Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Aug 21 culprits must be tried

Vows Hasina on 2004 grenade attack anniversary
Accusing the previous BNP-Jamaat coalition government of being behind the 2004 grenade attack on an Awami League rally, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reiterated that those who conspired, masterminded and executed the attack would be brought to book.
No one can escape punishment the way the killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members did in 1975, she said on Tuesday at a programme at Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka to mark the eighth anniversary of the gruesome grenade attack on August 21, 2004.
Twenty four people were killed, including Ivy Rahman, wife of President Zillur Rahman, and hundreds of party activists and leaders were injured in at least 13 grenade blasts at Bangabandhu Avenue on the day. The Awami League, then in opposition, had organised a rally there. Hasina narrowly escaped the attack but suffered damage in her right ear.
“When I was coming down the stage after delivering my speech, one photojournalist requested me to wait for a moment for a snap, which, I think, saved my life,” Hasina said.
The attack had been intended to undermine independence, democracy, peace and development and to wipe out the political leadership of Bangladesh, the PM said. She added that the criminals had wanted to put in place a culture of killing, conspiracy, extremism and corruption in the country.
Whatever obstacles came in the way, the AL and the government would resist and uproot militancy, terrorism and their patrons from the country, Hasina, president of the ruling Awami League, said. Those who had patronised militants during the past BNP-Jamaat government would be punished.
As many as 52 people have so far been charge sheeted in the grenade attack case, including BNP Senior vice- chairman Tarique Rahman; former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar; Haris Chowdhury, former political secretary to then prime minister Khaleda Zia; Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and former BNP deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu.
Tarique, the elder son of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, is now living in London and 18 other accused in the case are on the run.
The leaders at the 2004 rally had built a human shield to protect her life, Hasina said, adding that in broad daylight grenades had been thrown one after another at the AL rally organised to protest an earlier grenade attack on former British high commissioner Anwar Chowdhury.
Following the grenade explosions, police, to help the attackers flee, had fired tear gas shells and charged batons on the AL men who had been rescuing the injured, Hasina said.
The PM accused the then BNP government of protecting the killers and even helping a number of them to leave the country. They [BNP-Jamaat] also destroyed evidence of the incident in the name of investigation, she noted.
Before addressing the programme, Hasina placed floral wreaths at a makeshift memorial built in remembrance of those killed in the attack.
The PM offered special prayers for the salvation of the departed souls. She also talked to some party workers who were severely wounded in the attack eight years ago and inquired about their health and family.
Many of those injured are still passing a painful life with splinters in their bodies.
Amir Hossain Amu, Syed Ashraful Islam, Rashed Khan Menon, Hasanul Haque Inu and Dilip Barua, among other 14-party leaders, also spoke at Tuesday’s programme.
Earlier at 12:01am on the day, leaders of the pro-AL body Awami Swechhasebak League lit candles at Bangabandhu Avenue in memory of those killed in the grenade attack and offered special prayers.

-With The Daily Star input

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