QUADER MOLLA VERDICT
People burst into protestsMohiuddin Alamgir and Sardar Mahabbat Ali
People disappointed about Abdul Quader Molla being jailed for life on charges of crimes against humanity continued sitting in at Shahbagh in the capital for the second consecutive day on Wednesday demanding death penalty for the Jamaat leader.
Bloggers and online activists began the protests in the place on Tuesday afternoon after International Crimes Tribunal 2 convicted Jamaat-e-Islami’s assistant general secretary to life term in prison on war crimes charges. Hundreds of people soon joined in the protest blocking the crossing. The protests were continuing without any break.
Shahbagh police subinspector Moniruzzaman said that the protests were peaceful.
Ministers, politicians, freedom fighters, university teachers, cultural activists and students flocked to the place where protesters put up banners and festoons seeking death penalty for the Jamaat leader.
The protesters have planned a rally at Shahbagh this morning. They said that they would hold another big rally in the place on Friday.
Left-leaning protesters will walk in a procession from the Central Shaheed Minar to Bahadur Shah Park in Old Town and back to Shahbagh this afternoon.
Both of the groups said that they would stay overnight at Shahbagh pushing for their demand.
The road crossing and neighbouring places teemed with people as the day rolled on, with Ekushey book fair visitors and activists of ruling Awami League and its partners in the alliance joining in.
The protests, however, appeared split into three groups about 6:00pm as Chhatra League and Slogan 71 activists occupied the area where protests had continued since Tuesday afternoon.
The left-leaning group moved aside towards the National Museum. The bloggers and online activists who began the protests moved towards the police box, protesters said.
But they all vowed that they would not leave the place until their demand for Quader Molla’s death penalty was met.
The protesters sported the national flag, brought out procession with torches, carried banners and festoons,
screened films on the independence war, painted the road stretch, sang patriotic songs, staged street plays and shouted slogans against the International Crimes Tribunal 2 verdict.
The protesters said that the tribunal was lenient in the conviction of Quader Molla compared with the crimes he had committed during the war.
They questioned Quader Molla being jailed for life when five of six allegations of murdering several hundred people against him were proved.
The protesters also put up an effigy of Quader Molla in the middle of the gathering and effigies of other war crimes suspects around the place.
People stopped Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, the deputy leader of the house, from giving a speech on her reaching the place in the evening. Sajeda, however, later said that she would take up the matter in the parliament.
The attorney general, Mahbubey Alam, who expressed solidarity with the protests, said that they would appeal against the verdict. He said that they would try their best to ensure death penalty for Quader Molla.
Blogger Baki Billah, in the evening. said, ‘We reject the tribunal verdict. We will stay here overnight. We will not leave the streets until Quader Molla is convicted to death penalty.’
Journalist Anjan Roy, who was also holding protests, said that Quader Molla should be hanged until death for a hundred times because of the heinousness of the crimes he had committed.
The food minister, Abdur Razzak, the jute and textile minister, Abdul Latif Siddique, the industries minister, Dilip Barua, the environment and forest minister, Hasan Mahmud, the shipping minister, Shahjahan Khan, the Workers Party of Bangladesh president, Rashed Khan Menon, the Communist Party of Bangladesh president, Mujahidul Islam Selim, ruling Awami League presidium member Nooh-Ul-Alam Lenin, the Gana Oikya convener, Pankaj Bhattacharya, Sammilita Sangiskrik Jote leader Nasiruddin Yousuff and a number of Dhaka University teachers, cultural activists and students expressed solidarity with the protests.
The environment and forest minister at the protests said that the government and the Awami League were disappointed about the verdict as ‘Quader Molla deserved a death penalty.’
Poet Kazi Rozi, a witness in the case against Quader Molla, said that the verdict had stunned her. Mujahidul Islam Selim termed the verdict ‘frustrating.’
Others who spoke there said that the Quader Molla verdict had ‘humiliated’ the nation and disappointed people seeking justice against mass murder and rape by war criminals. It also belittled the people who laid down their lives for the country.
Udichi Shilpi Goshthi, Sangskritik Union, Charu Shilpi Sangsad, and music band Chitkar sang patriotic songs. Fakir Alamgir and Kafil Ahmed also joined in.
Protesters shouted slogans against the verdict every time cultural activists sang ‘Bicharpati tomar bichar korbe jara, aj jegeche sei janata (People who will try you, Justice, have risen).’
Fine arts students put on display caricatures of war crimes suspects along the road stretch from the fine arts faculty to the Shahbagh crossing. People passing by were spitting on the caricatures. Protesters also hanged an effigy of Quader Mollah several times.
A group of freedom fighters of Mukitjodha Sangsad Central Command Council carrying the national flags, joined the protesters.
The Dhaka University Film Society set up a big screen and screened several films such as Stop Genocide, Muktir Gan, Aguner Parashmani, Al-Badr and Agami.
The organisation’s president Ariful Islam said that they would keep screening films as long as protests would continue.
Cultural group Brittanta 71 patrolled the city in a pick-up mobilising support for the death penalty for Quader Molla.
The protests blocked traffic on roads Shahbagh to Matsya Bhaban and Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.
On Tuesday night, the National Human Rights Commission chairman, Mizanur Rahman, the information minister, Hasanul Haq Inu, also president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Communist Party of Bangladesh adviser Manjurul Ahsan Khan, Musa Ibrahim, the first Bangladeshi to climb Everest, the Chhatra League president, Badiuzzaman Sohag, and the general secretary, Siddiqui Nazmul Alam, and the Bangladesh Chhatra Union president, SM Shuvo, expressed their solidarity with the protests.
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