Sheikh Hasina Survives Twenty-one attempts on her life

Hiren Pandit: Only history can tell how many more years of struggle and sacrifices are needed to completely erase the scandalous chapter written in the life of the Bengali nation by killing the greatest Bengali Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family on August 15, 1975! Not only in 19 75, but August reminds us of the incident of 21 August 2004, in which 24 people were killed and around 500 leaders and workers were injured, including the then leader of the opposition party, Sheikh Hasina, in a grenade attack on the Awami League public meeting in Dhaka. Sheikh Hasina always targets the killers because of Bangabandhu’s daughter.

In 1981, Bangabandhu’s eldest daughter Sheikh Hasina returned to the country risking her life. After returning home, attempts to kill Sheikh Hasina, one of Bangabandhu’s heirs, continued. They were waiting for an opportunity. After she reorganized the Awami League, attempts were made to kill her several times during the anti-dictatorship Ershad movement. Let’s not forget, there was no ideological difference between Zia and Ershad. Sheikh Hasina was first attempted to be shot dead in Chattogram on January 24, 1988.

That day, Sheikh Hasina went to Chattogram to address a rally against Ershad. In order to prevent Sheikh Hasina from participating in any public meeting at Laldighi Maidan, the police took over the venue on the orders of Chattogram Metropolitan Police Chief Mirza Rakibul Huda. This Mirza Rakibul Huda served as a Major in the Pakistani Army’s artillery during the Liberation War and fought for Pakistan in the Jashore sector. After the war, Huda returned as a prisoner of war. Later he returned to Bangladesh on the order of Bangabandhu. Zia assimilated 17 such returning Pakistani army officers into the police force. When Sheikh Hasina attempted to be killed by a grenade on August 21, 2004, Shahudul Huda was the IGP of the police. He was also an army officer who returned to Pakistan. He fought against the Liberation Army as a Major of Pakistan’s Tank Regiment throughout the Liberation War.

The August 21 grenade attack is a dark and cursed chapter among the events of terrorist attacks on political programs or political figures in the history of Bangladesh. On August 21, 2004, 24 people including Ivy Rahman were killed in a heinous grenade attack at Bangabandhu Avenue at the moment the rally organized by Awami League ended.

The then-opposition leader and current Prime Minister Awami League Chairperson Sheikh Hasina narrowly survived. Hundreds were injured. On August 21, 2004, in an unprecedented incident in the history of the world, a grenade attack on Bangabandhu Avenue killed almost all the central leaders of the Awami League, including Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina, was created.

The question is, why did the important people of the Khaleda Zia government carry out such a terrible massacre? Their aim was to establish a kind of monarchy in Bangladesh. They thought that Awami League was the only one before them. It was thought that killing Bangabandhu would end the Awami League and make Bangladesh a mini-Pakistan they hoped for. But their idea was wrong for this reason because the Awami League is not just a political party, this party is a name of ideology and feeling from the formation.

The party was banned several times after its birth, and four national leaders were killed, including Bangabandhu; But the Awami League could not be killed. It is true after Bangabandhu was killed, the Awami League as a party was a bit disorganized; But after the return of Bangabandhu’s daughter, she brought the party to power in 1996 by re-establishing it with great difficulty. The planners of the assassination mistakenly believed that if the senior leaders, including Sheikh Hasina, who were present at that public meeting could be killed, then the Awami League would end and it would be easier for them to establish a new monarchy in Bangladesh.

That day the assassins threw 14 grenades. Despite that, Sheikh Hasina’s survival was a miracle. To protect her, the party leaders and activists formed a human shield around her that day, just like it was done on January 24, 1988, in Chattogram. On August 21, 24 party leaders were killed and more than 500 were injured in a grenade attack.

Ivy Rahman, president of Mahila Awami League and wife of late President Zillur Rahman, died at CMH after a few days of serious injuries. More than one BNP leader made jokes about such an incident. Some of them stood in the national parliament and said that Sheikh Hasina herself had brought these grenades in her handbag. A few grenades were lying unexploded at the scene, which could be used as evidence in the investigation. But the next day the soldiers took it to another place and destroyed it. All signs are also washed away.

