Update August 21, 2020

Dhaka 11-44 am, 24-September, 2020

BNP planted “poisonous tree of graft” in Bangladesh: PM

Mirajul Moin Joy

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the past BNP government planted the “poisonous tree of corruption” and Bangladesh is now bearing its brunt.

“The meaning of power to the BNP is making money through graft and the country is now paying the price of the poisonous tree (of corruption) which they planted during their five-year misrule,” she said.

While presiding over a virtual discussion, Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, said her government is unearthing their (BNP) corruption one after another and arresting those involved in it.

The premier accused again the BNP-Jamaat alliance of perpetrating the barbaric grenade attack on an Awami League rally in 2004, saying that killings are the habit of the BNP.

“(Actually) the habit of the BNP is killings … they don’t believe (in the country’s) independence and the spirit of the liberation war,” she said.

Bangladesh Awami League (AL) arranged the virtual discussion at its central office at Bangabandhu Avenue here this morning marking the 16th anniversary of the gruesome grenade attack on an AL anti-terrorism rally in the capital on August 21, 2004.

The prime minister joined the discussion through a videoconference from her official Ganabhaban residence.

AL General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader delivered the introductory speech at the discussion, while party’s Publicity and Publication Secretary Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap moderated it.

Other central leaders of the party were present on the dais at the party office.

At the outset of the meeting, a minute’s silence was observed as a mark of profound respect to the memory of the martyrs of the August 21 grenade attack and the martyrs of the August 15 carnage.

Twenty-four people including the then Women Affairs Secretary of Awami League and wife of late President Zillur Rahman were killed and over 500 others injured and many of them became crippled for life in the August 21 attack.

By the grace of the Almighty, the then opposition leader and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other front ranking AL leaders narrowly escaped the carnage.

Citing the unbridled corruption committed by the BNP-Jamaat nexus, the prime minister said: “We see that they’re now uttering tall talks (against graft). But they forgot that Bangladesh became champion for the five consecutive times in corruption in the world during their rule … everybody knows it well.”

Hinting at Tarique Rahman, son of BNP Chief Khaleda Zia, Sheikh Hasina said the BNP made such a big amount of money that one of the convicts of the August 21 grenade attack is leading a lavish life abroad.

“We can’t lead such a life, but they can do it … from where they’re getting this money and (it’s heard) they’re collecting money from ‘juar adda’ (gathering of gambling),” she said.

The premier said Khaleda Zia after assuming office established reign of terror across the country following the footprints of her husband military dictator Ziaur Rahman.

She said Ziaur Rahman rewarded the Bangabandhu’s killers by giving postings them to Bangladesh missions abroad.

“Ziaur Rahman was very close to killers Farook and Rashid it was revealed from their interviews they (Farook-Rashid) gave to different media including BBC and it’s also clear like the daylight that Zia had a link with the killers later,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Zia’s wife Khaleda Zia, after coming to power, staged the August 21 grisly grenade attack and her son Tarique Rahman was involved in it.

“The plots and where and how they hatched conspiracies to commit the attack were unearthed from the confession of those who carried out the attack,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina mentioned that some days before the rally, Begum Zia had said that the Awami League will not be able to go to power in 100 years and ” I would never be the prime minister or even the leader of the opposition in future”.

“How Khaleda Zia made such a forecast. Because their conspiracies were to kill me, otherwise they could not be made anything. If we follow their comments, these plots will come out,” she said.

The premier said Awami League arranged the rally in front of the party office on August 21, 2004 for peace and in protest against terrorist activities of the militants across the country including an attack on the then British high commissioner at the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) in Sylhet.

Recalling the terrible scene of grenade attack, Sheikh Hasina, who was the leader of the opposition in parliament at the time, said the party leaders and activists including Mohammad Hanif saved her life by creating a human shield.

“Thirteen grenades were hurled at the makeshift dais on a truck and two/three more grenades remained unexploded,” she said.

Holding the BNP government responsible for destroying the evidence of the grenade attack, Sheikh Hasina questioned that if the BNP was not involved in the carnage, why they damaged the evidence?

After the grenade attack, the city corporation whose mayor was Sadeq Hossain Khoka washed the entire area by pouring water to erase all evidence, the premier said.

“Khaleda Zia sacked an army officer who wanted to keep an unexploded grenade as an evidence … it’s meaning that they did not want to keep a single evidence of the attack,” she said.

The prime minister said after the attack on that day, police lobbed tear gas canisters and resorted to lathi (baton) charge on AL leaders and worker instead of rescuing the dead and the injured persons to give a scope to the attackers to flee without trouble.

“Such a barbaric attack could not be staged without the patronage of the then BNP government. The BNP government had made arrangements for the training of the terrorists and created scopes for them to flee abroad,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the BNP government thought that she was killed in the attack. “But I survived the attack and when the BNP government heard that she didn’t die, they created scopes for four killers to run away,” she said.

Pointing out that many opposition lawmakers were injured in the attack, the prime minister said they were not allowed to utter a single word or discuss the matter in parliament.

“Even we were barred from bringing a resolution in the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) to condemn the attack. Rather taking the floor, the then prime minister and leader of the House Khaleda Zia ridiculed with the issue, saying that who’ll kill her (Sheikh Hasina)?,” she said.

The prime minister said numerous leaders and parliament members of her party were groaning at the hospitals at the time. “But we had no right to discuss the issue in parliament and none was given mike in the House to speak on the matter … had they not been involved in the attack, they could not obstruct in this way,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the BNP had planned to kill her son Sajeeb Wazed Joy after abducting in the USA and the information came through the FBI investigation.

In the probe, a BNP leader was found guilty and convicted for it and in the court verdict, the names of BNP leader Mahbubur Rahman and Shafik Rehman came out, she said.

The prime minister said the man who was sentenced for the crime had tried to execute the plan in connivance with Tarique Zia. “We couldn’t know it had the FBI not made this investigation and the judgment not been delivered,” she said.

The AL president prayed for eternal peace of the souls of those embraced martyrdom in the August 21 grenade attack.

The prime minister thanked all the leaders and activists of her party and its associate bodies for standing beside the people and providing assistance to them in the present coronavirus situation, responding to her call.

“No political party of the country stood beside the people in such a way,” she said.

In this connection, Sheikh Hasina said many leaders and workers of the party died and got infected with the virus. She prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls.

Describing COVID-19 situation a global problem, the prime minister reiterated her call to all to comply with the health codes to protect themselves from the transmission of the deadly disease.

Sheikh Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman liberated the country and his dream was to bring smiles on the faces of the distressed people.

“We’ve advanced a lot (towards the goal). But unfortunately, the coronavirus stalled everything. Despite that we’re striving to advance the country by keeping the wheels of its economy operative,” she said.

Mentioning that attempts on her life were made several times, the prime minister said the Almighty Allah certainly has given some tasks to her by protecting her from the terrible August 21 grenade attack.

“I may continue that works until those are completed, and the Almighty will give that scope to me and we’ll build Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Bangabandhu,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina urged all to pray so that the people of Bangladesh are saved from coronavirus and the pace of development of the country continues.

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