8 Years of Shapla Chattar Violence

50 cases still pending for investigation

Muktadir Rashid | Published: 23:56, May 04,2021


The police have yet to complete investigation into 50 out of 83 cases filed over the violence at Shapla Chattar at Motijheel in Dhaka on May 5, 2013.

According to the police headquarters, the police have so far filed charge sheets in 29 cases of the 83 cases filed in Dhaka and other districts in 2013 accusing 3,416 named and 84,796 unnamed people.

The police submitted final reports in four cases.

On May 5, 2013, thousands of members of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, the  Qawmi madrassah-based organisation, clashed with law enforcers and ruling Awami League activists, turning Motijheel and Paltan areas into a battlefield for 12 hours, setting fire to hundreds of shops, vehicles and police outposts.

Clashes also spilled over different districts.

Hefazat demanded stronger Islamic policies, including stringent punishment for ‘atheist bloggers.’

Over a dozen were reportedly killed during the clashes in May 5-6 but the death figure triggered confusion as Hefazat has yet to make a formal list of the deaths, claiming the figure of deaths in firing by the law enforcement agencies is much higher.

The police also accused activists of Jamaat-e-Islam and Bangladesh Nationalist Party in the cases.

Of the cases, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police was asked to investigate 53 cases.

Dhaka Metropolitan joint commissioner Mahbub Alam said that they were now giving priority to completing investigations into the cases filed in 2013 over the Shapla Chattar violence.

He told New Age that they were working to complete the investigations within a month.

Asked about the delay in investigation, he said that the implementation of law had not been done in the past but they were now implementing it.

He said that after the completion of the investigations into the case of Shapla Chattar violence, they would complete probe into the cases filed against Hefazat leaders and activists in connection with the latest violence in March.  

The police have filed at least 150 cases against hundreds of people, mostly Hefazat leaders and activists, over their alleged involvements in the violence during and after the visit of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in Bangladesh in March.

The police and its units have continued for the last few days arresting senior and influential organisers of Hefazat, mostly in the cases over the Shapla Chattar violence, after the protests and violence over Modi’s visit.

About the revival of the cases over Shapla Chattar, Hefazat’s convening committee member Nurul Islam told New Age on Tuesday ‘We do not find these are decent moves. We do not understand their intention as arrests and investigations have been launched after eight years.’

Hefajat first appeared on the scene in 2009 by protesting against a draft national women development policy that recommended equal inheritance rights to women.

On April 6, 2013, Hefajat leaders and activists marched towards Dhaka and held a rally at Shapla Chattar with a 13-point demand, including enactment of anti-blasphemy act and stringent punishment of ‘atheist bloggers.’

Maulana Moinuddin Ruhi, the then joint secretary-general of Hefazat, said that they wanted to follow the spirit of Shah Ahmed Shafi, the founding chief of the organisation who died in Dhaka on September 18, 2020.

Ruhi, who was ousted from the central committee after Shafi’s death, however, endorsed the recent arrests, saying they had wanted to see development and peace in the country and remain busy with religious issues only but the leadership was snatched from the mainstream Hefazat, causing the current situation.

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