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Hasina says Zia regime minister planned grenade attack on her


Dhaka : Former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina has alleged that a key minister in the former government of Khaleda Zia “conceived” a grenade attack carried out by Islamist militants that killed 24 and maimed 800 people at a political rally in 2004.

Hasina, now in jail facing graft charges, named the Zia regime’s minister of state for home Lutfozzaman Babar among those who planned the attack on a rally of her Awami League party, which she was addressing.

Maulana Abdul Hannan, the operations commander of Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI), and his men carried out the attack, she told investigators who met her in jail.

Hasina claimed that Hannan, his brother Mohibullah alias Mojibur Rahman, and four of their accomplices had confessed to orchestrating the attack, The Daily Star reported Friday.

This was the first time Hasina, the prime target of the attack on the rally, was giving a statement to investigators engaged in a probe that was put in cold storage by the government of her political rival Zia, the newspaper noted.

Quoting unnamed sources, it said Hasina named a number of political leaders, including former Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) deputy minister Asadul Habib Dulu, as being involved in the planning of the attack.

A three-member Criminal Investigation Department (CID) team led by Special Superintendent of Police Nowsher Ali recorded Hasina’s statement on the grenade attack.

Ali later told media persons that Hasina was forthcoming and told them what she knew of the Aug 21, 2004 incident. She said splinters did not hit her as other party leaders covered her.

Media reports at that time had said Hasina was fired upon as she was whisked away in a bulletproof vehicle. She said she heard gunshots amidst the grenade attacks.

Ali said the police could have fired them. However, a HUJI worker told investigators that he had fired the gunshots after a grenade aimed at Hasina failed to explode.

He said Hasina had expressed doubts about the efficacy of the investigations as a long time had elapsed since the incident. “But we assured her of justice,” he said.

The investigators will also record the statements of other Awami League leaders, including Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Surajit Sengupta, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Motia Chowdhury, Zafrullah Chowdhury and Saber Hossain Chowdhury.

Many of them were seriously injured in the attack, while a senior leader, Ivy Rahman, was killed.