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

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 137 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 9, 2004

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Bodies of Peacekeepers Come Home

The fifteen army officers killed in a place crash on December 25th in the West African country Benin, were finally laid to rest in their own motherland. They were given a state burial. The day the bodies arrived Wednesday, December 31st, was declared a national mourning day by the government. The dead bodies came by plane and were received by the grief-stricken families from ZIA airport. The victims were UN peacekeepers serving in Sierra Leone. They were on their way home. During the funeral, a contingent of armed forces paid a ceremonial guard while army bugles played the last post. After the ceremony, army officers gave the victims' families the national and UN flags in which the coffins were draped. This was the largest military loss of Bangladesh, a frequent contributor to UN peacekeeping missions since Independence.

The Politics of Politics

The words "politically motivated" has become a phrase that seems to have lost its real meaning. According to a newspaper report, the home ministry has over the last two years, relieved over 70,000 mostly BNP men, accused of various crimes such as murder, rape, arson and gunrunning because it found them to be "politically motivated." The time frame of such cases is predictably two years of Awami League’s tenure. The review started within two months of BNP being elected to power. What's more, the ultimate decision of who would go free lay with BNP lawmakers and district and thana level ruling BNP leaders. This means the reviewing and withdrawal of these "politically motivated" cases seems to be "politically motivated" too.

Another Great Arms Haul

A BDR operation in Lemuchchari in Bandarban upazilla resulted in the capture of a huge haul of deadly arms and devices. It included thirty-two antitank mines, six rocket launchers and an assorted array of explosives. After an hour-long gun battle between the alleged insurgents and the BDR team, the terrorists escaped into the dense forest leaving behind the deadly devices. The home ministry suspects that the arms were to be used for subversive activities against the backdrop of the gradually escalating tensions in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Admission War On

As January sets in parents find themselves at the beginning of a long struggle. The road in front of the Ideal School is a vast sea of anxious parents awaiting their children, half-numb from the biting cold and tired for being woken up so early in the morning. The competition is stiff: more than 5000 children are vying for just 120 seats, which translates into 93 children competing for one seat in Class I. The prospective students, in contrast to their parents, are more bothered with the cold, and fixing their unsettled caps than their studying. They are unconcerned and unaware of the consequences that they must face if they do not get seats in the school.

Poultry Feed Churned out from Tannery Waste

Public health is at risk. The poultry that we are munching on are being fed the worst thing one can imagine. A report in The Daily Star last week debunked that at Hazaribagh area traders are producing poultry feed from tannery waste. It is going on right under nose of the government. State Minister for Fisheries and Livestock, Abdus Sattar told the DS that he was unaware of this goings on. Poultry feed production needs approval of his ministry, yet the minister seemed not aware of the matter. Instead he affirmed that his ministry would look into the allegation. The director general of the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute, Quazi M Emdadul Haque too was unaware of the practice of producing chicken feed out of lethal wastes from the tannery area. The report said that tannery waste mixed with dried fish dust and bones is being fed to young broiler and layer chicken. The investigating reporter found black tar-like matter being brewed in one tannery and in another tannery a man claimed that they could supply chicken feed at Tk 650 for a 50-kilo bag.

80, 000 Heath workers go Unpaid for 4 Months

About 80,000 fieldworkers under the family planning wing of the health ministry have not received their salaries for the last four months, says a front page Daily Star Report. The failure of the ministry's planning wing is to be blamed, revealed sources. According to their claim there was this glitch in the routine practice of planning and approving of the OP (operation plan) that resulted in the crisis. The OP is the responsibilty of the Health and Population Sector Programme (HPSP), and it is the National Steering Committee (NSC) that approves OP of the coming year every June.

This time the planning wing failed to send the relevant papers to the NSC in time. It was in September that 15 OPs out 28 in total were handed in for approval. The failure to to do the job in time has resulted in nonpayment of salaries since last August. It has also affected the process of procurement of drugs, contraceptives, vaccines and essential surgical kits in hospital. Their shipment too is being delayed. This mismanagement has also created uncertainty regarding the scheduled National Immunisation Day programmes on January 14.

Turag is Subjected to Encroachment

Almost three-fourth of the river Turag have vanished as the traders in sand and stone is doing brisk business and filling out the river bed. Piles of sand and rock threaten to shrink Turag, one of the estuary of the Buriganga, and engulf the river that may lead to its eventual demise. A recent front-page report of News Today dicloses that the river grabbers are close to the ruling party. The mastans of Amin Bazar are their henchmen, which makes it all the more convenient for the traders to go on their ugly business. However the local people are raising concerned voices. But in lieu of all this, traders claim to have received the green light from the authority. Some of the traders claimed that they took lease of some portions of the river and its bank from the Dhaka district administration. Although they are not in possession of any evidence to support their claim, the authority has done nothing yet to curb their activity. The Daily Star reported on the same subject time and again. Consequently no action was ever taken by the concerned authority, let alone bring them to justice.

Nazmul Huda Justifies Jamat's role in '71

Communication Minister Nazmul Huda, never shies away from speaking the truth, even if it costs him dearly. During Khaleda Zia's first term in the office Nazmul Huda was the only man in the BNP high command who dared to support the idea of the non-partisan government, for which he was made to resign from the cabinet. Recently he has once again spoken his heart out, much to the embarrassment of some of his fellow partymen. "Jamaat didn't commit any crime by trying to resist the division of Pakistan in '71", Huda justified Jamaat's anti-liberation position while talking as a special guest at a function of the Islami Chatra Shibir, Jamat's student wing, on December 30. He was also all praises about Islami Chatra Shibir's programmes and activities: " Even we haven't succeeded in forming such a disciplined organisation like Islami Chatra Shibir."


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