Remember the February 5, 2013. Remember the electrifying environment the following days following the verdict of Abdul Kader Mollah. It was a mass uprising after Mollah was awarded life-term imprisonment by the International Crimes Tribunal when a capital punishment was expected by the mass people for crimes against humanity committed by the Jamaat leader during the war of liberation in 1971.
Now see the reaction after Delawar Hossain Sayedee was spared from the walk to gallows and awarded imprisonment until his death by the Appellate Division of Supreme Court, the apex court of the country.
Against the backdrop of thousands of people from all walks of life__ men, women and children__ thronging to the Shahbagh last year, this time only few activists are there. Still there is a division among them, apparently one group blindly supporting the present government and another visibly the mainstream opposing the “suspicious” role of the government but their millions of thanks for the government for holding the trial due for years since the independence.
One reason for a low turnout in “Projonmo Chattar” this time might have been that there is no chance of any change in the final judgment by the highest court when last year there had been a strong ray of hope of amending the law, making a place for prosecution to appeal and getting justice in the case of Kader Mollah of whom grave is now covered with grasses.
What happened in the case of Kader Mollah is unlikely in regards to Sayedee who got a new name “the machine-man” for a leaked telephone tape claimed to be of conservation by Sayedee and an unknown female, recorded before his arrest on June 29, 2010.
But, is the “unlikely factor” only reason that people this time kept them away from history-making Shahbagh? Perhaps, this is one cause; but there are more other important features.
The first and foremost factor is the question of trust. Yes, Dr. Imran H Sarkar had called for a Facebook event on February 5, 2013 to translate the online protest into roads. But, people who made it a `gonojagoron’ by joining the gathering in their ones, twos and groups, knew nothing about Imran or others. Still, they had welcomed Imran as leader of Shahbagh and his name was on top of “hall of fame” for next few weeks or months.
The emergence of a personality leader instead of collective leadership following an example setting spontaneous uprising invited its enemies from inside the establishment. They could play with it well, bring divisions, make the leadership questionable and finally mistrust among people about the `gonojagoron’ as a whole.
And now we could see the result on the Sayedee’s judgment day.
Although Awami League is the only party that had pledged to hold the trial of the war criminals and it is the only party that arranged the trial defying all limitations, risks and threats; it wanted to see that `gonojagoron’ sees its apparent ending for two reasons 1. If the trial experiences a setback for whatever reasons__ be it judicial or any other arrangement__ people will not come down to streets again like a mass upsurge that can put the existence of the government into question; and 2. That Shahbagh does not become a trend setter or bright example for a new movement against the incumbency.
The question is whether the Shahbagh was really a threat for the government. In plain eyes, it is not.
But, there is always a prospect of such an uprising when the opposition party in Parliament is nothing but subservient to the government, BNP along with Jamaat is none but an extremist force and without Jamaat not a force at all, some left leaning parties are either part of the government and their key leaders are performing Hajj or some others remain only in signboards.
If not exactly the Shahbagh, possibility of a Shahbagh-like uprising had always been there. A government far sighted enough for its own sake could read it well within couple of days the `gonojagoron’ took place and from their part they could handle it properly making the Shahbagh almost a zero from a giant force.
Shahbagh is now with participation of only a few hundred people__ still in divisions. But, it is still unclear that who gained from the collapse__ the government that had owned the spirit of Shahbagh or spirit of Shahbagh that had big thanks for the government for holding the trial of the war criminals.