Floods in Sylhet
have swept away a vast region of Sylhet. As localities have
been scoured by the rushing water, hundreds of huts were washed
away, road links have been cut and crops on about five lakh
acres were destroyed. As the banks of the rivers in Sylhet region
were burst with run-off from the upstream hills of India, it
virtually inundated the whole region. While talking to The Daily
Star staff correspondent a Water Development Board official
said on April 23 that it would take a few days to flood water
to recede. The flooding that was triggered by rain and the sudden
onrush of water took all by surprise and dashed the hope not
only of the farmers but also of the stone gatherers near the
foothill in the north.
Division Dvelopment Action Council formed a human chain at Muktangan
in Dhaka on April 23 to press the government to declare the
flood-hit districts disaster zone. As 80 per cent of boro
farmlands of the north-eastern districts went under water two
weeks short of the harvest, it caused Tk 600 crore in lost crops.
With the haors of this region reduced to crop and fishfarming
zones, the traditional reservoirs are loosing their capability
of coping with the sudden rush of water.
When a couple of internationally renowned newsmagazines alleged
the presence of Muslim extremists in Bangladesh, BNP and their
cohorts instantly denounced the claim in their usual characteristic
fashion. While the claim of the foreign media appears to be
a bit biased, there have been incidents, though few and far
between, which don't sit in comfortably with our claim to be
a country of great communal harmony. One should remember the
ban on all sorts of Ahmadiyya publications following attacks
and threats of laying siege on Ahmadiyya mosque a couple of
months ago and the recent incident of zealots bursting into
an Ahmadiyya mosque and seizing their books, pamphlets etc,
with support of the police. As is the norm in all acts of minority
repression, like the incidents where Hindus have been targeted,
it is usually a section of people, zealots or extremists whatever
one calls them, are responsible for such crimes. The Ahmadiyya
case is an exception in that the atrocities of the religious
fanatics are being endorsed and even encouraged by the state.
Instead of mowing down the few hundred zealots who dare to make
such demand as to declare the Ahmadiyyas non-muslim, the government's
direct patronisation in fanning communal violence against the
Ahmadiyyas put a permanent blemish on our claim that we are
a country of great communal harmony.
of AL, the Police Lay Siege to Hawa Bhaban
"A virtual curfew" was imposed within the five-kilometre
radius around Hawa Bhaban in Banani to keep out Awami League
workers, confining residents to their houses and bringing business
operations in the area to a halt on April 22.
up barbed-wire barricades on all four main avenues that lead
to the ruling BNP chairperson's office Hawa Bhaban located on
road number 13, block D in Banani, in an effort to keep out
Awami League supporters from laying siege to the office.
the safety of police security, BNP leaders and workers played
cricket in a field adjacent to Hawa Bhaban, while residents,
businessmen, office workers, and commuters going through the
Banani area were continually harassed in what they described
as being under a "virtual curfew."
the centre of attraction, Tarique Rahman, Khaleda Zia's eldest
son and Joint Secretary General of BNP visibly remained unperturbed
by the events. "I played cricket, my team won, so I'm happy
with today," he said after being asked about his reaction
to April 22ndís situation.
the area, which houses thousands of residents, a number of private
clinics, schools, four large private universities, shopping
markets and complexes, and numerous offices of leading local
and international firms, was ground to a halt as over 50 police
checkpoints kept vigil in the area.
police didn't allow us to even go out of our houses even for
a stroll, we were literally living in a curfew," said Abu
Sayeed Khan, a Banani resident. The road blocks were put on
road 11, both sides of Kemal Ataturk Avenue up till the mouth
of road 19/A, and all roads within Banani's A to H blocks, prohibiting
private or commercial transport, and even pedestrians to enter
who had to run his office without any staff because the police
did not allow anyone to go to his office at road number 15 of
Banani, said "I was harassed irrationally when I was trying
to enter my office at 9.30. They searched my car, my bag and
told me to return home. I shouted and argued till a high police
argued that whether they would pay for the losses I would incur
because of his illogical behaviour, when I answered to their
query if I was the tenant of the office space, they finally
let me in. But they also said no one else would be allowed to
come to my office!" he added.
vans continually patrolled the area to stop pedestrians and
ordered them to either go back into their houses or go outside
the area immediately. "I have come with my wife for an
urgent appointment with a doctor at a clinic on Road number
8, but the police stopped me and said that even my doctor wouldn't
have been allowed to enter the area so I should go home,"
said Abdur Rahim after he and his wife were stopped by police
while trying to enter the area.
who tried to enter Gulshan 1 and 2 through the Tejgaon link
road were stopped at the roadblock in front of National Shooting
Complex and diverted towards Badda. The airport road also experienced
heavy traffic jams despite sparse traffic around the city, as
any alternative road through Gulshan were blocked by police