Hundreds of demonstrators linked to an Islamist group have been arrested in Bangladesh after protests against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country last month, reported AFP on Sunday.
The protests were mainly led by Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam, whose members had accused Modi of stoking communal violence against Muslims in India.
The police on Sunday detained Mamunul Haque, the chief of Hefazat-e-Islam, during a raid at an Islamic seminary in the Capital Dhaka. “He was arrested over charges of violence by Hefazat-e-Islam,” police spokesperson Ifetkharul Islam told AFP.
The police said that Haque was the seventh senior leader from the Islamist group to be arrested this week. Hefazat-e-Islam spokesperson Jakaria Noman Foyezi told the news agency that the police have detained 23 of its leaders. Foyezi said that the charges against the group leaders were “false and fabricated”.
The police did not provide details on the specific cases or whether the charges against Haque are related to Modi’s visit, reported the Hindustan Times. The group’s leaders, however, are expected to be charged with the outbreak of violence during Modi’s visit and also for protests in 2013. A 2013 rally by the Islamist organisation had turned violent, leading to the death of 50 people. It was in demand of enforcing blasphemy law in the country.
The police said 298 Hefazat-e-Islam supporters and activists were arrested in the eastern rural district of Brahmanbaria, where anti-Modi demonstrations were also held.
“We arrested them by identifying them through video footage,” Brahmanbaria Deputy Police Chief Mohammad Roish Uddin told AFP.
Modi’s visit to Bangladesh on March 26 and 27 during the country’s Independence celebrations was marred with violence. Various Hefazat-e-Islam supporters and activists had clashed with the police and allegedly attacked a police station and other government buildings as well as blocked highways in the country. At least 13 demonstrators died in the clashes.
Before Modi’s visit, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police had warned of legal action against those who hold rallies against Modi.