BNP government sponsored August 21 attack, Khaleda knew everything: PM


Prime Minister and Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina on Saturday reiterated that the August 21, 2004 grenade attack was carried out under the patronage of BNP government and then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia knew everything about the attack well before.

“None could even imagine such attempt was made to kill (me and front ranking leaders of the AL) by charging RJS grenades in broad-day light,” she told a virtual discussion marking the 17th anniversary of the gruesome August 21 grenade attack on a peace rally of the AL against terrorism.

Mentioning that it was impossible to conduct such heinous attacks without state patronage, the Prime Minister said aftermath incidents of the then BNP government such as destroying all evidences, including unexploded grenades, helping killers flee the scene and even the country, and staging Joj Miah drama, have cleared the state sponsorship

Referring to Khaleda Zia’s remarks that she (Sheikh Hasina) would never be the prime minister or even the leader of the opposition in future few days before the attack, she said Khaleda Zia knew everything well before the attack.

In this connection, the Premier said Khaleda Zia also made such remarks before planting bombs at Kotalipara that the AL will not be able to go to power in 100 years.

She questioned how Khaleda Zia made such a forecast, saying, “If you follow her comments, these plots will come out”.

Bangladesh Awami League (AL) arranged the virtual discussion at its central office at Bangabandhu Avenue here this morning on the anniversary of the gruesome attack on AL’s anti-terrorism rally in the capital on August 21, 2004.

The Prime Minister joined the discussion through a videoconference from her official Ganabhaban residence.

AL General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, MP, delivered the introductory speech at the discussion.

AL Presidium Member, former minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, MP, Joint General Secretary and Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud, MP, Central Working Committee Member Dr Mostofa Jalal Mohiuddin, Organising Secretary SM Kamal Hossain, Dhaka North and South City AL Presidents Sheikh Bazlur Rahman and Abu Ahmed Mannafi respectively, among others, spoke on the occasion.

Publicity and Publication Secretary of the AL Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap, MP, moderated the discussion.

At the outset of the meeting, a minute’s silence was observed as a mark of profound respect to the memory of the martyrs of the August 21 grenade attack and the martyrs of the August 15 carnage.

Twenty two people including the then Women Affairs Secretary of AL and wife of late President Zillur Rahman were killed and over 1000 others injured and many of them became crippled for life in the attack.

By the grace of the Almighty Allah, the then opposition leader and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other front ranking AL leaders narrowly escaped the carnage.

The Prime Minister said Khaleda Zia had sent abroad four persons, including one of the perpetrators of August 21 grenade attack Maulana Tajuddin, one jail guard involved in the attack and killers of Bangabandhu Col Rashid and Dalim by Singapore Airlines at around 11:30pm on that day (August 21, 2021).

She said it was learnt that Col Rashid and Dalim came to Dhaka at that time and were under supervision of Khaleda Zia and her elder son Tarique Rahman.

The premier said intelligence agencies including DGFI, NSI and police were involved in the heinous attack.

She added that the perpetrators had decided to leave the country when they were sure that she did not die.

The premier said after assuming office in 2001, the BNP-Jamaat alliance government established a reign of terror across the country and killed thousands of leaders and activists of the Awami League.

She said Awami League arranged the rally in front of the party office on August 21, 2004 for peace and in protest against terrorist activities of the militants across the country, including an attack on the then British high commissioner at the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) in Sylhet.

Recalling the terrible scene of the grenade attack, Sheikh Hasina, who was the leader of the opposition in parliament at the time, said the party leaders and activists including Mohammad Hanif saved her life by creating a human shield.

Holding the BNP government responsible for destroying the evidence of the grenade attack, Sheikh Hasina questioned, “If the BNP was not involved in the carnage, why did they damage the evidence?”

After the grenade attack, a government organization has washed the entire area by pouring water to erase all evidences, the premier said.

The BNP government sacked an army officer who wanted to keep an unexploded grenade as an evidence … it means that they did not want to keep a single evidence of the attack,” she said.

The prime minister said after the attack on that day, police lobbed tear gas canisters and resorted to lathi (baton) charge on AL leaders and workers instead of rescuing the dead and the injured persons to give a scope to the attackers to flee without trouble.

She questioned why 10 cadres of Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury (hanged to death on charges of crimes against humanity during the Liberation War of 1971) were killed in crossfire after the grenade attack.

After the incident, the BNP government formed a judicial probe committee headed by a justice which later unearthed that an intelligence agency of a neighbouring country committed the heinous attack, she said, questioning how it was possible and what they (BNP government and their intelligence agencies) were doing at that time.

“Such a barbaric attack could not be staged without the patronage of the then BNP government. The BNP government had made arrangements for the training of the terrorists and created scopes for them to flee abroad,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the BNP government thought that she was killed in the attack. “But I survived the attack and when the BNP government heard that “see” didn’t die, they created scopes for four killers to run away,” she said.

Pointing out that many opposition lawmakers were injured in the attack, the prime minister said they were not allowed to utter a single word or discuss the matter in parliament.

The most painful thing was that no pro-BNP physicians were present in the hospitals particularly the Dhaka Medical College Hospital to treat the injured people

“Even we were barred from bringing a resolution in the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) to condemn the attack. Rather taking the floor, the then prime minister and Leader of the House Khaleda Zia ridiculed the issue, saying, “Who will kill her (Sheikh Hasina)?,” she said.

The prime minister said numerous leaders and parliament members of her party were groaning at the hospitals at the time. “But we had no right to discuss the issue in parliament and none was given mike in the House to speak on the matter … had they not been involved in the attack, they could not obstruct in this way,” she said.

The AL president prayed for eternal peace of the souls of those embraced martyrdom in the August 21 grenade attack.

The prime minister thanked all the leaders and activists of her party and its associate bodies for standing beside the people and providing assistance to them in the present coronavirus situation, responding to her call.

Describing COVID-19 situation as a global problem, the prime minister reiterated her call to all to comply with the health codes to protect themselves from the transmission of the deadly disease.

Sheikh Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman liberated the country and his dream was to bring smiles on the faces of the distressed people.

Mentioning that attempts on her life were made several times, the prime minister said the almighty Allah certainly has given some tasks to her by protecting her from the terrible August 21 grenade attack.

“I may continue the works until those are completed, and the Almighty will give that scope to me and we’ll build Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Bangabandhu,” she said. -BSS