Law enforcers barred several hundred protesters as they reached the Sakura Restaurant in Paribagh, opposite Minto Road, in their bid to march to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to protest writer Mushtaq Ahmed's death and demanding repeal of the Digital Security Act.
A number of eminent citizens joined the rally, till the police stepped in around 2pm. Speakers at the rally said they wanted a proper investigation into the death of Mushtaq in custody, and due punishment for those responsible.
Gonoshasthya Kendra founder and prominent freedom fighter Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury led the rally on a wheelchair, that first gathered at the Press Club around 11:15am on Wednesday. The march towards the PMO started around around 1:20pm.
The protesters marched in front of the High Court and Shahbagh intersection without any barrier amid presence of cops.
“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 (Sujon) Badiul Alam Majumdar, and internationally-acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam, among others, were also present at the rally.
Gono Forum 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 lodge baseless cases under the DSA.”
Nur questioned whether police are an affiliate organization of the ruling party.
Mushtaq, who had been detained in a case under the DSA since last May, fell sick in Kashimpur jail and later died on Thursday. The death triggered much outcry in the country, especially on the social media platforms, as he had been languishing in jail in a case filed under the DSA, seen as a draconian law enacted to curtail freedom of expression in the country, including on social media platforms.