Police action and civil society resistance kept at bay religious fanatics who threatened to capture the Ahmadiyya headquarters in Bakshibazar yesterday to the relief of Dhaka residents reeling from deadly grenade attacks on an Awami League rally.
The fanatics under the banner of Aamra Dhakabashi failed to gather at any point in the capital, but threatened to take the Ahmadiyya base soon after the release of their four top leaders arrested overnight.
A Dhaka court sent Aamra Dhakabashi President Shamsul Huq, Secretary General Jamal Nasser Chowdhury and key leaders Abdul Kader and Sharafat Ali to jail yesterday.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Bangladesh, hailed the government and civil society steps, saying the government role proved it could resist fundamentalists if it wanted.
Fourteen platoons of police were deployed at 12 points in and around the Ahmadiyya Complex in the morning to stop Aamra Dhakabashi activists who threatened to say their Friday prayers at the mosque in the sect’s headquarters ‘at any cost’.
A group of bigots tried to gather at Islambagh Jam-e-Mosque, Chawkbazar Shahi Mosque and Boro Katara Madrasa before the Juma prayers, but police scared them away.
Apart from Azad Field where the bigots declared to gather before marching to the Ahmadiyya complex, policemen also kept close watch on Urdu Road Mosque, Churihatta Mosque, Lalbagh Shahi Mosque, Lalbagh Chhoto Mosque, Urdu Road Dhal Mosque, Shahidnagar Jam-e-Mosque and Kamrangirchar Madrasa.
The fanatics, after the Juma prayers, tried to gather at Azad Field, but police chased them away.
Failing to organise its people, Aamra Dhakabashi formally ‘postponed’ their capture bid in the afternoon.
“We’ve decided to postpone the programme, not to drop it,” said Belayet Hossain al-Firoji, joint secretary general of the organisation, quoting the decision of an emergency meeting of the organisation held at Moulavibazar Jam-e-Mosque.
“We’ll announce a fresh schedule after our leaders are freed, but be sure, we’ll go to Bakshibazar and hold our programme,” he told The Daily Star.
Some 100 Ahmadiyya youths took position inside the complex on Thursday evening and let in people only after frisking them.
All leaders of the sect, some of them with their families, went to the complex yesterday morning to protect it.
Leaders and activists of the South Asian People’s Union against Fundamentalism and Communalism (SAPUFC), which called for civil society resistance to the fanatics’ move, and of main opposition Awami League and left-leaning 11-party alliance went to Bakshibazar in procession at 12:30pm, but police intercepted them near the complex.
Police allowed some of their representatives to the Ahmadiyya complex where they joined the community leaders.
Thanking the civil society leaders for their role, Ahmadiyya Nayebe Amir Meer Mobashwer Ali said, “The secular people of Bangladesh possess a strong power and the dream that attended Bangladesh’s birth will come true if they join hands to this end.”
The SAPUFC, AL and 11-party leaders and activists earlier gathered at the Central Shaheed Minar and held a rally with SAPUFC President Prof Kabir Chowdhury in the chair.
“We will soon form a platform of pro-Liberation, secular, non-communal and progressive people to resist fundamentalist threats anywhere in Bangladesh,” Prof Chowdhury said. “Only an united people can stop the extremist and fundamentalist forces who are getting stronger across the country alarmingly.”
Justice KM Sobhan, Prof Ajay Roy, Asaduzzaman Noor, MP, Monjurul Ahsan Khan, Rashed Khan Menon, Prof Muntassir Mamoon, Prof Hayat Mamud, Hasanul Haq Inu, Khalequzzaman, MM Akash, Kajal Debnath, Kazi Mukul, Asim Kumar Ukil and Kalandiar Kabir also attended the rally.
Police took the four Aamra Dhakabashi leaders to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, Dhaka yesterday and the court sent them to jail.
Some policemen were still guarding the Ahmadiyya Complex to pre-empt any fresh attack.