'For the party in power to try to gain political advantage by killing opposition leaders is not indicative of democratic thought'
Judge Shahed Nuruddin of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 was unequivocal in his observations before pronouncing the verdicts in the August 21 grenade attack cases on Wednesday.
“In politics, inevitably there will be myriad disputes between the ruling party and the opposition, but trying to eliminate leaders of the opposition is not acceptable,” he said.
The court observed that in a democratic nation, the party in state power must make the utmost efforts to consolidate democracy by adopting a liberal policy towards the opposition.
“For the party in power to try to gain political advantage by killing opposition leaders is not indicative of democratic thought,” the judge said.
“The public does not want this. They want to understand a party’s policy, ideology and plans by participating in their rally and processions. The public will turn away from politics if throwing Arges grenades to kill political leaders and common people becomes a trend.”
Judge Shahed Nuruddin said that the court did not want to see any repeat of the 2004 grenade attack on an Awami League rally, or other brutal attacks of the recent past, such as those at the Shahjalal shrine, against the former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria, or at Ramna.
The court mentioned prosecution witnesses who, despite treatment at home and abroad, are still suffering from splinter injuries from the August 21 attack. It also talked about witness accounts that described the horrible scene in front of the Awami League’s office on Bangabandhu Avenue in the immediate aftermath.
The court talked about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who still suffers from a hearing impairment because of the attack, and said only “exemplary punishment” can prevent the repetition of such a brutal attack.
The judge remembered how the defeated forces of 1971 continued to mar the spirit of the Liberation War, and how they killed Bangabandhu along with his family.
He said: "The defeated force unitedly assassinated Bangabandhu on August 15, 1975. They also attempted to thwart the trial process. Conspiracies were hatched in the country through the Indemnity Bill. After 23 long years the nation got purged of the stigma of killing the Father of the Nation through the completion of the trial process.”
The court further observed that the grenade attack was meant to eliminate top Awami League leaders from politics, and that localised militants actively participated in that.
With assistance of international militants and state machinery, the perpetrators directed Arges grenades - normally used in warfare - in broad daylight, on a political rally in the heart of the country’s capital.
“The attack was not just an attack, it was an attempt to eliminate the opposition from politics,” the court said.