Sharmina Parvin, one of the eyewitnesses of the Holey Artisan attack, yesterday told a tribunal in Dhaka how she saw innocent people being killed by the militants.
Parvin, wife of Abul Hasnat Reza Karim who was arrested after the attack and exempted from charges later, gave her statement before the Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal of Dhaka.
Parvin said she, her husband, and two children went to the Holey Artisan Bakery around 8:30pm on July 1, 2016, to celebrate her daughter's birthday.
“We ordered food and were waiting at the last table of the Bakery. All of a sudden, we saw three to four armed young men enter and start shooting indiscriminately. They asked us if we are Muslims. We said yes. Then they asked us not to be afraid.
“They also asked us to duck. After a while, we saw them shooting at eight or 10 foreigners who were behind us. They asked us to cover the eyes and noses of our children so that they would not have to see what was happening,” she told the court.
After a while, the masked militants asked four people, including a boy and two girls, to keep seated beside Parvin's family throughout the night, she said.
The militants put out all the lights except one in a veranda. Around 1:30am, they brought a foreigner before us and shot him dead. They also randomly mutilated the bodies to ensure the deaths, she added.
“They arranged some food for us for sehri since it was the Ramadan. But we could not eat with the dead bodies all around us. They also took my husband and a boy at gun point to the rooftop and after five to six minutes the militants brought them back.
“At one stage, the militants gave us a key to leave the Bakery and returned our valuables including the mobile phones. Around 7:30am the following day, law enforcement agencies rescued us and later handed us over to detectives. The detectives then took us to their office, interrogated us about the incident and freed us.”
She added that her husband Hasnat, former teacher of North South University, was arrested in the case filed over the attack.
Judge Majibur Rahman of Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal of Dhaka recorded Parvin's statement.
Lawyers of the accused then cross-examined her.
Slain assistant commissioner Rabiul Karim's brother Shamsuzzaman and cousin Mollah Anwarul Amin also testified before the tribunal.
Including them, 20 witnesses have testified before the tribunal on different dates.
Shamsuzzaman said he learnt that his brother Rabiul Karim was injured during a gunfight with militants at the Holey Artisan around 10:00pm on that day.
By the time he reached the United Hospital his brother was dead.
He stayed at the hospital that night and signed an inquest report police had prepared in the morning.
Amin also came to know that his cousin was killed and went to the United Hospital. They received the body from Dhaka Medical College and Hospital the next day.
The tribunal then fixed February 12 for the next hearing.
On the fateful night in 2016, armed militants stormed the upscale restaurant in the capital's Gulshan and killed 20 hostages, mostly foreign nationals. Two police officials were also killed during the 12-hour standoff.