‘You’re playing with fire’: Hasina warns Hefazat, slams anti-Modi protests

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday warned all Hefazat-e-Islam militant involved in the long spell of violence since last month following the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of legal action as she stressed her government’s zero tolerance strategy against social menaces like militancy.

“You, the Hefazat leaders and workers, don’t you go to study at Deoband (in India)? So, how dare you to protest against the Prime Minister of India’s visit?”

“I have managed all opportunities for you people to go abroad… I’m surprised…,” she said.

Speaking in Parliament, she questioned Hefazat leaders’ ethics and honesty, especially its Joint Secretary General Mamunul Haque.

“Hefazat leader Mamunul set vehicles on fire and attacked people… after then he went to spend holidays with a beautician in a resort, whom he claimed as his second wife…, she said, questioning the source of Mamunul’s money.

People will never spare these militants, those who only destroy Islam, she said.

“I want to ask… Islam is a religion of peace, how did these Hefazat militants attack public!” Hasina questioned.

“It is a secular country, no one should be attacked in the name of Islam. Who uses children in massacres, set vehicles and homes of Awami League leaders on fire, attacked Awami league workers only, destroyed all the establishments of the government… These militants are a shame to the Muslims. Those militants will never be spared,” she said in her 44 minutes speech ending the parliament session.

Earlier on Sunday morning, Hasina asked officials of National Security Intelligence (NSI), the government’s intelligence agency, to work towards eradicating terrorism.

Referring to the government’s zero tolerance stance against militancy, terrorism, drug and corruption, she said the NSI will have to do whatever is required to protect the people’s lives, livelihoods, properties and interests as well as ensure peace in society.

She was speaking after inaugurating the NSI’s newly-constructed 20-storey head office, virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.

Asking the NSI to remain alert always, she said Bangladesh has attained the status of a developing nation and would be a developed country by 2041 if “you people perform your responsibilities perfectly”.

Hasina also directed all authorities concerned to perform their duties properly to ensure the government’s directives are implemented appropriately to battle the fresh wave of the Covid-19 in the country.

She said her government is conscious about keeping the economic activities running, but saving the lives of the people is the first priority.

Sheikh Hasina said various countries across the world witnessed an economic slowdown due to the coronavirus situation, but Bangladesh has been able to keep the economic pace running and its economic growth rate is higher than other South Asian countries. “We will have to maintain the trend of growth.”

Extending her thanks to NSI members for playing a role in fighting the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, she asked them to play a more significant role this time around too.