The day was August 6, 1945 during the World War II. An American bomber dropped the world's first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The magnitude of the explosion was beyond our imagination. It destroyed 90 percent of the city and killed 80,000 people. Exposed to radiation, tens of thousands died later. Three days later, a second American bomber dropped another nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, killing around 40,000 more. We still bear the shock of the grisly bombings.
And interestingly, it was in August in 1939 when Adlof Hitler, the Nazi German dictator, made a deal with the Soviet Union to invade Poland. Known as Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, signed on August 23, 1939, it guaranteed that the two countries would not attack each other. By signing the pact, Hitler wanted to protect Germany from having to fight a two-front war which he planned to begin soon. He made the deal in light of the experiences of the First World War. The two-front war in World War I had weakened and undermined the German forces. The pact however was broken when the Germans attacked the Soviet Union two years later, on June 22, 1941.
The World War I also spread extensively in the August of 1914. Around a half century later, Iraq under Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990.
We also have our fair share of coup and violent crimes. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members were brutally murdered and his government was overthrown in the month of August in 1975, only three and a half years after Bangladesh emerged as an independent country. The second biggest political crime was committed in 2004 when a grisly grenade attack was carried out on an Awami League rally on August 21 to assassinate Sheikh Hasina, Bangabandhu's eldest daughter. She narrowly escaped, but the barbaric attack killed 24 leaders and activists of her party and had injured more than 300 people.
It was also the month of August that Islamic militants carried out a series of near simultaneous bomb attacks in the country's 63 of 64 district headquarters in 2005.
BNP's founder Gen Ziaur Rahman was the biggest beneficiary of Bangabandhu's murder. The killers, a band of disgruntled army officers who unconstitutionally installed a new government led by Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed made Gen Zia the chief of army staff, removing General Shafiullah from the office. Taking over the office of the army chief, Gen Zia gradually became the most powerful man in the country. He grabbed power by taking over the offices of the chief martial law administrator and the president. The parliament controlled by the BNP passed the Constitution's Fifth Amendment in April 1979, ratifying and validating all martial law proclamations, orders and regulations and activities done in between August 15, 1975 and April 9, 1979. The Fifth Amendment however was declared illegal by the Supreme Court later.
When the grenade attack was carried out on the AL rally on August 21, 2004, the BNP led by Khaleda Zia was in power. Khaleda's government did not conduct any proper investigation into the carnage. The Criminal Investigation Department had cooked up the much talked about story of Joj Mia, a pretty criminal. But further investigation conducted during the AL-led government revealed that the attack was masterminded by the Bangladesh chapter of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and the then state minister for Home and some senior intelligence officials. The investigation also claimed to have found the involvement of Tarique Rahman, senior vice-president of the BNP.
The August 17 bomb blasts were a manifestation of the unbridled rise of militancy during the past BNP government. Jama'tul Mujahideen Bangladesh the banned Islamist outfit that carried out the blasts was allegedly patronised by the past BNP government.
So, every year on the anniversaries of these three events, the BNP will have to face strings of criticism. History will keep haunting the party in the years to come.
The writer is Senior Reporter, The Daily Star.