Jamaat holds rally after 10 yrs, speculations rise in political arena

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leaders on the stage on 10 June, 2023Prothom Alo

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami has held a rally in Dhaka for the first time in 10 years upon getting verbal permission of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP). The last time the party organised a rally in Dhaka was at Shapla Chattar on 4 February 2013. The rally of Jamaat-e-Islami has given rise to various speculations in the political arena especially because the party could secure the government’s permission with just six months to go before the next (12th) parliamentary election.

Police, however, gave oral permission to the party on several conditions. Jamaat also abiding by the conditions did not organise the rally on the road. A huge number of leaders and activists of the party joined the rally held at the Institutions of Engineers Bangladesh (IEB) in the capital on Saturday.

Speaking at the rally, the Jamaat leaders criticised various activities of the government and demanded the upcoming parliamentary election to be held under a caretaker government. The party’s central nayeb-e-amir Syed Abdullah Mohammed Taher, speaking at the programme said, “The next parliamentary election must be organised under the caretaker government.”

Mentioning about the last two Jatiya Sangsad (national parliament) elections, he further said, “We would not dwell on what happened in 2014 and 2018 but there will be no repetition of the past in 2023. This is the last time.”

Dhaka city unit of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami hosted the rally on demand of ‘curbing price hike of daily necessities, release of the party’s chief Shafiqur Rahman and other politicians and alems and forming a caretaker government’.

Jamaat came under a huge pressure when Awami League took an initiative to bring the war criminals to book after forming the government in 2009. This created bitterness between the government and the party. Police stopped giving permission to Jamaat-e-Islami to organise any rally since the arrest of the party’s top three leaders including amir Matiur Rahman Nizami and secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid.

After two and a half years, the party was given permission to hold a rally at Shapla Chattar in Dhaka on 4 February, 2013, the day before the pronouncement of a verdict in a case filed against its assistant secretary general Abdul Quader Molla. The Jamaat men from the rally gifted rose to police members too. Since then the party was not given any permission to host any rally.

Jamaat was not seen much active in the field when it began simultaneous movement with de facto opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on demand of caretaker government from the last year. There is speculation too that a rift has appeared between the two parties that once formed a government as allies. The party leaders, however, have been saying from the very beginning of the ongoing movement of BNP that it has support to the movement.

Speaking about the caretaker government, Jamaat leader Abdullah Taher at Saturday’s rally said, “I won’t explain much here. I will just say, this time the election (12th parliament) will be held only under the caretaker, caretaker, and caretaker government. And, Insha Allah, we will demonstrate and do everything required to press home the demand.”

He further said the government has high regard for the constitution in case of holding elections but it does not recognise the people’s constitutional right, freedom of expression, and right to free and fair election. At the end of his speech Abdullah Taher urged for a national unity of the government and the opposition.

He also thanked the police administration for giving permission to Jamaat-e-Islami to organise the rally.

Addressing the rally, the party’s assistant secretary general AHM Hamidur Rahman said, “You were not allowing us to host rallies but today you have given the permission. You gave us the permission after four years in 2013 and this time after 10 years.”

Hamidur Rahman also said, “Our mouths were kept shut (forcefully), now it has opened.”

Another assistant secretary general Abdul Halim alleged that incumbent government and the administration took resort to many ill tactics to force the Jamaat-e-Islami to adopt undemocratic means.

The party’s central leader Matiur Rahman Akand read out a written speech of Jamaat’s acting amir Mujibur Rahman at the rally. In the speech a call was made to the government to open all the party offices across the country and remove obstacles for the party to host rallies and processions.

Jamaat given permission cancelling JaPa’s rally

Sources said Jatiya Party’s youth organisation Jatiyo Jubo Samhati rented the Institutions of Engineers Bangladesh to organise its central conference on Saturday. But police gave permission to Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami instead of Jatiyo Jubo Samhati to host a rally there. The police on Friday night called the concerned JaPa leaders and asked them to shift their banners, festoons and other equipment for the rally to Institution of Diploma Engineers, Bangladesh (IDEB) in Kakrail.

On behalf of the party, JaPa joint office secretary Mahmud Alam rented IEB. He told Prothom Alo, “We furnished the hall spending a lot of money. But police forced us to remove everything at night.”

Later, the conference of Jatiyo Jubo Samhati was organised at the IDEB. JaPa chairman attended the programme at chief guest.

Speaking about this, Jamaat leader Abdullah Taher said they knew nothing about the matter. They became aware of this only in the morning. Police did not do the right thing.

He, however, declined about any tacit understanding with the government. Taher said, “Whether we go forward or backward, it becomes a problem.”