The protesters marched by High Court to Shahbagh intersection without any barrier in the presence of police
Several hundred protesters have been barred by police in front of Sakura Restaurant in Dhaka’s Paribagh area as they were marching towards the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
Police barred the protesters around 2pm on Wednesday.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, who was leading the march, tried to negotiate with the law enforcement agencies to allow a 20-member delegation to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“If the law is not repealed by March 26, we will besiege the PMO. No request, no obstacle can stop us on that day,” Dr Zafarullah said.
Zonayed Saki, chief coordinator of Gonosomhoti Andolon, also demanded that the Digital Security Act (DSA) be abolished by Independence Day (March 26).
“Otherwise, we will wage tougher movements which you [the government] won’t be able to tackle,” he added.
The protests ended after a small rally around 2:15pm, since police did not allow the rally to proceed. However, Zafrullah Chowdhury thanked the police for not physically attacking the protesters.
Eminent citizens of the country held a rally demanding the repeal of the Digital Security Act, under which writer Mushtaq Ahmed was arrested and later died in jail after nine months.
Speakers at the rally said they wanted a proper investigation over the death of Mushtaq in jail custody and the highest punishment of those responsible.
They also demanded justice for all murders and the repeal of the Digital Security Act.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury led the rally, starting from Jatiya Press Club around 11:15am on Wednesday, and later followed by the procession around 1:20pm.
The protesters marched by the High Court to the Shahbagh intersection without any barrier despite the presence of the police.
“You cannot suppress us. We do not want any chaos here. Let us go,” Dr Zafrullah told the law enforcers, quoting Bangabandhu, after being barred.
"We are fighting for justice. If you force us into chaos, the next generation will be destroyed," he added.
Convener of Nagorik Oikya Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Secretary of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik Badiul Alam Majumdar; internationally acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam and anthropologist Rahnuma Ahmed, among others, were also present at the rally.
Gonoforum President Dr Kamal Hossain and Dhaka University Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury expressed their solidarity with them but were not present at the rally.
Meanwhile, former Ducsu vice-president Nurul Haque Nur said: “Police lodged most of the cases under the DSA which do not have any basis.”
He also questioned the role of the police, asking whether they were any affiliate organization of the ruling party.
Sajjadur Rahman, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Ramna division said: “We didn’t stop them anywhere. We have set up barricades here as it is an important place. We insisted they leave and they accepted that and left after delivering a speech.”
Meanwhile, the High Court has granted six months’ bail to cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore in a case filed under the Digital Security Act (DSA).
Kishore had been in jail since May last year following his arrest along with Mushtaq on charges of propagating disinformation against the government on social media in a case initiated by the Rapid Action Battalion.
On February 23, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police filed a petition seeking a three-day remand for Mushtaq and Kishore, just two days before the former’s death in jail.