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Shahbag Ripples

March 4, 2013

Before February the 5th 2013, Shahbag was just known to Bengalis. But after February the 5th, world is getting familiar with Shahbag and the movement going on here. It was started by a group of bloggers and online activists, gravely disheartened by Quader Mollah verdict, who have no political affiliation. Later, people from all walks of life thronged into the movement and made it one of country’s longest running movements that people of this country have ever seen.

As the movement grew older, political parties and their student wings believe in the spirits of liberation war joined the cause and raised their voices with Shahbag activists. But till to date, the organizers have not allowed any politicians to make any political speech, using their platform. Their stance is very clear: anyone, who has no ties with Jamaat-Shibir, can express solidarity with us, but we will not allow him/her to make any political speech.

Before Grand Rally.

Before Grand Rally.

What is going on in Shabag is not a cloak-and-dagger stuff, but a peaceful non-violent movement. Yet there are myopic right-wing politicians and party pet ambassador’s nose-hair-close so-called journalist-cum-intellectuals who could barely notice it.

Watching the movement unfold is an amazing experience. For decades, Bangladesh has not seen such a riveting movement. The fiery slogans chanted by activists electrify the crowd and have echoed in every corner of Shahbag square. Shahbag slogans are so strong that even the parliament took into account Shahbag demands and recently amended the ICT Act to reflect people’s will.

At first, it looked like they could hardly resolve 42-year-old problem. Their tireless struggle can only be compared with the fight between David and Goliath. But, at Shahbag, it is more than the epic battle. David’s pebble thrown at war criminals hit the bull’s eye: it unveiled the ugly communal politics of BNP-Jamat.

The epic battle between David and Goliath. Image Credit: Wikipedia

The epic battle between David and Goliath.
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Time and again BNP failed to read the youth’s mind and chose wrong course of action. Dubbing a non-violent movement a fascist one seriously questions its political prudence.

Razib Haider has become the first martyr of Shahbag mass protest. He was a blogger and one of the organizers of the movement. Jamaat-Shibir operated blog site and bloggers singled him out and called jamaat-shibir cadres to kill him for his anti-jamat shibir posts. He was brutally attacked with kitchen tools in front of his residence at Palashnagar, Mirpur, Dhaka. Post-mortem report says his face is mutilated. There are reports that Jamaat-shibir published a hit list of 16 people involved with the protest. Photo Credit: bdnews24.com

Razib Haider has become the first martyr of Shahbag mass protest. He was a blogger and one of the organizers of the movement. Jamaat-Shibir operated blog site and bloggers singled him out and called jamaat-shibir cadres to kill him for his anti-jamat shibir posts. He was brutally attacked with kitchen tools in front of his residence at Palashnagar, Mirpur, Dhaka. Post-mortem report says his face is mutilated. There are reports that Jamaat-shibir published a hit list of 16 people involved with the protest.
Photo Credit: bdnews24.com

One of its mouthpieces, Daily Amar Desh and its thug editor Mahmudur Rahman started a smear campaign against Shahbag movement. Their deliberate attempts to instigate communal violence endangered communal harmony and put Shabag organizers life in danger. In fact, Rajib Haider, one of the organizers was brutally murdered by Jamaat-Shibir cadres and Hizb-ut Tahrir activists. Even after Rajib’s murder, they did not abstain from disinformation campaign. They maligned Rajib’s image by publishing fake blog posts of Rajib.

Amar Desh and Mahmudur Rahman have become the epitome of reckless journalism and will remain a hatred name to Bengalis.

In the face of this disinformation campaign, the organizers kept their cool and played their cards well. They meticulously thwarted every evil attempts of BNP-Jamaat. They shared their stage with religious preachers, making sure everyone is on board to attain the common goal. They also begin their programs with widely practiced rituals that allow preachers to recite verses from major Holy Books. This is indeed matured politics from the activists who are not career politicians.

A floral graffiti on Shahbag-Katabon road.It symbolizes how steadfast the protesters are in their determination.

A floral graffiti on Shahbag-Katabon road.It symbolizes how steadfast the protesters are in their determination.

No matter how hard BNP-Jamaat alliance plays against Shahbag, it will not succeed. It is a fight between non-violence and violence. And history says in that fight non-violence is the winner. Mahatma successfully used it against British colonial rule. Martin Luthar King used it against white racism. Now it is Shahbag’s turn.

It was anticipated that Jamaat-Shibir would cause mayhem if ICT verdict did not go to their favor. But what was not anticipated that they would target the minority community and would unleash the communal violence. After this mayhem, Bangladeshi politics has reached to a point where a definitive decision has to be taken on Jamaat-shibir politics. An attack on national flag is an attack on Bangladesh. An attack on Police and UNO office is an attack on Bangladesh’s sovereignty. If we let Jamaat-Shibir go away after wrecking such havoc, there will be a paradigm shift in Bangladeshi politics.Militant politics will be encouraged. Democracy will soon degenerate into fascism. To adapt to the new political environment, all political parties will train armed militants and Bangladesh will become a wild wild east!

Once again at this critical juncture BNP chief stood by Jamaat-shibir. BNP chief’s recent move will revive the debate that she receives money from ISI and will jeopardize BNP’s political future in next election. As a last resort, she can seek God’s help. Even that prospect is very grim. Because God is kind to political handicaps, but God is not kind to imbeciles who continuously and willfully misread political situation and choose wrong path.

Ripples Shahbag movement created have far deeper impacts than one can imagine. It already challenged the conventional practices of Bangladeshi politics, it sent a shockwave to right-wing communal politics and, most importantly, it united ordinary Bengalis for a common cause.

Mother remains the spirit.

Mother remains the spirit.

Shahbag movement took up the unfinished task of late Jahanara Imam. But the beauty of this movement is that it is ultimately heading for putting a full stop on communal politics. The irony is that the demise of subcontinent’s communal politics will start at Shahbag where it was born back in 1906.

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