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Fakhrul: Trial process of August-21 grenade attack case ‘stage-managed drama’

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BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Monday alleged that the trial process of the August-21 grenade attack case was nothing but a “stage-managed drama”.

Speaking at a conference at BNP’s Naya Paltan central office, he also claimed that their party’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman and other leaders were not involved in any way in the grenade attack.

“The trial process has ended. I would like to say the whole thing (trial process) is absolutely a stage-managed drama,” the BNP leader said.

He alleged that the names of Tarique Rahman and other BNP leaders have been included in the case deliberately out of political vendetta. “We have records that this was done without any proper investigation.”

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Fakhrul said Tarique’s name was not there in the first three first information reports (FIRs) of the case.

Later, he said retired police officer Abdul Kahar Akhand, who sought Awami League nomination, was re-appointed and made the Investigation Officer (IO) of the case. “That gentleman gave Tarique Rahman’s name there in the FIR.”

The BNP leader also said Tarique’s name was not mentioned anywhere in the entire investigation.

He said only Mufti Hannan was forced to tell Tarique’s name after being remanded for about 145 days, but he denied it later and gave an affidavit in this regard.

Fakhrul said the Awami League shifted their scheduled venue of the August-21 rally to another place without informing the then authorities of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

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“We have repeatedly said that there should be an impartial and fair investigation into the grenade attack incident. That neutral investigation was not done. We condemn the August-21 incident. It’s definitely one of the heinous incidents in Bangladesh politics and it’s condemnable,” he said.

The BNP leader said the government has been trying to make a political gain by ‘unnecessarily’ implicating the BNP leaders in the case.

“We repeat that Tariq Rahman, BNP’s Abdus Salam Pintu or Lutfuzzaman Babar were not involved in the attack and they’re implicated in it for political reasons,” he said.

The August 21 grenade attack was carried out at an anti-terrorism rally organized by the then-opposition Awami League in 2004 in front of its central office on Bangabandhu Avenue, killing 24 people and injuring nearly 1,000.

On October 10, 2018, a Dhaka court convicted and sentenced 49 people — 19 of them to death and 19 others to life imprisonment. Eleven others were sentenced to jail on different terms.

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Tarique and 18 others were sentenced to life in prison while former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and ex-deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu and 17 others were given the death penalty on charges of killing through criminal conspiracy.

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Politics

Vast majority of Bangladeshis want good relations with neighbours: FM tells South Asia Correspondents

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Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud has said the vast majority of the people of Bangladesh now understand that it should have good relations with neighbours – for its own prosperity as well as that of the region.

He said his party (Bangladesh Awami League) is painted as a ‘pro-Indian’ party but AL is a pro-Bangladeshi party.

“There are anti-Indian elements. We specifically see this issue during elections. But the anti-Indian sentiment is gradually diminishing in Bangladesh,” he told the members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia during an interaction in New Delhi on February 9.

The Foreign Minister said the tablet or capsule of blaming Awami League as a pro-India party does not work anymore like the past.

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“Today, the vast majority of the people understand that for the prosperity of Bangladesh and the region, neighbours should have good relations,” he said while responding to a question.

Asked about balancing relations, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh-India relationship is not comparable to any other relations.

“Bangladesh’s relations with India are bonded by blood and shared sacrifice during the War of Liberation in 1971,” Hasan said.

He said although China is not Bangladesh’s immediate neighbor but it is a neighbor and a development partner of Bangladesh.

The Foreign Minister said they face a lot of challenges due to the wave of fake news. He said this is a problem even in Europe and shared how fake news was spread during Covid-19.

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He mentioned that this is an area where all need to work together. “We can work together to fight against fake news.”

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Last national election was open for all AL members for sake of democracy: PM Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (9 Februay) said if she did not allow her party members to take part in last month’s election as independent candidates the democracy of the country would have been snatched away.

“If the election was not open for all (AL members), then not only the election would have been stained, the democracy of the country would have been hijacked too,” she said.

The prime minister was delivering her introductory speech at the extended meeting of Awami League at her official residence Ganabhaban.

This election was important to maintain the country’s status as a developing country, she said.

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“We should not forget the election manifesto that we announced before the election to retain this achievement. Every year during the budget formulation we follow the election manifesto,” she said.

Hasina, also the chief of ruling Awami League, said that her party has also opened the upcoming upazila elections for all her party members to make it participatory.

“It will also be scrutinised how much work has been done for the common people in the last 15 years while in power, and who could not deliver. Through it we will see who is accepted by the people,” she said.

She issued warning against any sort of confrontation in the upcoming local government elections.

“We do not want any kind of confrontation. Stern actions will be taken against the individuals responsible for it no matter who they are,” she said.

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Claiming that the 12th parliamentary election was free, fair and impartial, Hasina said that those who want to dispute the election, they must give clear evidence.

She said that elections have been held in many developed countries of the world, but these are yet to be accepted by their opponents.

“Even the post-election violence has resulted in murders. But the election in Bangladesh was very fair. Public administration, the armed forces, law and order enforcement and all those involved in the election have performed their duties impartially,” she claimed

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Political crisis nearing climax: Rizvi

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The BNP today said the country’s long-standing political crisis is now nearing its climax as people are taking to the streets risking their lives to resist a one-sided election.

“The chief election commissioner surrendered to Sheikh Hasina instead of protecting the interests of the people and taking proper steps to ensure a free, fair, and participatory election,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the party, said in a virtual press conference.

The BNP leader alleged that the EC announced the schedule for the next election ignoring the continuous movement for free and fair elections.

Rizvi also alleged that the commission announced the election schedule on the instruction of the government, ignoring the appeals of the country’s civil society, the international community, and foreign diplomats.

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“When the CEC announced the schedule, he should have also mentioned the time of voting, whether it will be at night, or during the daytime, or early morning.”

The BNP leader said the government has established a regime where those who demand free and fair elections are being attacked.

He said their ongoing movement to restore the power and rights of the people will be a warning for all the autocrats.

Rizvi said the BNP leaders and activists are being arrested indiscriminately. “If they [law enforcers] can’t detain them, they are arresting their fathers, fathers-in-law, younger brothers, and even women in the house.”

He said law enforcers arrested more than 12,900 leaders and activists in 289 cases across the country since October 28.

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