By Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha
New Delhi, Apr 12: Amid the ongoing crackdown on the militant hardliner groups, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Of Bangladesh has arrested Rafiqul Islam Madani. Known as "shishu bokta" (child preacher), he has been charged with making provocative anti-state speeches and inciting mob. Madani is one of the icons of the hardline outfit, Hefazat- e- Islam (HeI).
According to RAB, though he has the appearance of a young boy because of his immature voice, slender physique and face, he is actually 27. According to his case diary, he was born in 1994 in Purbadhala Upazila of Netrokona district.
Madani has been charged under Digital Security Act for inciting violence and making objectionable remarks against the government. He was produced before the Gazipur judicial magistrate court on Thursday and then sent to jail. On preliminary investigation, the RAB also found 'adult content' on his mobile phone and said that it proved that Madani is a 'fraud' preacher.
According to Bangladeshi media, Madani is a fiery orator of the radical outfit HeI. He gained notoriety by delivering hate speeches against the state, government, prime minister, and noted personalities across the country. All his speeches have been loaded on social media platforms. Some of Rafiqul Islam's recent videos uploaded on YouTube demonstrate his penchant for harsh criticism and sarcastic remarks about the ruling party and its sympathizers, the army, elections, and much more.
"We have to free this country and Islam from the hands of infidel government, there must be one religious Head for all Islamic institutions. Under his direction, we will paralyse the government system and free this country from the hands of the mafias," he said in one of his subversive speech.
He was on the road with the General Secretary of HeI, Mamunul Haque demonstrating against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit and was arrested last month. The police detained him for several hours and released him. Mamul Haque is the same leader who was detained after he was caught red-handed at a resort with a woman last week.
HeI is a fundamentalist group that has been at loggerheads with the Sheikh Hasina government over the past 10 years. It has demanded action against atheist bloggers and asked women to veil themselves. According to the sources, HeI is a front for the banned Islamist party Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami which has a strong link with Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The present HeI chief Junaid Babu Nagari is a Hadith scholar who studied in Pakistan's Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia for four years.
According to intelligence reports, the outlawed Pakistan funded militant organisation Jamaat-e-Islami paid huge amounts of money to the leaders of HeI to stage massive attacks on the Sheikh Hasina-led government.
It is therefore not surprising that the "child preacher" slammed the ruling party and Sheikh Hasina's government for blocking HeI leader Mamunul Haque at a resort in Sonargaon. In one of the videos, he blamed the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for playing PM Modi's "anti-Islamic" card.
According to a Bangladeshi journalist Salim Reza, Madani is a 'little devil' full of hatred against non- Muslims and is 'influenced' by Taliban ideologues.
"The Bangladesh government is running on Hindutva and Modi's direction. Whatever Modi wants, happens in this country. This is the case with Awami League, Chatra League (student wing) and Sheikh Hasina," the child preacher warns.
He adds: "All temples are being upgraded and the mosques here are dying. This means whoever will speak against Modi will be tortured and jailed...We will not follow anything… We want this country to be a true Islamic Republic."
Some of Madani's recent videos uploaded as 'Nuria Islamic Media' on YouTube show him preaching Sharia law and delivering sarcastic remarks against women's empowerment. The "child preacher" is also a Director of Sawtul Hera Madrasa, which is run by the HeI. Hefazat leaders warned that their movement could retaliate if Madani was not released.
Although his real name is Rafiqul Islam and he uses ‘Madani' as the title at the end of the name, the Islam is using the title 'Madani' without studying at the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia. He has a degree in Hadith (equivalent to Masters) from Jamia Madania Madrasa in Dhaka.
Madani's arrest has once again demonstrated Sheikh Hasina's iron will to crackdown on violent extremism. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister has positioned her party, the Awami League, as a secular nationalist party, emphasising on its prosecution and execution of hardline Jamaat-e-Islami leaders who were found guilty of war crimes during the Liberation war in 1971.
Coming down heavily on the leaders of Hefazat-e- Islam, Sheikh Hasina recently said: "It is a secular country, no one should be attacked in the name of Islam. Who uses children in massacres, sets vehicles and homes of Awami League leaders on fire, attacks Awami league workers only, and destroys all the establishments of the government… These militants are a shame to the Muslims. Those militants will never be spared." Launching a fight to the finish, Hasina has directed officials of National Security Intelligence (NSI), the government's intelligence agency, to work towards eradication of terrorism. Asking the NSI to remain alert always, she said Bangladesh has attained the status of a developing nation and in 20 years would be a developed country if "you people perform your responsibilities perfectly".