Aug 21 grenade attack
How Sheikh Hasina was saved
Published : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018 at 10:15 AM Count : 367
On Aug 21, 2004, a grenade attack to assassinate Sheikh Hasina took place in front of the Awami League central office at Bangabandhu Avenue just before the rally against terrorism kicked off.
Grenades were charged one by one towards the end of Hasina’s speech as she stood on the makeshift stage on a truck.
Her security personnel and the party leaders and activists created a human shield risking their lives and saved the then opposition leader, bdnews24.com reports.
Retired Squadron Leader Abdullah Al Mamun and Retired Major Shoeb Md Tariqullah, who were in charge of Hasina’s security, got her off the truck and put her inside the bullet proof car.
Both of the security personnel of Hasina carry scores of grenade splinters in their bodies to this day.
Hasina and other leaders delivered their speech standing behind a table used as the podium at right end of the truck. Hasina’s bullet proof Mercedes car stood within a few yards of the steps at the back of the truck.
“Sheikh Hasina had almost finished her speech as she was flanked by the Awami League leaders including Mohammed Hanif and Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya,” security official Mamun recalled.
Mamun sat beside the table used as the podium during the entire time the AL leaders spoke. Retired Maj Shoeb stood at the bottom rung of the steps while Retired Maj Gen Tarek Ahmed Siddique stood beside the car.
“Since I had been working with Sheikh Hasina for a few years, I could understand when she was about to end her speech. That day too, I assumed she was about to finish her speech and approached her. It was when I reached near the table that the first grenade was hurled,” said Mamun.
It was followed by three more explosions and smoke engulfed the entire area.
“Mohammed Hanif and I flanked her. Hanif Bhai tried to make her sit but she was refusing. I told her to sit too. At one point, we forced her to sit.”
“Hanif Bhai had shoved Sheikh Hasina’s head underneath the table. I was looking at the Bata outlet next to the Awami League office. But it felt the grenades were charged from somewhere beside the Ramna Bhaban.”
“Three more grenades exploded around the truck. Shoeb, who stood at the bottom step, barked orders telling us to get Sheikh Hasina down immediately.”
“A grenade hit the back of the truck, bounced and exploded beside the truck when I took Sheikh Hasina near the steps. That explosion probably leaked the oil tank of the truck. I took her back to the previous position as the grenade exploded,” said Mamun.
In the meantime, the AL leaders, activists and security personnel created a human shield around Sheikh Hasina. Mamun, Mohammed Hanif, Maya and Hasina’s cousin Nazibuddin Ahmed surrounded her.
“But Shoeb warned us that the oil tank had leaked and that it would not be wise to keep Sheikh Hasina on the truck anymore. Fire could break out any time,” Mamun said.
“I didn’t think twice and helped her get on her feet. She had lost her shoes and glasses. Shoeb also held her when we reached the step in the middle. We put her on the left seat at the front of the car.”
But Hasina never wanted to leave the injured behind, said Mamun.
“We took her to Sudha Sadan against her will. There were mutilated bodies scattered on the street between the truck and the Awami League office. The injured were groaning in pain.”
“What will happen to them? We cannot leave them here,” Mamun said quoting Hasina as saying.
“We didn’t pay any heed to her and asked driver Matin to drive off,” he said.
Tarek, Mamun and Shoeb were hit with grenade splinters as they desperately tried to save Hasina that day.
Those who charged the grenades could see Hasina’s position properly, believes Shoeb.
“A grenade hit the back of the truck when we first tried to get Sheikh Hasina off it; and gunshots were fired the moment we put her inside the car,” he told bdnews24.com.
“She asked us if we were fine once we got in the car. But she got her hearing impaired. We noticed there were no police cars around us,” said Mamun.
“We passed the Secretariat, Doel Square, Shahid Minar, Palashi and stopped at the signal in front of Eden College. Then we reached Sudha Sasdan through Pilkhana. Shoeb Bhai, Tarek Sir, Maya Bhai, Nazib Bhai and I sat at the back seat.”
[The report was first published in 2008]