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Bangladesh pays homage to 1971 war victims

Dhaka, Dec.14 (ANI): Bangladesh on Saturday paid homage to victims, including the deceased intellectuals who were killed by the Pakistani forces and their collaborators during the 1971 liberation war.

People held the Bangladesh national flag and black flags, and gathered at the memorial to pay tribute to the victims.

Leader of Opposition Begum Khaleda Zia laid wreath at the memorial, keeping alive the decade-old animosity.

The President of the National Garment Workers Federation in Bangladesh, Amirul Haque Amin, said that all war criminals should face speedy trials and should be hanged.

“On December 14, 1971, many people were killed by the Razakars (paramilitary force organized by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan) and the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, Islami Chhatra Shibir. We have come here to pay homage to the victims. People of the country are very happy with the execution of the Islamist leader, Abdul Quadar Mollah. We demand that rest of the war criminals and the members of Jamaat-e-Islami who are accused of killing should undergo trial and should be hanged,” he said.

Bangladesh became part of Pakistan at the end of British colonial rule in 1947. The country, then known as East Pakistan, won independence with India’s help in December 1971 following a nine-month war against the rest of Pakistan.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, set up the war crimes tribunal in 2010 to investigate abuses during the 1971 war.

Islamist opposition leader, Abdul Quader Mollah, accused of war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan, was executed on December 12.

The decision to hang Mollah, a senior figure in the Jamaat-e-Islami party that is a key part of the opposition coalition, drew widespread condemnation from political allies and international human rights groups.

But many citizens celebrated the first ever execution of a Bangladesh war criminal, which took place late on Thursday at the Dhaka Central Jail in the capital.

Mollah’s execution has worsened tensions that were already running high, threatening to cripple Bangladesh’s economy, notably its USD 22-billion garment industry.

There has been almost daily unrest in the impoverished nation of 160 million people since last month’s announcement of parliamentary elections on January 5.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ruling Awami League are determined to go ahead with the vote, but the opposition, led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) head Begum Khaleda Zia, says it will not participate unless an interim government is installed and Hasina steps down.

Senior leaders from the Awami League and BNP-led opposition were expected to meet later on Friday for a third round of talks to break the political deadlock. (ANI)