Barbaric Grenade Attack of 21st August is an article by Dr.Md. Fazlur Rahman and it is the author’s own opinion and point of view. This has nothing to do with the editorial policy or the opinion of the editorial body of Eurobangla Times.
Dr. Md. Fazlur Rahman : (61) It is very relevant to mention here that, after the pronouncement of the judgment of aforesaid Zia Orphanage Trust Graft Case, Begum Khaleda Zia has filed the appeal before the honourable High Court Division on 20-02-2018. By filing that appeal she has challenged the above cited verdict of the trial court and sought for acquittal. Later on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which has filed the case in 2008 has also preferred a Revision Case with the honourable High Court seeking enhancement of her punishment. Afterwards the above cited same Special Judge’s Court has also sentenced the BNP chairperson and other three accused to another 7 (seven) years Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) in the Zia Charitable Trust Corruption Case on 29-10-2018.
(62) At a later time accepting the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) revision case the honourable High Court Division bench comprising with Mr. Justice M. Enayetur Rahim and Mr. Justice Md. Mostafizur Rahman have extended the punishment of BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia from 5 years to 10 years imprisonment in connection with the above noted Zia Orphanage Trust Graft Case. It is a matter of fact that, Khaleda Zia is the principal accused in the above stated case. Hence in the eye of law it is very natural and desirable that, all the accused should have to face equal treatment and to be awarded equal punishment. But though the BNP chief is the main accused in that case the learned trial court has sentenced her lenient punishment. As a result, the above stated discriminatory sentencing order is not at all justifiable in the eye of law. And for the same reason the above mentioned punishment has been increased and equalised by the honourable High Court Divisionaccordingly.
Reaction of BNP, Awami League and International Media
(63) It is a matter of great concern that as like as the above noted two separate judgments of Begum Khaleda Zia’s cases, the BNP has rejected the verdicts in the August 21 grenade attack cases alleging that those were delivered at the “behest of the government with a political motive”. The BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has told the journalists at the party’s Naya Paltan headquarter that- “BNP thinks that the verdictsare politically motivated. It is a naked manifestation of the government’s political vengeance. We are rejecting thesedictated verdicts.” He also added that- “the government has set another bad example of taking political revenge by using the judiciary.”
(64) Protesting the verdicts the BNP has declared to hold two day country wide demonstrations. The party’s associate and front bodies have expressed to stage protests and form human chains in all divisional cities and district headquarters. They have also declared to bring out black flag processions in all cities and district headquarters indeed. Moreover a group of pro-BNP lawyers have also staged demonstrations on the Supreme Court Bar Association premises protesting the verdicts.
(65) On the contrary in respecting the aforesaid judgments the ruling Awami League has stated that, “it was neither unhappy nor fully satisfied with the verdicts in the grenade attack cases.” Expressing his instant reaction about the judgments Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader has said- “We are not unhappy and also not fully satisfied with the verdicts in the August 21 grenade attack cases as the mastermind of the gruesome attack, BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman has not been handed down capital punishment.” Law minister Mr. Anisul Haque has told- “BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman should have been awarded death sentence as he is the mastermind of August 21 grenade attack incident.”
(66) It is the painful reality that, for the cause of grisly grenade attack as many as 24 people, including veteran Awami League leader Ivy Rahman were brutally killed and several hundred others were severely injured. Among the above noted large number of worst survivors and family members of the victims of that attack very boldly expressed that as such the then state minister for home affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar was proven guilty and awarded death penalty, so the then prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, who was in charge of the home ministry should have been accused in this case. Besides this, the chief planner and mastermind Tarique Rahman should have been awarded capital punishment indeed. Side by side the hapless day labourer Joj Mia who was falsely implicated in the grenade attack case has said- “I am satisfied but not fully pleased as Tarique Rahman was not given the death sentence.”
(67) After the pronouncement of the judgments the national professor Dr. Anisuzzaman has said that- “The August 21 grenade attack case’s verdict has again proved that no matter how powerful a person is, he is not above law and is accountable to law.” The Professor Emeritus of Bengali at Dhaka University has expressed in his reaction that- “Through the verdicts Bangladesh has come out of the prevailing culture of impunity. It is proved that, a person however powerful and mighty he may be is accountable to law.”
