The August 21 grenade attack was an attempt to make the Awami League (AL) leaderless, a special court observed.
The deadly attack has had a far-reaching impact on the country’s politics, said the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 on October 10, 2018 while pronouncing the judgment in two cases over the grenade attack on an AL rally on August 21, 2004.
Judge Shahed Nuruddin said, “In a democratic state, whichever party comes to power, it has to try its best to establish democracy by applying a liberal policy towards the opposition party.”
But that a party in power would try to reap political benefits by killing opposition leaders could not be an expression of democratic thoughts, he said, adding, “General people do not want such politics.”
Former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and 18 others were sentenced to death for their roles in the attack.
Acting BNP chairperson Tarique Rahman, along with 18 others, was jailed for life.
Twenty-four people were killed while scores of others injured in the gruesome attack.
The court pointed out that the defeated forces of 1971 had never stopped hatching conspiracy to diminish the spirit of the Liberation War and halt the development of independent Bangladesh.
In a bid to accomplish their unholy cause by making the AL – the pivotal political force that led the nation to freedom – leaderless, the anti-liberation elements first killed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members on August 15, 1975, the court elaborated.
Four national leaders were murdered inside a prison on November 3 the same year through a conspiracy, it added.
The August 21 attack was also carried out with the same motive to annihilate the AL leadership.
Judge Nuruddin said the lethal attack on the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina was carried out by some home-grown militants, who had taken help from some international militant groups for that purpose.
It was launched with a code "Sheikh Hasina will be served a light breakfast", he said.
He went on to say, “Specialised lethal weapon Arges grenades, which are used in wars, were blasted in front of the Awami League's central office on 23 Bangabandhu Avenue in broad daylight with the help of the then state machinery.”
Expressing his utter dismay over the matter, the judge put forward a question as to why such lethal weapon was used.
“Does politics mean carrying out a heinous attack on an opposition party?” asked Judge Nuruddin.
“The court thinks that recurrence of such heinous and shameful incidents can be stopped by giving exemplary punishment to the accused,” he added.