The youth-powered Gonojagoron Mancha organises a rally at the Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka yesterday to mark the historic March 7. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on this day in 1971 delivered his famous speech at this venue, then Racecourse Maidan. Photo: Anisur Rahman
The Suhrawardy Udyan, formerly Race Course Maidan where Bangabandhu delivered his historic March 7 speech, reverberated with anti-Razakar slogans yesterday.
On the day in 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced to the thunderous roars of hundreds of thousands: "The struggle this time is for emancipation. The struggle this time is for independence."
Forty-two years after that independence was won, the Shahbagh demonstrators on the same ground declared the struggle this time was to rid the country of Razakar and Jamaat-Shibir.
Marking March 7, the protesters held the rally at the Shikha Chirantan at Suhrawardy Udyan yesterday, the 31st day of the movement.
Once again, demonstrators urged the countrymen to resist Jamaat-Shibir in every neighbourhood.
"March 7 is the inspiration of our sprit of unity and a guideline for our struggle…. Driven by this inspiration, we will continue our movement until our demands are met," said Imran H Sarker, spokesperson for the protest that began on February 5 demanding capital punishment to all war criminals.
Marking the International Women's Day today, the protesters will organise a Nari Jagoron Samabesh (rally for awakening women) at the Shahbagh intersection, now popularly known as Projonmo Chattar.
Imran called upon the women of different walks of life to join the rally and urged the garment owners and other organisations to allow a few hours' leave for all women employees to join the rally.
The organisers will today announce the date, time and venues of rallies to be held in divisional cities outside Dhaka. Also, the deadline for the mass signature campaign has been extended till March 22. So far, 4.5 lakh signatures have been registered.
Like in previous rallies, Imran administered an oath to the protesters, who vowed to continue the movement until their demands are met.
Criticising the filing of a case against Imran over "disgracing the national flag", Bangladesh Chhatra Moitree President Bappadittya Bashu said, "Nothing happens when Jamaat-Shibir men burn the national flag down. But when we call for hoisting the flag, it is denigration of it."
Demonstrators also slammed Jatiya Party Chairman and former autocrat HM Ershad for giving "negative" comments about the Shahbagh movement.
Leaders of different student bodies spoke at the rally participated by various professionals and socio-cultural organisations.
At the rally, a nine-year-old child, Apurbo, rendered Bangabandhu's full speech of March 7.
Earlier in the morning, protesters brought out an anti-hartal campaign from Shahbagh and marched through Matsya Bhaban, Jatiya Press Club and Purana Paltan before returning to the intersection.
Protesters took to the Shahbagh intersection on 5 February, just hours after a war crimes tribunal gave life sentence to Jamaat leader Abdur Quader Mollah for war crimes in 1971.
They have been demanding capital punishment to Mollah, saying a life term for him is too lenient a punishment.