Nasir Uddin an general secretary. There are allegations that many important leaders were deprived of posts in the committee. The deprived leaders had rallied in front of BNP's central office in Naya Paltan of the capital and present a memorandum to the party's acting chairman. Then on 29 June they held a separate procession and also joined the BNP rally held in demand of Khaleda Zia's release.

Zahir Hasan and Marzuk Ahmed who had been at the front of the procession, have been arrested by the police. The police have searched the homes of Atiqur Rahman and Jihadul Islam who were with them, for their arrest. A DMP officer said that two have been detained on the basis of specific information and allegations.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Chhatra Dal leader Zihadul Islam said, "The government is always harassing and oppressing us. But it is surprising that only those deprived of posts are being arrested. There is the repression policy of the government and the administration on one hand, but there also may be a ploy but those who have deprived them of the posts."

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