7 killed, 60 bullet-hit as cops, BDR open fire
At least seven people were killed and about 300 injured as police and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) opened fire on demonstrators advancing towards the office of Asia Energy Corporation (Bangladesh) Pvt Ltd in Dinajpur in August 26. Thousands of demonstrators, mainly farmers and indigenous people including women armed with bows and arrows and sticks, joined the protest apprehending massive eviction and loss of farmland that might be caused by the implementation of the Phulbari Coalmine Project. The protesters enforced an indefinite hartal at Phulbari starting from August 27 in protest of the police action. The Asia Energy said in a statement that “unrepresentative” outsiders created trouble at the Phulbari coalmine site, UNB reported.
Witnesses said the protesters under the banner of National Committee to Protect Oil and Gas, a platform of different rights groups and leftist parties, marched towards the Asia Energy office around 4:30pm after a huge rally at the Dhaka intersection. They chanted slogans against the British company that is operating the Phulbari project. Thousands of demonstrators took control of Phulbari on the second day of an indefinite strike and set fire to houses of some Asian Energy employees, clamouring for ouster of the London-based company. The agitators also vandalised the Asian Energy office and cut off road and rail links between Dinajpur and the other districts in protest at Saturday's police actions that left at least five people dead and over 300 injured. According to unconfirmed reports, seven people died that day when police and Bangladesh Rifles men fired on the locals demonstrating against open-pit coalmine project at Phulbari. --The Daily Star, August 27-29.
Govt to end tenure by not separating judiciary
The judiciary will not be separated from the executive during the tenure of the present government although it was a key election pledge of the BNP-led four-party alliance. In response to a government prayer, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday adjourned hearing of the judiciary-separation case until November 12. It gives the coalition government a further opportunity to sidestep its responsibility to implement the 12-point SC directive for separation of the judiciary. The ruling alliance is scheduled to hand over power in October, and therefore the caretaker government will be in power when the hearing will resume. On July 27, barrister Amir-Ul Islam, intervenor in the case, placed before the SC a comparative chart depicting 'the anomalies that the government has created' with regard to implementation of the 12-point directive.
Following Amir-Ul's argument about the chart yesterday, Attorney General AJ Mohammad Ali submitted a prayer for adjournment of the hearing. He contended that the government needs time for making submissions relating to the chart and petitioned the court to hold the next hearing after the upcoming vacations. The court first goes on a vacation for one and a half months from September 1. It will remain open for a week before going into another vacation slated to end on November 4. Amir-Ul opposed the government prayer and asked the court to fix today [Monday] for next hearing. He contended if the next hearing date is preceded by the vacations, the tenure of the government will end by that time. On hearing both the sides, the SC adjourned hearing until November 12. --The Daily Star, August 28.
Dhaka, Delhi to fight border crime together
Bangladesh and India agreed to examine the possibility of quickly instituting a mechanism to combat terrorism and organised crime that often spill over the 4200km porous border the countries share as security figured high in the home secretary-level meeting. Delegations of the two neighbouring countries yesterday concluded the four-day talks with agreement on holding regular meetings between their border forces, and joint media briefings by their local commanders, if 'an incident' takes place, “to ensure that truth is known to both sides”. It was decided that the Joint Boundary Working Group (JBWG) will visit the enclaves and areas under adverse possession 'at an early date'. Home Secretary Safar Raj Hossain led the Bangladesh side while his counterpart VK Duggal the Indian side at the 7th meeting of its kind that reached several agreements without setting any precise mechanisms or dates for their implementation. --The Daily Star, August 28.
EC goes for guideline to streamline poll monitoring
Irked by the poll observers' non-compliance with the Election Commission's (EC) policy for observing polls during the last parliamentary election, the commission yesterday decided to make the policy more stringent this time around to prevent mushrooming of observers.
