Justice delayed but not denied

22 January, 2020 12:00 AM printer

After a long 32 years wait, justice has finally been delivered for an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 1988 when she was in the opposition. Sheikh Hasina luckily survived the gruesome shooting spree on her motorcade in Chattogram but 24 people belonging to the Awami League were killed. After a lengthy trial, a Chattogram court on Monday handed down death sentences to five ex-policemen, which was effectively a case of justice delayed, but not denied. We welcome the verdict.

Security of Sheikh Hasina, the Awami League President and current prime minister, has always been a major concern for the nation as the eyes of the assassins have been trained on her since she returned to Bangladesh from exile on May 17 in 1981, six years after her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of her family members were killed by a group of disgruntled army officers on August 15 in 1975. Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana survived the massacre of their family as they were abroad during that time. Since she returned home, risking her life and joined politics, as many as 19 attempts have been made to assassinate her, some of which she survived narrowly, as if by divine intervention.

The attempts on her life included shots being fired at her home, a 76-kg bomb planted near her rally site, grenade attack at her rally, a bid to poison her and even an attempted downing of an aircraft that was carrying her. On August 21, 2004 she survived so far the most dangerous attempt on her life, when a volley of grenades was thrown into her rally leaving 24 members of her party dead instantly. The then Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government diverted the course of investigation into the attack and made a mockery of justice by filing a law-suit against a vagabond named Joj Mia.

Sheikh Hasina’s political rivals always envied her popularity and tried to annihilate her by hook or by crook. More recently, she has drawn the wrath of religious fundamentalist groups by initiating the trial of war criminals of 1971. Speaking about the attempts on her life, Sheikh Hasina on various occasions said that she did not care about conspiracies. “Only Allah can give and take life. I never bowed to anybody except Allah and never will,” she said.

But we must not leave the matter of her security to chances or fate. All these heinous and sophisticated plots to assassinate Sheikh Hasina amply prove the enormity of security challenge she is facing. Therefore, the security measures for her must be elaborate and fool-proof. We pray for her long life, safety and good health.