Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today led the nation in mourning the 22 Dhaka siege victims, including an Indian girl, at a solemn ceremony here as the country paid a tearful homage to those killed in the worst terror attack on its soil. Diplomats, politicians and people from across the different strata of society paid tributes and placed wreaths during the ceremony at the Bangladesh Army Stadium in Dhaka cantonment which drew a huge crowd despite drizzle.
Islamist militants hacked to death 20 hostages after they stormed a cafe popular with expatriates and diplomats in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone on Friday. At the ceremony, Hasina placed floral wreaths at the caskets of three Bangladeshi victims — 2 Bangladeshis and one American of Bangladeshi-origin.
The caskets were placed on a raised platform which had the flags of India, Italy, Bangladesh, Japan and the US — signifying the nationalities of the foreigners killed.
Autopsy on the bodies had been conducted earlier at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka. Of those killed, 18 were foreigners — nine Italians, 7 Japanese, one American of Bangladeshi-origin and an Indian, 19-year-old Tarishi Jain, were among those killed. Two other Bangladeshis were also among the hostages slaughtered.
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who was present at the ceremony, said, “I mentioned to the PM (Hasian) that I have just been to the airport to see off our daughter, Tarishi.”
“She (Tarishi) had just left Bangladesh and gone back home with her parents and the PM (Hasina) told me that she is deeply distraught and she wanted me to convey condolences to our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi), External Affairs Minister (Sushma Swaraj) and she said that we will be resolute in the fight against terror.
“We are also very touched by the gesture of the PM to honour the victims of the terrorist attack on a personal basis,” he said.
The bodies of two Bangladeshis and one Bangladeshi-born US citizen were handed over to the relatives for subsequent rituals and burial after the ceremony that was held on the second day of the two-day nationwide mourning declared in the country.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the killing of the hostages, mostly foreigners, and two police officers during the 12-hour siege that ended on Saturday after the army stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery, killing six attackers and capturing one alive. However, Bangladesh has blamed “homegrown” Islamist terrorists and Pakistan’s spy agency ISI for the country’s worst terror attack, ruling out the role of the Islamic State.