The nation with heavy hearts will observe the 13th anniversary of the gruesome August 21 grenade attack Monday with a renewed call for holding trials of perpetrators of the carnage.
Although 13 years have been elapsed after the savage, the trial in the cases relating to the grenade attacks has not yet been disposed of, but the prosecution expressed their hope to complete it by this year, reports BSS.
The gruesome grenade attack was carried out at an anti-terrorism rally of Awami League (AL) at Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital on August 21 in 2004 aiming to bankrupt the party leadership during the BNP-Jamaat alliance government.
With the grace of the almighty, the then opposition leader and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other front ranking leaders of the AL escaped the carnage.
But, 24 people including the then Mahila AL president and wife of late Bangladesh president Zillur Rahman were killed and over 500 others injured in the attack and many of them became crippled for life.
Those other killed in the barbaric grenade attack included opposition leader's personal security guard Lance Corporal (retd) Mahbubur Rashid, Abul Kalam Azad, Rezina Begum, Nasir Uddin Sardar, Atique Sarkar, Abdul Kuddus Patwari, Aminul Islam Moazzem, Belal Hossain, Mamun Mridha, Ratan Shikdar, Liton Munshi, Hasina Mamtaz Reena, Sufia Begum, Rafiqul Islam (Ada Chacha), Mostaque Ahmed Sentu, Md Hanif, Abul Kashem, Zahed Ali, Momen Ali, M Shamsuddin and Ishaque Miah. Prominent among those suffered serious splinter injuries included Sheikh Hasina, Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Suranjit Sengupta, Obaidul Quader, Advocate Sahara Khatun, Mohammad Hanif, Prof Abu Sayeed, and AFM Bahauddin Nasim.
The ruling AL, its front and associate bodies and its left-leaning allies, and other political parties, social-cultural and professional organisations will chalk out elaborate programmes across the country marking the anniversary.
AL will also hold a discussion at Krishibid Institution of Bangladesh (KIB) at Khamarbari in city's Farmgate area around 3.30pm tomorrow. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to address the discussion as the chief guest.
Asked about the latest condition of trial in the cases, public prosecutor advocate Mosharraf Hossain Kazol expressed his hope to complete the trial well before the end of the current year (2017) as they have already completed taking testimonies of 225 prosecution witnesses and 13 defense witnesses.
"We will take testimonies of 10 to 12 more defense witnesses in the cases. After completion of the testimonies, argument on legal points will be kicked off and then the verdict will be delivered. The whole process will end well before the end of this year," he continued.
During the BNP-Jamaat regime, the investigators were trying to divert the probe to a wrong direction to save the real culprits. Media reports brought to public attention the cooked-up story of Joj Mia by the then CID officials to derail the investigation.
The visible attempt to frustrate the case by the then BNP-led regime prompted the subsequent interim government to order a fresh investigation into the case.
During the last caretaker government's tenure, the first two charge sheets in the August 21 cases - one for murder and another under the explosive act - were placed before the court on July 11, 2008 accusing 22 people, including former deputy minister of BNP-Jamaat alliance government Abdus Salam Pintu and 21 HuJI leaders and workers.
Later on July 3 in 2012, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) submitted two separate supplementary charge sheets in the cases against 30 people after completing a fresh investigation into the matter. With the 30 accused, the number of charge accused in the cases rose to 52.
Of the charge sheeted accused in the cases, 19 including BNP senior vice- chairman Tarique Rahman are still at large. Eight others including three former inspectors general of police Ashraful Huda, Shahidul Haque and Khoda Box Chowdhury, the first three investigation officers of the case -- CID special superintendent Ruhul Amin, and two ex-CID ASPs Munshi Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid, and former DCC ward commissioner Ariful Islam, and Begum Khaleda's nephew Saiful Islam Duketoo, are on the bail.
While two key accused in the cases, former minister and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and HuJi supremo Mufti were hanged to death respectively in a case of crime against humanity during the War of Liberation in 1971 and a militant case. The remaining others are now in different jails.
The list of the 19 fugitive accused has been forwarded to the Interpol seeking help to capture them as they are believed to be hiding in different countries.
"We have taken legal and diplomatic measures to bring back 19 fugitive accused as locations of many of them have already been traced," Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told BSS today.
Of the 19 fugitive accused, Tarique Rahman is now staying in London while Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad is believed to live in Saudi Arabia, owner of Hanif Enterprise Mohammad Hanif is in Kolkata while Maj Gen (retd) ATM Amin in America, Lt Col (retd) Saiful Islam Joarder in Canada, Babu alias Ratul Babu in India, Anisul Morsalin and his brother Mohibul Muttakin in an Indian jail and Maulana Tajul Islam in South Africa, intelligence sources said.
Militant leaders Shafikur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hai, Maulana Abu Bakar, Iqbal, Khalilur Rahman, Jahangir Alam alias Badar, Maulana Liton alias Zobair alias Delwar, the then deputy commissioner (east) and deputy commissioner (south) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Md Obaidur Rahman and Khan Syed Hasan respectively are also staying abroad, the sources said, adding that most of them are believed to be in Pakistan.
But there is no trace of another accused Harris Chowdhury. Of the fugitives, Maulana Tajuddin and Babu are brothers of the detained former deputy minister of the BNP government Abdus Salam Pintu, who is also a charge sheeted accused in the August 21 grenade attack case.