Hefazat-e-Islam's chief Junaid Babungari has said responsibility for the controversies over the organisation's Joint Secretary General Mamunul Haque is his own.
"We did not discuss any particular individual in today's meeting. The controversies over Mamunul Haque are his personal matters. The meeting did not discuss relieving anyone," said Junaid Babungari, the ameer of the Islamist group, after a meeting at Darul Uloom Moinul Islam Madrasa in Chattogram's Hathazari Sunday.
The organisation's central committee leader Maulana Zakaria Noman Foyezi, however, told The Business Standard that Mamunul Haque will remain in his post.
"There are propaganda in social media about Hefazat-e-Islam that its Central Joint Secretary General Maulana Mamunul Haque would be removed from his post. But I can tell you for sure that there is no question of removing anyone from Hefazat. We all are united behind the ameer at the moment," Foyezi told TBS.
At least 15 people were killed in violence across the country during 26-29 March, when the Islamist group held protests against the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Dhaka. During the protest, there were arson attacks on public and private establishments across Bangladesh.
Subsequently, cases were filed against thousands of leaders and activists of Hefazat-e-Islam all over the country.
Amid the unrest, locals confined Hefazat bigwig Mamunul Haque along with a woman at a resort in Narayanganj's Sonargaon area on 3 April. In the face of confinement, Mamunul then claimed the woman was his second wife.
Hefazat's top leaders Sunday joined the meeting amid the countrywide criticisms over the resort incident. The meeting at Hathazari Madrasa started at 11:30am and continued until 3pm. The meeting was presided over by Maulana Muhibullah Babungari, the chief adviser of the platform of madrasa teachers and students that claims having no political affiliation.
At least 35 central leaders of the organisation took part in the discussion. Junaid Babungari demanded withdrawal of the cases filed against Hefazat leaders and activists across the country.
Commenting that the government has declared a war on Qawmi madrasas, Babungari said, "Police are harassing innocent people. This persecution must stop. I have talked to the state minister of religion about the topic and he promised me."
"Hathazari Madrasa has gone into vacation and the area is now completely calm. If the police do not stop the harassment, there could be tension again which might not be controlled then," he added.
In the wake of the recent spike in Covid-19 pandemic, the government ordered Qawmi madrasa closure as all the educational institutions have already been shuttered for around a year.
"Ramadan is ahead. People should be allowed to observe the month of fasting peacefully. False cases should be withdrawn," he further said.
Commenting that madrasas must not be closed on the pretext of the coronavirus spread, the Hefazat ameer said, "Students recite the Holy Quran at the madrasas. The recitation and prayer keep the calamities away from the nation. Therefore, permission should be given to continue the Qawmi madrasas for the sake of the country."
The Hefazat chief claimed no madrassa student or teacher has died from Covid-19 so far.
Declaring limiting the number of devotees at mosques during the daily prayers haram (forbidden in Islam), he said, "The mosques must not be closed, Tarawih [night prayer during Ramadan] must not be closed, Jumu'ah must not be closed."
The government recently banned meetings and rallies before and after prayers at mosques and other places of worship in a measure brought on a new wave of coronavirus. The authorities said the worshippers must maintain physical distancing, wear masks and follow other health rules during prayers, including Taraweeh in Ramadan.
The restrictions came out in line with the virus-led countrywide lockdown.
"If you say to perform the daily prayers with five devotees and Jumu'ah with ten people, that is haram too [forbidden]. Those who would join such prayers will also not be accepted to Allah," commented Junaid Babungari.