August 21 grenade attack: Living itself is now an ordeal
Even though 18 years have passed, Mahbuba Parvin is still unable to put herself back together after the trauma she faced in the August 21 grenade attacks on a rally by the Awami League.
The attack had left over 24 people killed and 300 wounded.
With over 1,800 splinters all over her body, including the head and kidneys, she has developed multiple health complications and has been battling severe mental health issues.
"All I can think of now is dying. I want to take my life as I can't live with this unbearable pain and suffering any longer," Mahbuba, vice president, Dhaka City (North) Awami Swechchhasebok League, told The Daily Star over the phone yesterday.
After a few minutes of silence, she added, "Living itself has become an ordeal as I am constantly suffering from pain in my body. Despite this, at least we [all the victims of the attack] could get some mental peace if we could see execution of the verdict while we are still alive.
Expressing her dismay over the delay in executing the verdict of the grenade attack case, she further said, "As my health is deteriorating gradually, I don't know if I will be able to see the perpetrators get punished before I die."
In photos that were published in different media after the attacks, Mahbuba could be seen in a blood-stained shari, lying among the dead.
After the attack, she was first able to move after spending three days in coma and gained consciousness 25 days later.
AL chief Sheikh Hasina, the then opposition leader, narrowly escaped death with injuries to her right ear, while Ivy Rahman, wife of late president Zillur Rahman, was among those killed.
Now in her 60s, Nasima Ferdushe, one of the most unfortunate survivors of the deadly blast, said, she is among the few survivors who are still alive.
Nasima, vice president of Bangladesh Mohila Awami League, said, "I know my days are numbered as doctors have told me I am unable to fight off diseases due to the hundreds of splinters still inside my body."
The former MP still has around 1,500 splinters, including in the head and lungs, causing her unbearable pain regularly.
She said she was able to walk properly after five years of treatment.
"All we want now is to see justice and capital punishment to the attackers."
Rashida Akhtar Ruma, assistant secretary of Dhaka City Awami Mohila League, was only 24 when the attack took place.
With over 1,000 splinters still stuck inside her body, she said, "I'm 42 now and my health complications are increasing every day."
"All I want is the punishment to the attackers and the mastermind before I take my last breath."
Bazlur Rahman, president of Dhaka North city AL, who is carrying 58 splinters in his body, said he has accepted the unavoidable truth – that he will die from the pain caused by the grenade attack.
"I have accepted that I will never return to a normal life … But all I want is justice. If the culprits are punished, we will get some relief."
According to Kazi Shahanara Yeasmin, vice president of Swechchhasebok League, 17 survivors have already died without seeing justice.
With 134 splinters still in her body, she underwent 12 surgeries so far. Due to her deteriorating health, doctors have said her body cannot bear more.
"I don't know how many days I have left. My only wish to see the execution of the verdict," Shahanara, also a deputy attorney general, said.
According to the verdict, delivered by a special court in Dhaka on October 10, 2018, BNP's acting chairman Tarique Rahman and 18 others were sentenced to life in prison.
Meanwhile, former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and 18 others were given the death penalty on charges of murder through criminal conspiracy.
All 38 accused were also sentenced to life in prison for causing grievous injuries.