Police Get New Clothes
good news is that finally something is changing in the police
department. The bad news is, it's only their uniform which is
going through a major overhaul. The trade mark gray trousers
and blue shirts will be changed for dark blue trousers and olive
green shirts. The boat symbol in the monogram has also vanished
and a lotus or shapla has taken the centre space. Our
police department, crippled by huge shortages of resources and
ridden with corruption and inefficiency, needs more than just
changing the look of its members. This is a good manifestation
of our governments' characteristic attitude of addressing only
the surface problems instead of trying to solve the real issues.
Again, what allegedly prompted the BNP-led four party alliance
government to make this change of monogram is the fact that
boat is the election symbol of Awami League. After politicising
all the living things (including the police) the government
now seems to be turning to inanimate things (monograms to start
Couldn't Care Less
In a parliamentary
democracy, parliamentary standing committees are extremely important,
not only to make the parliament work efficiently but also to
hold the government answerable to the parliament and through
the parliament to the people. But many of our honourable MPs
are either too busy or don't just care to attend the parliamentary
standing committees' meetings. In one such meeting only the
president of the committee Abdul Alim showed up on time. He
waited for one hour, but no one came. A disturbed Alim informed
the Speaker of the incident and shared his disappointment with
the on-duty journalists: "It is very unfortunate that in
spite of informing the members well in advance they didn't show
up". If anything it only demonstrates how little many of
our honourable MPs care about parliament and parliamentary practices.
of Tangail became a virtual cauldron after an indigenous young
man was shot and killed by police and forest guards. The quaint
forest became an unlikely setting for the agitating mob. The
mob comprising indigenous people from different areas flocked
to Gaira village to protest the killing. A “Prothom Alo” report
quotes a participant, Binita Mankin who testifies that when
the Gaira-bound procession that started from Santaria reached
Jolodhara, it came under attack from the joint forces of the
local police and the forest guards.
The TK 9-crore eco-park is a huge project that will encroach
on the 3,000 acre of the sal forest in Modhupur. The government
plan that threatens to put the Garo traditional life in danger
sparked off the series of incidents that shook up this otherwise
peaceful minority. To protect the loss of their habitat, the
Garos have been rallying against the plan to build an eco-park
in Modhupur. The shootout took place on the January 3, 2004.
Police and the forest guards opened fire on the procession,
killing Piren Slaan. He was an activist who was against the
eco-Park. On the fateful day he joined the procession only after
the news of it reached him while he was tilling the ground in
his own village.
Meanwhile, a case has been filed against the deceased and Utpal
Nakrek, Jag Nakrek and others who were wounded during police
shooting. It also included another 600 names as accused. On
behalf of the dead, another case has been filed. The OC of Modhupur
himself filed the case against the forest guards, accusing them
of killing Piren Slaan.
In the wake of violence lashed out by the police and the authority,
the ruling-party activists are joining force to threaten the
Garos to abandon their protest movement. The Garos have claimed
that the Bangalee Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BBNP) activists
attacked them. The glory of Bangladeshi nationalism falls flat
on its face when it comes to dealing with the indigenous people.
The nationalist force showed its muscle and attacked the Garos
armed with firearms and machetes. A Daily Star report claims
that the pro-BNP force barged into the forest village of Jolchotro-Pachish
Mile on January 7 and threatened the Garos not to raise their
voice against the park.
Garos are now leaving their villages to seek security. Garo
shops have been shut down. Meanwhile Garos assembled at the
Central Shahid Minar in Dhaka to condemn the killing. In the
forest the Garos are constantly stalked by insecurity as the
government remains apathetic and silent.
Charookala Canteen Scam
University authority is leasing out the canteen that lies within
the precinct of the Institute of Fine Art. A student leader
of JCD is to take out the lease that will be good for 99 years.
The lease will enable the owner to run the canteen on a commercial
basis. The work is underway to rebuild the canteen flouting
the master plan of the eminent architect Mazharul Islam. A tree
has already been lopped off in order to extent the canteen area.
In violation of the norm as well as the existing artistically
inclined environment, the work is in progress to revamp the
canteen. The general students have been in the dark. The plan
was hatched during winter vacation. As classes resumed, the
students were surprised to find their precinct altered without
our their knowledge. They have already handed in a memorandum
to the Vice Chancellor to protest the building of a new canteen.
The authority of the Institute of Fine Arts categorically denied
having any role in the leasing out and the building of the canteen.
They said that the matter lied in the hands of the central authority
of D.U. Later they have promised to withdraw the plan to lease
the canteen, although no official declaration was issued yet.
Yet a recent incident concerning a mobile food-cart, that used
to be stationed in front of the institute, has given rise to
renewed speculation. Few JCD henchmen manhandled the owner of
the mobile canteen and finally drove him out of the DU campus.
Is this a prelude to a big canteen business ready to take off
is not well in the BNP camp. This time it is the unsavoury remark
of Communications Minister Najmul Huda that has sparked heated
protests from the party itself. At a Chatra Shibir meeting,
the burly minister stated that the Jamaat-e- Islami did not
do anything wrong by working for the integrity of Pakisrtan
during the Liberation War in '71. Members of the BNP discussed
Najmul's misdemeanour at a joint meeting of the party's central
and district leaders. The meeting was held to finalise the national
programmes to commemorate President Ziaur Rahman's 68th birth
anniversary. BNP members strongly criticised the communications
minister, which they said undermined Ziaur Rahman's proclamation
of the liberation War, something which is a source of pride
for the BNP. Needless to say Najmul's tactless remarks have
not earned brownie points with the general public especially
with his alleged involvement in the recent CNG scam.
on the Texts of the Ahmediyyas: The Majority Rules
government has finally stooped to the demands of a section of
religious bigots by banning all publications of the Ahmadiyyas.
The Ahmadiyyas, a Muslim sect, have been subject to a raging
hate campaign by religious bigots for the last couple of months.
Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ), a partner of the ruling coalition,
is said to have orchestrated riotous programmes including laying
siege around an Ahmadiyya mosque in Nakhalpara and instigating
violent clashes with the police. They have been demanding a
declaration that will render the Ahmadiyyas non-Muslims. A high-level
meeting attended by State Minister for Religious Affairs, State
Minister for Home and the Khatib of Baitul Mokarram Mosque held
on Jan 8, finally banned the sale, publication, distribution,
and retention of all books and booklets on Islam published by
the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh. The home ministry press
release says that the ban was imposed on the basis of the objectionable
materials in Ahmadiyya publications, which hurt or might hurt
the sentiments of the majority of Muslim population.
Abdul Awal, Missionary of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh,
expressed shock at this decision, which he believes, is tantamount
to violating people's right to the freedom of expression and
Many others including eminent lawyers, intellectuals, NGOs and
human rights activists, leaders of different political parties
condemned the ban. "Why aren't the Ahmadiyyas allowed to
practise their religion the way Hindus, Buddhists and Christians
practise theirs. Besides, who are we to say whether a person
is a Muslim or not?" wondered Dr Zahir, an eminent lawyer.