Dhaka: Fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami activists on Saturday held violent demonstrations, exploding several homemade bombs, to protest a Bangladeshi court ruling that barred it from contesting future polls. Jamaat and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, held a procession near Mohakhali flyover in Dhaka and resorted to the vandalism and blasts, police said.
They exploded several homemade bombs and vandalised a CNG-run three-wheeler at Mohakhali area. In Bogra, the Islamists hurled explosive devices at police, who retaliated by firing rubber bullets. No casualties were reported in the incidents.
Jamaat's demonstrations were part of planned street protests against the High Court verdict scrapping the party's registration with the Election Commission (EC) and disqualifying it from contesting future polls as its charter breached the secular Constitution. The Jamaat has called a 48-hour nationwide general strike from August 12 to denounce the judgement. It has also announced to challenge the verdict before the apex Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
In an editorial, Bangladesh newspaper Prothom Alo blasted the Jamaat saying, "legal battle and street vandalism do not go hand in hand" and called the new generation of the party leadership to decide if they would continue to shoulder the misdeeds of their leaders during the 1971 war. The High Court allowed the Jamaat to challenge the verdict as the issue involved constitutional matters.
Legal experts said the judgement did not declare the party unlawful and just disqualified it from contesting polls on constitutional grounds. The Jamaat, which was once the East Pakistan wing of Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan, also received support from its erstwhile mother organisation in Islamabad. Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawar Hasan criticised the court judgement, calling it "unconstitutional, partial and biased".
Hasan said the Jamaat in Bangladesh was being "victimised" and its leadership has been convicted and sentenced to life terms and even deaths by a special tribunal since the trial of war crimes suspects began in 2010. "So far, this was being done by a 'so-called tribunal' (International Crimes Tribunal) but now the High Court had stepped in to do the same," the Pakistani Jamaat chief said.
The Islamists in Bangladesh have been protesting against the sentencing of its top leaders by the tribunal for "crimes against humanity" during the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war siding with Pakistani troops. So far five Jamaat leaders have been sentenced to death for murder, mass murder, rape and religious persecution in the 1971 war.