Bangladesh after Shahbag is newly united.
Saad Adnan Khan
Photo: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
Amader shongram cholbei cholbei
Jonotar shongram cholbe
- Muktir gaan
So far, our strategies have been our songs, poems, slogans, our three minutes of silence, our joy, reclaiming of our past shame and candles. The strategies of the Jamaat-E-Islami activists and shibir have been threat of civil war, vandalising of public property and calling of hartals. Needless to say, Shahbag, our beloved Projonmo Chottor has given us the chance to redeem ourselves.
Coming out on the streets to protest takes courage, because it involves a lot of drama—and we live in an era where we hate drama. And as I write this, the biggest drama in Bangladesh right now has spilled in its 15th day. When Mahatma Gandhi scooped up salt and put it in his mouth to non-violently protest against British colonialism, he must have looked quite ridiculous. When Rosa Parks chose to resist the racial segregation on the bus she was riding, she must have looked quite ridiculous. When women stripped naked and protested in Manipur, India to voice out against the rape and custodial killing of a young Meitei woman, Thangjam Manorama, the protesters must have looked quite ridiculous. At times we end up overlooking the potent and ridiculousness of the gestures of these rebels that are symbolic of way bigger and important things. More often than not, we wonder what the 'solid' achievements of these movements are. Even though racism, sexism, discrimination do not disappear in thin air, there is no denying that these movements do have 'solid' achievements.
The 'solid' achievements of Shahbag so far— changes to the ICT Act 1973, amendment of law that will allow government to appeal against the life sentence of Qader Molla and the blatant defiance (by the civil society) of hartals called by Jamaat. Now, let us look at the two other achievements that do not have 'obvious' solid forms, but are big achievements regardless.
One, we, the youth and the commoners of the country have looked into the eyes of power and have unnerved them. The audacity of Qader Molla showing a 'V' sign provoked us into fury. We could not be indifferent anymore. This is why, Shahbag is a powerful gesture, because this movement concerns some fundamental ideas of democracy and voicing out.
Two, we have entered a Post-Shahbag era. The Shahbag protest will never be over, because we will take bits and pieces of it in our homes, and will wear them on our shoulders like capes. There will be a new way of writing, thinking, and singing, there will be new kind of literatures, songs, movies, which will shape our reality, as much as it is the other way around. Shahbag will exorcise us. We will stop someone from doing wrong, because we will be reminded of Shahbag. We will refrain ourselves from doing wrong, because Shahbag has given us integrity. We do not have to limit ourselves to buying t-shits with image and quotations of our favourite rebels of other countries anymore, because we ourselves have been part of a revolution that questioned power, bigotry, violence, inhumanity and injustice.
A revolution is finally taking place.