<%-- Page Title--%> Newsnotes <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 136 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 2, 2004

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Larma Lashes Out
Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council's chairman and Jana Shanghati Samiti's president Santu Larma has stated that not only are the country's minorities being oppressed, but also the farmers and workers are categorically being persecuted. He called for strong resistance against such tyranny. Larma spoke at a meeting of Hindu-Buddhist and Christian Oikko Parishad in Chittagong on December 22. Major General (retd) C.K. Dutta, a Muktijoddha who earned the title of Bir Uttam, chaired the meeting.

Larma reiterated the need to fight for a democratic and secular society in the wake of violent crimes against minority groups, such as the gruesome murder of 11 members of a Hindu family in Banshkhali. He also said that the implementation of the Peace Treaty was necessary for not just the hill people but for the overall development of the nation. He warned that no government would survive if they hesitated in making the peace treaty a reality.

It's an Orange Time
The US government has announced an 'Orange Alert' last month for Americans living in the US due to possible attacks from al-Qaeda. The US administration is busy trying to build security systems in major public venues such as airports, high rises, bridges, dams, nuclear plants, etc., foolproof.

The American Homeland Security Department's minister Tom Rieg has stated that they have received information that al-Qaeda is planning another deadly attack similar to or worse than that on September 11. He fears planes may be used and the attacks may take place on Christmas Day or New Year's Eve.

After dropping this bombshell of a news on its citizens who are no doubt trembling with a sense of dread rather than rejoicing the holiday spirit, the state department has asked them not to panic or refrain from their normal activities including air travel but just be a bit careful, that's all. There are five different colours denoting the level of alert, red being the highest and orange the second in line. Since 2002 September, the alert signal has never reached the blue or lowest parameter.

American citizens abroad as well as embassies are also are in a state of orange alert.

Numbers deceive you more often than you think
Guess how many daily newspapers come out from Dhaka? A whooping 146! Had there been any statistics, Dhaka would have topped the list as the highest newspaper-producing city in the world. Still, 213 more come out from outside Dhaka, taking the total to an unbelievable 359. Looking at the number one might get the impression that Bangladesh is "a country of newspapers" and Dhakaites are the greatest newspaper-lovers under the sun. But the truth is elsewhere. The Department of Films and Publications (DFP) with which lies the authority to allocate government advertisements, has cooked up this fictitious number. In fact, most of the numbers are just plain numbers. The newspapers are non-existent, while there are some dailies that are sometimes not published for months on end. Some corrupt officials at the DFP, including its director general, were accused of looting millions by allocating advertisements against newspapers and magazines which don't even exist, alleged members of the parliamentary standing committee on the information ministry when it sat on December 21.

Bishwa Shahitto Kendra Celebrates 25 Years
On December 19, 2003, Bishwa Shahitto Kendra (BSK) completed its 25 years. The idea of a well-rounded person may seem like a sanguine idea without a shred of pragmatism in it. But if the centre's success is any cue, they have come a long way with their goal to enlighten the educated mass. Their emphasis to make people go to books by choice has seen its success on a large scale. They have given the society the resources of knowledge that it lacked and are trying to imbibe a thirst for cultivation of mind. Discipline, knowledge and refinement are the principles that BSK has been basing its efforts on. The man at the helm, Abdullah Abu Sayeed professes to the idea of enlightenment. And after 25 years his small-scale endeavour has grown into a state-wide institution. Starting with the library at the Banglamotor, BSK now reaches out to the masses. Five hundred branches were established throughout the country in the last twenty-five years. Alongside mobile libraries, regular pathchokras (study circle) there are school-level programmes to encourage reading habit of the new generation.

A Dowry-free Mass Wedding
Bangladesh Chashi Kallyan Samiti has taken a laudable initiative -- it arranged a mass wedding at the Engineers Institution premises last Friday in Dhaka. A hundred couples including three disabled ones, tied matrimonial knots in a huge ceremony that was attended by two ministers among others. Each of the brides was presented with gold ornaments, saree, cosmetics and each groom with lungi, payjama and panjabi.

A voluntary organisation, Unity for Social Advancement, presented 100 shawls to the brides. This novel endeavour was intended to get across an anti-dowry message to the society. One hopes other social organisations also take up the cue and help in building a dowry free society.

BCL Protests the PM's Presence in the DU
Bangladesh Chhatra League workers protested Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's visit to Dhaka University by covering their faces with black clothes in front of Aparajeyo Bangla. In their symbolic gesture, they also blindfolded the three statues of Aparajeyo Bangla. The banner they were carrying cried out a slogan that reminded one of a shameful incident last year. The police led by female JCD leaders broke into the Shamsunnahar Hall at DU at the dead of night on the pretext of quelling agitated students. This unprecedented aggression of the police, allegedly instigated and backed by the then VC, triggered a riotous movement in the campus that finally forced the VC to step down. BCL's protest was an occasion to remind the nation of the unbelievable excesses perpetrated by the police and JCD leaders.

DIED. Veteran journalist and editor of Bangla Daily Azadi, Professor Mohammad Khaled passed away in the commercial capital Chittagong on December 21. Born on July 6, 1922, Khaled had been a successful political figure in between his 44-year journalistic career. In the general election of 1970, Khaled contested and won as an Awami League candidate from the Raozan constituency. After independence he became a member of the committee, which framed the country's constitution. Khaled was later nominated a governor of Chittagong by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led BAKSAL. Khaled is survived by three sons and two daughters.


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