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PM Hasina calls for speeding up the verdict on 21 August grenade attack

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday stressed the need for expediting the implementation of the trial court’s verdict of the 21 August grenade attack case.

“Our leaders and activists including Ivy Rahman were brutally killed in broad daylight on this 21 August. The trial has been held. Its (trial court) judgment has been handed out. This verdict should be implemented soon,” she said.

The premier was addressing a discussion arranged by Bangladesh Awami League (AL) in the city’s Bangabandhu Avenue, marking the 19th anniversary of the 21 August grenade attack.

The 21 August grenade attack was carried out at an anti-terrorism rally organised by then-opposition AL in 2004 in front of its central office in Bangabandhu Avenue.

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On this day in 2004, a grisly attack was carried out on an anti-terrorism rally of the Awami League on Bangabandhu Avenue when the BNP-Jamaat alliance was in power. The then-opposition leader and current PM Sheikh Hasina was the main target. The horrendous attack left 24 people killed and nearly 1000 injured.

AL President and also then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina luckily escaped death, but her hearing was impaired by the repeated grenade blasts. Among the dead was Awami League’s women affairs secretary and late President Zillur Rahman’s wife Ivy Rahman.

A Dhaka court had already convicted and sentenced 49 people – 19 of them to death and 19 to life imprisonment. Eleven others were sentenced to jail on different terms.

Eighteen convicted people, including BNP leader Tarique Rahman, have remained fugitives.

Appeals against the judgment are now being heard in the high court.

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 Hasina, while presiding over today’s discussion, said some convicted people of the grenade attack case are now in jail but the main mastermind stays outside the country.

Not mentioning the name of Tarique Rahman, she said he went abroad to sign a bond. “Why doesn’t he come back if he has courage? We’ve transformed the country into Digital Bangladesh. He is now talking big taking advantage…. He should come back if he has the courage. The people of Bangladesh will not spare that killer,” she said.

Recalling the memories of the grisly grenade attack, the premier said Khaleda Zia was the then prime minister and the question is what role she did she play at that time.

She questioned why Khaleda obstructed police (to play the proper role) and didn’t take any initiative to protect evidence of the attack.

“What does it prove? There is no doubt that Khaleda, Tarique and their men were completely involved in this grenade attack. It was also revealed in the investigation,” said the AL President.

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A one-minute silence was observed in memory of the victims of the 21 August, 1975 carnage, 3 November, 1975 jail-killing and the 21 August, 2004 grenade attacks before offering prayers for the salvation of the departed souls.

The PM placed a wreath at the monument there to pay tributes to the victims of the August 21 grenade attack.

Flanked by senior AL leaders, Sheikh Hasina then placed another wreath at the monument on behalf of her party.

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader delivered the opening speech.

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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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