Dhaka, Saturday, 20 July 2019
Bangla Insider

Eye-witness accounts from August 21 grenade attack

News Desk
Published on : 21 August 2018, 12:35 PM
Eye-witness accounts from August 21 grenade attack


‘It was August 21, 2004. The day was Saturday. Awami League was holding an anti-terrorism rally at Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital. The then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina was addressing a crowd of some 20,000 people. We, around 40-45 Chhatra League leaders and workers, were listening to her speech from a distance. One of my associates offered me a cup of tea. So, I moved to farther distance and the distance between me and the stage was about some yards. Our party president finished her speech and was about to leave the stage. Suddenly, a profound and jarring explosion of sound shook up the area. I thought it was coming from burst tire. So, I move closer to the stage and then began the pouring of grenades upon us. Within seconds, we were surrounded by the black smoke of grenade. I fall flat on the ground and realized that something has struck my body. By then, people rampaged through the rally. Those who were lying were stampeded by the people who were running aimlessly.’

This is how Akid Hossain Sohel, the then Chhatra League President of Bangla College and present Joint General Secretary of Rupnagar Awami League unit, was describing that dreadful attack.

Like many others, Akid was injured that day. While lying on the ground, he saw two grenades also laying with him at a close distance, which did not explode. Although he escaped the attack, one of his close friends did not escape that day.

Akid told Bangla Insider that at least 7-8 splinters were pierced in his body that day. He was initially taken to Dhaka Medical College and later, he was admitted to a private hospital in Kazipara by the former president of Bangla College Saifuddin Ahmed Tuku. He was taken to hospital in a van.

Akid Hossain told, ‘Many of my friends and associates told me that I was not hurt much. There were others who were hurt very badly. So, my name was not on the list of injured people. However, I received a little financial help from the party president.’

Remembering that day, Akid told that he saw hundreds of bloodstained people which turned the Bangabandhu Avenue into a ruin. He would never forget the day. He also told Bangla Insider that he wanted justice.

The attack killed 24 Awami League activists and leaders and injured over 500. Among the dead were Sheikh Hasina`s bodyguard, Mahbubur Rahman and Awami League Women`s Affairs Secretary Ivy Rahman, who died from her injuries three days later. Although Sheikh Hasina escaped the attack, her left ear’s hearing was deadened to some extent.

Bangla Insider/ZRM