'I heard a bang and blood splashed on my body'
Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, still reeling from the shock of Saturday's grisly attacks, yesterday blamed the government for the bloody string of grenade attacks and gunshots that killed 19 people and wounded 200.
At her residence, Sudha Sadan, Hasina described to the reporters what she witnessed on that fateful day.
"I had barely completed my speech and was going to get down from the truck, I heard a big bang and the next moment blood splashed on my body."
"Mamun, a security guard, helped me sit on the truck while the other grenades started to explode one after another," she continued. "In a few moments, leaders and security members formed a human shield around me and helped me get into my car. Then came bullets hitting my car one after another."
Hasina, who came out unscathed, accused the government of launching the attacks.
Replying to a query, she said,"Of course the government was involved in the attack."
To justify her claim she said government itself proved its involvement by refusing to hand over the bodies for namaje-janaja.
" Why the police aren't handing over the dead bodies and why people are being barred from holding the scheduled funerals?" she questioned.
On the suspects Hasina said, as 'Khaleda-Nizami government' plotted the attacks, so involvement of a section of experts or intelligence people in the execution of blasts is very much likely.
During the briefing, urging all the democratic forces to launch a united campaign against the religious radicals, she said, "It is high time for all to offer a united resistance and uproot the evil forces, otherwise none of this country will ever be safe".
The grenades hurled at Saturday's rally are usually used by the army, the former prime minister observed. Immediately after the explosions people who went to rescue the injured came under baton charge and teargas attack by police, she said voicing her suspicion of the motives for such police action.
Hasina said, "The plan was obviously designed to kill me. Gunshots aiming at my vehicle say so. The grace of Almighty Allah saved me, but 18 people are dead so far."
Hasina said as the BNP-Jamaat government harbours the religious fanatics, it is very much possible that Islamic extremists with the backing of the government perpetrated the ghastly acts.
Responding to a question as to why the government would carry out such an attack, the opposition leader replied, "The government would do so because of ideological differences".
"It is a question of ideology. We are against fanaticism while they (ruling alliance) are against secularism," she said.
Recalling the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman 29 years ago she said that a number of BNP and Jamaat leaders many a time threatened her with staging another August 15,the bloody day that saw Bangabandhu and most of his family members perished in unprecedented acts of violence.
"So it may happen anytime again,"she added.
Asked whether she would seek justice from the government, she said, "How come! When the government itself carried out the attacks."
She said she rather demands an international probe into the Saturday's grenade attacks and other bomb blast across the country and Chittagong arms haul.
On violent outburst across the country, Hasina said it is very much understandable that the party supporters and people in general have grown so angry and widespread agitation continues.
It is difficult to control the situation during mob rule, she said. With many of their leaders, workers and supporters still fighting for life in hospitals, people are so agitated now, said Hasina adding, "After Saturday's attacks what else do you expect?"