13th anniversary of August 21 grenade attack being observed

The 13th anniversary of the gruesome August 21 grenade attack on an Awami League rally is being observed in a somber mood on Monday.

Awami League and its associate bodies are observing the day across the country through various programmes including rallies, discussions and special prayers, doa and milad mahfil.

AL will also hold a discussion at Krishibid Institution of Bangladesh (KIB) at Khamarbari in city’s Farmgate area around 3:30 pm.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to address the discussion as the chief guest.

On this day in 2004, miscreants hurled grenades at a rally of then opposition Awami League on Bangabandhu Avenue on August 21, 2004 leaving at least 24 people dead, including AL women wing chief Ivy Rahman, and scores of others injured.

Awami League president and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina narrowly escaped the brutal grenade attack, but she suffered serious damage to her right ear.

People of the country are still haunted by the August 21 grenade attack even after 13 years of the incident.

The perpetrators of the terrible grenade attack are still at large as the cases filed over the incident have been pending with the trial court.

The then BNP-Jamaat government staged ‘Joj Mia drama’ showing him (Joj Mia) prime accused in a case filed over the grenade attack to protect the real culprits.

The ruling AL, its front organisations and different political, socio-cultural and professional organisations have chalked up elaborate programmes to observe the day.

The party will also hold a discussion at Krishibid Institution at 3:30pm in observance of the day.

AL central leaders and intellectuals will take part in the discussion to be chaired by AL president Sheikh Hasina.

The party has cancelled its scheduled programme on Bangabandhu Avenue on security grounds.

AL general secretary Obaidul Quader in a press release called on the party leaders and activists to observe the day in a befitting manner.

The party alleged that the BNP-Jamaat alliance government had carried out the grenade attack to kill Sheikh Hasina to make the party leaderless.

The incident took place on Saturday. Sheikh Hasina attended the party rally as chief guest.

After the rally, an anti-violence procession was supposed to be brought out. Miscreants started hurling grenades soon after she (Sheikh Hasina) finished her speech with the slogan ‘Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu’.

AL leaders and activists and common people got stunned when grenades exploded at the political gathering, killing at least 16 party activists on the spot.

Ivy Rahman, wife of late President Zillur Rahman, succumbed to her injuries after fighting for 58 hours at a hospital.

Party leaders and activists started screaming and made human shield to save Sheikh Hasina’s life.

Her private security man, Mahbubur Rahman, sacrificed his life while to save Sheikh Hasina.

Many AL leaders, including Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Kazi Zafarullah, Abdul Latif Siddique, Obaidul Quader, Sahara Khatun, Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Maj Gen (Rtd) Tareq Ahmed Siddique, AFM Bahauddin Nasim and Pankaj Debnath, escaped death, but still haunted over the gruesome incident as they have been living life with splinter injuries.

A total of 52 accused persons, including BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s elder son Tarique Rahman and then state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar are now facing trial in connection with the August 21 grenade attack case.

Of the charge sheeted accused, 18 are still believed to be hiding abroad amid government efforts to bring them back.

The government filed two cases — one for the murder and the other under the Explosive Substances Act.

Both the cases have been under trial at a makeshift court at a building near the gate of previous Dhaka Central Jail on Nazimuddin Road. Chief prosecutor Syed Rezaur Rahman said they expect the trials would be completed by this year.

“We hope that the trial will be completed this year as the court has already finished recording testimonies of prosecution witnesses in the cases,” he told daily sun.

The state lawyer said the trial court is now recording testimony of defence witnesses and it has already recorded depositions of 12 out of 26 witnesses from the defence till now.

He also the court can start hearing the arguments in both cases after concluding recording testimonies of the 26 defence witnesses, then it will fix date for deliver verdict in the cases.

A total of 225 out of 511 prosecution witnesses gave their depositions before the court of Judge Shahed Nuruddin of the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 in the cases.

Eight of the 52 accused are now on bail while 24 others, including former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar, are behind bars.

BNP Senior Vice-chairman Tarique Rahman and 17 other accused have been absconding.

Two accused—Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Mufti Abdul Hannan were hanged in a war crime and grenade attack cases respectively.

On the eve of the day, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages.

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