Today is the day of the brutal, horrific, blood-soaked horror of the August 21 grenade attack. August 21 is the terrible day of one of the most brutal massacres in the history of Bangladesh politics. Today is the 19th anniversary of the infernal terrorist attack.
During the BNP-Jamaat coalition government, on this day in 2004, with the direct support of the state apparatus, the militant group attacked the Awami League’s anti-terrorist peace rally on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital. A monstrous terror of violence through grenade attacks infects humanity. The then opposition leader and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was infected.
The top local leaders of Awami League narrowly escaped this attack, but 24 leaders and activists were killed, including Ivy Rahman, the wife of former president late Zillur Rahman and the then women’s affairs secretary of Awami League.
More than five hundred activists were injured by the splinters of the grenade. Journalists of print and electronic media were injured. Many of the injured Awami League leaders, activists and supporters are still living a miserable life with splinter injuries.
To make the Awami League leaderless, the murderous gang carried out the attack to kill the first-line leaders of the party, including Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of the organization’s president, Bangabandhu.
Not only the grenade attack, six rounds of gunfire were also fired at Sheikh Hasina’s car that day with the intention of killing her. Awami League President Sheikh Hasina narrowly escaped with her life but was injured, her hearing was damaged.
That day was Saturday. Awami League president and then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina was the chief guest at the rally. The rally started around 4 pm. After the rally, there was a program of mourning marches in memory of those killed in the bombings across the country. By 4:30 PM, Bangabandhu Avenue area became a sea of people. Sheikh Hasina reached the venue around 5 pm.
Alighting from a bulletproof Mercedes-Benz jeep, surrounded by security personnel, he mounted a makeshift stage built on a truck in front of the party’s central office and began his speech. In his speech, the Awami League president issued a stern warning against the continued bombings across the country. At the end of the 20-minute speech, Bangabandhu’s daughter, Sheikh Hasina, chanting ‘Jai Bangla, Jai Bangabandhu’, folded a piece of paper in her hand and proceeded to get off the platform truck. Immediately, a grenade was hurled at the platform from the south.
It was 5:22 on the clock. The grenade fell on the road next to the stage and exploded with a loud bang. Then 12 more grenades exploded one by one. In no time the entire area was engulfed in smoke. People start running away in panic. Begum Ivy Rahman, who was sitting on the road under the stage, collapsed under the impact of the grenade.
Sheikh Hasina was the main target of the assassins. Realizing the significance of the situation, the leaders including Dhaka Mayor Mohammad Hanif present on the stage and Sheikh Hasina’s personal bodyguard immediately created a human shield and protected Sheikh Hasina from the grenades. However, three grenades thrown remained unexploded. Mayor Hanif was supposed to undergo surgery due to bleeding in the brain, but he could not be operated due to splinters of grenades in his body. He later died while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Bangkok.
On Bangabandhu Avenue, various parts including hands and feet of people were scattered around Bangabandhu Avenue due to the impact of grenade splinters. Bloody frozen bodies can be seen scattered around the conference truck. Dead bodies and blood floated down the sloping path of Bangabandhu Avenue. The shoes and sandals of the dead and wounded are scattered.
In no time the entire area was engulfed in smoke. The sky-splitting screams of hundreds of people. The scene is indescribably tragic with the screams of the dead who are desperately trying to survive. 16 people were killed on the spot in the bloody attack on August 21. Later, the total number of victims stood at 24. After the grenade attack, every hospital in the capital had no place to hold the injured.
Meanwhile, after the grenade attack, fear, apprehension and terror engulfed the entire capital. The excitement and grief of this massacre spread across the country and abroad. After the attack, when the Awami League leaders and activists were busy trying to save themselves and others, the police charged the protest march fiercely with batons and tear shells. At the same time, all evidence of the incident was destroyed.
Those killed in this barbaric attack include Ivy Rahman, Prime Minister’s personal security guard Lance Corporal (retd) Mahbubur Rashid, Abul Kalam Azad, Regina Begum, Nasir Uddin Sardar, Atiq Sarkar, Abdul Quddus Patwari, Aminul Islam Moazzem, Belal Hossain, Mamun Mridha, Ratan Shikder, Liton Munshi, Hasina Mumtaz Reena, Sufia Begum, Rafiqul Islam (Ginger uncle), Mushtaq Ahmed Sentu, Mohammad Hanif, Abul Kashem, Zaheed Ali, Momen Ali, M Shamsuddin, Isaac Mia and others.
Former President Zillur Rahman, late Abdur Razzak, Amir Hossain Amu, Suranjit Sengupta, Obaidul Quader, Advocate Sahara Khatun, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Salim, Abdul Latif Siddiqui, Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Kazi Zafar Ullah, AFM Bahauddin Nashim, SM Kamal Hossain, Pankaj Debnath, Saeed Khokon, Nazrul Islam Babu, Nasima Ferdowsi, Shahida Tarek Dipti, Umm Razia Kajal, Asma Jerin Jhumu, Rasheda Akter Ruma, Abul Hossain. Molla, Mamun Mallik, Kazi Moazzem Hossain, Hamida Khanam Moni and more than five hundred Awami League leaders and activists.
On October 10, 2018, the judicial court ruled on October 10, 2018 by ordering the death sentence of 19 people including the former minister of state for home affairs BNP leader Lutfuzzaman Babar and the life imprisonment of 19 people including the acting chairperson of BNP Tarek Rahman in the August 21 grenade attack case.
Blood-stained and brutal, August 21 reigns with barbaric might
During the BNP-Jamaat coalition government, access to justice in this case was obstructed, there were various conspiracies to divert the case and destroy evidence to protect the masterminds of the conspiracy. Even during the BNP-Jamaat coalition government, the drama ‘Judge Mia’ was staged to divert the grenade attack case to a different sector. Over time, two cases are ongoing regarding this incident.
One is a murder case and the other is an Explosives Act case. After 14 long years in 2018, the Hon’ble Court delivered the verdict in the grenade attack case on August 21. In the judgment of these two cases, out of a total of 49 accused, the learned court sentenced 19 to death, 19 to life and the remaining 11 to various terms of imprisonment. The government’s efforts are continuing to bring back the fugitive accused including the ‘mastermind’ of the August 21 grenade attack, Tarek Rahman, and implement the court verdict.
Program:In memory of those killed in the grenade attack on August 21, wreaths will be placed at the Shaheed Bedi built in front of the Awami League central office at Bangabandhu Avenue on Monday at 11:30 am.
Also, a discussion meeting will be held at 11:30 a.m. in memory of the victims of the infernal grenade attack on August 21. Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will preside over it and will deliver an important speech.
General Secretary of Awami League and Minister of Road Transport and Bridges Obaidul Quader called upon the leaders, workers, supporters and well-wishers of Awami League and its allied and fraternal organizations at all levels to observe the Grenade Attack Day on August 21 with due dignity.