19th anniversary of 21 August grenade attack Monday

A collage of the photos taken from the scene

The 19th anniversary of the gruesome grenade attack on an anti-terrorism rally of then opposition party, Bangladesh Awami League, in the capital on 21 August, 2004 will be observed on Monday.

On this day in 2004 during the coalition government of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, this ghastly attack was carried out on a peaceful anti-terrorism rally in front of AL’s central office on Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka.

The party leaders and activists formed a human shield to protect the then opposition leader and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Sheikh Hasina miraculously survived the infernal grenade attack that day. As Sheikh Hasina, the main target of the attack, survived, 12 rounds of bullets were shot at her car while she was hurriedly being taken away to safer place from the scene.

However, the bullets could not penetrate the bulletproof vehicle carrying Bangabandhu's daughter. Immediately after the attack, Sheikh Hasina was cordoned off in a car and taken to her then residence Sudha Sadan in Dhanmondi.

But, 24 people including the then women affairs secretary of Awami League and wife of late President Zillur Rahman were killed and over 500 others injured in the attack and many of them became crippled for life.

Among the others killed in the grenade attack included the then 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 who suffered serious splinter injuries included Sheikh Hasina, Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Suranjit Sengupta, Obaidul Quader, Advocate Sahara Khatun, Mohammad Hanif, Professor Abu Sayeed and AFM Bahauddin Nasim.

Fear and terror engulfed the entire capital after the grenade attack. Condemnation and grief of this massacre spread across the country and abroad as well.

After the attack, when the Awami League leaders and activists were busy trying to save themselves and others, the police charged the protest march fiercely with batons and tear shells. At the same time, all traces of the carnage were destroyed.

The BNP-Jamaat coalition government even staged the 'Joj Mia' drama to cover up the incident with state sponsorship and direct support.
Marking the anniversary, the ruling AL and its associate bodies, different social and cultural and professional organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes.

Tributes will be paid to the grenade attack martyrs by placing wreaths at the altar built in memory of the martyrs in front of the party's Bangabandhu Avenue central office at 10:00 am. AL will organise a discussion at its central office later.

Awami Swechchhasebak League will pay homage and hold a torch-light vigil at 5.21 pm recalling the memories of 21 August martyrs. Krishak League will hold discussion and doa mahfil.

On 23 August, Mahila Awami League will hold a discussion on the death anniversary of Ivy Rahman, one of the martyrs of the 21 August attack and former president of Mohila Awami League.

On 24 August, Awami League, its Dhaka city south and north units and associate bodies will pay tributes to Ivy Rahman by placing wreaths at her grave in Banani graveyard at 9:00 am.

Jatiya Sramik League will hold a memorial meeting at Tejgaon Industrial area in the capital at 3:00 pm marking the death anniversary of Ivy Rahman on that day.