<%-- Page Title--%> News Notes <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 156 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

May 28, 2004

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And Now the British High Commissioner…

All hell broke loose last Friday when a bomb was hurled at the Bangladesh-born British High Commissioner to the country Anwar Chowdhury at the shrine of Shahjalal in downtown Sylhet. After the mayhem only chaos followed. Chowdhury miraculously survived, but two people, including the envoy's bodyguard instantly died. "The bomb hit my stomach after it was hurled, but it had not exploded then," Chowdhury, who was slightly injured, later told the reporters.

The incident, however, has opened a whole new Pandora's box. While consecutive governments have remained as indifferent as ever, 140 people have so far been killed in the last five years. It was, in fact, the second blast at the shrine in the last six months. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led government has done nothing to arrest the culprits behind the blast around six months ago on January 12, which ripped through the 700-year-old shrine. A probe committee was immediately formed with the Police Super of Sylhet as its chief; the investigation has failed to make any significant breakthrough. Many point fingers at the religious extremists or the parties who use religion for their own political purpose. It is all the more suspicious because whenever any such incident takes place the BNP and its intelligentsia suddenly become vigorous in denying the possible link of religious extremists to the blasts.


Mediaeval Terror in Bagmara

It is like a scene from the Dark Ages. The front pages of the dailies on May 20 showed the shocking image of a half-naked dead man hanging up right down from a tree. The man, Badshah was another victim of Jagroto Muslim Janota's operation commander Bangla Bhai. Bangla Bhai is the latest godfather to terrorise Bagmara, Naogaon and surrounding areas.

His latest cleansing operation included getting his 'army' to abduct 4 people, kill two of them and then hang the body of one of them upside down from a tree as a message to every one in the area regarding the consequences of opposing his doctrines.

His cadres have also started to collect grain from poor farmers as toll. So far in spite of the Home Ministry's order to arrest Bangla Bhai, the police have not done anything to nab the killer. Yet, according to a police superintendent of Rajshahi, there is no specific complaint against Bangla Bhai in any thana. Police have also commented that 'you can't just arrest a citizen if you want to.' Such sensitivity towards the citizenry, however, did not seen to manifest itself when hundreds of 'citizens' were indiscriminately rounded up and put in the slammer during the government's desperate attempt to fail Awami League's April 30th deadline to bring the government down.

Interestingly, while Bangla Bhai has declared himself as the champion of Islamic ideologies, he seems more pre-occupied with teaching members of the outlawed Sharbahara party than promoting Islamic principles.


Finally They Get What They Deserve

Three men accused of causing the death of Trisha have been handed the death sentence by High Court. The death reference trial ended on Wednesday, May 19. The accused are Mehdi Hasan Modern, Shaheen and Ariful Islam Asad. On July 17, 2002, Trisha, a little girl in Gaibanda, was chased by a group of young men threatening to physically assault her. Trisha, to escape her attackers dived into a pond and drowned while the culprits watched. Within two months of the incident the three were sentenced to death in September 2002, in a special tribunal in Gaibanda to deal with violence against women and children. Later the sentence was upheld at the High Court.

Also on May 19, the petition filed by the accused with the Supreme Court to review the verdict upholding the death penalty in the Yasmin rape and murder case was rejected. Three policemen, Assistant Sub-Inspectors Moinul Huq and Abdus Sattar and Constable Amrita Lal Barman were sentenced to death for the rape and murder of 19-year-old Yasmin. On August 24, 1995, the policemen picked up Yasmin, a domestic help, who was on her way home from Dhaka to Dinajpur with the promise of a lift. On the way they gang-raped her and threw her onto the roadside where a vehicle ran over and killed her.

Back from the Dead

It was a miracle any widow or orphan would dream of. Nannu Patwari, a 32 year old man and father of two, created a stir in his village in Shakdi Rampur when he apparantly came back to his home late at night after his own kulkhani! On May 2, Nannu had gone to Sylhet in search of work. On May 13, a man, claiming to be Nannu's friend informed his family that Nannu had met with a terrible road accident and had died; his body was lying in the morgue of a general hospital in Chittagong. Nannu's relatives rushed to the hospital and brought back a body, which was quite unrecognisable due to the severe injuries. The body was given a burial that Friday. But on the night of the khulkhani, when Nannu's wife Nurjahan was sleeping, her dead husband was standing at the door. Thinking he was a ghost, Nurjahan screamed and the other household members rushed to the spot amazed that the person they had buried, was alive and kicking. While a family got back their loved one, the identity of the person who was buried may be lost forever.

Sonia Gandhi Declines

Congress president Sonia Gandhi stepped out of the race last Tuesday, May 18th, when she declined the post of Prime Minister. Amid the protests of her fellow party members, she said "The post of prime minister has not been my aim…my aim has always been to protect the secular foundations of our nation." Congress MPs urged Gandhi to reconsider, but their pleas fell on deaf ears, and she remained firm in her decision. Congress supporters who voted against Hindu nationalist party BJP, are shocked and disappointed. Congress has asked former finance minister Manmohan Singh to take the oath as India's new Prime Minister. He is to be the first non-Hindu Prime Minister in India.




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