When Sheikh Hasina formed the government in 2009, the trial against the accused began in a special court. At the end of the trial, the court sentenced a total of 19 people including Babar to death. A total of 17 people including Tarique Rahman were given life imprisonment. The then police chief Ashraful Huda and Shahudul Huda were given four years in prison. Many of the arrested are absconding. Many are in prison.

On June 9, 2005, after 10 months of the incident, CID arrested a young man named Judge Mia. Remanded for 17 days, a confessional statement was obtained from Judge Mia in the court under section 164. However, speculations about Judge Mia’s involvement continued from the beginning and it was claimed from various quarters that it was a staged drama and finally, it was mentioned in the later investigation that Judge Mia’s involvement was not found.

The first attack on Sheikh Hasina came on January 24, 1986. On the same day, fires were opened on an eight-party alliance procession near Laldighi Maidan in Chattogram clearly with the ill motive of killing her. Six people were killed and 300 injured in the incident.

On 12 August 1989, at around midnight, a group of armed terrorists of the Freedom Party attacked Bangabandhu’s residence No. 32 in Dhanmondi. Awami League President Sheikh Hasina was at that residence at that time. The assailants fired at Bangabandhu Bhaban for about 10 minutes and hurled a grenade. Sheikh Hasina survived as the grenade did not explode.

On September 11, 1991, Sheikh Hasina went to see the Family Planning Centre on Green Road after voting in the by-election at Dhanmondi School near Green Road in the capital Dhaka. There she was shot and bombed as soon as she got out of the car. She later complained at a press conference that the party’s cadres, led by the then BNP leader Wahid, fired 20-25 rounds and hurled bombs.

In September 1994, the then Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina visited the western part of the country. She held public meetings in Jashore, Darshana, Kushtia, Ishwardi, Natore, and Santahar. She was then shot and bombed at the entrance of Ishwardi station on 23 September. Later, shots, bombs, and bombs were hurled at his train at Natore railway station.
The Awami League president was shot at and bombs were hurled while she was addressing a rally at Russell Square (next to Dhanmondi 32) in the capital Dhaka on December 6, 1995. Shortly after Sheikh Hasina’s speech at an Awami League rally on Bangabandhu Avenue on March 7, 1996, bullets and bombs were hurled at the stage from a microbus. 20 people were injured.

The major attack conducted by Harkatul Jihad (Huji) was in Sheikh Hasina’s constituency in Kotalipara of Gopalganj. On July 20, 2000, Huji planted a 76kg bomb near a public meeting place and helipad at Kotalipara in Gopalganj. A local tea shop owner informed the law enforcement agencies, and the bomb weighing 76 kg was recovered by digging the soil. The Prime Minister was scheduled to address a meeting at the local Sheikh Lutfur Rahman Degree College ground on July 22.

On May 29, 2001, then Sheikh Hasina was scheduled to inaugurate the construction of the Rupsha Bridge in Khulna. The militant group Huji planted a bomb there to assassinate her. Huji later confessed to the offense.

During the caretaker government in 2001, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina went to Sylhet on September 25 as part of a campaign. Two people were killed on the spot when a bomb exploded in a house 500 yards away from the public meeting place of Sylhet Alia Madrasa Maidan at around 8 pm that night. There was an election rally of the Awami League that evening. But Sheikh Hasina was late to reach there due to her campaign. An assassination attempt was foiled when a bomb exploded in front of her. Harkatul Jihad later claimed responsibility for the bombing.

An e-mail about an assassination plan of 31 people, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her children, was leaked to a newspaper on July 12, 1999. The sender of the e-mail was the owner of a TV. A case was filed against the accused in the CMM court in Dhaka on charges of the plan to kill Sheikh Hasina, overthrow the democratic government, and for sending e-mails to create hatred.

On March 4, 2002, Juba Dal cadre Khalid bin Hedayet attacked the convoy of the then Leader of the Opposition and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina in front of the BMC Government Women’s College in Naogaon.

On September 29, 2002, Sheikh Hasina visited Satkhira Sadar Hospital to see the raped wife of a freedom fighter from Hijli village in Chandanpur Union, Kalaroa, Satkhira. On the way back to Jashore, a passenger bus (Satkhira-J-04-0029) was parked in front of the party office to obstruct Sheikh Hasina’s convoy on the road in front of the Kalaroa Upazila BNP office. At least 12 party leaders and activists, including district Awami League president Engineer Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and journalists, were injured in the attack.

