The grenade attack had killed at least 24 people, including Awami League’s top female leader Ivy Rahman, and injured around 500 others, including Sheikh Hasina
Md Rafiqul Islam can no longer work as a regular photojournalist as one of his legs has been amputated after he sustained serious injuries in the heinous 21 August grenade attack in 2004.
He has already lost his job at a reputed daily as he cannot move freely for a damaged leg. Now, he has been afflicted with a severe financial crisis and immersed in a debt burden.
Rafiqul narrowly escaped death in the state-sponsored terror attack on an Awami League rally on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital. But his life has lost its colour.
"As a young and energetic journalist, I was doing multiple assignments a day until the attack changed everything," Rafiqul recalled that horrific day.
His family borrowed around Tk1 lakh from relatives for his treatment. "Even after all these years, I cannot repay the money."
After getting well, Rafiqul started photography as a freelancer but his camera got old by that time, causing a halt to the work.
"Then I bought a new one with Tk1 lakh in grant from some Awami League leaders. But my good days never came back. I doubt if they will do either," an agonised Rafiqul said.
The 21 August grenade attack had killed at least 24 people, including Awami League's top female leader Ivy Rahman, and injured around 500 others, including the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina.
The rally was organised in front of the Awami League's party office in Dhaka at the afternoon on August 21, 2004, in protest of terrorist activities by militants across the country and torture by police in Gopalganj.
Sheikh Hasina announced the start of the protest procession after around a twenty-minute speech on the stage set up on a truck.
Following the delivery of the speech, she was getting down from the stage. The grenade attack on the stage had begun. In only one and a half minutes, 11 powerful grenades exploded, killing 12 people on the spot. Others died at hospitals later.
Md Monir Hossen, a freedom fighter who had also been present at the rally, has still not been able to recover from the trauma caused by the attack.
He also lost a leg in that grenade attack and, since then, has been suffering from an untellable pain caused by grenade splinters that penetrated in his body.
"More than a hundred splinters penetrated in different parts of my body," said Monir, adding that he still cannot sleep at night owing to the pain.
"I was standing near the stage. The leader, Sheikh Hasina, had completed her speech and been going to get down from the truck. Suddenly, I heard a big bang and lost my consciousness."
"When I had regained consciousness after three days, I discovered myself on a bed of Dhaka Medical College Hospital," he recalled those fateful moments of the terror attack