BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Friday hit out at the young generation demonstrating in Shahbagh for execution of war crimes convicts, branding it as ‘provocative’ and ‘illegal.’
The opposition chief also had harsh words for the government for supporting the demands raised from the ‘Prajanma Chattar’, the epicentre of the nearly month-long mass uprising.
“The government is continuously encouraging and supporting a quarter in carrying out illegal and provocative activities. They are spreading hatred and spite every moment, inciting division in the national sphere.”
“The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina standing in Parliament not only supported the demand for hanging every single alleged war criminals made a the protest rally at Shahbagh, rather she urged the tribunal judges to delivering verdict considering the demonstrators’ demand”.
“It is unprecedented in any civilised and democratic state.”
The protesters at Shahbagh are calling for arresting of BNP-leaning daily Amar Desh’s Acting Editor accusing him of inflaming communal violence.
She also leapt to the defence of her former advisor when she was Prime Minister between 2001 and 2006. “They are exerting pressure for unlawful arrest of repressed, courageous editor Mahmudur Rahman.”
Khaleda sees Ganajagaran Mancha as a platform spreading hatred and inciting division.
She was speaking at the press conference called 25 days after Shahbagh protest was touched off by the sentencing of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Molla on Feb 5.
The verdict had sparked off a wave of anger and frustration, and upset by what they said was a lenient sentence of life in prison, which actually means just 14 years. Bloggers, who oraganised the protest, were inflamed by the image of Molla smiling at journalists and flashing a "V'' sign in celebration of his avoiding the death penalty.
Fueled by online posts, the protests grew until hundreds of thousands of people took over the Shahbagh intersection.
The Jamaat, which opposed the birth of Bangladesh in Pakistan, had issued threat of a ‘civil war’ the day prior to the verdict on Molla.
Political analysts viewed the briefing at the Gulshan office important as it was expected to shed light on the chief opposition’s party’s latest stance on the unsettled war crimes issue after the Jamaat number two, Delwar Hossain Sayedee, was convicted to death.
Shahbagh protesters are also asking that Jamaat-e-Islami be banned from politics for the crimes including genocide, rape, looting, arson in 1971.
Khaleda came down hard on the Shahbagh protesters for chanting slogans what she said against was ‘people who have a different opinion’.
Regarding Shahbagh’s call to boycott media outlets tied with Jamaat, Khaleda said, “They are threatening to shut down anti-government newspapers and television channels.”
She blamed the protesters for attacks launched on various banks, insurance companies, educational institutions, hospitals and business establishments tied to Jamaat.
It was demanded from the Prajanma Chattar that financial, and educational institutions linked with Jamaat be boycotted and nationalised.
Khaleda crticised the government ministers for rushing to Shahbagh in support of the movement.
Ganajagaran Mancha has been replicated across the country in a show of solidarity with Shahbagh and millions of people held candle-light vigil and released balloons.
Expatriate Bangladeshis have also joined the demand that all suspected war criminals are convicted and hanged.
The government has pushed through Parliament an amendment to 1973 International Crimes Tribunal Act to make way for trying political parties or organisations alongside individuals accused of war crimes in 1971.