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

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 139 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 23, 2004

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Death in Khulna
Khulna has become a volatile political turf. It has seen the murder of eminent political figure Monzurul Imam three months back as well as the recent death of Manik Shaha, a much-revered senior journalist. Shaha was attacked by a group of miscreants who hurled a bomb at him, killing him on the spot. When the news of his death spread by word of mouth, the city was gripped by fear becoming desolate.

The police have recovered splinters from the spot of the explosion. The local journalists called a hartal on Saturday, two days after the killing took place. Political parties and organisations throughout the country as usual condemned the incident.

Manik Shaha was vocal against the terrorist operatives in Khulna and the discrepancies in local shrimp farming. On both accounts he became a target of threats. The local police have been providing him with protection. Both at his home and at work, a police constable remained on guard. But all efforts seemed futile. The long time local correspondent of the Daily Shangbad, and a former correspondent of the BBC, Shaha was killed on January 15. On the face of rising violence that has gripped the southern city of Khulna, the authority is yet to come up with effectual measures.

Text Book scam,
2004 style

Textbook publishers have once again shown their ingenuity in making people cough up extra money. In the past years a section of publishers have adopted the technique of creating false crisis in the market and forced people to buy the few available books at a price much higher than its original price. The government's consistent indifference to this quite explicit form of mugging has further emboldened the corrupt publishers. This year they have adopted a new technique -- publishers of Madrassa textbooks are forcing buyers to buy notebooks with the textbooks. Sellers in Nilkhet market inform that publishers are not giving them textbooks unless they agree to take notebooks. As a result they (sellers) have no choice but to force the buyers to do the same. Each of the Bangla, English and Geography text books of different classes, which originally cost Tk. 10 to Tk. 15 are being sold at Tk. 100 to Tk. 150 by forcing buyers take note books along with each text book. Is the Education Ministry listening?

Huda's accolade for ICS and its roughing up of JCD at RU
How could Islami Chhatra Shibir(ICS) act the way they did in Rajshahi University campus? The four-hour-long violent clash between ICS and Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) at RU on January 13th left more than 50 people injured, most of whom belong to JCD. ICS, which is far mightier both in size and gun power than JCD in RU, wreaked havoc on the JCD camp, sending RU JCD president, General Secretary, Organising Secretary, Joint Organising Secretary to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. One wonders what Communication Minister Nazmul Huda would say about it. Only the other day Huda was all praise about the ICS describing it as an extremely well-organised and disciplined student wing. He even advised the JCD to revamp itself following the ICS model.

One wonders if Huda has changed his mind after the student wing of the party he belongs to was roughened up by the ICS.

It happens only in Bangladesh
The recent blast in the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal in Sylhet that killed 3 and injured about 40 occurred within a month of another beastly act of poisoning of the gojar fishes in the shrine pond. Both the acts appear to have been instigated by the same person(s). Who are they? What might be the purpose behind such mindless violence? What are they trying to achieve by perpetrating such ghoulish killing in such a serene place where people come to seek blessing and peace of mind? The answers are still unknown and one cannot but fear that they might very well remain unknown forever. After each bomb blast the police come up with some wild guesses and false promoses. In reality, nothing concrete is ever done to trace back to the real perpetrators. The criminals, never having to face the consequences, prepare to strike again. Isn't it believable that not a single criminal could be nabbed for the dozens of bomb blasts that have occurred over the last few years? Well, believe it or not, anything is possible in Bangladesh.

Sharbohara Surrender Drama ended before the curtain raised
The greatly hyped and much publicised formal surrender function of some members of the so-called outlawed Sharbohara party fell flat at the height of its climactic point. The reason was that two local MPs, Zahiruddin Sopon and Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal, who were supposed to attend the programme didn't show up, as their scheduled flight from Dhaka to Barisal was cancelled because of dense fog. Interestingly enough, the Chief guest Home Minister was there to attend the ceremony. A few hundred enthusiastic people, gathered at the Aagorpur High School field in Babugonj Upazilla, Barisal (the scheduled venue of the surrender programme) left the field in great disappointment -- as did the alleged Sharbohara members, eagerly waiting to give up their arms to enter a socially acceptable lifestyle. Some of the people associated with the process, however, claimed that the event was meant for settling a dispute between the two quarrelling parties and confirmed that the surrender of Sharbohara surrender was not going to happen. One BNP insider termed this initiative of the local administration with the help of some high profile BNP leaders, illegal and detrimental to the image of the present government.

The Old Man in Custody
Photos of Saddam Hussein (former president of Iraq) being tortured while in custody caused a stir in the Arab world. The photos appeared on the Internet. Pentagon officials are not at all happy about this "out of the blue" debunking of what took place behind the curtains after Saddam was captured. The photos showed Saddam being manhandled by the US army. Although the photos paint a horrendous picture of the US and reveal a true account of how a former head of state was being treated in captivity, the Pentagon is least bothered by the consequences of these revealing photos. They are more worried about who recorded this saga of Saddam being tortured, and how.

Although Pentagon officials chose to remain silent on the issue, it can be surmised that the photos were taken by one of the six hundred combat soldiers participating in operation Red Dawn on December 13, 2003. At the time of Saddam Hussein's capture, these soldiers might have recorded the events that followed as many of them were carrying cameras. Meanwhile, US experts are not convinced about one particular photo, which shows Saddam coughing blood. They say it may be something else.


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