(68) The judgments of the deadly grenade attack has come after more than fourteen years. In the verdicts it is seen that many top leaders of BNP and high ranking officials of various law enforcing agencies were directly involved and whole heartedly engaged in the horrifying incident. Their aforesaid direct involvement, active participation followed by unscrupulous misdeeds and overt acts are treated as very much painful and disgraceful.
(69) It is evident that the verdictsof August 21 grisly grenade attack cases got wide coverage with due importance in different international media including BBC, AP, AFP, Xinhua, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Reuters, The Hindustan Times, The Times of India, The Anandabazar Patrika and other number of well reputed newspapers of the world. Among those BBC published a news report titled- “Bangladesh to hang 19 for deadly attack on 21st August, 2004 rally.”
Besides this, well reputed news agency Reuters headlines, reads- “Bangladesh court hands life sentence to acting opposition party chief over 2004 blasts.” While giant agency of AFP’s title was- “Bangladesh sentences 19 to death over 2004 attack.” The AP headline reads- “Bangladesh sentences 19 to death in political rally attack.”
Victims and survivors demand death sentence for Tarique Rahman
(70) The long awaited verdict in the sensational 21st August, 2004 grenade attack cases did not fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the worst victims and survivors of that beastly attack as the mastermind behind the deadly attack has not been awarded capital punishment. A large number of victims and their family members along with near and dear ones who have gathered outside the court campus have expressed their severe dissatisfaction about the verdicts. Most of them have clearly and categorically expressed with one voice that,“Tarique Rahman was the main boss and conclusive decision maker of Hawa Bhaban as well as he was the main architect behind the deadly attack. As a result the true and genuine mastermind behind the attack should have been handed out death sentence” they added.
(71) It is no doubt that the heinous attack was designed to make the leadership vacuum in the Awami League, which led the creation of independent Bangladesh. It is also clear to all that neither Lutfuzzaman Babar nor Abdus Salam Pintu nor any other else of their rank and status had the guts actually to execute such a deadly and gigantic plan.According to various types of oral and documentary evidences followed by the conspicuous and unequivocal versions of the number of confessors particularly Mufti Hannan, the entire plan was designed and hatched following the clear-cut directives from the highest command of the then ruling BNP.
(72) It is also known to all that during the reign of BNP-Jamaat government, Tarique Rahman has established a parallel government inside the infamous Hawa Bhaban.And it is well proved that the heart breaking decision of grenade attack has been taken and finalized in that notorious Hawa Bhaban. Henceforth as such Tarique Rahman was the chief organiser, main patroniser and conclusive decision maker of that frightfulattack, sothe superior responsibility must go upon him as usually. This is why he should have been awarded death sentence likewise his accomplices Lutfuzzaman Babar, Abdus Salam Pintu and others. And for the same reason the number of seriously wounded victims of the 21st August, 2004 grenade attack are unhappy, specially for the sentencing of main accused Tarique Rahman.
(73) The learned judge of the above mentioned tribunal has opined in his prolonged, reflective and thoughtful judgment that the barbarous grenade attack of 21st August was state sponsored attack indeed. The number of senior most officials of all the intelligence agencies of the state were directly involved and engaged in that beastly attack. The chief of infamous Hawa Bhaban Tarique Rahman was the main planner, supreme commander and most beneficiary of that dreadful attack. This is why the main architect and the mastermind Tarique Rahman must deserve capital punishment in lieu of life long imprisonment for that extremely horrible grenade attack.
Some un-answered important questions
(74) It is obvious that the massacre of grenade attack has occurred on August 21, 2004. It is also admitted that at that time Begum Khaleda Zia was the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Moreover the ministry of Home Affairs was in her hand indeed. Henceforth the question is that what was her role on that day or after the occurrence of that barbaric attack. This question still remains unanswered. Though more than 16 years have already been expired. It is a matter of regret that Begum Khaleda Zia did not disclose her exact role or position about the aforesaid heinous attack till today. The actual reason behind it is considered as very much suspicious and mysterious.
(75) It is evident that the main target Sheikh Hasina of that horrible attack has very clearly and categorically accused the then Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia and her elder son Tarique Rahman of perpetrating the gruesome grenade attack saying that they were directly involved in the carnage of 21st August, 2004. So the vital question is that, was Khaleda really involved in that barbaric attack? Side by side it is also an important question that, was the above noted grisly attack has taken place within the knowledge of Khaleda Zia?If so, why she was not made an accused in those cases?
Dr. Md. Fazlur Rahman, Senior District and Sessions Judge (Retired), Writer and Columnist