Vol. 5 Num 795 Mon. August 21, 2006  
Front Page

Grenade Attack on AL Rally
Questions left unsolved

Two years into the August 21 grenade attack on an Awami League (AL) rally on the Bangabandhu Avenue to assassinate party chief Sheikh Hasina, many questions still remain unanswered.

Who plotted the attack, what was the motive behind it, who supplied the grenades, how were the same type of grenades sneaked into Dhaka Central Jail, why was the evidence destroyed deliberately, and why were two victims buried hurriedly have remained mysterious since the attack that killed 23 people and maimed and injured about 300 others.

The government has not only shown lack of interest in bringing to justice those who carried out the grisly attack but is yet to say why the law enforcers totally failed to ensure security and arrest any of the attackers from the spot.

Although the government attempted to earn public acclamation and calm down the demand for justice by inviting the Interpol and US Federal Bureau of Investigation, it has failed to make any credible revelation into the mystery.

The investigators attempted to submit the charge sheet in the case over a year ago basing on the confessional statement of one Joz Mia, but the government held them back following media flak that termed Joz Mia's story very weakly-woven.

The government and intelligence officials still continue reiterating what they said a year ago--that "significant progress" has been achieved in the investigation.

Ruhul Amin, special superintendent of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police, who is supervising the investigation, claimed a year ago that they were about to complete the investigation and would submit the charge sheet soon.

"We are waiting for a little more information before submitting the charge sheet," he told The Daily Star yesterday but failed to specify the time.

Twenty people were arrested after the attack but 17 of them have been released as the allegation against them had "no merit". The rest three gave statements admitting to their involvement in the attack.

The investigation has so far revolved around the confessional statement of Joz Mia arrested at his village home in Birkot of Senbagh, Noakhali on June 10 last year.

Those he named in his statement as involved in the attack left the country long ago. Khandakar Tanveer Islam Joy, Mokbul Hossain alias Mukul, Mollah Masud, Robin, Shafiqul Islam, Zahidur Rahman and Jisan had been hiding in India since long before the attack took place.

"We have some evidence at our hands now, including the confessional statements and some names as disclosed by the three arrestees. We will have to collect some more evidence to ensure punishment to the accused," said Ruhul Amin.

The investigators seem to wait for these top criminals to return from India as the government is yet to take any initiative to bring home the prime accused including Joy and Mukul.

The government has admitted that it will not be possible to bring to book the culprits before the ruling coalition's term ends.

The investigators said the case will be resolved once they can arrest these absconding criminals.

State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar yesterday said he has instructed the law enforcers to prevent the top criminals who have been hiding across the border from slipping into Bangladesh.

The investigators are alleged not to have collected the evidences, including the unexploded grenades, which were vital for the investigation.

Explosive experts of the army detonated two unexploded grenades--one found near the spot and another at the adjacent Gulistan Hawkers' Market--in the dead of night without taking the fingerprints on them. They carried out a similar detonation of another grenade recovered from the Dhaka Central Jail a day after the attack.

Ruhul Amin told The Daily Star yesterday, "We have come to know that members of Joy's gang attempted to supply the grenade to their men inside the jail. Perhaps they planned to use it when they would appear before the court."

The government, however, never disclosed the information in the past two years.

The Supreme Court Bar Association, which conducted an inquiry into the attack, also blamed the government for destroying evidences.

The mystery behind the quick burial of two unidentified victims on August 22 night has not been resolved.

Although unclaimed bodies are supposed to be kept at the mortuary at least for 72 hours for identification, the police took the bodies away and buried those after a hurried autopsy. The investigators failed to justify the quick burial without identification.

Sources said at least one of the two was a primary suspect.

"We have succeeded to identify one of these two," the CID officer said yesterday but declined to disclose it.

It could not be learnt whether the government took any step in the last two years regarding the law enforcers' failure to ensure security at the AL rally.

According to the controversial confessional statement of Joz Mia, 20-21 people carried out the grenade attacks. But the law enforcers and intelligence agencies failed to capture any of them.

The investigators said grenades are smuggled into the country through several channels. But they have failed to track down who brought in the grenades used for the attack.

Meanwhile, the government one-member judicial inquiry commission of Justice Joynul Abedin linked a foreign enemy with the attack but its report was not made public. The government is yet to declare whether there were any recommendations in the report and, if any, whether they were implemented.

The judicial inquiry commission claimed to have identified the perpetrators but its head declined to disclose their identity, hinting at the link of foreign enemies apart from the local ones.

"The incident is a naked attack on the independence and sovereignty of the country," Justice Joynul Abedin had told reporters.

Asked if the government will publish the report, Babar said yesterday, "It is not possible for me alone to decide on it. It is a matter of [political] decision."

The minister also opposed the judicial commission's findings about foreign links, saying, "It is difficult to say right at this moment."

Related Story

arrow US congressmen write PM for new, fully free probe
Eighteen congressmen of the United States, including the chair of Bangladesh Caucus, sent a letter to Prime Minister Khaleda Zia asking for a new and fully independent investigation in the August 21 grenade
Activists of Awami League Cultural Forum make a symbolic reconstruction of the August 21, 2004 mayhem on Bangabandhu Avenue in the city demanding an international inquiry into the attack and trial of the perpetrators. PHOTO: STAR