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Rage at Shahbag square, protests across Bangladesh

world Updated: Mar 04, 2013 00:59 IST
Jayanth Jacob

Syed Zakir Ahmed, a part-time television actor and an MBA student twiddles with two mobile handsets. In between, he watches a make-shift stage being put up for the protest in the Shahbag square. But he is convinced that the protest he and thousands of others are spearheading will change his country "forever."

The violence already claiming more than 70 lives and the Jamaat are also protesting to assert their influence across the country.

New Delhi is worried about an emerging Indian "sub-text" as well. India is not a topic of political consensus in Dhaka, the way China is in Pakistan.At a time when India-Bangladesh ties are looking up, the series of protest can pose some problems for India.

"Already 3.5 million people have signed our petition to hand over severest punishments to those who found guilty by the war tribunal," says Dewan Toky, Ahmed's friend. Both of them have not staying at their house for three weeks now and are afraid of their photographs being taken.

They know their opponents as formidable as their demands are, which also includes banning Jamaat-e-Islami. "Islam doesn't need a political party to spread its lofty message. One shouldn't mix politics with religion," Ahmed says.

Bonded by social networking, hundreds of thousands of people - most of them not even born when Bangladesh came into being in 1971 - have been agitating for weeks, seeking execution of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and purging politics of religion.

There have been voices that portray India in a negative role. The charges: the protesters are getting support from India and they are one with ruling Awami League.

The opposition Bangladesh National Party and Jamaat are close allies and they charge the ruling party to be too close to comfort with India.