The ruling Awami League on Wednesday demanded death sentence for Bangladesh Nationalist Party acting chairman Tarique Rahman and trial of former prime minister Khaleda Zia for their involvement in the August 21, 2004 grenade attack on a rally of the party at Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka.
Addressing a press conference at party president Sheikh Hasina’s Dhanmondi office, Obaidul Quader, the general secretary of Awami League, said Wednesday’s verdict in cases over the attack as ‘good one’.
‘But we are not fully satisfied as the mastermind of the grenade attack Tarique Rahman should get the highest punishment as he was directly involved with the planning of the attack,’ Quader said.
Quader said that executed extremist leader Mufti Hannan confessed in court that the attack was planned in meetings held at the official residence of the then deputy minister for education Abdus Salam Pintu and at Hawa Bhaban which was controlled by Tarique Rahman.
‘We also demand the trial of former prime minister Khaleda, who was in power and also in charge of home ministry during the attack,’ said Quader, adding that the attack was a state-sponsored one.
‘Former prime minister Khaleda Zia could not be spared from the responsibility of the attack which was planned to kill Awami League president and the then leader of the opposition Sheikh Hasina,’ Quader said.
A total of 24 leaders and party activists, including president of the Mahila Awami League Ivy Rahman, were killed and some four hundred were wounded in the attack.
The Speedy Trial Tribunal in Dhaka on Wednesday sentenced 19 people to death and 19 others, including Tarique, to life in prison for their roles in a deadly attack.
Quader requested Awami League-led government to take steps for filing an appeal against the verdict.
Tarique, son of BNP chairperson and former prime minister Khaleda Zia, has been exiled in London since 2008.
Echoing his party line, law minister Anisul Huq, said that Tarique was the mastermind of the conspiracy and that they had expected capital punishment for him.
‘After getting the copy of the full judgment, we will look into it to find on what ground Tarique has not been given the maximum punishment and decide on moving appeal to High Court for increasing his punishment,’ the minister told reporters at the secretariat in his instant reaction over the verdict.
Anisul said the higher penalties would also be sought for other convicts Harris Chowdhury and Kazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, who were also given life term in the grenade attack case.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the government would take a move to bring home all the convicts absconding abroad, including Tarique.
Information minister Hasanul Huq Inu, also the president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, said that justice was ensured through the verdict.
Earlier, the leaders and activists of Awami League took possession besides footpaths and different intersections near Old Dhaka Central Jail and chanted slogans against Tarique and BNP.
In Dhaka University campus, Chhatra League leaders and activists took possession at different entry points of campus since morning. They also held motorcycle showdowns, rallies and processions on the campus denouncing Tarique and BNP.
They also hung an effigy of Tarique at anti-terrorism Raju memorial sculpture as a token death penalty.
Reports received from several districts including Chattogram, Jamalpur, Jhenaidah, Bogra, Sylhet, Barishal, Khulna and Moulvibazar said that the local units of Awami League brought out processions and held rallies welcoming the verdict.
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