Bangladesh celebrates Victory Day, violence continues

BangladeshVolunteers form the flag of Bangladesh as the nation celebrates Victory Day in Dhaka Monday. reuters

An uneasy calm prevailed in the Bangladesh capital Monday as the country celebrated the 43rd Victory day of Bangladesh - the day when the Pakistan Army surrendered to the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini fighters in 1971.

Newspapers were awash with Raghu Rai's pictures of the 1971 war and TV programmes carpet-bombed images and interviews of war veterans, including glorious references to General J F R Jacob.

Throughout last week, vehicles have been burnt, people have been killed on the streets of Bangladesh as Jamaat-e-Islami and its youth wing has been protesting the hanging of their fundamentalist leader Abdul Quader Mollah, widely known as the "Butcher of Mirpur". Since last week, about 30 people have been reported to be killed.

While Dhaka's roads witnessed the usual traffic jam Monday and people could be seen walking or travelling by buses, life seemed normal in the city on a national holiday. Outside the city, there have been reports of five people being killed on Monday.

The Victory Day witnessed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of Opposition Khaled Zia - both at odds over the holding of national elections - paying their tributes separately to the liberation war martyrs.

To commemorate the day, about 27,117 youths attempted a world record by creating the largest "human flag" in red and green, with help from mobile telecom operator Robi and the Bangladesh Army, at the National Parade Ground in Dhaka's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.

But beneath the veneer of celebrations, the volatile situation was reflected in a piece by the English language daily, Daily Star, whose editor Mahfuz Anam wrote on the "public sufferings caused by the current wave of destructive politics".

"Bangladesh has witnessed many tumultuous political events, but never anything remotely similar in terms of violence directed at the common people as it is seeing now. Hurling petrol bombs into a running bus full of passengers; throwing gun powder at people sleeping inside covered vans and setting them alight; overturning CNGs and then dousing the drivers with petrol and setting them on fire; stabbing, assaulting with iron rods or knives, cannot but constitute deliberate attempts to kill in the name of political agitation. This our people had never seen before."

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