Dhaka – Ruling Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party have been seemingly in a battle of words after the court verdict in the deadliest rally attack in decades that killed 24 activists in 2004.
The court on Wednesday convicted former ministers and a top leader of the BNP as the investigators found them involved in the grisly attack, which the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina escaped narrowly.
Two BNP ministers were among the convicts awarded with death penalty while the party’s acting chairperson Tarique Rahman, now in exiled in London facing many other graft charges back home, was sentenced to life in prison.
Leaders of the ruling Awami League believe Tarique Rahman deserves the capital punishment as he planned elimination of the entire leadership of the then opposition party through masterminding the attacks, where the assailants used military hardware like arges type grenades.
Referring to the trial court’s verdict two days ago, Awami League’s general secretary Obaidul Quader said that it has been proved once again that the BNP was a terrorist organization.
Quader, also the Roads and Bridges Affairs Minister, BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman was the main plotter of August 21 grenade attacks.
“He should have been sentenced to death,” he said adding that courts in Canada and Bangladesh have proved the party is a terrorist organisation.
Quader was addressing a rally in Nowdoba area of Jajira in central Shariatpur district on Friday.
He added BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, convicted in a graft cases and jailed for five years, too cannot avoid responsibility of the attack. “She should also be brought to justice,” said Quader.
On the other hand, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir dismissed the verdict as politically motivated.
He said the court’s observation in the verdict of August 21 grenade attack case is the exact reflection of the ruling party’s political speech.
He referred to newspapers reports on the court’s observation that the attack was carried out with the help of the then state machineries.
“Like the countrymen, we have got stunned by such news,” Fakhrul told a press conference at the party’s Nayapaltan headquarters Friday.
The BNP was not born in 1975. Besides, no BNP men were found accused in connection with the assassination of the four national leaders inside a prison and no BNP men were implicated with the killing incidents.
“In this context, how does the court come up with such observations pointing finger at BNP for all these gruesome incidents?” the BNP leader said.
If the state mechanisms were engaged in the previous attacks and killings, then the current government must take the responsibility of the killings at the then headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles in Pilkhana. The responsibility of forced disappearance of opposition activists and the other killings lay with the government as well, he said.