Protesters vowed to avenge the killing of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar, one of the key participants of the massive Shahbagh movement, as they continued their demonstration for the 12th consecutive day on Saturday.
Rajib, a young architect and activist of the Shahbagh protest, was stabbed to dead near his house in Dhaka on Friday night allegedly by Jamaat militants. This prompted the protesters to go back to their 24-hour movement instead of seven-hour programme which they had declared hours before the death.
Starting their day’s activities with the national anthem and raising fiery slogans, they expressed rage over the killing of their compatriot . Wearing black badges, thousands of people from all walks of life including students of schools, colleges and universities assembled at the Shahbagh, known as ‘Projonmo Chattar’. They also sang gono shongeet (mass song) in unison at Shahbagh where namaz-e-janaza of Rajib was held in the afternoon.
The unique non-violent movement began on February 5, soon after a war crimes tribunal sentenced Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah to life term in prison for crimes against humanity during the 1971 war. The protest was initiated by Bloggers and Online Activist Network, but it soon turned into a mass movement. It has already spread to many parts of the country.
The Shahbagh protesters have been demanded immediate arrest of the killers and ban pro-Jamaat blog Sonarbangla. The protesters on February 10 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. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina visited the blogger’s residence and consoled his parents.
The impact of the movement has already spread across the country. As the Jamaat and its militant students wing have continued their militancy in many places of the country, the agitated mob vandalised several branches of the Islami bank, one of the many financial institutions the fundamentalist party has developed for the years. In many places the cable operators also stopped transmitting the Jamaat owned Diganta TV channel and burnt copies of their newspaper Naya Diganta.
At least 29 people were injured, one of them bullet-hit, as the activists of Jamaat and Islami Chhatra Shibir clashed with police in north-eastern Sylhet city Saturday. On Friday, at least four Jamaat-Shibir men were killed and 50 others, including a few policemen, during a gun battle between Jamaat-Shibir men and police in Cox's Bazar town.
Jamaat would enforce a countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal on Monday to protest the deaths of the their activists, says a press release.