Shahbagh Chottor protestation has drawn national and international gazes since February 5 because of its unprecedented nature and scale. Groundswell of emotions created by the war crimes trial verdict against Abdul Quader Mollah, called the Butcher of Mirpur in 1971, which fell short of public expectation triggered the upsurge at Shahbagh.
At once, the agonies of the victims began to be recalled, re-felt even by the new generations, let alone their forebears. Indeed, the entirety of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated on our compatriots by the local collaborators of the Pak occupation army got recreated, revisited. With that was ignited the present generation of youthful fervour joined in by people of all walks of life. Resultantly, the liberation war ethos were embraced by the generations in whose hands the nation's future lay.
'How deep the will to protest penetrated public consciousness' was demonstrated in a unique fashion on Shahbagh Chottor and beyond. 'The grassroots style protest' may have been likened to Occupy Wall Street (OWS) upsurge and the Arab Spring (AS), but the analogy is confined to the self-enthused massive assembly of the people by virtue of a rallying cry that congealed it all. In the essence, the imageries of OWS and AS perhaps worked at the back of our people's mind, thanks to a catalytic role played by social media practitioners.
It is clear that the people were in a state of ferment and were raring to express their pent up emotions, due to a large number of factors, and in particular, because of political bickering over war crimes trial between the ruling party and the opposition. Shahbagh epitomises frustration of people over slow, interrupted pace of war crimes trial, corruption in government and society, discontent and 'so much more'.
"Now that we finally found a cause to unite, can we afford to let this rare moment slip us by without addressing wider social injustice?" Thus, we echo a writer's very cogent question which should find resonance with people at large. But surely as critics must be listened to where merited, political parties for their part must brace up to the challenge posed by the moral force of the youth as a conscientious objector to evils of the society.
Violence against women has assumed a dreadful proportion nudging the thinking people into in-depth analyses over the phenomenon. It is obvious we need to shift the burden of proof from the victims on to the perpetrators. A social rising to combat violence against women has been espoused in a robust fashion.
One important feature of hope lies with the spirit of Shahbagh Chottor where a large number of women of different ages converged. That way, the cause of gender equality may have gained a momentum.
Finally though, "true rights and equal opportunity for women will come when a society does not consider a female child a burden and wishes that this child were not born."