Dhaka – Bangladesh has been remembering the victims of the deadliest grenade attacks on an anti-terrorism rally that killed 24 people and injured many others 13 years ago.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was the leader of the opposition at that time, narrowly escaped the attack carried out by her political opponents in connivance with the Islamist militants on the afternoon of August 21, 2004.
The attackers, who targeted the rally and senior leaders of Awami League, carried out the assault when Hasina was addressing the crowd of several thousand people in front of the party office.
The Awami League called for brining the perpetrators of the attack to justice as the party organized a discussion at Krishibid Institute in Dhaka on Monday.
Thirteen years have gone by after the deadly attacks. But the perpetrators are yet to face the punishment as the cases related to the attack are yet to dispose of.
Those killed in the attack included Mahila Awami League president Ivy Rahman, 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.
Sheikh Hasina, Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Suranjit Sengupta, Obaidul Quader, Sahara Khatun, Mohammad Hanif, Prof Abu Sayeed, and AFM Bahauddin Nasim among others survived with injures.
The AL, its front and associate bodies and its allies chalked out programmes across Bangladesh to mark the day. Leaders of the party paid tribute to those who died in the attack at Bangabandhu Avenue.
According to a report by the state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha, the verdict in the cases related to the attack is likely to be pronounced this year.
Testimonies of 225 prosecution witnesses and 13 defence witnessed have been completed, said Mosharraf Hossain Kazol, a public prosecutor.
“After completion of the testimonies of 10 to 12 more people, argument on legal points will begin and then the verdict will be delivered,” he said.
The Investigation of the deadly attack was derailed apparently to hide the real culprits during the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance government until 2006.
But, reinvestigation began after media reports that the culprits were being concealed through a false investigation. The army-led interim government that was installed in early 2007 ordered the reinvestigation.
The investigators traced the perpetrators after reinvestigation and they pressed charges against the accused in the court. Nineteen among them including BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman are still at large.
Eight others including three former inspectors general of police Ashraful Huda, Shahidul Haque and Khoda Box Chowdhury, the first three investigation officers of the case — CID special superintendent Ruhul Amin, and two ex-CID ASPs Munshi Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid, and former DCC ward commissioner Ariful Islam, and Khaleda Zia’s nephew Saiful Islam Duketoo, are on bail.
While two key accused in the cases, former minister and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and HuJi supremo Abdul Hannan were hanged for war crimes and carrying out attack on a former British envoy in Bangladesh.
The others are now in different jails.
The list of the 19 fugitive accused has been forwarded to the Interpol seeking help to capture them as they are believed to be hiding in different countries, according to the news agency.
Of the 19 fugitive accused, Tarique Rahman is now staying in London, Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad is believed to be in Saudi Arabia, owner of Hanif Enterprise Mohammad Hanif is in Kolkata, Maj Gen (retd) ATM Amin in America, Lt Col (retd) Saiful Islam Joarder in Canada, Babu alias Ratul Babu is in India, Anisul Morsalin and his brother Mohibul Muttakin in an Indian jail and Maulana Tajul Islam in South Africa, intelligence sources said.
Militant leaders Shafikur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hai, Maulana Abu Bakar, Iqbal, Khalilur Rahman, Jahangir Alam alias Badar, Maulana Liton alias Zobair alias Delwar, the then deputy commissioner (east) and deputy commissioner (south) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Md Obaidur Rahman and Khan Syed Hasan respectively are also staying abroad, the sources said.
They are believed to be in Pakistan.
There is no trace of Harris Chowdhury, former special assistant to Khaleda Zia.
Tajuddin and Babu are brothers of the detained former deputy minister of the BNP government Abdus Salam Pintu, who is also a charge sheeted accused in the grenade attack case.