Can Begum Zia evade the responsibility of 21 August grenade attack?


The 21 August grenade attack on Sheikh Hasina in 2004, 29 years after the brutal killing of Bangabandhu with almost all the members of his family on 15th August 1975, was planned to annihilate Sheikh Hasina along with all members of her party with a view to perpetuating the rule of Begum Zia. Tareq Zia, the son of Begum Zia and second highest leader of her party hatched conspiracy at Hawa Bhaban, the alternative power center of BNP along with the then State Minister for Home Lutfuzzaman Babar, Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia’s Political Adviser Haris Chowdhury, Abdus Salam Pintu and Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mujahid plotted to kill Sheikh Hasina. They hired the militants of Harkatul Jihad (HuJi) to commit the heinous crime.

The attack on 15th August 1975 was carried out by those who did not like the independence of Bangladesh. Since Bangabandhu is the leader who accomplished the task of transforming East Pakistan into independent Bangladesh, they retaliated by killing Bangabandhu with the aim of making Bangladesh into a neo-Pakistan and bringing back the politics of Pakistan to religion based nationalism, communalism and fundamentalism. So they changed the slogan of the war of liberation Joy Bangla and started talking Zindabad. The Bengali nationalism and secularism that were established at the cost of 3 million lives were also changed.

They did not allow Bangabandhu, the leader of the revolution to rule the country more than three years and killed him on 15th August 1975 with the idea that with the killing of Bangabandhu they would be able to do away with all that Bangladesh earned as a result of independence. But to their utter dismay it was found that dead Bangabandhu became more powerful than the live one. People started probing into the cause of such a heinous killing and soon identified the killers and also the reason why they killed Bangabandhu. Banagabandhu’s offence was why he did liberate Bangladesh as an independent state substituting communalism, religious fundamentalism and Muslim state by Bangali nationalism, secularism and non-communalism. Bangabandhu was out and out a nationalist. Bangla was his language; the culture of the Bangalees was his culture. Secularism is the concept that brought Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Budhists into one nationality i.e., Bangalee. All fought for independence under his leadership.Every section of the people has a right to live in independent Bangladesh with freedom and dignity.

Following the brutal killing of Bangabandhu, all those were earned through the war of liberation and were lost and Bangladesh was made into neo-Pakistan. Only the national anthem and national flag were there. It is Sheikh Hasina who has brought Bangladesh back to the path of independence.


They changed the slogan of the war of liberation

 Joy Bangla and started talking Zindabad. 

The Bengali nationalism and secularism

 that were established at the cost 

of 3 million lives were also changed


Those who killed Bangabandhu just tried to kill an independent Bangladesh. They have again attempted to kill Sheikh Hasina to destroy those values that have been restored by her (Hasina) following the killing of Bangabandhu. The counter revolutionary forces who killed Bangabandhu on 15 August 1975 thought that if Sheikh Hasina was killed the pro liberation forces could never come back to power again. And the power of the incumbent government would be prolonged. Attempts did fail and Sheikh Hasina survived. In fact Bangladesh and its people have been saved. She has been ruling the country since 2009 till today i.e., nearly eleven and half years and has been able to transform Bangladesh into a country of glory and fame.

Now what about 21st August killing? National leaders like Ivy Rahman with 23 other leaders and activists of Awami League had been killed. Those who killed them are now identified through the process of law. The then Prime Minister Begum Zia who tried to conceal the facts of 21 August grenade attack on Awami League rally cannot evade the responsibility. Her son Tareq Rahman and her state minister for home Lutfuzzaman Babar masterminded the plot to kill Sheikh Hasina and her party’s senior leaders. How Begum Zia could disassociate from the event when her son and her cabinet ministers were involved in the 21st August killing. How could she free her from the offence committed by her own son and the state minister for home? As Prime Minister she has to bear the responsibility. It is therefore necessary to make Begum Zia the number one accused. She may deny the charges but circumstances prove that Begum Zia’s involvement was clear. If law follows its own course appropriately Begum Zia cannot escape. It is just unbelievable that the state minister for home did commit the offence without the knowledge of Prime Minister who was in charge of the ministry of home. More than that the way Begum Zia made sarcastic remarks in the parliament saying that Sheikh Hasina might carry grenade in her bag and throw it into the rally to make it a political issue. Such a funny remark from a Prime Minister was unthinkable. More mysterious was that the house turned down the point of order to discuss the 21 August grenade attack. Since then what happened following the attack? The attack had been orchestrated by the government and its administration is known to all. The government of Begum Zia tried to prove that they had no hand in the affairs. Lodging police case was nothing but a desire to diffuse the charges that could be easily brought against the offenders. The killers were allowed to escape. The evidences were destroyed. The police officers who were on duty there did everything to mislead the investigation. Even the FBI team was not cooperating to investigate the incident. The government staged Joj Miah drama to conceal the real culprits. They recorded the false and fabricated testimony of Joj Miah by threatening and luring him also. They thought that Joj Miah drama could probably be established and the plotters and the perpetrators could escape.

The question is: how could a democratic government with a Prime Minister at its head isinvolved insuch a heinous crime design to kill all the senior leaders of the opposition political party Awami League. Their only goal was to perpetuate the rule of Begum Zia and block the way of coming to power of the pro-liberation Awami League. But that did not happen. Sheikh Hasina in a democratic process came back to power and she got the opportunity to expose the truth and reality of the grenade attack. So the culprits have been brought to book and duly tried by the process of law. Now it is obviously clear what a dangerous game Begum Zia tried to play simply because she needed more time to misgovern the country. In fact, the 5 years conviction of Begum Zia in Zia Orphanage case was an example of her corruption and misgovernance.  Finally, natural justice has taken its own course. But the government must go for finding out the conspirators who were involved in the 21 August grenade attack and take them to task.

Dr S A Malek is former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of BangabandhuParishad and columnist