Awami League will observe the 17th anniversary of gruesome August 21 grenade attacks on Saturday.
The attacks were carried out on an anti-terrorism rally of Awami League at Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital on August 21, 2004.
The then opposition leader and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other front-ranking AL leaders narrowly escaped the carnage.
Around 5:40 pm on that day, after finishing her speech by saying her party’s signature slogan “Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu”, Sheikh Hasina’s moved to get off, the truck was halted by photojournalists requesting a photo.
At that moment, a grenade was exploded right beside the stage, sending the crowd into a state of chaos. Immediately, the leaders on the truck made a human shield to protect her as at least 13 more grenades were thrown in the next two minutes.
Grenades were charged one by one towards the then opposition leader and incumbent premier Sheikh Hasina after finishing her speech as she stood on the makeshift stage on a truck.
Her security personnel and the party leaders and activists including the then Dhaka City mayor Mohammad Hanif, late Suranjit Sengupta, Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, created a human shield risking their lives and saved the then opposition leader.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was the prime target of attackers but she narrowly escaped the attack sustaining permanent hearing impairment.
At least 24 people including the then Women Affairs Secretary of Awami League and wife of late President Zillur Rahman were killed and over 300 others were injured in the attack and many of them became crippled for life.
Those others killed in the barbaric grenade attack included the then opposition leader's personal security guard Lance Corporal (retd) Mahbubur Rashid, Abul Kalam Azad, Rezina Begum, Nasir Uddin Sardar, Atique Sarkar, Abdul Kuddus Patwari, Aminul Islam Moazzem, Belal Hossain, Mamun Mridha, Ratan Shikdar, Liton Munshi, Hasina Mamtaz Reena, Sufia Begum, Rafiqul Islam (Ada Chacha), Mostaque Ahmed Sentu, Md Hanif, Abul Kashem, Zahed Ali, Momen Ali, M Shamsuddin and Ishaque Miah.
Prominent among those who suffered serious splinter injuries included Sheikh Hasina, Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Suranjit Sengupta, Obaidul Quader, Advocate Sahara Khatun, Mohammad Hanif, Prof Abu Sayeed, and AFM Bahauddin Nasim.
Marking the anniversary, the ruling AL, its front and associate bodies and its left-leaning allies, and other political parties, social-cultural and professional organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes across the country, maintaining health guidelines in wake of the COVID-19 situation.
A discussion will be held at 10:30 am to recall the victims of the dreadful grenade attack.
Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will preside over the meeting from Ganabhaban here through video conferencing.
As part of the programmes, AL, its associate bodies and other political bodies will place wreaths at the altar in front of the party's central office at Bangabandhu Avenue here.
Due to the pandemic, a limited number of programmes will be held to commemorate the day.
Central leaders of Awami League, leaders of the Dhaka Metropolitan Awami League and allied organisations will be present at those programmes in compliance with the health rules.
Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader has called upon the leaders, activists, supporters and well-wishers of the Awami League and its associate bodies to observe the day with due dignity.
The nation's long wait seeking justice for the brutal grenade attack that killed 24 people and wounded nearly 500 finally ended as a special court pronounced the verdict of a case filed over the attack on October 10, 2018.
The court awarded death sentence to 19 people including former Home Minister Lutfuzzaman Babar and life imprisonment to 19 including ex-premier Khaleda Zia's fugitive son Tarique Rahman in connection with the grenade attack.
The High Court (HC) is expected to start holding hearings soon on the death references and appeals of the convicts in the two cases lodged over the barbaric grenade attack on an Awami League rally in capital's Bangabandhu Avenue on August 21, 2004, as the necessary preparations are almost completed.