[Dhaka Correspondent] Khilafatist outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir Friday staged protests in Dhaka against the arrival of two US naval ships to Bangladesh. Hundreds of HuT leaders and activists assembled inside Baitul Mukarram compound after the Friday prayers for the protest rally. Large contingents of armed police, plainclothes and detective branch police remained on guard surrounding Baitul Mukarram, the national mosque, including the meeting venue at the north gate of the mosque.
As soon as the protesters took out a procession and tried to march down the road law enforcers intercepted them at the north gate of the mosque. Police action forced the protesters to remain within the confines of the mosque compound where they held a rally. The protesters demanded immediate return of the US warships. They carried a banner reading “Prevent American ships from entering the Bay of Bengal in the name of distributing relief” and chanted slogans “Go back to America” and “US has no place in Bangladesh.”
HuT leader Kazi Morshedul Haque told the rally that every Bangladeshi had come forward, including the army, navy and air force, in aid of the cyclone victims, “so it is a shame on us, Muslims, that we are allowing the US on our land.” He asked the interim government not to allow the US ships to enter the waters of Bangladesh.
Soon after the protest, a team of RAB-3 in plain clothes picked up Kazi Morshedul Haque, joint coordinator of the organization, and another HuT activist, Mustafiz, from Baitul Mukarram area as they were returning home. A press release signed by the publicity and media secretary of the organization, Mustafa Minhaz, condemned the arrest of Morshed and Mustafiz and demanded their immediate release.
Two warships, USS Essex and USS Kearsarge, each carrying 20 helicopters, with emergency relief supplies, medical and emergency evacuation teams are scheduled to enter Bangladesh waters Saturday and Tuesday. The ships could be used in medical evacuation and survey of the cyclone-ravaged areas and will co-ordinate their relief efforts with the Bangladesh military, US embassy in Dhaka said in a statement.