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Aug 21 grenade attack: Injured victims spending their days in pain

  • Published at 12:21 am August 21st, 2020
21 AUgust_Grenade
The dead and the injured on the street in front of the Awami League headquarters at Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka after the grenade attack on August 21, 2004 Focus Bangla

Many victims of the grenade attack suffered mental trauma for a long time

Yasmin Hossain, senior vice president of Bangladesh Mohila Awami League, was invited to meet the prime minister on February 21 this year.

She reached the Bangabandhu International Conference Center before the start of the program. 

However she was stopped at the gate by the security. The security officers at the event noticed that their metal detector was giving a signal near the left leg of Yasmin Hossain.

At that time, Yasmin Hossain had to tell the security officers about the metal rod in her left leg which was injured during the grenade attack on August 21, 2004.

Like many other victims of that day, Yasmin Hossain has since been facing this sort of uncomfortable situation because of the injury she suffered from hundreds of grenade splinters during the vicious attacks in 2004. She moves around limping as she has a metal rod in her left leg because of the injuries.

“Whenever I close my eyes, I can still see Ivy Rahman lying beside me. Bloody bodies of countless men and women around. Everyone is screaming to survive. But who will save who? All of us were living corpses at that time. Still some of the injured tried to take others to the hospital. I still get nightmares when I think about that horrible day,” said Yasmin Hossain.

Yasmin Hossain was then the organizing secretary of Mohila Awami League’s Dhaka and Rangpur divisions. She is still actively participating in politics with injuries in her body. She is now living in Luxmibazar area of Dhaka.

About five hundred men and women like Yasmin are still carrying the pain because of the injuries caused by the splinters in their bodies during the August 21 grenade attack.

Of them, families of 20 injured and 11 dead are living in a government housing project at Joynagar area in Mirpur 13.

Each of the families were given 1,500 sq ft flats on behalf of the prime minister in August 2018.

Everyone living at the multi-storied building are part of an extended family now who got involved in the politics of Awami League following the ideology of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Some of the residents of the building Khurshida Begum, freedom fighter AH Morshed, Nazim Uddin Nazmul, Abdur Razzak, Nurjahan Moni, Nargis Akter, Doulat Nesa, Khodeja Begum Hena, Selina Akter, and Harun-ur-Rashid talked to Dhaka Tribune on August 18. They were all injured in the August 21 grenade attack.

While remembering the grenade attack on August 21, AH Morshed told Dhaka Tribune: “Although my ancestral home is in Narayanganj’s Araihazar upazila, I used to live in Shonir Akhra area in Jatrabari at that time. That day, we reached the Bangabandhu Avenue with a rally of 23 people led by the deceased lawmaker Habibur Rahman Mollah.”

Morshed said: “It was very hot that day. So I was going to eat something at Purnima Confectionery next door. We came back when Sheikh Hasina came on the stage. When she was about to finish her speech, the whole area was shaken up by a loud noise. Panic spread around quickly that a bombing had taken place. Everyone started running to save their lives.”

“I also started running towards the east side of the stadium. When I reached the outer stadium I fell down. A policeman came to me and told me to run away. I replied to him saying you can shoot me if you want but I can’t run. I was bleeding at that time. Later I received medical attention from a hospital in Jatrabari,” he said. 

Ever since the grenade attack, Morshed cannot see clearly with his left eye.

About his current condition, Morshed said: “I sometimes can’t feel any strength in my legs and have to go to India for treatment. I had a son who died in 2012. I am now just passing my days with the pain of losing a son and the grenade splinters in my body.”

A day of nightmare

Many victims of the grenade attack had suffered mental trauma for a long time due to PTSD.

Whenever August 21 comes around, they experience mental trauma. They can still vividly remember the helpless cries, bloody corpses, and people running around with blood everywhere on that day.

Dhaka Metropolitan Awami League Vice President Md Nazimuddin said: “I have been involved in Awami League’s politics all my life. But I never experienced anything like this. I can still remember that day. Can’t talk to anyone about it. But I suffer internally, tears run through my eyes. Only those who experienced that day will understand the meaning of the tears.”

Nazimuddin said: “I was on the stage that day. I was then the forest and environment affairs secretary of Greater Dhaka Metropolitan Awami League. Some of the leaders like me gave a speech that day. 

“Later Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya and former mayor Mohammad Hanif told us to get down from the truck [used as the stage]. Then we were standing beside the truck. The prime minister then started her speech. But before she finished, attacks started from the south side,” he recalled.

About his own physical condition, he said there are splinters stuck in his body from waist to feet.

Living life on medicine

Although the Awami League provided medical treatment at home and abroad after the grenade attack, the injured are still carrying splinters in their bodies.

Dhamrai’s Selim Chowdhury died after undergoing 10 operations last year. And those who survived, have to take regular medication in addition to surgery and medical treatment.

Nargis Akhter, who also lives in the Jayanagar Project, said there are still some splinters left on her right side of the body and neck.

The doctors told her if she gets a surgery on her neck, it can go both ways. So she is now trying to reduce the pain all year long with painkillers without undergoing the surgery.

Many injured said they experience more pain during the winter seasons. They cannot move around normally. 

Many lost their strength to work. Most of the time they feel sick. Some are experiencing other health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney, and heart problems.

Most of the female activists were near Ivy Rahman

The female leaders injured that day said most of them were followers of deceased Ivy Rahman and Sahara Khatun. The female activists of the party used to come from different wards in the procession led by Ivy Rahman and Sahara Khatun.

One of them is Khurshida Begum Hena. She is currently vice president of Bangladesh Mohila Awami League.

She said: “I was a member of the central committee of the Mohila Awami League back then. I was a bit late to reach the event with the procession. So I was standing a bit far from Ivy Rahman.”

“But somehow I managed to get to Ivy Rahman after the grenade attack. I was bleeding from both my legs, lower abdomen and back. Then the party leaders and workers took Ivy Rahman to the morgue of Dhaka Medical College Hospital,” she remembered.

“At the hospital, Dr Kamrul Hasan gave me the gold jewellery of Ivy Rahman. I later handed them over to MP Mokbul’s son Masud. We had such a relationship with Ivy Rahman that Dr Kamrul also trusted me to hand over Ivy Rahman’s jewellery to me,” she added.

Another injured Nurjahan Moni said Ivy Rahman and Sahara Khatun knew every single leader and activists of the party and looked after them.

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