PM alerts countrymen against recurrence of Aug 15-like carnage
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today cautioned the countrymen about repetition of August 15, 1975-like carnage as those who doesn’t like country’s development wouldn’t sit idle, reiterating that the August 21, 2004 grenade attack was launched under BNP government’s direct patronage.
“More attacks may come. The August 15, 1975 attack was carried out when Bangabandhu started country’s development. Today, Bangladesh became developing nation and is heading towards a developed one. —those who doesn’t like this, they will not sit idle, they must attack. —so be alert about this,” she said.
The premier also cautioned the people of the country about conspiracy being hatched as the next general election is approaching nearer.
Sheikh Hasina, also Awami League (AL) President, was presiding over a discussion organised by her party at its 23 Bangabandhu Avenue central office marking the 18th anniversary of the gruesome August 21, 2004 grenade attack.
The barbaric attack took away the lives of 22 AL leaders and activists and injured other several thousand people.
The prime minister said the Great Allah saved her time and again from various attacks as the Almighty has certainly bestowed some tasks on her.
“We, who got new life surviving the August 21, 2004 grenade attacks, have the responsibility to the people. And our today’s pledge is to perform the duties till the last breath,” she said.
Mentioning that it was impossible to conduct such heinous attacks without state patronage, the premier said the then BNP government’s subsequent activities such as destroying all evidences, including unexploded grenades, helping killers flee the scene and even the country cleared the state sponsorship.
Referring to Khaleda Zia’s remarks a few days before the attack that she (Sheikh Hasina) would never have to be the prime minister or even the opposition leader in future, she said Khaleda Zia knew everything well.
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”.
AL General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader delivered the introductory speech at the discussion while it’s Publicity and Publication Secretary Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap moderated it.
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.
Immediately after reaching the venue, the prime minister placed a wreath at the makeshift podium to show respect to the August 21, 2004 martyrs.
Later, she along with AL’s general secretary placed another wreath on behalf of the party.
Sheikh Hasina said the entire world is now witnessing economic debacle due to ongoing Coronavirus, Russia-Ukraine war, sanctions and counter sanctions and people have been suffering immensely for those reasons.
“The world is now facing an economic meltdown which impacts on our country. We’re thinking of protecting the people of our country from it,” she said.
The prime minister called upon all to join hands with the government to help rescue Bangladesh from the situation instead of making wholesale criticisms.
Considering the global context, she asked the countrymen to show austerity in using electricity, gas and water as the rich countries including USA, UK, Australia and Germany are facing difficulties.
The prime minister reminded the people, who raised questions (regarding 2014 and 2018) elections, about the so-called polls during regimes of Khaleda Zia and Ershad that included February 15 of 1996 voter-less general election by Khaleda Zia.
She even asked them to enquire about the election of 2001 in which her party Awami League had got maximum votes.
“How many people could cast their votes even in the 2001 general election? AL leaders and activists deserted their houses as immense torture was carried out on them four days prior to the election by employing army countrywide. Despite it, the AL got the maximum votes, but failed to get maximum seats due to mechanism,” she said.
About participation in elections by BNP, the premier questioned how BNP will take part in the polls as it is leaderless as their leaders are either accused (of different cases) or fugitive.
“How will they get votes and by seeing whom the people will vote for them?” she said, adding that the BNP boycotts the election in fear of defeat.
The prime minister said she has belief and trust in people as they voted her party to power for the third consecutive term since 2008, urging the countrymen to be alert as conspiracy is being hatched as usual ahead of the next general election.
BNP is running after foreigners to come to power, she said, adding that people will decide which party will come to the power and whether they want the reign of darkness with terrorism and militancy or the development.
“Killing is the character of the BNP. We are urged to sit with them to bring them into election. Why? I don’t understand. Are there no people in Bangladesh?” she questioned.
About the August 21 grenade attacks on an AL rally in protest against terrorism and militancy and grenades attacks on the then Bangladeshi born British high commissioner Anwar Chowdhury, she said the attacks were carried out under the direct patronage of the BNP government.
“Such an attack on a rally in broad daylight can’t take place without patronisation of the government. The target was to kill me and destroy the Awami League,” she said, reminiscing the carnage that was launched immediately after she concluded her speech.
The prime minister said Khaleda Zia had sent abroad four persons, including one of the perpetrators of August 21 grenade attack Maulana Tajuddin, and killers of Bangabandhu Col Rashid and Dalim by Singapore Airlines on that day (August 21, 2004).
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.
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.
Recalling the terrible scene of the grenade attack, Sheikh Hasina, who was the leader of the opposition in parliament at that 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 washed the entire area by pouring water to erase all evidence, the premier said.
“The BNP government sacked a young army officer who wanted to keep an unexploded grenade as 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.
Pointing out that six 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, she said.
“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 AL president also prayed for eternal peace of the souls of those embraced martyrdom in the August 21 grenade attack.