The heinous August 21 grenade attack on the Awami League public meeting in front of the party (AL) office at Bangabandhu Avenue was nothing but the continuation of political process practiced by BNP and its associates i.e., the anti-liberation forces who were involved in the killing of the best Bengali of all time, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. After the killing of Bangabandhu there was virtually no protest and BNP remained in power for long time.
The BNP certainly energized from the fact that Awami League did not protest Bangabandhu killing, rather they silently tolerated the killing till Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu returned home from six years exile in India and assumed office of presidency of Awami League. She protested the killing of Bangabandhu along with people. It is virtually the kind of inaction by Awami League that BNP government decided to annihilate Awami League leaders even when they are in the opposition. Before the grenade attack the BNP leaders including Begum Khaleda Zia said many times that Awami League would not be allowed to come to power in the next 50 years.
BNP was established as a political party by military dictator General Zia. He headed the party keeping his absolute control over it. None had the opportunity to say anything above the say of Zia. This silence may allure Begum Zia with kind of idea to eliminate the main opposition. Otherwise how a democratically elected government could think to exterminate the leader of the opposition with all the senior members of the party? The aim was to create a political vacuum and prolong the rule of Begum Zia. The fact is that the decision to kill all the senior leaders of Awami League was taken at Hawa Bhaban, the alternate power house of BNP government. It was Tarique Rahman, the son of the Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, who headed the conspiracy. There were reports in a section of newspapers that Tarique and Lutfuzzaman Babar masterminded the grenade attack from Hawa Bhaban. Another two alleged criminals Haris Chowdhury and Abdus Salam Pintu directly helped them to implement the design.
Now the question is what was the motive behind this brutal grenade attack? It occurred on 21st August but the scheduled date was probably the 15th August, the day on which Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib and most of his family members were killed brutally. The perpetrators of the grenade attack wanted to kill Sheikh Hasina on the same day on which her father Bangabandhu was assassinated. The killers probably wanted to demonstrate to the whole world that they had carried out the attack on the day on which her father was killed. They failed to maintain the schedule but they did not fail to commit brutality in the same month i.e., August.
The plot was to assassinate all the senior leaders of Awami League including Sheikh Hasina so that Begum Zia could rule for at least another ten years and then her son Tarique Rahman would be her successor for unlimited term.
In a democracy, this sort of barbaric brutality to liquidate physically all the leaders of the major opposition is unimaginable. What kind of vengeance did induce them to wipe out the opposition? The grenade attack was carried out in broad day light and in the presence of 300 members of law-enforcing agencies. 24 Awami League activists, including Women Awami League President Ivy Rahman, were killed. Sheikh Hasina and the senior leaders narrowly escaped. Yet the then Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia told the parliament that the grenades were carried by Sheikh Hasina. They even did not allow the opposition to raise the issue in parliament.
What happened immediately after the grenade blasts? Police lobbed tear gas shells on the traumatized people. No ambulance was allowed to take the injured persons to hospital. Police did not take any action to arrest the grenade attack perpetrators who fled in a waiting ambulance. Rather, they were found busy erasing the evidences. A few days later, a drama started--arresting Joj Miah, an innocent poor man of a remote village, in connection with the gruesome grenade attack.
As far as I know, Begum Khaleda Zia has not been made an accused in this case. How could she evade the responsibility while she was the head of the government then? Although Tarique Rahman was not in any government office, he was considered to be second man of the ruling party and Hawa Bhaban, the mini second secretariat and also the headquarter of the home ministry.
In 1975, the motive behind the killing of the Father of the Nation was to exterminate the political party that brought the national independence. It was a counter revolution against the revolution that brought the independence. So, it was part of their design to eliminate the supreme commander of war of independence and all members of his family so that there could be a vacuum in politics and General Ziaur Rahman could be the core person.
Similarly, they wanted to eliminate Sheikh Hasina with her senior party leaders in 2004 so that there could be another vacuum in the politics of Bangladesh and the anti-liberation forces gained ground to fulfill the design of the counter-revolutionary forces as against what the Father of the Nation and her daughter Sheikh Hasina wanted to do. But Almighty Allah has saved Sheikh Hasina and her party leaders now ruling the country for nearly a decade during which the very face of Bangladesh has now been changed. Probably, it was the desire of the Almighty Allah that the country liberated at the cost of 3 million Bangalees could not be turned into a hell by the anti-liberation forces. It is the principle of natural justice that kept Sheikh Hasina alive.
The conspiracy is still there. They made attempts 19 times to kill Sheikh Hasina. But all the time, Allah saved her. Still, they are trying for that. They have realized that they could not go to power through election as long as Sheikh Hasina is at the helm of affairs in the country, so she needs to be killed. Only the unity of pro-liberation forces and rock solid unity of her party is the safeguard.
Dr S A Malek is the former Political Adviser to the Prime Minister, Member of Parliament, Secretary General of Bangabandhu Parishad and Columnist.