A day after the gruesome grenade attack on August 21, 2004, the BNP government formed a one-member inquiry commission comprised of a High Court judge that submitted its report to the home ministry on October 2.
Media reports at that time said Justice Joynul Abedin’s probe hinted at links of “foreign enemies” with the attack but it stopped short of naming any country.
Apparently, the grisly attack was planned to kill Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, the then opposition leader, and her senior leaders present at a rally in front of the party’s central office at the Bangabandhu Avenue.
Before submitting his report, Justice Joynul Abedin had talked to reporters about it but did not disclose the identity and the motive of the attack that killed 20 and injured over 300. The judge said he was not at liberty to make them public.
However, talking to The Daily Star in 2015, the retired Justice claimed that a neighbouring country had wanted to create anarchy in efforts to unseat the then BNP-led government through the grenade attack.
That country wanted to establish a puppet government in place of the four-party government for its own vested interest. It wanted the people to go against the BNP-Jamaat government following the incident, he said, citing “findings” of his inquiry.
He said his findings might have been different had the Awami League President and then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina and other senior leaders present during the incident cooperated with the probe.
The AL had outright rejected the judicial inquiry commission and questioned the government’s sincerity to probe attack.
The party also did not allow the commission to inspect Hasina’s SUV that had whisked her to safety immediately after the blasts.
Asked, Justice Abedin told The Daily Star he had found evidence that the spy agency of that country had a hand in the attack.
He also added that he did not get any “clear” evidence of involvement of then BNP-Jamaat government or any other officials of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, National Security Intelligence or Prime Minister’s Office in the incident.
Justice Abedin, who was elevated to the Appellate Division in August 2006 and retired in December 2009, said he still believed his findings were complete and based on evidence.
Meanwhile, some senior investigating CID officials, presented a petty criminal, Joj Mia, as one of the attackers.
They had Joj Mia make a confessional statement, in which he named several absconding criminals known to be hiding in India as his co-conspirators.
The whole story fell apart as the media did not take long to find holes in his story.
Further investigation revealed in 2012 that the heinous attack was an outcome of conspiracy among militant outfit Huji and a section of senior officials of the home ministry, police, DGFI, NSI and PMO. Some influential leaders of the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami were also alleged to have been involved in the planning, according to the investigation. They were indicted in the case and are now facing trial.
Asked about the judicial inquiry commission’s findings in the light of those developments, Justice Abedin claimed his report was entirely based on evidence collected by the commission at the time.
The commission recorded statements of 123 people, including the injured victims and their doctors, AL leaders and activists present at the rally, explosives experts, journalists, and security men.
Referring to the ongoing trial process of August 21 grenade attack case, he said names of the attackers would be known after the judgment.
Abedin said he did not name any attackers in his probe. “We will have to wait and see who the attackers were,” he added.
[This article was originally published in this paper on August 21, 2015.]