The government’s compensation package for the families of Holey’s victims is yet to be distributed almost a year after the attack despite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urging the authorities concerned to take all necessary steps to pass it along, said Home Ministry officials.
An official from the security division of the Home Ministry said: “We are now communicating with families, both foreign and local, of the victims of the attack.”
According to the official seeking anonymity, there were many issues still waiting to be addressed before the compensation could be handed out.
The terror attack on Holey Artisan Bakery was carried out on July 1, 2016, where gunmen held locals and foreigners hostage. 20 hostages were killed in the attack mostly Italian and Japanese nationals, along with an India and and American. Two policemen were all killed during the attack.
Although the attack was carried out by radical Islamist militants, authorities said that the terrorists had no ties to the Islamic State.
Sources also said that the nine Italian families had asked for help in November through the Bangladeshi ambassador in Italy as they were financially less well off compared to the families of the victims from Japan, India and the US.
Initially, a decision was made to send assistance to the Italian families, but it was vetoed by Finance Minister AMA Muhith. On May 14, Muhith and Hasina exchanged a series of notes where he argued that it would be discriminatory to provide assistance to only the Italian families, and it could cause potential embarrassment for the nation. He proposed that the families of all the victims be compensated, both local and foreign.
In May, the government decided to provide financial assistant to all the families of the victims of the attack. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed off on the order, asking the Finance Division to arrange for a total of €135,000 or about Tk1.23 crore for the families.
The prime minister said: “We will provide assistance to the families of the citizens of the different countries who were killed in the Gulshan terrorist attack.”
The finance minister also suggested that the money be paid out through the government exchequer as the Finance Division had said that it would not be possible to pay it through the Unexpected Expenditure Management Fund given the lack of funds near the end of the fiscal year.
On February 22, Pope Francis met with 36 family members of the Italian families and the issue of their compensation may be raised during a speculated visit to Bangladesh at the end of 2017.