Imbued with the spirit of the 1971 Liberation War, school, college and university students came in their thousands to join the rally at Shahbagh yesterday to demand capital punishment to all war criminals.
The protest was initiated under the banner of Bloggers and Online Activists Network on February 5 after a war crimes tribunal awarded Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah life term instead of death penalty. Since then people are pouring into Shahbagh, expressing solidarity.
Yesterday, many students along with teachers and parents joined the rally after their classes while some others did not attend classes to join the demonstration.
They joined the call for boycotting Retina and Focus coaching centres and other educational institutions that have links with the Jamaat-e-Islami whose several top leaders are now facing trial for committing crimes against humanity in 1971.
Enamul Haque Nayon, a class eight student of Siddheswari Girls High School in the capital's Mouchak, came to the spot in school uniform only to chant slogans along with others, demanding capital punishment for war criminals.
Aged only four, Rafi Ahmed, a student of Jasim Uddin Institute at Khilkhet, was with his family members. He seemed very energetic, having "Hang War Criminals" painted on the face.
"It is the responsibility of the parents to instil the spirit of our nationalism in their children and make them aware of the glorifying sacrifices of the martyrs [in 1971]," said Rafi's mother Nilufa.
Students, teachers and employees of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital marched in procession from the institution to Shahbagh.
The fact that Quader Mollah and his associates are alive is an insult to the sacrifices made by the 30 million martyrs, said Nishit, a fourth year student of the college.
"We won't leave the street until all war criminals are handed down death sentences. We have committed to our martyrs."
Rokibul Islam, who was leading a group of people in chanting slogans, said the movement was a wake up call for the nation to boycott the Jammat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.
He said his father was a freedom fighter. "We are planning to bring out a procession of teachers, students and officials of schools on February 15."
Rokibul said like him thousands of youths vowed to stay on the streets as long as their demands were not met.