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Rediff.com  » News » Blogger's murder reignites massive protests in Dhaka

Blogger's murder reignites massive protests in Dhaka

February 18, 2013 13:35 IST

Ahmed Rajib Haider, a prominent blogger attached to the Shahbagh protests raging on in Bangladesh, was killed on February 15.

His murder has led to a renewed wave of protests to demand capital punishment for all war criminals involved in crimes against humanity during Bangladesh’s liberation war in 1971.

The protests entered their 12th day on Monday.

Haider, 26, was one among the many protestors who had sought the capital punishment for convicted war criminals like Abdul Quader Mollah, the assistant secretary general of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, who was awarded a life term of 31 years.

Haider’s family members have alleged that he was killed by members of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Shibir activists. Earlier, on January 14, another blogger Asif Mohiuddin had been attacked by a group of unknown assailants.

Most of the war criminals currently on trial are senior leaders from Jamaat-e-Islami.

The protests first began on February 5 at Shahbagh, a few hours after Mollah was awarded his sentence by the International Crimes Tribunal-2 in Dhaka.

Other senior Jamaat leaders being tried by the International Crimes Tribunal include Delwar Hossain Sayedee and Ghulam Azam.  

The verdict had infuriated millions of Bangladeshis, who had expected that Mollah will be sentenced to death.

On January 21, war criminal and former Jamaat leader Abul Kalam Azad was tried in absentia for his crimes and sentenced to death.

Hours after Mollah’s verdict on February 5, a group of bloggers decided to form a human chain near the Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka, one of the busiest junctions in the city.

Over the next few days, people from other parts of the country travelled to Dhaka to take part in the protests. Thousands of people voiced their protest by chanting slogans, burning effigies of war criminals and collecting signatures.

The protest has witnessed its share of success. An amendment to the ICT Act, approved by the cabinet, will provide the government with the right to file an appeal with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against an inadequate sentence or order of acquittal pronounced by the International Crimes Tribunal to any accused.

Abdul Latif Siddiqui, a cabinet minister, has stated that a bill seeking a ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing would be presented in Parliament.

Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has welcomed the youth movement but remarked recently that the “rally is losing neutrality”.

JeI, on the other hand, has already termed the protests “a government plot to create anarchy and force the tribunals to deliver verdicts as per its diktats.”

Jamaat acting secretary general Rafiqul Islam Khan has already warned protestors, “Do not push the country into a civil war by delivering one-sided verdicts against our leaders. If anything happens to Quader Mollah, every house will be on fire”.

Syed Tashfin Chowdhury in Dhaka