By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, Aug 21 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Friday that BNP leader Khaleda Zia and elder son Tareq Rahman wanted to kill her in the 2004 grenade attack in Dhaka.
Hasina made the remarks while addressing a virtual meeting on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of the August 21, 2004 attack that took place at an anti-terrorism rally organised by the Awami League in the capital city’s Bangabandhu Avenue.
It claimed the lives of 24 people, including then president of Mohila Awami League and late President Zillur Rahman’s wife Ivy, and left more than 500 others injured.
“Khaleda Zia and her elder son Tareq Rahman wanted to kill me in the the grenade attack on Bangabandhu Avenue. The rally was carried out in protest against the bomb attack on the then British High Commissioner in Sylhet and also other attacks more than 500 other places in the country.
“I was their main target.”
Hasina added: “Before the bomb attack, she (Zia) said that the Awami League will not be able to come to power for 100 years.”
The Prime Minister alleged that carrying out killings was “their habit as they did not believe in the country’s independence and in the Liberation War spirit”.
“Power for them is a tool to make money through corruption,” she said.
Recalling the 2004 barbaric carnage, Hasina said that the then BNP-Jamaat government assembled the terrorists and militants and provided training for waging such an attack and gave them a safe passage to flee abroad.
“The then BNP-Jamaat governmentt thought that I had died in the grenade attack, but when they came to know that I didn’t, they allowed the militants to flee the country,” she said.
After the attack, the police shot teargas shells and charged Awami League leaders and workers instead of rescuing the victims.
Hasina said that even the BNP-Jamaat-backed doctors did not attend to the injured at Dhaka Medical College Hospital and no patient was allowed to enter Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Medical University as it was closed.
In the attack, Hasina, who was then the opposition leader, narrowly escaped but sustained hearing impairment due to the impact.
Also on Friday, a minute’s silence was observed in memory of those killed in 1971, 1975 and 2004.
Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader delivered the welcome speech at the meeting.