The 19th anniversary of the gruesome grenade attack on an anti-terrorism rally of then opposition party Awami League in the capital on August 21 in 2004 will be observed tomorrow paying tributes to martyrs.
On this day in 2004 during the BNP-Jamaat coalition government, this ghastly attack was carried out on a peaceful anti-terrorism rally in front of AL’s Bangabandhu Avenue central office in the capital.
The party leaders and activists formed a human shield to protect the then opposition leader and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina miraculously survived the infernal grenade attack that day. As Sheikh Hasina, the main target of the assassins, 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.
Those others killed in the barbaric 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, Prof 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, social-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 centre office here at 10am. 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 August 21 martyrs. Krishak League will hold discussion and doa mahfil.
On August 23, Mahila Awami League will hold a discussion on the death anniversary of Ivy Rahman, one of the martyrs of August 21 attack and former president of Mohila Awami League.
On August 24, 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 9am.
Jatiya Sramik League will hold a memorial meeting at Tejgaon Industrial area at 3pm marking the death anniversary of Ivy Rahman on that day.