Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday accused the BNP-Jamaat-led government of carrying out the August 21 grenade attack on an anti-violence rally of the then opposition Awami League on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital.
“Without the patronisation of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-Jamaat-e-Islami- led government, it was impossible to carry out such an attack,” she said while virtually addressing a discussion in the capital.
That day in 2004, grenades were hurled at the AL rally, killing at least 24 people, including AL women affairs president Ivy Rahman, and wounding scores of others.
Awami League president Sheikh Hasina, also then leader of the Opposition, narrowly escaped the barbaric attack but suffered a serious damage to her right ear.
During investigation, it was revealed that the attack was carried out to wipe out the AL leadership and senior leaders of the BNP-Jamaat extended support to the miscreants.
The premier said the then BNP-Jamaat government assembled the miscreants and militants for carrying out such an attack and gave them a safe passage to flee abroad.
“They (BNP-Jamaat govt) thought that I was killed (in the grenade attack), but when they came to know that I did not die they allowed four criminals to flee the country,” she said. “No one dared to dream that there would be Arges grenade attack on the rally attempting to kill in broad daylight,” she said.
She said Bangabandhu’s killers Dalim and Rashid were among those criminals while the other two were militant Tajul and one jailer.
After the attack, she said police lobbed teargas shells and charged baton on AL leaders and workers instead of rescuing the victims.
Hasina said even BNP-Jamaat-backed doctors refrained from attending the injured AL leaders and activists in Dhaka Medical College Hospital and no patient was allowed to enter Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Medical University.
Referring to some remarks made by Khaleda Zia before the grisly grenade attack and planting of twin bombs — one 76kg and another 84kg — in Kotalipara, the Prime Minister said, “Before every attack, Khaleda Zia used to say Awami League will not be able to go to power in 100 years. And right before the grenade attack, she said even Sheikh Hasina would never be the leader of the opposition,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the then government destroyed the evidence of the gruesome attack while an army officer faced trouble as he wanted to preserve an unexploded grenade used in the attack.
“They tried to erase all the evidence of the attack,” she said.
The AL president mentioned a drama centering Joj Mia, which was proved false, to divert the incident in different way.
“And all know about a staged drama by the government,” she said.
The premier said BNP-Jamaat did not allow them to discuss the matter in Parliament though many of the injured were MPs and she was the leader of the opposition.
“Even, we were barred from bringing a resolution in Parliament to condemn the attack. Rather taking the floor, the then premier and Leader of the House Khaleda Zia ridiculed the issue, saying, “Who will kill her (Sheikh Hasina)?” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Almighty Allah repeatedly saved her from various types of attacks, including the August 15 and August 24 ones, to materialise something that only Allah knows.
Referring to the ongoing pandemic she said that the government always remains beside the people of the country as it strictly follows the ideology of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“Inshallah, we will be able to establish a developed and prosperous Golden Bangladesh that was dreamt by the Father of the Nation,” she said.
AL presidium member Matia Chowdhury, general secretary Obaidul Quader, joint secretary Dr Hassan Mahmud, AL central working committee member Dr Mostafa Jalal Mohiuddin, organising secretary SM Kamal Hossain, Dhaka South Unit of Awami League president Abu Ahmed Mannafi and Dhaka North Unit of Awami League president Sheikh Bazlur Rahman, among others, also addressed the programme.