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Women's rally in B'desh defies threats
Publication Date : 09-03-2013
Even after two cocktail bombs exploded near Gonojagoron Mancha in Dhaka's Shahbagh during a procession to mark International Women's Day yesterday afternoon, the protesters firmly announced that nothing could stop their fight against war criminals and the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party and its student wing, the Islami Chhatra Shibir.
Jalal Uddin, deputy assistant director of Rapid Action Battalion-3, was injured in the blasts and rushed to the emergency hospital. He suffered wounds in the face and hands.
The bombs went off around 4:55 pm near Dhaka's National Museum, across from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU). A women's rally was ongoing only around 100 yards away.
“Six of our officers were showing the people the entrance,” Abdul Kuddus, a Rab-3 official who had been guarding the venue alongside Jalal Uddin, told The Daily Star. “We heard a loud bang. Before we could understand anything, another explosion followed and we saw blood rolling down Jalal sir’s face.”
Detectives picked up four suspects at the BSMMU. Visiting the spot, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Benazir Ahmed said it was definitely an act of sabotage.
Neither police nor Rab could ascertain who and from where the cocktails were thrown. Some suggested it was from the fourth floor of BSMMU.
Crowds at the rally, meanwhile, grew larger after the blasts.
“Those who were against non-communal and democratic Bangladesh will continue their attempts to attack us,” said rights activist Sultana Kamal. “But we will resist them as in 1971.”
Expressing her gratitude to the “sisters and children of new generation” for their participation in this movement, she also paid tribute to the women who took part in the Liberation War.
Quite before the start of the rally, women in large numbers flocked to Shahbagh to honour the women who were tortured and repressed during the 1971 Liberation War.
Women who included housewives, students, workers and media personalities, swarmed the venue marching in processions with banners, festoons and national flags.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury and Everest conqueror Wasfia Nazreen, among others, were present and expressed solidarity with the protesters.
Speakers called for immediate action to build a society without gender discrimination.
Ferdousy Priyabhashini, a victim of the 1971 war crimes, said, “This generation has made us braver. We are more hopeful than ever.”
Several thousand protesters took an oath to continue their movement, which began on February 5, until their six-point demand is met. The demands include capital punishment for war criminals and a ban on Jamaat-Shibir.
Imran H Sarker, a key organiser of the Shahbagh movement, administered the oath.
He said justice would be done for the violence against women in 1971 only when war criminals would get due punishment.
Imran, announcing a series of programmes across the country, urged all to join the mass gathering at Uttara on March 10, Chittagong University on March 13 and Ashulia on March 15.
The organisers also called upon all educational institutions to hold solidarity rally at 11:00 am on March 16 to protest the recent Jamaat-Shibir attacks on minority communities.