Shahbag is a major neighbourhood and a police precinct or thana in Dhaka, the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. It is also a major public transport hub. It is a junction between two contrasting sections of the city—Old Dhaka and New Dhaka—which lie, respectively, to its south and north. In the mid-19th century, the Shahbag area was developed as New Dhaka became a provincial centre of the British Raj, ending a century of decline brought on by the passing of Mughal rule.Shahbag is the location of the nation's leading educational and public institutions, including the University of Dhaka, the oldest and largest public university in Bangladesh, Dhaka Medical College, the largest medical college in the country, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), and the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, the largest public university for technological studies in the country. Shahbag hosts many street markets and bazaars. Since Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971, the Shahbag area has become a venue for celebrating major festivals, such as the Bengali New Year and Basanta Utsab (Holi).Shahbag's numerous ponds, palaces and gardens have inspired the work of writers, singers, and poets. With Dhaka University at its centre, the thana has been the origin of major political movements in the nation's 20th century history, including the All India Muslim Education Conference in 1905, which led to the All India Muslim League. In 1947, to both the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan; the Bengali Language Movement in 1952, which led to the recognition of Bengali as an official language of Pakistan; and the Six point movement in 1966, which led to the nation's independence. It was here, on 7 March 1971, that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered a historic speech calling for the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan, and here too, later that year, that the Pakistani Army surrendered in the Liberation War of Bangladesh. The area has since become a staging ground for protests by students and other groups. It was the site of public protests by around 30,000 civilians on 8 February 2013, against a lenient ruling against war criminals.