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Youths rekindle spirit of '71

Tens of thousands of people raise voice against religion-based politics, demand capital punishment to war criminals, vow to boycott Jamaat-Shibir 

Shahbagh intersection made history yesterday where the nation witnessed its recent memory's biggest crowd that gathered to demand capital punishment to all the war criminals, including Quader Mollah.
There were men and women, boys and girls, young and old -- tens of thousands of them -- from all walks of life who turned the few square kilometres area into a human sea.
Since early morning, people started flocking the intersection first in their hundreds then in thousands, carrying national flags, banners and placards for the 3:00pm mass rally. By then, the crowd stretched as far as the eye can see.
From Matsya Bhaban in the south to Kataban intersection in the north and from Hotel Ruposhi Bangla intersection in the east to TSC in the west, the crowd spilled everywhere. The participation of young generation was overwhelming.
Through various slogans, they made their demand for death sentence to all the war criminals loud and clear registered their determination to resist Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir.
It was the fourth day of the non-stop protest, which began just hours after a war crimes tribunal on Tuesday sentenced Jamaat leader Quader Mollah to life term in prison for his crimes against humanity during the country's 1971 Liberation War.
The movement was launched by Bloggers and Online Activist Network, but it soon transformed into a mass movement.
Demonstrators have been saying a life term for Mollah was too lenient; they demand death sentence for him.
Protestors have kept the interaction under their occupation since Tuesday afternoon, with several hundreds of them staying overnights without sleep.
From yesterday's rally, people took an oath to continue the movement until their demand is met. In addition to capital punishment to all the war criminals, the demonstrators called for banning Jamaat and its student wing Shibir.
They also pledged to boycott all businesses, banks, media outlets and social and cultural organisations owned by Jamaat leaders.
“We pledge to keep on demanding trial under a special tribunal of those Razakars and Al-Badrs who were convicted and were under trial but freed after 1975," said Imran H Sarkar, administering the oath from a makeshift stage erected atop a truck at the intersection.
Imran, convenor of Bloggers and Online Activist Network, is one of the initiators of the movement.
"We pledge that we will continue our movement from Teknaf to Tetulia under the leadership of general people until highest punishment is given to Razakars-Al-Badrs who committed crimes against humanity like genocide and rape in 1971," protestors read after Imran.
The mass rally began with the recitation of a poem and rendering of the National Anthem.
"This is another 1971," said Mili Rahman, widow of Birshrestha Matiur Rahman.
"Today we are united in our single demand. We freed the country in 1971 and today you will free it once again from Razakars and Jamaat-Shibir…. None can hold us back," she said.
Noted writer Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal said, "I am here to offer my apology to you. I wrote in newspapers that the new generation only hits 'like' on Facebook and writes on blogs, but does not take to the streets. You have proved me wrong, and I thank you all for this."
"The year 2013 has turned into 1971 and those of you who did not see 1971 are now witnessing '71 in the year of 2013," he added.
"Study when it's time to study, write poems when it's time to write poems, listen to music when it's time to listen to music … and take to the streets when you need to. It is the happiest day of my life. All the martyrs and the country people are thankful to you," he said.
Journalist Kamal Lohani said the entire country heard the roars of the mass people. "The only punishment to the war criminals, not only Quader but to all, is capital punishment. Besides, their politics will also have to be banned."


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