Shahbagh hasn’t seen it in years. Pahela Falgun is there. But couples rarely whisper romantic couplets, roses don’t change hands like before, the colour yellow can’t be seen as it used to be over the past years.
A much stronger love has descended on the city heart, a spirit that once led the Bangalees to free the nation from the clutch of the Pakistani rulers. A resolute people has now occupied what once used to be the most frequented place for couples only. Slogans pour incessantly, as scores of new faces throng what is now known as ‘Projonmo Chottor’ like the past eight days.
Songs have turned into slogans, slogans songs; all tuned to the demand of a just trial of the war criminals. Thousands of people demand in unison justice for the 1971 genocide.
The Shahbagh protesters are continuing their demonstration as the movement entered the ninth straight day on Wednesday.
Half of the demonstrators attired in traditional yellow dress joined the protest at the intersection, chanting slogans “ei bashonte bashonta dag (mark of chickenpox) nipat jak, nipat jak”.
Pahela Falgun heralds the first day of the spring, the king of the season, and every year in Bangladesh, the occasion was marked with festivity and welcome songs. But this year, Falgun will be welcomed by rendering protest songs at Shahbagh.
People from all walks of life, mostly students of different schools and colleges were marching towards the protest venue since the morning chanting slogans. Vendors were seen busy with selling flowers in and around the protest venue.
Dhakabashi, a socio-cultural voluntary organisation, joined the protest around noon.
Hundreds of outraged students, activists and ordinary citizens started the non-stop movement on February 5, soon after a war crimes tribunal sentenced Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah to life term in prison for crimes against humanity during the country’s 1971 Liberation War.
Though the ‘Bloggers and Online Activist Network’ started the demonstration, soon it transformed into a people’s movement.
The movement spread to other parts of the country getting louder with the call for capital punishment for all war criminals.
On Tuesday afternoon, the protesters and countrymen held a three-minute silence to press home the demand for death penalty for all war criminals including Mollah.
After holding the silence protest, the protesters vowed to continue their movement and said that Jamaat-Shibir would no way be able to stop the people’s movement, not even by exploding bombs or carrying out attacks.
Later, they declared a two-day programme to press home their demand.
As par the programme, the youths will render protest songs at Shahbagh at 3:00pm on Wednesday and hold a countrywide candlelight vigil at 7:00pm on Thursday in the memory of the martyrs killed by Jamaat and its student wing during and after the Liberation War.
The protesters on Sunday submitted a six-point charter to the Speaker, demanding death penalty for all war criminals, and revocation of the state’s power to grant them amnesty.
The other demands include an amendment to the International Crimes Tribunal Act, allowing appeals against inadequate punishment and disposal of appeals from both the defence and the prosecution within three months of their filing.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the same day thanked the youths for raising voice against the 1971 war criminals.
The organisers held a grand rally at Shahbagh intersection on Friday where tens of thousands thronged and called for the death penalty for all war criminals of the Liberation War.
Source: The Daily Star