“Stop such immature talk and bragging. Otherwise the pro-independence people will respond on the street. The consequences will not be good,” Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said at a demonstration in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee or GhaDaNiC, which aims to eliminate the killers of Bengalis during the 1971 war, organised the demonstration against recent remarks by Islamist leaders on statues, including those of the independence hero.
Hifazat-e Islam and different other radical Islamist groups are opposed to the move to erect a statue of the Father of the Nation in Dhaka’s Dholairpar to mark his birth centenary.
Hifazat's new chief Junaid Babunagari and Joint Secretary General Mamunul Haque, and Islami Andolan Bangladesh’s Nayeb-e-Ameer Sayed Faizul Karim are among the Islamist leaders who have spoken against the statue in separate programmes recently.
Mozammel suspected that the forces that had “put Islam as the opponent of the people during the war” against Pakistan are back in action by objecting to Bangabandhu’s statue.
“The government should take legal action after investigating their (those who oppose statues) activities and anti-constitutional remarks – whether these are whimsical or planned,” he said.
Speakers at the demonstration alleged that the leaders of Hifazat, Khelafat and other Islamist groups were misleading the people by misinterpreting Islam.
“It can’t be that the people will silently watch when some people, who do business with religion, will defame Islam by misinterpreting it in a country with 90 percent of its population Muslim.
“You, a certain group, are not the protectors of religion. The people, who believe in Islam, are the protectors of Islam,” Mozammel said.
The minister also said the Islamist leaders are fortunate enough to have not faced action from the top level of the government after opposing Bangabandhu’s statue during Mujib Barsha, the year-long celebrations of his birth centenary.
“Please don’t show such audacity anymore. Otherwise, you will have to be ready for the consequences,” he said, demanding that the Islamist leaders withdraw their comments on Bangabandhu’s statue.
GhaDaNiC demanded arrest of Babunagari and Mamunul on charges of belittling Bangabandhu and the constitution at the programme in Sunhrwardy Udyan.
As many as 60 social, cultural and professionals’ organisations joined the demonstration.
Dhaka North City Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, workers’ leader and former minister Shahjahan Khan, Swechchhasebak League President Nirmal Ranjan Guha and journalist Abed Khan, among others, spoke at the programme.
Jubo League President Sheikh Fazle Shams Parash also attended the demonstration showing solidarity with the protesters.