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Monday, October 26, 2009

[ALOCHONA] Confrontation ruled politics at that time

The Daily Star

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Confrontation ruled politics at that time

In the months before the August 21 grenade blasts four years back, the BNP-led alliance government was lurching from one crisis to another.

The political situation grew increasingly volatile amid a breakdown of law and order.

At least 13 major terror attacks led up to the August 21 carnage at an Awami League rally. Most of those assaults were against AL, the main opposition party then, and organisations championing secular ideals.

The BNP-Jamaat-led administration was in a tight corner also because of the opposition's call for the incumbents to step down growing louder.

Price spiral of essentials, human rights violations, rampant corruption and politicisation, persecution of journalists and minorities, and rise of militancy made matters even worse.

Against this backdrop, the AL-led opposition's ultimatum for the government to quit by April clearly put the BNP-Jamaat alliance on edge.

Attacks on Sheikh Hasina and AL men, oppression on opposition leaders and activists including mass arrests, resignation of two BNP lawmakers and their joining Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh, vigilante campaign by Siddiqul Islam Bangla Bhai's Jagrata Muslim Janata in northern districts, defeat in a legal battle over army deployment in the Dhaka-10 by-election, and a rigged election in the same constituency left the ruling alliance mired deep in controversy.

And then there was Hawa Bhaban, the Banani office from where Tarique Rahman would pull the strings behind the prime minister and her cabinet. AL even announced programmes to lay siege to the controversial office.

Interestingly, the government blamed the main opposition AL for all the ills of the country. Instead of carrying out fair probe into the blasts and killings, it used the law enforcers to incriminate the opposition leaders and workers.

Here is an order of major attacks that took place between January and August 21, 2004:

January 12: Four killed and 37 others injured in bomb explosion at the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal in Sylhet

January 15: Journalist Manik Saha bombed to death in Khulna

January 29: Blasts in Khulna kill two including an AL leader

February 27: Noted writer Humayun Azad critically injured in machete attack near Bangla Academy in the capital

April 2: Ten truckloads of arms and ammunition seized in Chittagong

May 7: Gunmen shoot dead AL lawmaker Ahsanullah Master and a schoolboy in Tongi

May 20: Bangla Bhai's men bludgeon three to death in Naogaon

May 21: British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury hurt in grenade attack at Hazrat Shahjalal Shrine in Sylhet.

June 4: Arson attack on double-decker near Sheraton hotel kills nine including a two-year-old girl

June 21: One killed, AL lawmaker Suranjit Sengupta injured in grenade blast in Sunamganj

June 27: Khulna Press Club President Humayun Kabir Balu killed in a bomb attack

August 5: Simultaneous blasts in front of three cinemas in Sylhet city

August 7: AL leader and Sylhet City Corporation Mayor Badruddin Ahmed Kamran escapes grenade attack, but sees one of his party colleague die

August 21: At least 23 AL leaders including Ivy Rahman killed and scores injured in grenade attack on a rally on Bangabandhu Avenue.

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