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Bangladesh arrests ex-lawmaker over violence during PM Modi's visit: Report

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Dhaka, May 16: A senior leader of the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami group has been arrested in Bangladesh for allegedly instigating violence in March during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country, police said on Sunday.

Narendra Modi

Shahjahan Chowdhury, who is also a former lawmaker, was arrested from Chatttogram''s Hathazari area on Saturday and was later sent on three-day police remand by Senior Judicial Magistrate Shahriar Iqbal of the Chittagong Court.

"Police yesterday (Saturday) arrested Jamaat leader and ex-MP Shahjahan Chowdhury in (southeastern) Chatttogram finding his links to the mayhem and obtained the court order to interrogate him in the custody," a police spokesman said.

He said Chowdhury, who was elected to parliament during the previous Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led four-party alliance with Jamaat being its crucial partner, was charged with instigating the violence unleashed by radical outfit Hefazat-e-Islam on March 26 during Prime Minister Modi''s visit to Bangladesh.

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"We have evidence of Shahjahan's involvement with the violence and vandalism done by Hefazat men on March 26 and 27 during the protests against Indian Prime Minister Modi''s visit. He was arrested in the cases filed with the Hathazari police station," the Chittagong district police chief was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune.

On March 26, at least four people were killed and several others were injured in clashes among Hefazat supporters, police, and ruling party activists in Chittagong.

Modi was in Dhaka then on a two-day visit to join the celebrations of the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence and the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Hefazat activists were involved in widespread violence and vandalism in Hathazari around Modi's visit, including an attack on the local police station. Members of the Qawmi madrasa-based radical organisation were also involved in acts of vandalism and arson of the government offices.

Over the past few weeks, Bangladesh has arrested dozens of leaders belonging to the Hefazat outfit. On March 30, police filed a total of six cases over the violence, accusing several thousand unnamed suspects.

Chowdhury is a former chief of the Chattogram Metropolitan branch of Jamaat and a member of the group's Central Majlish-e-Shura. He was elected a member of parliament from the Satkania-Lohagara seat during the BNP-Jamaat alliance government.

The Jamaat leader has been accused in nearly 20 cases related to violence at different times. He was previously arrested in 2018 for 'instigation' during the student road protest movement, bdnews24.com reported.

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