Dhaka gets tough with Islamists on 40th Victory Day

Thursday, December 16, 2010

DHAKA - A top opposition leader was held on murder charge and a court rejected a petition of the chief of the largest Islamist party as Bangladesh Thursday celebrated its 40th Bijoy Divas (liberation day), marking its separation from Pakistan.

In a blow to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), authorities arrested its Standing Committee member Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury, who leads the Islamists within the main opposition party and is considered close to former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

His detention took place Wednesday for his alleged involvement in killing Nutan Chandra Kundu, a Hindu entrepreneur and philanthropist, in Chittagong port town April 13, 1971, besides 107 others during the freedom movement.

Government investigators have moved the International Crimes Tribunal set up to try those accused of targeting unarmed civilians in 1971. The tribunal fixed next Sunday for hearing the petition.

In detaining Chowdhury on murder charge, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas government is following the same drill of having arrested the top brass of Jamaat-e-Islami, the countrys largest Islamist party, earlier this year, on charges other than “war crimes”.

A bench of the high court Wednesday summarily rejected the petition to quash the war crimes trial of Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, The Daily Star reported.

Besides Nizami, Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid, Senior Assistant Secretary General Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, and Assistant Secretary General Abdul Quader Molla are under detention.

While the BNP says it is for impartial trials, the Jamaat leaders deny any role in the 1971 killings and say the detentions are politically motivated.

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