21st August 2004: Attack on Democracy

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Published on August 24, 2022
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On 21st August 2004, state-sponsored terrorists carried out a gruesome grenade attack on a rally in front of the Awami League's central office on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital. Sheikh Hasina and top leaders of the Awami League narrowly escaped, but the splinters killed Ivy Rahman and 24 activists. The attack injured more than four hundred people. Many of them are permanently crippled while some lost their normal life. The party leaders saved Sheikh Hasina's life from the attack by creating a human shield. Her hearing was damaged even though she survived.

Later, the BNP-Jamaat government tried to cover up the matter with a confessional statement about the grenade attack by a person named Judge Miah. However, the attack was re-investigated during the 2007 military-backed caretaker government. The names of Mufti Abdul Hannan, the leader of the banned organization Harkatul Jihad, and Abdus Salam Pintu, deputy minister of the then BNP government, came up there. The names of several BNP leaders and government officials including one of the top leaders of BNP Tarique Rahman, and the then State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar leaked through the confession of the criminals. Explosive experts said the Arges grenades, which were used in the attack, came from Pakistan.

Regarding this incident, state counsel Mosharraf Hossain Kajal told BBC Bangla, "The attack of 21st August was carried out to wipe out the Awami League and it has emerged from the observation of the judgment that the state apparatus was involved in this murder." The court said in its observations - "Like the massacre of 15th August 1975, the attack on 21st August 2004 was also intended to kill Sheikh Hasina and make Awami League leaderless. And this conspiracy involved the then government and state machinery. This attack was planned with Tarique Rahman at Hawa Bhaban".

Even during the questioning of the investigating officers, the then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's nephew and his private secretary Saiful Islam Duke said that Maulana Tajuddin, the brother of the then State Minister Abdus Salam Pintu, who supplied arms and bombs to the August 21 attack. After the attack on Sheikh Hasina, the then BNP government helped Tarique Rahman to flee to Pakistan. Even Mufti Hannan admitted to meeting with Tarique Rahman before this attack.

Martyrs of the 21st August Grenade Attack:

Ivy Rahman
Women Affairs Secretary, Awami League central committee

Mahbubur Rashid
Lance Corporal (retd), Head of AL President Sheikh Hasina's security staff

Rafiqul Islam alias Ada Chacha
Advisor, AL's Dhaka Metropolitan unit

Mostaque Ahmed Sentu
Joint Secretary, AL's central sub-committee

Hasina Mamtaz Reena
President, Ward No 15 unit of Awami Women's League

Sufia Begum
Activist, Awami Women's League Dhaka Metropolitan (South) unit

Belal Hossain
Joint Secretary, Ward No 69 Jubo League, Dhaka

Liton Munshi
Juba League leader, Madaripur

Md Hanif
Workers leader, Ward no 30, Dhaka

Aminul Islam Moazzem
Jubo League activist

Abdul Kuddus Patwari
Swecchasebak League activist

Momen Ali
Awami League activist

Zahed Ali
Awami League activist

Abul Kashem
Awami League activist

Ishaque Miah
Awami League activist

M Shamsuddin
Awami League activist

Mamun Mridha
Students League Activist, Govt Kobi Nazrul College, Dhaka

Ratan Shikdar
Businessman

Reziya Begum
Swecchasebak League leader

Abul Kalam Azad
President, Balughat Union Jubo League, Dhaka

Nasir Uddin Sardar
Sramik League activist

Atique Sarkar
Jubo League leader

Unidentified 1

Unidentified 2