12:00 AM, March 16, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:56 PM, March 19, 2013

Khaleda slams Shahbagh youths

Brands them as atheists; asks govt to stop Gonojagoron Mancha

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Prabir Barua Chowdhury and Farhana Mirza Barna, from Munshiganj

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia talks to local Hindus at Goalimandra Kali Mandir, vandalised by religious bigots in Munshiganj on March 3, during a visit yesterday. Photo: Star BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, during her visit to Munshiganj yesterday, talks to local Hindus at Goalimandra Kali Mandir, which was vandalised by religious bigots on March 3. Photo: Star

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday called the Gonojagoron Mancha at Shahbagh a platform of “atheists and spoilt people”.
She threatened that there would be a counter mancha (platform) if the Shahbagh demonstrations were not shut down and that people would march towards Dhaka to bring the government down.
“Shahbagh Square is an atheists' square. There are five crore youths in the country and less than a percent of them are in Shahbagh,” she said.
“These youths scream 'death penalty for war criminals' … they sing and dance and do many evil deeds there.”
The leader of the opposition was addressing a rally at Goalimandra in Louhajang upazila of Munshiganj district in the afternoon.
Earlier, she visited Goalimandra Kali Mandir, the Hindu temple vandalised on March 3, in the aftermath of Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee's death sentence for war crimes.
In her 29-minute speech at the rally, organised by the local unit BNP, Khaleda alleged that a section of law enforcers from a certain district were very active in attacking the opposition activists.
She maintained that police had carried out “genocide” during the recent violence and that her party would ensure trial of those responsible at an international tribunal.
She claimed that the government was patronising youths in Shahbagh by providing them with food and money.
“The government is putting mosques under lock and key while providing security to Shahbaghis [Shahbagh protesters],” she claimed.
The BNP chief repeatedly said the Shahbagh demonstrators were not neutral and that only those spoilt assembled there. She also said the demonstrators were biased towards the ruling Awami League and that the government was using them to play “a game of trial”.
Referring to the Shahbagh movement, she said the government “staged the drama to divert people's attention from its corruption”.
She said Shahbagh demonstrators want punishment of war criminals but the government only considers people of specific parties war criminals. Every war criminal should be punished, she said.
She said her party too wanted punishment to the war criminals, but that would have to be though a fair trial.
The government sued only BNP and Jamaat men for war crimes, whereas there were many war criminals in the Awami League, the BNP chief said.
Quoting former BBC journalist Serajur Rahman and freedom fighter and Krishak Sramik Janata League chief Abdul Kader Siddiqui, she said the incumbent home minister was a war criminal and demanded his trial.
She also claimed the ongoing war crimes trial was not of international standards. If her party was voted to power, it would set up a tribunal for all crimes including war crimes.
Khaleda said the Shahbagh demonstrators could block busy roads for days, but when the opposition party wanted to organise a rally in front of its office, police fire on them.
She said the police attacked their party headquarters, used rubber bullets and picked up 157 BNP leaders and activists. She alleged that the police also took away important documents from the office that day.
Criticising the recent police excess, the BNP chief said the UN might not take policemen on peace missions any more.
She asked her party men to protect temples and the minorities and said if her party got back to power, it would rebuild the Goalimandra Kali Mandir.
Khaleda said a case had been filed for the temple vandalism, but those who had been made accused had nothing to do with the incident. She said the real culprits would be tried once the BNP took over.
She, later, gave Tk 1 lakh to the secretary of the temple committee.

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