Thousands of young people, mostly students, demonstrated at the Shahbagh intersection here on Wednesday demanding the death penalty for Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah, who was sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday by a war crimes tribunal.

Under the banner of ‘Bloggers and Online Activist Network’, the protesters hanged war crime suspects, including Mollah, in effigy and vowed to continue the protest until their demand is met. Social networking websites and blogs were abuzz with posts and articles denouncing the judgment.

The protests brought Bangladeshis from all strata of life — including the Liberation War veterans — to Shahbagh, despite the violence-marred strike enforced by Jamaat-e-Islami for the second consecutive day.

Artists, singers, actors, cultural leaders and student activists spoke against the verdict. Calling for death sentence to all war criminals, the protesters took out torch processions in the Shahbagh area and at the Dhaka University campus.

Many argued that life imprisonment was not a punishment at all for the Jamaat leader who committed atrocities against his own people as a supporter of the Pakistani Army in 1971.

Political leaders, including Ministers, expressed solidarity with the protesters. The government on Wednesday decided to appeal the verdict.

It is alleged that Mollah began his killing spree even before the Pakistani army started cracking down on the people of the then East Pakistan through its infamous ‘Operation Searchlight’ on the night of March 25,1971 — marking the beginning of the bloody nine-month war.