in Police Custody
more death in police custody in two days (last week) have
triggered another wave of fear among the public and added
to their general mistrust of the law enforcers. The first
victim was 37-year old Amar Das, allegedly an abettor
in the abduction of businessman Jamal uddin Ahmed Chowdhury.
Das apparently died during an interrogation by detective
branch, special branch officials and an investigative
officer. Das's family suspects that the police poisoned
his food to protect the godfathers involved in the abduction.
On Friday December 13, 18-year-old Mahabubul Alam Rony
was allegedly beaten to death while in custody in Dhaka
central jail. His family says that Rony was subjected
to inhuman torture after the family turned down a hefty
bribe demanded by a sub inspector of Shabujbagh Police
Station for his release.
intolerance reached a peak on December 6 when a huge hate-filled
demonstration of 30,000 people against Ahmadias took place
in Tejgaon. Putting up barricades on Tongi Diversion Road,
the demonstrators staged a rally at Nabisco crossing after
Friday prayers while hundreds of policemen looked on.
The roadblock brought traffic to a standstill for 2 hours.
demonstrators mostly with red bands on their right arms
shouted anti-Ahmadia slogans. They were volunteers under
Khatme Nabawat Samannoy Committee, the latest anti-Ahmadia
outfit. One of the most vocal participants was Mohiuddin
Khan, a leader of the Islami Oikya Jote, a partner of
the ruling BNP-led coalition. The main demand was that
the government declare the community non-Muslims. The
mob burnt a copy of Prothom Alo for being 'the mouthpiece
of the Ahmadia'. They threatened the Ahmadias with arson.
this was a sequel to an attack on an Ahmadia Mosque in
Nakhalpara that injured about 100 people, 12 of them policemen.
The attack was led by Mohammad Mahmudul Hasan Mamtaji,
the Imam of a Tejgaon mosque.
demonstrators threatened that “the country would collapse”
if their demand remains unmet. Mamtaji who is the leader
of another Islamist outfit vowed to go ahead with the
movement and declared jihad if there was any police resistance.
A broader movement will be announced at the Paltan Maidan
rally on January 23.
nobody was arrested or even reprimanded for such blatant
bigotry. The State Minister for Religious Affairs Mosharef
Hossain Shahjahan, however, has tried to nip the problem
in the bud. He rejected the demand for declaring the Ahmadia
sect non-Muslim. His apt response was “None less than
Allah can do it.”
He further said that if such a demand was met it would
encourage the group to capture mosques or even churches.
The Ahmadias, meanwhile are far from feeling safe at such
words. Since 1985, 8 Ahmadias have been killed, hundreds
evicted from their lands and at least 15 of their mosques
across the country have been vandalised.
Nicks Nur Hossain
Hossain, the man who died during the tumultuous days of
the struggle against the autocratic regime of H.M. Ershad,
is recently been at the receiving end of derogatory remarks
from the deposed president himself. Ershad blurted out
against Nur Hossain, labeling him “ignorant” while addressing
a crowd last month. He even went further to provide explanation,
“This Nur Hossain was an illiterate man who did not even
have the capacity to understand the meaning of the word
democracy." "He was a victim of the politics
of dead-bodies," he added.
the deceased was defended in writing on the front page
of a major vernacular newspaper. The small, one-column
news tried to refresh the memory of the brethren for whom
a number of young men like Nur have laid down their lives.
Though this news did not create an explosion, as we as
a nation often forget our past while vis-a-vis our ongoing
adversities, one must admit this second round of victimisation
was uncalled for. It was a sign of ignorance of a general
who should have learnt from his past mistakes. While Ershad's
political opportunities are quickly vanishing from the
political horizon he would be willing to revive, his infirmity
is showing, most prominently, in his formulation of thoughts.
At least his comments on Nur Hossain, who became an Icon
of anti-Ershad movement is representative of that.
perhaps, was no man of letter, but he certainly had the
courage to lay down his life for a cause. He was driven
by a collective passion. Nur Hossain represented the mass,
the majority who may not qualify to sit in the assembly
to vote for or against a new law, but have the ability
to topple a government. As far as these people are concerned,
Nur Hossain is the only Hossain who would go down in the
annals of history, a turf where the other Hossain that
is Ershad would only be a black patch.
Works Goes Nuts
Ministry of Housing and Public Works has become the most
praetorian government office in the world's most corrupt
country. The beleaguered ministry has recently been crowned
by none other than its own parliamentary standing committee.
the service rules do not permit officials to stay at any
place for more than three years, most engineers in the
Public Works Department (PWD) under the ministry are at
the same place for more than 10 years,” Shahjahan Chowdhury,
Chairman of the committee told a group of journalists
last week in his office. Around 800 engineers who work
with the ministry “strike roots and spread corruption”
at places they stay, observed another BNP lawmaker Abdul
Matin Akand. When they are transferred from their “base”,
these engineers even bribe higher officials in the ministry
to get the heaven back.
leading to death no more evoke the kind of strong sense
of horror among general people that it used to. In fact,
at the backdrop of a serious deterioration in law and
order, many people have started to consider them natural
and even welcoming. The latest incident of lynching claimed
38 lives, allegedly outlaws, in South Char Clerk in Noakhali
in the space of six days. While fleeing from their hideouts
in the forest, the robbers, allegedly belonging to the
notorious gang led by Nabya Chora, were caught and then
mercilessly beaten to death. People of the area have long
been hostage to loot, arson, killing, rape by the gang.
When the police set off a combined operation, the long-oppressed
people of the area seized the opportunity with both hands
to set the score right. The angry mob even snatched some
of the robbers, killed them and then celebrated their
deed. The incident once again reflects how desperate people
have grown over the ever-dwindling law and order situtaion.
The government must do something before mob-beating becomes
the standard way of containing crimes.
terrorists kill, there is always this high profile outrages
issued from the states across the world. When the U.S.
military or the airforce kills, it is always a collateral
damage. The last casualties in Afghanistan were innocent
kids. A bomb was dropped on December 8 at the village
of Hutalla, Afghanistan. While nine innocent children
lost lives, the only excuse the U.S. could come up with
was they were targeting for an infamous Taliban terrorist,
a claim that the villagers denied outright. They argued
that the wanted man was out of town. When the people of
Hutilla were outraged and raised their voice in condemning
U.S.'s odious action, the U.S. authority promptly issued
hunt for a terrorist is one thing, and to bomb a village
to annihilate one suspected terrorist is a crime. The
UN Security Council has ordered an investigation, though
the result of such actions had never stopped the Super
Power to be more adventurous each time. One should remember
this was not the only occasion that they bombed a civilian
Ouderland, an active freedom fighter of the War of Liberation
on his 86th birth anniversary on December 6. Ourderland
was the only foreigner who was awarded Bir Pratik for
his contribution. Born in 1917 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands,
Ouderland was CEO of Bata Company during the war. He remained
in Bangladesh till 1978 and later settled in Australia.
He died on May 18, 2001 at the age of 84.