The protesters of Shahbagh movement hold a rally at Mirpur-10 in the capital demanding capital punishment to all war criminals and ban on Jamaat-Shibir. Photo: Anisur Rahman
Ignoring Jamaat-Shibir propaganda and threats, tens of thousands of people joined a grand rally in the capital's Mirpur yesterday to demand maximum punishment to war criminals.
Only a mile away from Alubdi village, where Jamaat leader Quader Mollah and his associates carried out mass killings in 1971, the Mirpur crowd was resolute in conviction that Bangladesh is not a place for war criminals and Jamaat-e-Islami.
Students in uniforms began to swarm the venue before the rally began at 3:30pm. A group of madrasa kids were seen chanting slogans with Lucky Akhtar, the social welfare secretary of Bangladesh Students Union.
Criticising the government for not arresting Mahmudur Rahman yet, the Shahbagh activists addressing the gathering announced a decision to demonstrate outside the home ministry around 4:00pm today.
A memorandum would be submitted to the ministry demanding the government immediately detain Mahmudur, acting editor of daily Amar Desh. Earlier, two ultimatums were issued to the government for his arrest.
Imran H Sarker, convener of Blogger and Online Activist Network, firmly rejected Mahmudur Rahman's allegation that the Shahbagh movement is run by atheists.
"Mahmudur Rahman is the atheist. He is the one spreading atheism and communalism through his newspaper," he added.
He urged the government not to hesitate to arrest Mahmudur Rahman and warned, â€œIf you make compromises, the people will not accept it."
Imran, the spokesperson for Shahbagh movement, also called upon the people to boycott Amar Desh from today.
Condemning recent Jamaat-Shibir violence, he said, "The terrorists, who had vandalised Shaheed Minar and desecrated the national flag across the country, torched Ekushey Boi Mela yesterday.â€
The programme began with the National Anthem. The crowd also observed one minute's silence commemorating the Liberation War martyrs and those killed in the Pilkhana massacre.
Imran reiterated that Jamaat and its student organisation Islami Chhatra Shibir are terrorist outfits and everyone has to build up a resistance against them.
Alluding to Zahir Raihan's journey to remote areas to shoot documentary "Stop Genocide", Imran said the Shahbagh protesters will also go to every household to create a movement for banning Jamaat-Shibir.
â€œWe have chosen a path of non-violence, but that doesn't mean we are weak," he added.
The protesters took an oath to continue the movement until the war criminals are hanged and Jamaat-e-Islami and pro-Jamaat financial institutions are banned.
Leaders of different student organisations also addressed the rally. Most of them thanked the people for rejecting Sunday's hartal called by Islamist parties.
Siddique Nazmul Alam, general secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra League, highlighted the involvement of Jamaat and its allies in genocide in Mirpur during the Liberation War.
Addressing the Jamaat, he said, â€œIn 1971, you failed to confuse the people of Bangladesh; you cannot confuse us in 2013 either.â€
Hasan Tareq, general secretary of Students Union, said, "For their crimes against humanity, Jamaat and Shibir have become swear words now."
After insulting the national flag and Shaheed Minar, they have lost all rights to continue politics in Bangladesh, he added.
Mufti Mahbubur Rahman, chairman of Bangladesh Jatiya Mufti Board, condemned Jamaat-e-Islam for using religion to save itself from the war crimes trial. Jamaat does not follow the principles of Islam and it committed crime against humanity in 1971, he said.
He expressed solidarity to the movement on behalf of the Mufti board and demanded highest punishment to the war criminals.
The speakers yesterday urged the people of the country to join the previously announced rally at Motijheel Shapla Chattar tomorrow at 3:00pm and to voice demands for capital punishment to war criminals and ban on Jamaat-Shibir politics.
Meanwhile, the mass signature campaign, which began on February 22, continued and collected more one lakh signatures till last night.