It was August 21st of 2004. Awami League was holding an anti-terrorism rally at Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital. The then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina just had finished addressing a crowd of some 20,000 people. Suddenly, a profound and jarring explosion of sound shook up the area, which was followed by 12 other blasts. A total of 13 grenades were thrown upon the rally from the surrounding rooftops. No wonder, those grenades were targeted at Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina. But the terrorists failed in their attempt. But they killed 24 Awami League activists and leaders and injured over 300 in the attack. 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.
The trial of August 21 grenade attacks is in the final state. As a convict, former BNP-led government Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babar’s hearing defence argument is at the last stage. After Babar’s argument is over, the lawyers, arguing on behalf of the state, will introduce legal aspects of the case and present final arguments. Following this, Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 judge Shahed Nuruddin will fix the day for the verdict. If everything remains to its expected places, the court will deliver its verdict by September.
Still now, many of the AL leaders and activists, who suffered the barbaric grenade attacks, carry injuries of the splinter on their bodies.
Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, a convicted war criminal, Harkat- ul-Jihad-al-Islami chief Mufti Hannan and Sharif Shahidul Alam were hanged. They were also accused of the 21st grenade attacks. Since they have been executed already, their names were wiped off from the list of the August 21 grenade attacks case. Now the total accused of this case is 49. Among them, the defence argument of former state minister is ongoing. As four of the accused are absconding, there would be no argument on behalf of them. They will not get lawyers from the state to defend them in court.
DGFI director Brig Gen Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury, former DC (South) of DMP Khan Sayeed Hassan, Former deputy commissioner (East) of DMP Obaidur Rahman, Maj Gen (retd) ATM Amin and Lt Col (Retd) Saiful Islam Joarder will not get any defendants from the state to defend them.
When asked about when the proceeding of the case will be over, senior jurist Syed Rezaur Rahman said, ‘We expect to complete the case proceeding within August. However, it didn’t happen. Because there is another party other than the state. We’ve to let them defend. But, I can assure that the court will soon deliver its verdict. Among the 49 accused, 18 are absconding, 8 got bail and 23 others are in prison.’
On the next day of the attack, Sub-Inspector (SI) Sharif Faruq Ahmed filed a case (No. 97) becoming a plaintiff under the penal code 120/b, 324, 326, 307, 302, 201, 118, 119, 212, 330, 218, 109 and 34.
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) senior ASP Fazlul Kabir on June 9, 2008, filed the charge sheet in the case against 22 people including chief of Bangladesh chapter of militant outfit Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) Mufti Abdul Hannan. In the same year, the case was transferred to Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1. The proceeding of the case began under Murder (29/11) and Explosive Substances Act (30/11).
After 61 witnesses gave their testimonies, the state prosecutor on June 25, 2009, appealed for further investigation of this case. The court accepted the appeal on August 3. The supplementary charge sheet was submitted on July 2, 2011, accusing Tarique Rahman, Harish Chowdhury, Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, Abdus Salam Pintu along with 30 other suspects.
August 21st, 2004 is one of the darkest days in the history of Bangladesh. Not only the victims, the people of Bangladesh did not want to see such vindictive measures in the politics of the country. Everyone wants to see that justice is rendered to the culprits. The entire nation is waiting for the verdict as the wait for the verdict has stepped into the fifteenth year today. Meanwhile, the law minister has said that the verdict of the August 21 would be given in September of this year. The sooner the verdict is given, the quicker the country gets relieved.