Mar 01

February 28th 2013, a day a nation will mourn

An opposition activist shot to death by police (Source: Facebook page Basherkella)
  A picture speaks volumes. It sums up what happened to turn a day into a nightmare. Thursday the 28th of February 2013 was one of the worst days in living memory of a generation who had not witnessed anything of this magnitude, ever. The day was etched in the memory of many whose lives were scarred unalterably for ever. The Economist took the words right off my mouth when it said, “The immediate effect of the latest verdict from the “International Crimes Tribunal” was the worst single day of political violence in the history of modern Bangladesh.”
On the 27th of February, the International Crimes tribunal announced the following,

Well the ICT has dropped a bomb; verdict of Maulana Delwar Hossain Sayedee on Thursday. #FreeSayedee #savebangladesh #Shahbag
— Hussein M Talukdar (@TalukderShaheb) February 27, 2013

The verdict of Allama Delwar Hossain Sayedee was bound to be a revelation, both for suporters of the Allama on one hand and his opponents who were calling for his death sentence on the other.

What will happen if #Sayedee is declared innocent tomorrow? What will happen if he is given death sentence? Mind boggling thoughts #Shahbag
— Hussein M Talukdar (@TalukderShaheb) February 27, 2013

Understandably, Jamaat-e-Islami called a general strike for the 28th of February in apprehension of an unfair verdict. The protesters at Shahbag, in a typical reaction, added to the stand of the Home Minister in being adamant in preventing that strike on ground. However, as the day churned on, the dramatic events with which it unfolded eclipsed all expectations on both sides.

#Sayedee been taken to the tribunal on 28th Feb 2012, the #Quran in his hand. #savebangladesh twitter.com/TalukderShaheb…
— Hussein M Talukdar (@TalukderShaheb) February 28, 2013

Allama Sayedee was brought to the tribunal early in the morning at around 10 am in the morning. The judges started reading out the verdict at approximately 11:20 am. Although it was about 120 pages long the verdict was read in a concise form to alleviate the suffering of a nation.

#Sayedee verdict 120 pages long. Judges started reading the concise version at about 11:20 am local time. #Bangladesh
— Hussein M Talukdar (@TalukderShaheb) February 28, 2013

But the theatrics had just begun, in the guise of a media blackout,

#Savebangladesh the govrnmnt is shutting down FB and twitter. Already many areas doesn’t have electricity. #Sayedee verdict is going on.
— Salma (@SHashemNY) February 28, 2013

Can’t log into Facebook and twitter from Dhaka. If you are also facing same please DM me #Shahbag
— Rezwan (@rezwan) February 28, 2013

? : Facebook, Twitter blocked to contain ‘negative campaigns’. This is very harsh:goo.gl/ymuxJ #Shahbag #Shahbagh
— Shahbag Square LIVE (@ShahbagInfo) February 28, 2013

Further inflaming to the wounds, came another declaration,

LATEST: North gate of Baitul Mokarram National Mosque will be closed tomorrow, March 1; people asked to use other gates. #Shahbag #Shahbagh
— Shahbag Square LIVE (@ShahbagInfo) February 28, 2013

#IslamicFoundation(!) has announced that it will keep the north gate of #NationalMosque closed on Fridays to hamper protest! #SaveBangladesh
— Angry Bangladesh (@Angry_BD) February 28, 2013

Then came the big bomb. Sayedee was given the death sentence on account of being found guilty by the tribunal on 8 out of 20 counts.

— Basherkella (@basherkella) February 28, 2013

Lord #savebangladesh govt pass death sentence on #sayedee switching off social media and killing protesters nationwide @armalik @ybirt
— Fuad (@Fugstarnagar) February 28, 2013

All hell broke loose. People came out to the streets. Many at Shahbag celebrated the verdict. Others protested the verdict. They protested. Simply protested. That was their fault. Police aided by ruling party activists fired, people fell. They didn’t keep quiet this time. They attacked back, defying bullets and bombs. A genocide occurred. At least 81 lives were lost in this massacre. Almost all civilian deaths have been a result of firing by security forces.

So far as per unconfirmed news received the latest death toll includes: 
·     –> Sirajganj-2 [Mokhtar Hossain(20), Ruhul Amin(18)]   
·     –> Rangpur-8 [Moshiur Rahman(25), Mahmudul Hasan(28), Sadiqul Islam (25), Abdul  Matin, Nurul Huda, Ashikur Rahman, Shahed Ali(43) ]   
·     –>Dinajpur-2 [Faizur Rahman(35)] 
·     –>Thakurgaon-5 [Firoz (23), Robiul Islam Badol (31), Monir (21), Mithun (20), Shumon (26)]   
·     –>Coxbazar-4 [Sazzad (17), Abdur Rashid (35)]
·     –>Chittagong-2 [ Mesbah Uddin (20), Bahar Uddin]
·     –>Shathkhira-14 [Robiul Islam (25), Mosharraf Hossain, Emdad Hossain, Shaheen  (20), Ali Mostafa (20), Saifullah (20), Tuhin (20), Anarul(30), Iqbal, Shahinur(21)]
·     –>Maulvibazar-4 [Lokman Hossain (25), Abdur Rahman (32)]
·     –>Noakhali-7 [Khokon (28), Liton]
·     –>Bogra-1 [Sabed Ali]
·     –>Chapai Nawabgong-2,
·     –>Gaibanda-5
·     –>Rajshahi-4,
·     –>Brahmanbaria-5,
·     –>Noagaon -1,
·     –>Jamalpur -1,
·     –>Laxmipur-4,
·     –>Feni-1
Jamaat-e-Islami has claimed that upto 66 of its activists and supporters have been killed in the clashes. Further reports have emerged of 15 other deaths including 5 police, bringing the total to 81 dead. In Dhaka, 3 people were killed, of whom an old man was killed when an explosion rocked Mirpur 1 and 2 others were killed at Uttara. RTNN reports of at least 3000 injured including women, the young and the elderly. Some heartbreaking pictures of the unrest can be found in the following blog.
Quoting the Economist, in southern Bangladesh, attacks on the homes and temples of Hindus were reported. By the night of February 28th the government had deployed the Bangladesh Border Guards, a paramilitary force, in a bid to maintain law and order around the country. On the morning of March 1st it imposed section 144, a ban on public assembly, in four volatile districts. The enactment of section 144 has increased to 23 areas throughout Bangladesh. 
In an update news agencies have reported the death of at least five more people in Bangladesh in the latest spate of violence on the 1st of March 2013. To protest the ongoing unrest turned genocide, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami has called for a 48 hour general strike starting Sunday the 3rd of March while the main opposition party the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has called for a general strike on Tuesday the 5th of March.