Published:  12:40 AM, 11 October 2018

A burden is off our shoulders

The judgment delivered in the August 2004 grenade blast case, coming fourteen years after the tragedy which killed 24 individuals and left scores of others gravely injured at an Awami League rally, is finally a triumph of the rule of law for the nation. It is regrettable that the case took so long to go through the courts and for the judgment to be arrived at.

The reasons why the delay has been there are all out there, of course. Where it should have been the prime responsibility of the government of the time --- it was the BNP-Jamaat combine in power --- to undertake a full and meaningful investigation of the tragic happening, precisely the opposite was done.

Khaleda Zia, at the time prime minister, and her political associates ridiculed the charges of the opposition Awami League about the involvement of the erstwhile ruling party and the government it led in the explosions as a conspiracy hatched by Sheikh Hasina and her people. Such reactions were not only laughable but also revealing of the sinister nature of the people then holding power.

Today, one cannot but recapitulate the sinister manner in which the explosions marred the Awami League rally on 21 August 2004 and swiftly snuffed out lives and left other lives in precarious conditions. The prominent Awami League leader Ivy Rahman was one of the casualties. Sheikh Hasina and other leading figures of the party, all of whom were on a truck when the blasts occurred, escaped miraculously.

The Awami League chief was left with bad ear injuries as a result of the blast. When one goes back to reflecting on the tragedy, one can easily spot the vast conspiracy that was at work on the day to wipe out an entire political leadership, in a manner similar to the tragedy visited upon the nation in August and November 1975.

An additional sordid part of the tragic episode is that once the explosions had taken place, all evidence was removed through having the place where the explosions occurred washed clean. A farce of a one-man commission was constituted by the government to investigate the crime. No one took it seriously.
Today, a burden has been lifted from our shoulders by the judgment.

That crime does not pay, even in Bangladesh where military and quasi-military regimes have tried over the decades to push the truth behind assassinations and explosions and government involvement in criminality under the rug, is a truth once more established in the country.

Never again must criminals of the kind on whom judgment has been passed walk free. Never again must organized crime, opposed to decency and ethics and values and democracy, rear its head in this country.

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