AL demands death sentence for Tarique Rahman after August 21 grenade attack verdict

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PNS Desk: Awami League General Obaidul Quader on Wednesday demanded the death penalty for acting BNP chairperson Tarique Rahman over his involvement in the grenade attack on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during an Awami League rally on August 21, 2004.

“Awami League will go to the higher court and will file a writ petition demanding the highest punishment for Tarique and Khaleda Zia,” Quader said in a press conference at the Awami League president’s Dhanmondi office.

“Mufti Hannan had confessed that they carried out the attack after getting approval from Tarique, therefore we were hoping that the court would have given Tarique the highest penalty, instead of life imprisonment,” the Awami League general secretary added.

Quader claimed the August 21 militant attack had been patronized by the state. “We learned from the then DGFI chief’s statement that Khaleda Zia (then prime minister) had been informed about the attack. It was a state-level crime, and we demand she be punished for this as well.”

He further said: “BNP had plotted the ‘Joj Mia’ drama to save the attackers. BNP leaders even made fun of the attack at the time, when they were in power.”

Quader alleged that the BNP government had tried to spoil all evidence of the case, and also tried to shift the blame to India.

Meanwhile, Awami League Publicity and Publication Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmud, at a human chain program in front of the Press Club on Wednesday morning, said: “Khaleda Zia cannot avoid the charges of the attack and we urge that she be convicted too.

“Khaleda Zia was the prime minister at the time. It was her duty to resist the attack, but she didn’t do anything about it.”

AL neither unhappy, nor elated by grenade attack verdict

While addressing an event at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre earlier in the day, Quader said Awami League is neither unhappy, nor elated by the August 21 attack verdicts.

“Despite the delay in delivery of the verdict, we are not unhappy, but we are not fully-satisfied either,” he said.

Regarding the jail term handed to Tarique Rahman, Quader said: “We expected that the mastermind of the attack and his cohorts would be given the death penalty, but this did not happen.”

Quader then pointed out that Mufti Hannan – one of the convicts – earlier confessed to the investigators that Tarique had crafted the Hawa Bhaban grenade attack plot at the then-BNP chairperson’s political office in Dhaka.

The Awami League leader added that the then-government tried their best to destroy evidence of the attack that took place at Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka on August 21, 2004, killing 24 people.

Mentioning that even the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Scotland Yard were barred from investigating the attack, Quader said: “That attack was carried out with the aim of killing Sheikh Hasina.

“The people are well-aware of the true mastermind of that attack—a matter that is as clear as daylight. The people have been talking about the attack for the last 14 years.”

August 21 verdict

A Dhaka court on Wednesday sentenced former state minister Lutfozzaman Babar and 18 others to death in the August 21 grenade attack case.

Meanwhile, Tarique Rahman and 18 others were sentenced to life imprisonment. Eleven others have been handed various jail terms.

Judge Shahed Nuruddin of Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal delivered the verdict around 11:50am.

A grenade attack on an Awami League rally in Dhaka, on August 21, 2004, left 24 people – including Ivy Rahman – dead and more than 300 others injured.

The prime target of the attack, then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, narrowly escaped death but suffered hearing loss.

According to the charge sheet, the attack was orchestrated by a group of influential BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami leaders in collaboration with militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh.

The perpetrators collaborated with some senior officials of the Home Ministry, police, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), National Security Intelligence (NSI), and Prime Minister’s Office.

The judge also made 12-point observations on the background, motive, and consequences of the attack.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters that the government would take steps to repatriate the fugitive convicts.

The convicts have also been fined Tk1 lakh each, according to BSS.

In addition to Tarique, former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s then-political adviser Harris Chowdhury, and former BNP MP Qazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad were among those sentenced to life imprisonment.

PNS/Tamanna Khan

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