Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan Papon, right, and national team captain Mushfiqur Rahim, second from right, along with other current and former players and officials of the board render their solidarity with the nonstop mass movement at Shahbagh demanding death penalty for war criminals.Photo: STAR
As the Shahbagh movement entered its sixth day yesterday, the arrival of the Tigers at the intersection added more vigour to the indomitable spirit of the protesters.
As some former and present cricketers took to the stage and chanted slogans to support their cause, the crowd burst into cheers stronger than the applause the team receives after winning a crucial match.
The support of Abdur Razzak, Anamul Haque Bijoy, Md Ashraful, Elias Sunny, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Nazmul Hossain and Shohag Gazi from the national cricket team accompanied by some former cricketers made the agitating youths even more determined to continue their movement.
The national cricketers apart, all the team members of Duronto Rajshahi led by its owner Mushfiqur Rahman Mohan joined the protesters at Shahbagh, much to the demonstrators' enthusiasm.
The young generation has been accused of being apathetic and apolitical. But the Shahbagh movement has proved that they are not ignorant about or indifferent to the current state of the country.
Protestors said they were already angered by the recent countrywide violence by Jamaat-Shibir activists against the trial. Then, the verdict against Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah clearly went against their expectation.
These two incidents have forced the young generation to take to the streets, they said, adding that the wave of Shahbagh movement has vibrated the whole nation.
"Seeing the anarchy of Jamaat-Shibir activists, many people thought Jamaat-Shibir to be the dominating force in the country. But the Shahbagh movement has shown that the pro-liberation people are the dominating force and that Jamaat-Shibir are just a parasite in the society," said Mokarram Hossain Shuva, a protester and blogger.
Kajal Abdullah, an organiser of the movement, said, "Our predecessors have done their job by freeing the country. Now it is our turn to eliminate the anti-liberation forces from Bangladesh."
The nonstop protest began just hours after a war crimes tribunal on February 5 sentenced Quader Mollah to life term in prison for crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
The movement was launched by Bloggers and Online Activist Network, but it soon transformed into a people's movement. Demonstrators say a life sentence for Mollah was too lenient. They want death sentence for him and all other war criminals.
On Friday, the nation yesterday saw the biggest gathering in recent memory as tens of thousands thronged the Shahbagh intersection to call for death penalty to war criminals.
From the 3:00pm-6:00pm mass rally that day, people took an oath to continue the movement until their demand is met, and vowed to boycott all businesses, banks, media outlets and social and cultural organisations owned by Jamaat leaders. They also called for banning Jamaat and its student wing, Shibir.
Joining the protest yesterday, Duronto Rajshahi owner Mushfiqur Rahman said it was a good news for the country that no Pakistani players were playing in this year's Bangladesh Premier League T20 tournament.
The team members left the protest ground, which has come to be known as "Prajanmo Chattar," around 11:30am.
Protesters made a mock gallows at the venue that turned into a human sea with the participation of thousands of people in the evening.
Meanwhile, protestors yesterday placed to Speaker Abdul Hamid a six-point demand, including death penalty to Quader Mollah and all other war criminals; trial of the political parties, forces, individuals and organisations trying to save war criminals and conspiring to foil the trial; and revocation of the state's power to declare general amnesty for the persons convicted by the tribunals.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, writer Anisul Haque, Human Rights activist Khushi Kabir and National Human Rights Commission Chairman Prof Mizanur Rahman also joined the demonstrations yesterday.
Earlier on Saturday night, Khulna Royal Bengals skipper Shahriar Nafees joined the Shahbagh demonstrations.
Yesterday, students of different schools, colleges and universities from Dhaka and elsewhere in the country took part in the movement. People from Chuadanga, Kushtia, Mymensingh, Kishoreganj, Barguna and several other districts also joined the protest.
Protesters announced that Bangladeshis living in the US also expressed solidarity with them.
A seven-year old boy gave the full speech that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered on 7 March 1971.
Meanwhile, a group of young journalists continued with their hunger strike for a second consecutive day yesterday before the Dhaka Reporters Unity, demanding cancellation of Jamaat leaders' membership in the Jatiya Press Club.
The cable operators of Srimangal upazila in Moulvibazar, in an unprecedented move, have stopped broadcasting Diganta television, which is owned by a Jamaat leader.
Demonstrations also took place in Tangail, Khulna, Magura, Manikganj, Rangpur, Pabna, Munshiganj and Natore.
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