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

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 150 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

April 16, 2004

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Criminal Erects Arches for Khaleda
Supporters of a listed criminal Inamul Hossain, alias Pichhi Helal, erected 2 of the 50 arches while Bangladesh Nationalist Party supremo Khaleda Zia went to Mohammadpur to attend a political meeting called by her party. On the arches, Helal's supporters introduced him as a leader of Jatiyatabadi Chatra Dal (JCD), student wing of the BNP.

Helal stands at six on the list of country's top 23 criminals. In fact, the BNP government announced a Tk 50,000 bounty for him when the list was prepared in December 2001. Helal was, however, in jail when the police put him on the list, as during the last days of Awami League government, the police arrested him from near the Dhaka Housing in Adabar. At that time Helal was the general secretary of Mohammadpur unit of the JCD.

According to newspaper reports, local BNP and his rival JCD leaders have failed to form a new committee since Helal's arrest as his supporters reign supreme in the area. "When the local BNP leaders themselves fail to form a new committee fearing reprisals from Helal's supporters, it is obvious that no-one would dare to speak against erection of the arches," a Mohammadpur JCD leader told the Daily Star reporter on condition of anonymity.

Joint Forces Arrest 32,446 in 4 Months
A newspaper report says that 32,446 alleged criminals have been rounded up in the ten districts from the south-western region of the country. Joint forces recovered 385 firearms and 1.042 rounds of ammunition and 843 live bombs. The rounding up of criminals was launched in December 2003 and ended in March 2004. The arrested included 64 members of extremist groups, 251 enlisted criminals, 12,778 under warrant of arrest, 6,736 involved in specific cases, and 116 absconding convicts, according to a police co-ordination cell source.
As many as 400 firearms including two SMGs were recovered from Kushtia, and the highest number of 767 bombs were recovered from the same district. The joint forces comprised members of BDR, Police and Ansars.

Insecurity among Businessmen
Insecurity among businessmen continues as yet another businessman was threatened with death if he failed to pay a toll of Tk 20 lakh. Local criminals told ATM Yakub, owner of a construction materials shop, that he would be killed and cut into 100 pieces if he failed to pay up. Only weeks ago Old-Dhaka businessman Shamsul Haque and his son were kidnapped by local goons with ruling part affiliations and then brutally killed. Their bodies were cut into 40 pieces and thrown away all over the city. So far only two of the culprits have been nabbed.

Manik Saha’s Killers
Thirteen people have been charge-sheeted in the Manik Saha murder case under the Explosive Substance Act. Among the accused is a close associate of Ershad Shikdar, the notorious criminal who unleashed a reign of fear in Khulna during the previous government's regime. Seven of the accused have confessed their involvement in the crime.

On January 15, in the afternoon, Manik Saha, a journalist, was killed by a bomb hurled at him while he was going home in a rickshaw. The bomb blast severed his head from his body. On January 17, SI Ratan Kumar Das -- acting as a plaintiff -- filed two cases, one for murder and the other under the Explosive Substance Act.

DUTA President Receives Death Threat
Dhaka University Teachers' Association (DUTA) President Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique received a death threat last week.

Apparently issued by outlawed Sarbahara Party members, the letter said, "Though Humayun Azad managed to survive, you won't."

The death threat was condemned by various academic groups and organisations including Rajshahi University Teachers' Association (RUTA) and the Progressive Teachers' Association (PTA) of Rajshahi University.

Teachers and students of the department of Mass Communication and Journalism, where Siddique is Professor, also held a protest rally on April 11 condemning the threat.

It is suspected that Prof Siddique was threatened due to his role in leading the recent movement demanding action regarding the attack on Prof Humayun Azad in February.

America's New Vietnam
A year after the toppling of Saddam's statue in Baghdad, the situation in Iraq has remained unchanged. Attack on the so-called US led Coalition Forces have become more frequent; reports of deaths of civilians, including women and children, have been pouring in. In a last ditch attempt to save its skin, the US troops are resorting more and more to torture, and indiscriminate bombing. Last week even a mosque was not spared. The incident will certainly isolate the US from many of its Arab friends across the peninsula.

Meanwhile, as elsewhere in the world, resentment runs high among the people of Iraq, who have been seeing the occupation as an insult to their sovereignty. As a western political commentator has put it, Iraq is becoming the US's another Vietnam. With Shias in the South and the Sunnis in the North taking up arms to resist the occupation forces, we have every reason to think so.

Muslims in Manila Face Clampdown
Muslims in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, are facing an adverse situation. These days they try to make it home before nightfall to avoid what they describe as unprovoked, systematic harassment by the security forces.

Most of the city's 400,000 Muslims are used to being harassed by police, but over the last three weeks it has become more intense following the arrest of six alleged Abu Sayyef terrorists in Manila.

"If we are not accused of running drugs, we are accused of kidnapping," said Charlie De Makuta, a trustee of the Islamic Ctntre in Quiapo, just across the river from Malacanang Palace and the seat of Philippine power. Since the so-called Abu Sayyef terrorists the harassment reached a new level, now people are afraid to leave their homes.

Top Cadres Die
An hour-long gunfight between police and a gang left two gang leaders dead and four policemen injured. The early morning shootout took place in a remote area 25 miles north of the port city. Mohammad Yakub and Hamid Ullah, two listed criminals of a gang in Chittagong, died on 8 April. While Yakub, the head of the Yakub force, an accused in not less than 24 cases including eight murders, died in police encounter, Hamid, the head of another faction of the Yakub group, dyed in police custody later in the evening.

After the death of the chief of the notorious band known as Yakub Bahini (Yakub Force), people of the two upozillas that they used to rule over breathed a sigh of relief. Patronised by the Islami Chatra Shibir, the student wing of the ruling alliance member Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, the gang used to terrorise a vast area. Police said that Yakub was accused of a series of cases lodged with the Hathazari and Fatikchhari thanas (police stations).

According to police, Yakub was once a Lieutenant of Nasir, a Shibir backed millionaire terrorist who, by means of violence, including murder and abduction, ruled the two upozillas and levied tolls on the residents. After Nasir was put behind bars, Yakub formed his own terrorist outfit comprising Shibir cadres.

Acting on a tip off, a large contingent of police drawn from Hathazari and Fatikchhari police stations cordoned off Mannan Colony in Mondakini union near Nazirhat Bazaar and launched the raid at 5:30 am, said a Daily Star report. After the gun battle on the bank of the river, where Yakub and his gang took position to counter the attack, police could nab seven gang members.


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