An EC meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) MA Aziz decided to amend some provisions in the existing policy and to introduce a provision of punishment for observers in cases of gross violations of the policy for observing the polls during the next general election, sources said. The decision came in wake of a widespread controversy about the neutrality of the organisations which have already started lobbying to become authorised to observe the next election. The EC's policy on poll observation was formulated just before the October 2001 general election. Before the formulation of the policy, there was no legal framework for observing the polls. The number of poll observers in October 2001 parliamentary election increased by five times compared to the seventh parliamentary election held in June 1996. Sixty eight organisations deployed as many as 2,18,006 observers during the October 2001 election while the total number of observers was only 40,000 during June 1996 election, sources said. Some of the organisations took blank identity cards for observers from the EC and deployed students of schools and colleges to observe the October 2001 election violating a policy that requires an observer to be at least 25 years old.
Only 18 organisations submitted observation reports to the EC after the election while others ignored the EC's directive to submit their reports. Sensing a trend of an increase in the number of poll observers and observing recent activities of some organisations in pursuit of becoming observers, the EC fears the number is likely to shoot up in the next parliamentary election. --The Daily Star, August 28.
Why case against CPD trustees not be quashed
HC asks govt, Mahmudur
The High Court (HC) yesterday issued a rule ordering the government and Energy Adviser Mahmudur Rahman to show cause within four weeks why the case pending before the CMM's Court, Dhaka against five eminent citizens should not be quashed. An HC division bench also stayed all proceedings of the case filed by Mahmudur Rahman until disposal of the rule. The rule came in response to a petition filed by the five citizens, who are also members of the board of trustees of independent think-tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). A Dhaka court on August 9 issued arrest warrants against the five following a defamation suit filed by Mahmudur, also executive chairman of the Board of Investment (BoI). The accused are noted economist and CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan, CPD Executive Director Debapriya Bhattacharya, its trustee board membersformer adviser to a caretaker government Syed Manzur Elahi, former finance minister M Syeduzzaman, and former president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce And Industry (MCCI) Laila Rahman Kabir. The HC granted them ad interim anticipatory bail on August 10. Dr Kamal Hossain and Dr M Zahir yesterday moved for the petitioners. They were assisted by advocate Ramzan Ali Sikder. --The Daily Star, August 29.
Law enforcers asked to follow CrPC
HC directs authorities after first ever suo moto issued against Rab action. The High Court (HC) yesterday directed law enforcing agencies, with emphasis on Rapid Action Battalion, to follow the provisions in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in cases of arrests of citizens. The direction followed a HC suo moto ruling issued against the government, police and Rab on July 27 asking them to explain in two weeks why they should not be directed to produce Kishore Kumar, whom Rab had arrested on July 19, before the court to prove that he was not being held unlawfully. A High Court division bench issued the first ever suo moto by the HC against any Rab action following a report published in a Bangla daily, Janakantha, on July 24 under the headline 'No whereabouts of the youth for four days after arrest by Rab in Jessore'. After the issuance of the suo moto, Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB) President Advocate Manzil Murshid applied to the HC to be a plaintiff in the case and sent an enquiry team to Jessore on August 20 for field investigation. During a hearing on the ruling yesterday, HRPB submitted its report about the arrest to the HC in the form of supplementary affidavit. Submitting affidavit in opposition, Attorney General AJ Mohammad Ali told the court that Kishore Kumar was arrested at midnight on July 23 in connection with recovery of four bombs, the FIR (first information report) was lodged the same day and he was sent to the court the following day. While moving for HRPB, Barister Amir-Ul Islam told the court yesterday, “Although there is a provision in the CrPC for producing a citizen before a court within 24 hours of an arrest, police and Rab personnel are not following it in many cases.” It is necessary for the courts to intervene in such illegal activities, he said. After hearing submissions of both sides, the bench directed the law enforcers, specifically mentioning Rab, to follow the CrPC provisions in case of arrest of any citizen. --The Daily Star, August 29.
with the Law Desk
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