Bangladesh Udichi Shilpi Ghoshti protested at the arrest of baul singer Shariat Sarkar, who was accused of hurting the religious sentiment of Muslims, and demanded his immediate release during a rally at Shahbagh in Dhaka on Wednesday afternoon.
Shariat Sarkar was arrested on January 11 at Mirzapur in Tangail after a local imam had filed a case against him under Digital Security Act claiming that a stage performance of Shariat Sarkar had hurt his religious sentiment.
The programme featured discussion, rendering of baul songs and others.
Bangladesh Udichi Shilpi Ghoshti general secretary Jamshed Anwar Tapan gave the welcome speech at the event, while its president Shafiuddin Ahmed presided over the rally.
Advocate Jibananda Jayanta, Dhaka University sociology department associate professor Samina Lutfa Nitra, Charan Sanskritik Kendra coordinator Nikhil Das, Samaj Anushilan Kendra coordinator Raghu Ovijit Roy, journalist Probir Sikder, and cultural activist Sangeeta Imam, among others, spoke at the programme.
‘The government is trying to narrow the freedom of expression through the Digital Security Act. A baul cannot be arrested over such an issue. He was sent to police custody to be questioned for three days and sent back to judicial court. We demand his immediate unconditional release otherwise we will hold nationwide protest programmes under the banner of Udichi Shilpi Ghoshti on January 17,’ said Jamshed Anwar Tapan.
‘Digital Security Act aims to stop the freedom of expression of the conscious people of our country. The arrest of Shariat Sarker is an example of how the law snatches away the human rights of the people. Some powerful society tries to stop the freedom of speech through the act. I urge the authorities to give him unconditional release,’ said Samina Lutfa Nitra.
‘The programme was hosted to protest against the tyranny against bauls across the country. Shariat is one of them. The state creates the law to thwart the free thinkers of society. Maximum cases filed under the Digital Security Act were either for demeaning prime minister or humiliating religions. I urge the people to raise their voice for the release of Shariat bayati,’ said Jibananda Jayanta.
‘We want to change society. We need a freethinking society and establish our right through movements. I thank all of them for being a participant of the programme,’ said Shafiuddin Ahmed.
Tajuddin Baul commenced the programme rendering a baul song ‘E minoti kori go tomay doyal.’
Following which, Abinash Baul rendered songs like ‘Akashta kapchhilo ken’ and ‘Janite chai doyal tomar asal namta ki.’
Suraiya Akter Urmi sang ‘Manush buhjle shonar manush hobi’, Bashir Ahmed rendered ‘Jatai namuk hangar kumir’, Debashish Sharma rendered ‘Eman manab shamaj kabe srijan habe’ and others.
The programme ended with an instrumental recital.
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