On April 2, 2004, the Jamaat-BNP assassins opened fire on Sheikh Hasina’s convoy at Gournadi in Barishal. The one-eleven government arrested Sheikh Hasina on July 17, 2008. She was kept in a special sub-jail set up in the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban area. There, attempts were made to kill Sheikh Hasina by constantly poisoning her food. Sheikh Hasina fell ill due to slow poisoning.

A military coup attempt to overthrow and assassinate Sheikh Hasina in December 2011 was blocked. A secret message from Saudi Arabia released by WikiLeaks, a world-renowned organization, revealed that Shariful Haque Dalim, a convict sentenced to death in the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was directly involved in the coup plot. The coup attempt was planned in three countries, with 18 retired and serving members of the Bangladesh Army involved.

According to the documents, the “highly confidential” document, sent in Arabic by the Saudi ambassador to Bangladesh in February 2012, states that a failed military coup in 2011 was planned in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Malaysia.

In 2011, an international terrorist group formed a suicide squad with a terrorist group in Sri Lanka and agreed to assassinate Sheikh Hasina. That is why the assassins of that terrorist group in Sri Lanka were also given advance money. At that time, the assassins were killed in a road accident on their way to Kolkata Airport in a team car and the plan to assassinate Sheikh Hasina was thwarted.

Shahanur Alam alias Doctor, a militant arrested in connection with the blast in Burdwan, West Bengal, said a plot to assassinate Sheikh Hasina was hatched in 2004 by trained female militants. This information was published in several Indian media including the Times of India, G-News. Shahanur’s wife Sujena said they had a plan to assassinate Sheikh Hasina using a ‘human bomb’ like the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. However, due to the strict surveillance of the administration, the plan was thwarted.

On March 6, 2015, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was on her way to Suhrawardy Udyan when a militant group, the Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), tried to bomb her convoy at Kawran Bazar. On her way to attend an Awami League rally, several bombs exploded in her car in the Kawran Bazar area.

The plane carrying Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was forced to make an emergency landing in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, on November 26, 2016, as it ran out of fuel on its way to Hungary. It was then reported from various quarters that the nuts of the fuel tank were loosened in such a way that when the plane flew over the Black Sea, the fuel would run out.

The plane could fly for up to 40 minutes after running out of fuel, but the plane could catch fire because there was no airport nearby, with the nearest one not less than four hours away. All the passengers on the plane could have died in the crash. But before going to the Black Sea, the plane ran out of fuel and made an emergency landing at a nearby airport, which was half an hour away.

News about this plane was published in the newspaper. The incident took place in June 2016. A plane carrying the Prime Minister landed at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal Airport and took off again. The plane hovered in the sky of Dhaka for about 35 minutes and then landed on the runway. The plane did not land due to the presence of metal on the runway. The plane landed only after the runway was cleared.

Why repeated assassination attempts? The answer is also very simple. The development of Bangladesh through the great liberation war of 1971 holds an ideal. The great architect of Bangladesh, the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed in 1975 with his family in the conspiracy of those who were against the development of Bangladesh in the ideals of secularism, democracy and socialism. Even if he was killed, his ideals could not be killed.

Under the leadership of his fortunate daughter Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is moving forward along the path of his ideals. Those who don’t want Mujib ideals in Bangladesh have repeatedly tried to kill the leader of the people, Sheikh Hasina. The killing of Bangabandhu in his family in 1975 or the grenade attack on August 21 is based on the same formula. An attempt to kill ideals worked behind it. Those who want to remove Bangladesh from the path of progress, from the path of Mujib ideals, have repeatedly made this wrong attempt.

By the grace of God, Sheikh Hasina survived all these attempts in her life. We pray that she will live longer to establish Bangladesh as a hunger and poverty-free and also as a developed country as dreamt by the Father of the Nation.

BNP leaders now cry in the name of democratic politics. But how to get rid of this stigma of August 21? Rare is the instance in the civilized world where a government or party would support such barbaric methods of destroying a political opponent! How can those who talk about reconciliation politics in Bangladesh hide August 21 and August 15?

Because these two tainted incidents have divided the politics of Bangladesh forever, from which there is no way out, there is no way of reconciliation. Those who dream of settling all disputes between Awami League and BNP and establishing harmony, how will they heal this indelible wound?

The writer is a, columnist and research Fellow

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