PM Hasina calls for speeding up the verdict on 21 August grenade attack

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday stressed the need for expediting the implementation of the trial court's verdict of the August 21 grenade attack case, reports UNB.

"Our leaders and activists including Ivy Rahman were brutally killed in broad daylight on this 21 August. The trial has been held. Its (trial court) judgment has been handed out. This  verdict should be implemented soon," she said.

The premier was addressing a discussion arranged by Bangladesh Awami League (AL) in the city's Bangabandhu Avenue, marking the 19th anniversary of the August 21 grenade attack.

The 21 August grenade attack was carried out on an anti-terrorism rally organised by then opposition AL in 2004 in front of its central office in the Bangabandhu Avenue.

The horrendous attack left 24 people killed and nearly 1000 injured. AL President and also then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina luckily escaped death, but her hearing was impaired by the repeated grenade blasts. Among the dead was Awami League's women affairs secretary and late president Zillur Rahman's wife Ivy Rahman.

A Dhaka court had already convicted and sentenced 49 people - 19 of them to death and 19 to life imprisonment. Eleven others were sentenced to jail on different terms.

Eighteen convicted people, including BNP leader Tarique Rahman, have remained fugitives.

Appeals against the judgment are now being heard in the high court.

Hasina, while presiding over today's discussion, said some convicted people of the grenade attack case are now in jail but the main mastermind stays outside the country.

Not mentioning the name of Tarique Rahman, she said he went abroad signing a bond. "Why doesn't he come back if he has courage? We've transformed the country into Digital Bangladesh. He is now talking big taking its advantages.... He should come back if he has courage. The people of Bangladesh will not spare that killer," she said.

Recalling the memories of the grisly grenade attack, the premier said Khaleda Zia was the then prime minister and the question is what role she did she play at that time.

She questioned why Khaleda obstructed police (to play the proper role) and didn't take any initiative to protect evidence of the attack.
"What does it prove? There is no doubt that Khaleda, Tarique and their men were completely involved in this grenade attack. It was also revealed in the investigation," said the AL president.

Referring to the involvement of Ziaur Rahman in the 15 August carnage and Khaleda Zia in the 21 August grenade attacks, the PM said BNP and Khaleda do the politics of killings and annihilating or destroying a family (Bangabandhu's family. They do it in broad daylight, she said.
Pointing at the BNP, Hasina said they tried to erase the name of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from the people of Bangladesh and banned his historic 7th March speech, but finally failed.
She said the spirit of the Liberation War has come back now and the people have got back the scope of knowing the authentic history of the Liberation War.

Terming Zia's family a killer family, the PM said, "The reign of killers won't run anymore in this country. Zia's family means a family of killers."
She asked the people of the country to remain alert so that the killers couldn't exploit the people, kill the people through arson violence, and play ducks and drakes with the fate of the people anymore.
Hasina said since Allah saved her from the murder attempts time and again, she would provide an improved life for the people by serving them as long as she survives.

She said today Bangladesh has turned around and has earned dignity on the world stage. "We'll move forward upholding this dignity. Today our promise is that we'll have to take Bangladesh forward accordingly," she said.

The premier said the killers, wrongdoers, thieves, arms haulers, money launderers and bribe takers should not be allowed to play games with the fate of the people anymore.

"I want every person of this country to show hatred towards the killers," she said.

One-minute silence was observed in memory of the victims of the 15 August, 1975 carnage, The 3 November, 1975 jail-killing and the 21 August, 2004 grenade attacks before offering prayers for the salvation of the departed souls.

The PM placed a wreath at the monument there to pay tributes to the victims of the 21 August grenade attack.

Flanked by senior AL leaders, Sheikh Hasina then placed another wreath at the monument on behalf of her party.

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader delivered the opening speech.

On this day in 2004, a grisly attack was carried out on an anti-terrorism rally of Awami League on Bangabandhu Avenue when the BNP-Jamaat alliance was in power. The then opposition leader and current PM Sheikh Hasina was the main target.