943Published on August 22, 2019
Sheikh Hasina has said her arch political rival Khaleda Zia had a condolence message ready being certain she would die in the Aug 21, 2004 attack, which could not be carried out without the support of the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami government.
Hasina, the then opposition leader and now the prime minister, recounted the grisly attack on its 15th anniversary on Wednesday at a discussion in Dhaka.
Awami League leaders and activists saved her life by forming a human shield around her, she said. “I was not supposed to survive the Aug 21 grenade attack. They (BNP, Jamaat) did not think I would survive.”
“I know many things. After the attack, the assailants took shelter at a place and phoned from there to know whether I was dead,” Hasina said.
“Khaleda Zia had it (message) ready to express condolence if I died. But Allah saved me,” she said.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda was prime minister at the time. She is now being treated at a hospital under the supervision of the jail authorities after being jailed to 17 years for corruption.
Her son Tarique Rahman, the senior vice-chairman running the BNP from exile in London, has been sentenced to life for masterminding the grenade attack targeting Hasina.
Former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar has been sentenced to death for the attack, which killed 24 people and injured scores, on an Awami League rally against terrorism.
The state has alleged that the then top leaders of the BNP-Jamaat alliance backed the attack purportedly carried out by militant group Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islam or HuJI to render the Awami League leaderless by killing Hasina.
“When the grenades were exploding one after another, no-one realised these were Arges grenades, which are used in war,” the prime minister said at Wednesday’s event.
“One splinter after another was hitting Hanif Bhai (Mayor Mohammad Hanif) in the head and body and his blood was dropping on me,” Hasina recalled the horrific moments of the attack.
“There was a pause after three grenades (exploded). They thought I was dead. But when we were getting on the car after dealing with these, shots were fired,” she said.
The Awami League chief also recalled how police swooped down on the leaders and activists of the party, charging baton and firing teargas canisters.
She said the police action indicated the law enforcers tried to let the attackers flee easily.
Hasina said she suspects inmates were brought from jail to carry out the attack, noting that a similar grenade was found inside a prison.
The pro-BNP doctors denied the victims treatment while the authorities had the site washed the following day to destroy evidence, according to her.
“How can such an attack be carried out in broad daylight without the backing of the BNP-Jamaat alliance which was in power at the time? It’s proved now.
“Now we have been given the verdict in the case. The High Court will hear the death references now. I hope we will get justice,” the prime minister added.