Sunday, August 18, 2019 | ePaper

Zia family members were undoubtedly involved in Aug 21 attack, says Hasina

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bdnews24.com : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that she has no doubt about the ‘involvement of the Zia family’ in the grenade attack on the Awami League rally on Bangabandhu Avenue 14 years ago that led to the death of 24.

The BNP, the political party that emerged through coup, murder and conspiracy, can never do anything good for the country, the prime minister said.

The BNP-Jamaat alliance had conducted the grenade attack on Aug 21, 2004 to wipe out the Awami League completely, continuing on from the massacre on Aug 15, 1975 that involved the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, she said.

Hasina made the remarks during a meeting at the Awami League’s central office organised to commemorate the 2004 grenade attack after she paid homage to the victims of the attacks at the site of the incident.

Hasina was the chief speaker at the Awami League rally which was organised in protest of terrorism. As she was stepping off the truck, which was used as a dais, assailants hurled several grenades into the rally. Detectives said 13 to 14 grenades were detonated.

Among those killed in the blasts was Bangladesh Mohila Awami League President Ivy Rahman, the wife of senior Awami League leader Zillur Rahman, who was later elected president. The attack left Hasina with hearing problems.

It was later revealed later that the Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, who was the leader of the opposition at the time, was the prime target of the attack.

During the tenure of the BNP-Jamaat coalition government, attempts were made to downplay the incident and put a lid on the case. Three investigation officers who handled the case during that tenure were later charged for hindering the investigation.

Former State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman have been accused in the case after a lengthy investigation. State counsels in the case have recently expressed their hope that the trial will conclude soon.

“The attack in broad daylight was unprecedented. It was clear who was behind the attack in the way they swooped down on us,” she said.

“They had previously said that I would face the same fate my father did on Aug 15; in a separate speech, Khaleda Zia mentioned me and said—Hasina won’t be able to become leader of the opposition, let alone become prime minister, that the Awami League won’t be able to assume power even in 100 years,” the prime minister said.

“And then the attack took place. Anyone could understand that they were trying to kill me and wipe out the Awami League so it could not become a force in politics.”

The then government and police attempted to destroy all signs of the attack, said the prime minister adding that those police officials who had tried to aid the investigation were rebuked by the BNP government.

Hasina recalled that she survived the grenade attack as the truck carrying the stage was parked a little ahead of the designated place in front of the Awami League’s Central Office.

“I think it was a miracle of Allah. Otherwise the grenade would have hit our truck.”

She complained that the Awami League volunteers were prevented from going to the rooftops of nearby buildings before the rally, which is the common rule.

“We never realised there was a conspiracy behind it when the BNP government initially denied us permission to hold it but then gave us the permission at around 11pm on Aug 20,” said Hasina.

She also said she received a tip on Aug 15 about the possibility of such an attack.

The BNP government had staged the ‘Joj Miah drama’ to ‘divert’ the attention of the international community and save the original killers, Hasina said.

“The BNP are masterful performers when it comes to spreading rumours and telling lies. They told everyone, even the kids in schools that I had brought the grenades in my handbag, meaning I went there to commit suicide!”

The prime minister also said the BNP government prevented the victims of Aug 21 attack from getting treatment at different hospitals throughout the city.

The injured leaders of the Awami League were not allowed to speak in parliament and the then ruling party switched off the microphone while they also made fun of the victims, she said.

The prime minister alleged that the BNP government had ‘rewarded’ the attackers of Aug 21 rather than sending them to trial.

“They were heartbroken that I haven’t died. I have faced similar incidents since I returned to Bangladesh. It is none but the great Allah who has saved me every time.”

Bangladesh had turned into a ‘bloodied land’ and a ‘safe abode’ for militants through ‘19 coups’ after the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975, she said. Hasina said the Awami League government has tried to stop it after it came to power.

The prime minister asked Awami League leaders and activists to be vigilant and prevent BNP and Jamaat members from infiltrating the party ahead of the eleventh parliamentary election.

She also conveyed Eid-ul-Azha greetings to the people of Bangladesh.

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