The move was to make plans to topple the government, Qashemi told detectives
The finance secretary of Hefazat-e-Islam’s recently dissolved committee, Monir Hossain Qashemi, had met a representative of BNP's acting chairman Tarique Rahman in Thailand in a bid to topple the government last year, detectives say.
Upon the instructions from a top leader of the Islamist hardliner platform and also a BNP leader, Qashemi travelled to Bangkok in February 2020 to discuss how to oust the government.
In exchange, he was given a hefty sum of money, the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) revealed, reports Bangla Tribune.
He divulged the information to the DB after his arrest on May 21 from the capital’s Baridhara area.
A Dhaka court on Sunday placed him on a three-day fresh remand in a case lodged over the group’s anarchy in Dhaka’s Baitul Mukarram area in late March centering Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit.
He was previously remanded twice starting May 22.
DMP DB Additional Police Commissioner AKM Hafiz Akhter said Qashemi revealed some sensational information during interrogation, which is being scrutinized.
DB sources said Quashemi used to work as a political spokesperson of Hefazat in order to communicate with opposition leaders. He was one of the major masterminds of the Islamist outfit, who graduated from the Darul Uloom Deoband madrasa in India before moving to Saudi Arabia.
He then got himself familiar with an influential figure of the Saudi Royal family, and taking advantage of that, he would collect and send funds to Bangladesh from the Middle East.
Qashemi finally returned home in 2012 and thereupon, had joined a madrasa (an Islamic seminary) in Gazipur, where he was accused of embezzling several crore taka from. Subsequently, he joined as a teacher of Jamia Madania, Baridhara.
The Hefajat leader managed to establish supremacy there and elsewhere as he was in good terms with a senior party colleague named Nur Hossain Kasemi, who died in mid-December last year.
In order to make things rather easier, he had Inamul Hasan Farouqui appointed as the khadem (attendant) of Hefazat chief Junaid Babunagari.
In collusion with Farouqui, Qashemi started to influence the top brass of Hefazat, thus, pushing it towards being violent.
The Bangkok talks
Qashemi told investigators that he went to Thailand on behalf of Nur Hossain Kasemi and a top BNP leader to sit with Tareque’s representative.
“I had a discussion on removing the government, with the unknown man, who had offered me a huge amount,” Qashemi was quoted as saying.
As part of the plan, BNP brought out some processions and held a rally in Dhaka in March last year, he said.
Later on, they chalked out another plan to gather in the capital city marking the Martyred Intellectuals Day, on December 14, like the massive 2013 Shapla Chattar crowd—but went in vain for an unknown reason.
Before that, Nur Hossain Kasemi received a text, from the very BNP leader, reading: “Program cancelled.”
Qashemi, a DB official said, is so cunning and he ducked many questions technically. He even hid his passport and cell phone just before his arrest, which he had sensed earlier. Neither the passport, nor the mobile phone could be seized as yet.
How did he raise funds and spend?
Aiming at giving a boost to the party activities, Qashemi used to collect money from many Middle Eastern countries.
This apart, he also raised a massive amount of money in the name of the Barirdhara madrasa he was employed at, from the local well-off people and also those living in posh areas of the city including Gulshan and Banani.
Even after the Rohingya exodus in 2017, he collected funds from Muslim-majority countries in the pretext of assisting the persecuted refugees.
He spent a lion’s share of the funds collected, during the 11th parliamentary polls race, when he vied from the Narayanganj-4 constituency.
Qashemi brought 80 decimals of land worth around Tk2.5 crore in Kalir Bazar of Narayanganj Sadar. He also deposited a huge amount of cash in his bank accounts.
Mahbub Alam, joint commissioner of DMP DB, said Qashemi mainly used to coordinate the channeling of money into Bangladesh from the Middle East.
“Our finding is that most of the Hefazat funds came from abroad. Basically, the money was meant for Rohingyas, madrasas and orphanages. Additionally, it used to raise money for organizational purposes too,” he said.
A major chunk of the funds was misappropriated, which is being investigated, he concluded.
Already convicted in a graft case, Tarique went to London in 2008 after securing bail in a number of corruption cases during the 1/11 changeover. He is also facing arrest warrants in some other cases.
Ruling Awami League very often alleges that he keeps plotting to destabilize the country to topple the government.