Students, teachers, socio-cultural and political organisations and people from all walks of life yesterday expressed outrage over the International Crimes Tribunal-2's verdict of life sentence against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah instead of capital punishment.
The tribunal passed the sentence on Tuesday for the crimes Quader Mollah committed against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.
People's expectation was not reflected in the verdict, rather it created anger. It seems too low a punishment for grave crimes, they said through different programmes around the country throughout the day.
In a statement, Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee said the sacrifices of millions of freedom fighters were “insulted”, deprived of justice and made a “farce”.
“Since the tribunal's inception, we have been demanding to strengthen the tribunal, prosecution and investigation team and to appoint more skilled and competent manpower to it,” said the statement, signed by the committee's General Secretary Kazi Mukul.
Gonotantrik Bam Morcha leaders, in another statement, said the verdict created doubts in people's minds that whether the government was trying to reach any “political compromise” regarding the trial.
Expressing frustration over the verdict, Transparency International Bangladesh, in a statement, demanded for it to be reconsidered and for filing of an appeal against it following due legal procedure.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, in another statement, said if the “identified” women torturers and rapists of 1971 were not given due punishment, it would increase the present trend of women repression and rape.
The verdict does not reflect people's expectation, Dhaka city Awami League (AL) General Secretary Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya told a protest rally Sammilito Awami Samarthok Gosthi organised in the capital.
Bangladesh Krishak League; Jatiya Gonotantrik League; Imarat Nirman Samik Union, Bangladesh; Gonotantrik Biplobi Party; Freedom Fighters Journalist Command; and Bangladesh Trade Union Centre also protested the verdict.
Our Chittagong correspondent reports: Thousands of Chittagong city residents spontaneously thronged Chittagong Press Club area at Jamal Khan and staged a mock execution of Quader Mollah while artistes performed songs over the demand.
BSS reports: AL and Bangladesh Chhatra League organised a rally at Lalkhan Bazar area and set fire to effigies of war criminals.
Chittagong Medical College (CMC) students arranged a sit-in programme at Probortak intersection while CMC Students' Union and CMC unit BCL expressed solidarity with the agitation.
Jahangirnagar University (JU) teachers and students and JU unit Bangladesh Chhatra League formed two separate human chains on Dhaka-Aricha Highway.
They also brought out processions and a rally at JU Central Shaheed Minar, reports our JU correspondent.
Our Sust correspondent reports: Some 3,000 students and teachers of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (Sust) brought out a procession and staged a rally on their Sylhet campus.
Addressing the rally, Dr Muhammed Zafar Iqbal said, “We appreciate the verdict as it undoubtedly proved Kasai (butcher) Quader's offence but are frustrated and angry as well, alongside every Bangalee, for this heinous killer getting only life imprisonment.”
Holding a one-hour token fast programme at “Sector's Commander Forum Chattar”, they marched to Central Shaheed Minar in Sylhet city to join thousands of social and cultural activists.
These activists, with placards, festoons and banners, vowed to continue their movement till the demand was met, reports our Sylhet correspondent.
Sylhet city and district unit AL, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Jatiyatabadi Samajtantrik Dal, Sylhet Press Club, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon and Sust Teachers Association expressed solidarity with the demand.
Our RU correspondent reports: Some 600 teachers of “Progressive Teachers Society” and RU Teachers Association, in separate statements, also expressed disappointment over the verdict.
Our Rajshahi correspondent reports: Hundreds of people, including Language Movement veteran Abul Hossain, joined a human chain and a rally organised by Sammilito Sangskritik Jote at Shaheb Bazar in Rajshahi city.
They also hanged effigies of war criminals, paraded the city streets and held a rally at Alupotty intersection, where they were to stay till midnight. The Awami League-led 14-party leaders also held a procession and rally at Shaheb Bazar.
Shilpi Somaj of Rangpur organised a sit-in at Rangpur Central Shaheed Minar premises and performed songs of the masses, reports our Rangpur correspondent.