The court verdict has left several wounded victims of the Aug 21, 2004 grenade attack unhappy, especially the sentencing of Tarique Rahman and Harris Chowdhury to life terms in jail.
The victims said they expected the court to hand death sentences to BNP Senior Vice Chairman Tarique and party chief Khaleda Zia’s former political secretary Harris in the two cases over the grisly attack on Wednesday.
A tribunal in Dhaka sentenced to death 19 people, including former state minister for home affairs Lutfozzaman Babar and former deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu of the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami government, for the attack on am Awami League rally in Dhaka that left 24 killed and over 500 others injured, many of them maimed.
Tarique, who is running the BNP from London as his mother is in jail for corruption, and Harris are among 19 who got life sentence.
The tribunal sentenced 11 government officials to different terms in jail over the attack.
Ummey Razia Kajol
Swechchhasebak League Assistant Women’s Affairs Secretary Ummey Razia Kajol still carries grenade splinters in her body.Now an MP from a seat reserved for women, Kajol hoped all the 49 accused would get death penalty.
“I am not happy. I will never be satisfied until Tarique, Harris and others sentenced to life in prison are hanged,” she told bdnews24.com after the verdict was delivered.
The then women’s affairs secretary of the Awami League’s wing for volunteers, Mahbuba Parvin, who was also injured in the attack, said Tarique should have been given the capital punishment.
“This verdict has pained me as Tarique and Harris have escaped the gallows. I am not happy with this ruling,” she said.
But another victim, Azizur Rahman Bachchu, the president of the Awami League’s Dhaka Metropolitan North unit, said they were ‘a little bit happy’ with the verdict. “But Tarique and others should have been given the capital punishment,” he said.
“We will appeal to the High Court for his death sentence if necessary,” he added.
Azizur Rahman Bachchu
Victims Swechchhasebak League activists Samrat Akbar Sabuj and Mahmuda Mowara Begum are also not happy.“Tarique was the mastermind of the heinous attack but he has been given life sentence. He deserves death penalty for the crime he committed,” Sabuj told the media outside the court after the verdict.
“He (Tarique) has finished my beautiful life. Will I get that life back? The main culprit behind this is Tarique,” he said, expressing hope that the High Court will fulfil his expectation.
“I am living in pain with splinters in my body. Everyone expected Tarique would get death penalty but that has not happened,” Monwara said.
She also said she believed Khaleda was involved in the attack and should have been prosecuted in the Aug 21 grenade attack cases.
Badr Aziz Uddin, who is also an eye witness in the two cases, hoped Tarique would be sentenced to death if the state challenged the verdict.