Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh. The journey began more than a decade ago. Non-political religious organizations on paper. However, since the birth of the organization, their activities have not been limited to religious boundaries. Babbar has changed color. There are allegations that the leaders of the organization work for those who have benefited in the field of politics. Hefazat has sometimes been used as a pile for others. As a result, the claim that the organization started its journey with the aim of propagating and spreading the customs of Islam has now become divisive and controversial. However, the leaders of the organization have claimed that Hefazat is still united. Not working for any political party or group.
According to the country’s progressive politicians and political analysts, people turn their umbrellas wherever the rain comes from. In the same way, Hefazat leans towards the possibility of rescuing its own interests. Sometimes they take advantage of the government and sometimes they take advantage of the opposition and go against the government.
Talking to some leaders of Hifazat-e-Islam, it is learned that after the formation of Awami League government in 2009, the journey of Hifazat-e-Islam started on 19 January 2010 at Darul Uloom Mueenul Islam Madrasa in Hathazari, Chittagong. Shah Ahmad Shafi, the director general of the madrasa, was made the emir of the organization. At that time, the leaders of Hefazat started talking about opposition to women’s policy and not changing the state religion Islam. At the same time, they started demanding the government to recognize the charters of Qawmi madrasas.
When the ‘Ganajagaran Mancha’ was formed in 2013, Hefazat took to the field against it for the first time and caused a stir all over the country. On May 5 of that year, millions of people gathered at Shapla Chattar in the capital and called on the government to resign. BNP and Jamaat leaders also joined the movement. However, the government removed the leaders and activists of Hefazat with the help of law and order forces. Many leaders and activists of the organization were sued on charges of widespread violence and violence. At that time, the leaders and workers of Hefazat were a bit awkward.
According to Awami League sources, the government took initiative to bring Hefazat into the bag after the Shapla Chattar incident. Home in Chittagong, such a central leader of the Awami League and a government official started secret contacts with the leaders of Hefazat. At that time, the government and Hifazat reached an agreement by starting the process of leasing three acres of railway land worth about Tk 40 crore to Hathazari Madrasa of Amir of Hifazat. In this context, at a rally of Hefazat in Chittagong’s Laldighi in April 2014, Ahmed Shafi said, “Hasina government, Awami League and Chhatra League said, everyone is our friend.” There is no enmity with them. ‘Since then, Ahmed Shafi has not spoken much against the government.
According to sources, the government started recognizing the charter of Qawmi Madrasa as per the demand of Hefazat after giving the railway land. This was the demand of the teachers and students of Qawmi Madrasa for many years. Azizul Haque, the father of recently criticized Hefazat leader Mamunul Haque, went on a hunger strike in the capital’s Muktangan to get Qaumi recognized while the BNP was in power. In 2016, the Awami League government accepted the long-standing demand and recognized the Qawmi Madrasa. As a result, relations between the government and Hefazat-e-Islam did not deteriorate much from 2014 to 2020. Hefazat did not take a stand against the government until the death of the organisation’s Amir Ahmad Shafi last year.
According to Awami League sources, in the last few years, the government has given economic benefits to the important leaders of Hefazat by maintaining strict secrecy in various ways. Then everything was fine. But since 2019, Allama Shafi’s physical condition has deteriorated and Junaid Babungari and his followers are desperate to take over the organization. Leaders of the 20-party alliance inside Hefazat supported Babungari. Shafi died last year under such circumstances. He was allegedly killed by the Babungaripanthis. Meanwhile, a new committee of Hefazat was formed in November last year. Junaid Babungari became the Amir of the organization. Ahmed Shafi’s son Anas Madani and all his supporters were dropped from the committee. After that, Hefazat took to the field in a strong anti-government role.
It is learned that most of the members of the 151-member committee of Hefazat led by Junaid Babungari were leaders of religious parties affiliated to the BNP-led 20-party alliance. At least three of them were also candidates of the BNP alliance in the last parliamentary elections. As a result, they started using Hefazat for political gain. At various times, they opposed the installation of Bangabandhu’s sculpture and vandalized the sculpture, demanding the cancellation of the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the golden jubilee of independence and the year of Mujib. These political programs and the violence in them have led to sharp divisions within the organization. In such a situation, the central committee of Hefazat was dissolved last Sunday night and a new convening committee was formed in the morning.
Moinuddin Ruhi, former joint secretary general of Hifazat, said, “The people’s hopes and aspirations have not been reflected in the Hifazat committee headed by Babungari.” They have made the scholars and ulama face the government and violence. It is a deviation from the ideology of Allama Shafi and a betrayal of him. The current committee of Hefazat did not abide by the constitution of the organization. This has been done for political gain. ‘
Mir Idris, co-organizing secretary of Hefazat’s recently dissolved committee, said: “We had no political motives at the beginning of our journey, not yet. In 2013, when the Ganajagaran Mancha in Shahbag was insulting Allah and the Prophet, we were the first to take the field to defend the faith. Religious plagueAlthough he was in good form, many people associated with different parties were in the custody committee. In that continuity, the leaders of the party also joined the next committee. But now that the five-member convening committee has been announced, I don’t see anyone from any political party. ‘