Presenting a unified resistance against communal forces is critical and people must remain vigilant to defend Bangladesh's sovereignty from such elements, said leaders of the 14-Party Alliance.
Communal forces are not loyal to any party or individual, but are enemies of the nation and its people, the leaders said on Sunday at an online discussion organised by the 14-Party Alliance to mark Martyred Intellectuals Day, set to be observed on December 14.
Presiding over the event, coordinator and spokesperson of the 14-Party Alliance and Awami League Advisory Council Member Amir Hossain Amu said, "The people of Bangladesh are religious, but not blinded by religion.
"The people of this country should remain alert against those opposing the country's freedom, sovereignty, the spirit of the Liberation War and the constitution. Ever since we achieved freedom, such elements have repeatedly attacked our art, literature, and culture. But they have never been able to hold their heads up high, and they will not be able to do so now."
Amu continued, "They are utilising various tactics to confuse the people. But it is already clear to the nation that they are using the religion for their own gains. For those of us who are firm believers of the spirit of the Liberation War, we will unite to resist such extremism."
The veteran leader added, "Punishment has to be handed down not only to those who vandalised Bangabandhu's sculpture, but also to those who instigate and patronise such individuals in a bid to destabilise Bangladesh by repeatedly attacking the spirit of the Liberation War as part of Pakistan's agenda."
Addressing the event, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) President Hasanul Haq Inu said, "We are marking Martyred Intellectuals Day during the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This is a historical event for us."
Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said, "Our per capita income has increased, and poverty has decreased. The goal of our independence was to develop Bangladesh as a country with self-dignity, and it is now a matter of great pride and joy for us.
"But just when we are getting ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our independence and are on the verge of achieving Bangabandhu's dreams, forces have started their nefarious attempts to foment a new crisis in the country. It falls on our shoulders to stop those who are engaged in such ill efforts."
He continued, "Even after 50 years of our liberation, anti-liberation forces still threaten us. This is a matter of great shame. These elements refuse to acknowledge our national anthem, flag, constitution, and sovereignty. They want to destroy the spirit of the liberation war.
"If we fail to thwart the venom of communalism in Bangladesh, we will have to reconsider what kind of country we are leaving behind for our future generations."
Dilip Barua, General Secretary of Bangladesh's Sammobadi Dal, said, "Even after 50 years, communal forces still have their sights set on Bangladesh. They are organised, and they can be found in every strata of the society.
"They will attack progressives at every opportunity. They want to halt our efforts to create a golden Bangladesh. We – the 14-Party Alliance – are united in our efforts to resist these communal forces."
Bangladesh's Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon said, "This quarter seeks to create a new crisis in Bangladesh to wipe out all our achievements of the last 50 years. They want to confuse people, which is why they are highlighting the debate regarding sculptures.
"We still have to investigate the murders of the intellectuals. As an activist of democratic movement, I want to point out that when strategy gets prioritised over policy, the latter gets defeated."
One of the organisers of the liberation war and former minister Tofail Ahmed said, "The names of those martyred on December 14 are written in golden letters in the annals of history. This nation will remember them.
"Follow the ideology and path shown by the martyred intellectuals. We will keep moving forward on firm steps to build the Bangladesh of our dreams."
Bangladesh Awami League's Cultural Affairs Secretary Ashim Kumar Ukil moderated the discussion.