Less than three weeks after Kazi Arif, deputy chief of the leftist Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) party, was gunned down along with five others while addressing a peace rally in the south-western district of Kushtia, on the night of 7 March 1999, powerful military-issue grenades rolled into a crowd watching a cultural show in the nearby city of Jessore. The explosions killed six people and sent over 150 to hospital.

The show in Jessore had been organised by Udichi, an organisation which has done much to keep cultural activities running during the country's hard times. Udichi began as the cultural wing of the erstwhile pro-Moscow Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), but over the years had evolved a distinct identity serving as a platform for budding artistes. It had never been thought of as a threat by anyone, and thus the sense of shock was more pronounced.

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Himal Southasian