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2 December, 2018 12:43:13 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 December, 2018 02:17:48 AM

One killed, 150 injured as Tabligh Jamaat factions clash at Tongi

One killed, 150 injured as Tabligh Jamaat factions clash at Tongi
Activists of a faction of Tabligh Jamaat occupy the busy square in front of Hazrat Shahjalal Int’l Airport in the capital yesterday after a clash with their rivals over establishing supremacy on the Ijtema ground at Tongi in Gazipur. Inset, an injured activist is being taken to hospital. Photos: Nazmul Islam

A 65-year-old man was killed and more than 150 people were injured in a clash yesterday between two factions of the Tabligh-Jamaat over establishing control over the Ijtema ground, on the bank of the Turag river in the Tongi area on the outskirts of the capital. A number of cars parked in the nearby residential area were vandalised. The clash ensued after the Fazr prayers, when followers of the Tabligh-Jamaat leader Moulana Jubair Hassan tried to enter the Ijtema venue, occupied by supporters of Saad Kandhalvi since Wednesday, police said.

Kamal Hossian, officer-in-charge (OC), Tongi East police station, said Ismail Mondol, 65, hailing from Rampal union of Munshiganj, was killed in the clash. He was a follower of Saad Kandhalvi. Around 130 people were treated for injuries at the Tongi Ahsan Ullah Master Health Complex, said the hospital’s emergency medical officer. Of them, 25 people, who were severely injured, have been transferred to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Kurmitola Hospital and other hospitals.

A video of the clash went viral on the social media. It was seen in the video that a larger group of Tabligh-Jamaat men with bamboo sticks and stones entered the venue by breaking open the gate. The place soon turned into a battleground.

The clash started around 8am, when supporters of the Tabligh-Jamaat leader of India, Moulana Jubair Hassan, tried to enter the Ijtema premises, where supporters of top leader Maulana Saad Kandhalv had been staying from Wednesday, said police officials.

Locals said that at one stage supporters of Maulana Saad broke open the main gate of the Ijtema ground and entered the Maidan. Then, a chase and counter-chase took place between the two groups.

Informed about the clash, Deputy commissioner of Gazipur (DC), Dewan Muhammad Humayan Kabir, rushed to the spot and asked all to vacate the Ijtema ground within half-an-hour.

The home minister has called an emergency meeting immediately to discuss the issue, the DC told reporters.

Earlier, the first phase of Bishaw Ijtema was scheduled to be held in January, but it was delayed last month over the leadership conflict between the two Tabligh factions.

Later, the EC issued an order banning any kind of congregation at the Tongi Ijtema field prior to the December 30 election, following a petition by the Deoband group.

Locals and police said that despite the ban, followers of Delhi Markaz's leader, Moulana Mohammed Saad Kandhalvi, had announced a five-day-long Jor Ijtema and followers of Deoband leader, Moulana Zubayer, gathered around the Tongi field and the nearby areas.

Supporters of Maulana Jubayer gathered in front of the Ijtema field gate and another group obstructed them from

entering. As the followers of Saad could not enter the Ijtema area on Friday, they gathered in nearby mosques.

Followers of Moulana Zubayer told the media that the Saad group had occupied the field for the last few days. They are not allowing the Muslim devotees, who came from different parts of the country to go there, creating unrest on the street.

"Saad followers attacked us in the morning," a follower of Moulana Zubayer said.

Followers of Saad told the media that they were just going to attend the Jor Ijtema but the opponent group prevented them. They did not attack anyone.

What is Tabligh-Jamaat

The Tabligh-Jamaat, the biggest organisation of Sunni Muslims, has its centre in Delhi. Grandfather of Moulana Saad, Islamic pundit Iliyas Kandhalvi, initiated the reformation movement in the 1920s.

The Tabligh-Jamaat began as an offshoot of the Deobandi movement, and a response to perceived deteriorating moral values and a supposed negligence of aspects of Islam. It expanded from a local to a national to an international movement.

It denies any affiliation with politics and "fiqh" (jurisprudence), and focuses, instead, on the Quran and Hadith and states that it rejects violence as a means for evangelism, (although some have complained that adherents have become involved in politics in Pakistan). A Shura committee was appointed to run the organisation in place of a single decision maker after the death of Moulana Inamul.

What happened last year

The conflict over leadership became acute during the Bishaw Ijtema in January, 2018.

On November 16, the government deferred the first phase of the Ijtema to avoid conflict at a meeting led by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal.

Moulana Saad became the Amir after the death of Moulana Zubayer who was a Shura Committee member and brought back the system of single leadership.

Moulana Zuhayerul Hasan, son of Moulana Zubayer, then came forward to demand new leadership and his supporters called for a new Shura Committee. The conflict intensified when Saad refused to meet the demand. Muslim thinkers were also divided over the statements by Saad.

But Saad followers announced Jor Ijtema on November 30 and started preparations. The other group then occupied the entrances to the Ijtema site. Saad followers then urged the Prime Minister at a press briefing to intervene in the matter.

Home minister Assaduzzaman Khan held a meeting with the two factions at his secretariat office and urged them to stop bickering.

The date of Bishwa Ijtema has not been postponed, but shifted to a later date because of the coming national elections, he added.

Owing to the general election, all regular preaching activities of the Tabligh-Jamaat will remain suspended. And the Ijtema Maidan will be  under the control of the administration, said the minister.

He added that an inquiry will be launched into the clash, which will be considered as a criminal case.

UNB adds: Mentioning that the date of Biswa Ijtema, the second largest congregation of Muslims after the Hajj, will be fixed after the national election, Home MinisterAsaduzzaman Khan yesterday said no gathering will be allowed at the venue until then.

The decision was taken at a meeting with the representatives of two factions of Tabligh Jamaat held at the Home Ministry, he said.

The meeting was convened following a clash between two groups of the Tabligh Jamaat earlier in the day for establishing control over Ijtema Maidan that killed a one person.

The minister said the Ijtema has been delayed due to the 11th parliamentary elections billed for December 30. "All kinds of religious gatherings or rallies will be restricted on the Ijtema premises and law enforcers will guard the venue," he added.

Earlier, one person was killed and over 200 people were injured in a series of clashes between two factions of Tabligh Jamaat for establishing control over the Ijtema Maidan on the bank of the Turag River in Tongi of Gazipur.



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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