Eighteen of the total convicts in the August 21 grenade attack cases are on the run while the remaining 31 are behind bars, the trial court said in its verdict on Wednesday.
The court issued warrants for arrest of the fugitives in the two cases filed over the grisly attack.Nineteen persons, including two junior ministers of then BNP government Lutfozzaman Babar and Abdus Salam Pintu, were sentenced to death in the cases.
BNP leaders Tarique Rahman and Haris Chowdhury were awarded life in prison for their role in carrying out the attack on an Awami League rally in the capital in 2004.
Those who are escaping arrest are BNP acting chief Tarique Rahman, ex-PM Khaleda Zia’s adviser Haris Chowdhury, former BNP lawmaker Qazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, Maulana Md Tajuddin, Harkatul Jihad leader Mohibul Muttakin, Anisul Mursalin, Mohammad Khalil, Jahangir Alam Badar, Mohammad Iqbal, Maulana Liton, Hanif Paribahan’s owner Mohammad Hanif, Mufti Abdul Hai, Ratul Ahmed Babu, Lt Col (retd) Saiful Islam Joarder, former DGFI director Major General (retd) ATM Amin Ahmad, former DC (South) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Sayeed Hassan Khan, former deputy commissioner of DMP (east) Obaidur Rahman Khan and militant leader Mufti Shafiqur Rahman.
Tarique has been living in London since his release on parole during the military-backed caretaker government in 2008.
Sources said Haris Chowdhury is also staying in London with Tarique.
Mawlana Tajuddin fled the country after the grenade attack and is living in South Africa, law enforcement agencies said.Sources at the law enforcement agencies said Hanif and Babu are staying in India while Lt Col (retd) Saiful in Canada.
Besides, Mufti Shafiqur, Mufti Abdul Hai, Iqbal, Khalil, Badar, Maulana Liton, Obaidur Rahman Khan and Sayeed Hassan Khan are staying in Pakistan and Kaikobad in the UAE.
Former DGFI Director Major General (retd) ATM Amin Ahmad went to the US in 2009 after Awami League came to power. According to law enforcement agencies, he is still living there.
According to detectives, Harkatul Jihad leader Mohibul Muttakin and Anisul Mursalin are being held in Tihar jail in India.
31 convicts in jail
Former State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar and former Deputy Minister for Education Abdus Salam Pintu, Former Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) director Maj Gen (retd) Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury, former director general of National Security Intelligence (NSI) Brigadier General (retd) Md Abdur Rahim, Lieutenant Commander (retd) Saiful Islam Duke, former inspector general of police (IGP) Md Ashraful Huda, former IGP Shahudul Haque, former IGP Khoda Bokhsh Chowdhury, former special police super of CID Ruhul Amin, former senior ASP of CID Munshi Atiqur Rahman, ASP Abdur Rashid and BNP ward commissioner Ariful Islam Arif are behind the bar.
Other accused who are also in jail include Shahadat Ullah, Mawlana Sheikh Abdus Salam, Abdul Mazed Bhat, Abdul Malek, Mawlana Abdur Rouf, Mawlana Sabbir Ahmed, Mawlana Shawkat Osman, Mawlana Abu Sayeed, Mohibullah, Abul Kalam Azad, Md Jahangir Alam, Hafez Mawlana Abu Taher, Hossain Ahammed Tamim, Moin Uddin Sheikh, Arif Hasan, Rafikul Islam, Md Uzzal, Hafez Mawlana Yahia and Abu Bakkar.
Of the charge-sheeted accused, Jamaat secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, and militant leaders Mufti Abdul Hannan and Sharif Shahedul Alam alias Bipul—were dropped from the cases as they had been executed after convictions in other cases.
On August 21, 2004, the grisly grenade attack was carried out on an anti-terrorism rally arranged by Awami League at Bangabandhu Avenue during the BNP-Jamaat alliance’s rule, aiming to kill then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina.
At least 24 leaders and activists, including AL’s women affairs secretary and late President Zillur Rahman’s wife Ivy Rahman, were killed and 300 others injured in the grenade attack.
Although Sheikh Hasina, fortunately, escaped the attack unhurt, her hearing was affected badly. At least 13 grenades were thrown from the rooftops of a nearby building soon after Sheikh Hasina had finished her speech at the rally.
Two cases—one under the Explosive Substances Act and another for murder—were filed in connection with the grenade attack.