Recollection of uncertain moments of Sheikh Hasina’s rescue
By Anisur Rahman
DHAKA, Aug 20, 2022 (BSS) –
Bangladesh’s history recorded the August 21, 2004 grenade attack on incumbent Prime Minister and the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina as one of the most gruesome incidents, killing 24 people and wounding 500 others visibly to change the country’s political course.
Sheikh Hasina, who was assailants’ key-target, narrowly escaped the attack at the carnage scene at Bangabandhu Avenue where the killers exploded 8 arges grenades, though several unexploded ones were found later near the scene.
Subsequent investigation and legal procedures unveiled two former army and air force officers, Major (Retd) Shoaib Md Tarikullah and Squadron Leader (Retd) Abdullah Al Mamun, both former agents of elite Special Security Force (SSF) with specialized training on protection, whisked her away from the scene.
According to the case records and investigation documents, some 45 seconds starting from 5.18 pm were the moments when the attack was carried out while Sheikh Hasina and senior party leaders along with the two ex-officers were on a truck, which was used as the makeshift stage for the rally.
The following is the brief description of the moments, recaptured as the crucial 45 seconds, in the investigation process.
- 5.18 pm – Sheikh Hasina completes her speech as the chair of the rally and prepares to leave the truck.
- The first grenade thrown by assailants explodes, exposing everyone on the truck and around to a state of wilderness.
- The leaders try to take cover virtually making a human shield around Sheikh Hasina on the front side of the truck.
- The second grenade attack forces all on the truck to sit down. Mamun virtually drags Sheikh Hasina under a small table kept on the truck and keeps her down using his body weight and knees.
- Shoaib shouts at Mamun to keep her down and himself goes down and comes up on the truck using a wooden stairs several times to gauge the situation as the grenades are being thrown from the rooftops of nearby buildings.
- The assailants continue to hurl grenades one after another until the seventh grenade was exploded.
- Shoaib shouts at Mamun saying “bring down Apa (Sheikh Hasina). Mamun brings her out from beneath the table keeping her low and shouts at Shoaib: “open the jeep door”.
- Shoaib is on the truck’s middle stairs while Mamun is bringing Sheikh Hasina towards the edge of the stairs.
- Visibly seeing Sheikh Hasina on the truck, the assailants hurl their eighth grenade from the Ramna Bhaban side in their desperate attempt to kill her. The whirling device stops under the vehicle and then explodes while its splinters pierce through the truck’s fuel tank. Fuel starts pouring on the street underneath.
- Mamun again takes her back to the safety under the truck.
- After a pause of fraction of seconds Shoaib comes down from the truck and opens the jeep door and goes back to the truck’ stairs as Mamun brings her there again and the two quickly push her into the vehicle.
- 5.19 pm — Sheikh Hasina gets onboard the jeep which immediately left the scene for Dhanmondi Shudhasadan.
- Both the security agents received grenade splinters and required medical treatments.