Attack on Hartal Eve
5, the eve of AL's 24-hour countrywide hartal, unknown assailants
set a double-decker bus on fire in front of Dhaka Sheraton
Hotel. Nine passengers were killed and 15 others injured in
the arson attack.
were said to have been incinerated in the bus while a burning
man jumped to death on the street and two others, including
a two-year-old girl, succumbed to their injuries at DMCH.
was already charred, with the seats and other flammables burnt
out before fire fighters could put the fire out.
said the perpetrators probably poured gunpowder on both decks
of the bus before setting it on fire. Though no one was named,
police indicated that the perpetrators were known, and that
such incidents often occurred before hartals.
in the attack -- in which a wife burnt to death in front of
her husband's eyes and a daughter died on her mother's lap
-- could have been less, said a witness, if the driver had
stopped the bus right after it had caught on fire but he kept
going even after the passengers started screaming.
were a number of bomb attacks on other public transport that
evening, including buses and minibuses in the Mirpur area,
near Rampura TV station, Mugda and Shyampur, while there were
explosions in Gulistan 1, Shukrabad, Gabtoli, Motijheel and
Bangla Bhai and the Big Fishes
For the last couple of months Bangla Bhai, the infamous commander
of JMJB, seems to be everywhere. Not a single day passes without
his life size portrait flashing the front page of one daily
or another. Almost everyday there is a new harrowing tale
of the vigilante group in one newspaper or another. But perhaps
the most interesting part of the story is the role of the
police. The police who have won almost every possible bad
name have added a new feather in their illustrated crown.
They have not only done nothing to stop Bangla Bhai but provided
both logistic and moral support in their heroic ventures.
Recently one of Bangla Bhai's lieutenant by the name of Hemayet
Hossain Himu, caught and later released by the police gave
names of some high profile ruling party members, who, he claimed,
masterminded the Bangla Bhai drama. Will the government who
always loudly denies of any state sponsored terrorism arrest
the named minister and other party leaders? No way. Even Bangla
Bhai wasn't arrested though the order came right from the
Prime Minister, let alone the big wigs like minister and state
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld came to Dhaka on a brief
tour last Saturday amidst a general strike called by the main
opposition. Radical Islamic organisations and different left
political factions observed a countrywide protest against
what they called the visit of the Butcher of Baghdad to the
country. Rumsfeld's visit however was a miserable failure.
According to the newspaper reports, the visiting defence secretary
"casually asked" the matter of sending Bangladeshi
troops to Iraq, which was summarily turned down by his Bangladesh
counterpart. Rumsfeld’s reaction was not at all annoying.
Being asked if he wanted the country's contribution to Iraq,
Rumsfeld said, " If I answered this question and say
yes, obviously it would suggest I have asked them which I
haven't. And if I say no, it would be implied we didn't want
them. In any case, it would be unfortunate," Rumsfeld
said. "I think it is up to each country to decide what
it is they would like to do. I am sure each country is perfectly
capable of making those decisions," he continued. The
incident only suggests how lonely and isolated "world's
biggest superpower" has become, particularly among its
Superintendent of Police (SSP) Muhammad Abdul Baten denied
the allegation brought by Lutfuzzaman Babar, the state minister
for home. According to the charge, Baten went to the minister's
office to offer bribe with the intention to persuade him to
cancel his transfer to Khagrachhari. What he said while he
was questioned in police custody tells a different tale. Baten,
the SSP of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), revealed
to the investigators is that he went to the state minister's
office to discuss a file regarding the killing of Awami League
legislator Ahsanullah Master.
police press release mentions the existence of the file, but
according to the charge Baten placed Tk three lakh on the
minister's table, to which Baten's response was that he "was
framed, and has been a victim of conspiracy". He also
said that he had an altercation with the minister over the
case of the arrest of the killers of Ahsanullah. Yet the allegation
puts him in between a rock and hard place. According to police,
Baten left the room and called the Inspector General of Police
(IGP), who promptly arrived on the scene and suspended him
upon seeing the packet of money on the table.
was arrested on June 3, and was kept in police custody for
one day on June 5. Meanwhile, a police officer, who wanted
to remain anonymous, said to the journalists that Baten's
involvement in the Ahsanullah murder case may have landed
him in this soup. Reports in the newspapers also lent credence
to his claim. However, a press release has been issued by
the police headquarters refuting all this. It said that the
CID took over the investigation of the Ahsanullah murder case
on May 10, and the four-member team that had taken over the
charge did not include Baten.