Sunday, 19 September, 2021

Horrific Aug 21 tomorrow

Two cases await HC hearing

  • Md Solamain Salman
  • 20 August, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Horrific Aug 21 tomorrow
Tomorrow is the 17th anniversary of the August 21 grenade attack that left 24 people, including Women's Affairs Secretary of Awami League Ivy Rahman, dead and scores others injured. AL President and then Leader of the Opposition in parliament Sheikh Hasina narrowly escaped the attack. — sun/File Photo

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The nation will observe the 17th anniversary of the horrific August 21 grenade attacks tomorrow to pay tributes to the victims.

The country experienced one of the deadliest and barbaric incidents in its history which stunned the entire nation that day 17 years ago.

Miscreants hurled grenades at a rally of the then opposition Awami League on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital on August 21 in 2004, leaving at least 24 people dead and scores of others injured.

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

The people of the country are still haunted by the August 21 grenade attack even after 17 years of the deadly incident.

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

The AL and its front organisations will place wreaths at a makeshift altar on Bangabandhu Avenue at 9:00am while a discussion meeting will be held with AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

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

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

The incident took place on Saturday. Sheikh Hasina attended the party rally as the 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 personnel Mahbubur Rahman sacrificed his life while trying 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.

The nation will observe the 17th anniversary of the attack but the victims and their families are still waiting for justice as the cases filed over the attack is still pending with the High Court (HC) for hearing on death reference and appeals.

With the verdict pronounced by a Dhaka court on October 10, 2018, the nation was freed from the stigma of committing the most shocking crime in the political history.

In a landmark verdict, the court awarded capital punishment to 19 people, including former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and former deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu, in two cases filed over the attack. The court also awarded life-term imprisonment to 19 people, including BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman, and different prison terms to 11 others.

Later, the lower court on November 27, 2018 sent a 37,385-page case document, including the verdict, to the High Court for examination of the trial court verdict.

The death references on the August 21 grenade attack cases reached the HC on November 27, 2018 for examination of the trial court's verdict.

On January 13, 2019, the High Court accepted the appeals of the convicts in the both cases, but the hearing on the death references and appeals is yet to start in the case.

Supreme Court sources said there was an unusual delay for the offices concerned of the HC and Bangladesh Government Press in preparing the paper books due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the paper books reached the HC on August 16, 2020, clearing the way for the court to start a hearing on the death references and appeals in the cases.

A paper book - which contains all the details of a case is necessary for the HC to hear and dispose of a death reference or an appeal.

If a lower court awards a person to death in a case, its verdict is examined by the HC through hearing arguments for confirmation of the death sentence.

Any verdict and case documents reach the HC as death references from lower courts within seven days of delivering of the judgment.

A total of 22 appeals have been filed by the convicts independently while 12 jail appeals have been filed by convicts through jail authorities in the murder case.

Meanwhile, a total of 17 appeals have been filed by the convicts independently while 12 jail appeals have been filed in the blast case.

As the paper-book is ready for hearing, now the chief justice will send the death references and appeals to an HC bench for their hearing and disposal.

Attorney General AM Amin Uddin told the Daily Sun, “We will move an application before the HC soon to start the hearing on the appeals and death references in the cases.”

“It can’t be said at the moment how much time will be needed for final disposal in the cases at the High Court but we will try our level best to complete the hearing by this year,” said the chief state lawyer.

While delivering the verdict, Judge Shahed Nuruddin stated that in a democratic state, whichever party comes to power, it has to try its best to establish democracy by applying a liberal policy towards the opposition party.

But a ruling party's attempt to reap political benefits by killing opposition leaders cannot be a manifestation of democratic thoughts, it said.

The court observed that the grenade attack was meant to eliminate top Awami League leaders from politics and local militants actively participated in the attacks.