Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 4 Issue 8 | August 13, 2004 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   Slice of Life
   Human Rights
   Photo Feature
   Straight Talk
   Time Out
   Book Review
   Dhaka Diary
   New Flicks

   SWM Home


News Notes

RAB Tender Smells of a Rat
As if there weren't enough bad things about the RAB (Rapid Action Battalion), the latest news is that a 200 crore tender for buying cars for the elite force and the police, has been manipulated so that only two selected car dealers can participate. A <>Prothom Alo report states that the specifications of the tender are such that they can be met by only a handful of companies, leaving out those selling other well-known cars. The procedure is such that no reputed international carmakers or suppliers -- other than these two with the government's blessing -- will be able to bid.
Though the newspaper didn't mention the two companies, the report said, "The tender's technical requirements just copied the characteristics of the cars supplied by these two companies." Truck, bus and prison vans of these kinds have never been imported to the country, the news-report alleged. In fact, in the last 2003-2004 fiscal year, the government floated a tender which was equally marred by allegations of nepotism and corruption. The parliamentary committee on home ministry later asked the government to cancel the tender when it turned out to be biased towards these two companies. Some old habits, it seems, die hard.

Santosh Gupta Passed Away7
Writer-journalist Santosh Gupta passed away in a city hospital on August 7. He was 79. The veteran journalist was suffering from brain haemorrhage when he was taken to hospital a week ago. Gupta was born on January 9, 1925 in Runshi in Jhalokathi. He started his career in journalism in 1957. In his 45-year-old career that followed, Santosh Gupta worked in Dainik Azad, Dainik Purbakon, before joining Dainik Sangbad in 1965. He served as the assistant secretary of the information department of the Bangladesh government in exile in 1971. Gupta was awarded Ekushey Padak in 1997 for excellence in journalism. He also authored 14 books on literature, history and journalism. Santosh Gupta is survived by a daughter and two sons.

Committing crime while behind bars?
One of the two accused in the June 4 bus arson at Sheraton Hotel crossing that killed 10 people and left 20 others injured was in police custody from June 3 to 8. Both the accused filed petitions on August 7, retracting their confessional statements in which they admitted that they, along with four others, sprayed the bus with gun powder given to them by Jubo League President Jahangir Kabir Nanak, General Secretary Mirza Alam, AL leader Sayeed Khkon and pro-AL transport workers' leader Ruhul Amih alias Boro Mia. According to a DS report, Shafiqul Islam Kalu, a CNG driver, said he had been arrested on July 27 and beaten by police until he confessed to the arson even though he was in jail on the day of the incident.
Police tortured him inhumanly and even threatened to kill him if he did not listen to what they said, claimed Kalu. Masum, the other accused, said he had given a false statement as police had threatened to cripple him and implicate his family members in criminal cases.
DB chief Faruq Ahmed denied the police torture but, when asked how Kalu could commit the arson when he was in police custody at the time, said "The real culprits behind the incident might have bribed him to make such a statement to 'damage the merit of the case'."

A City under Threat
Sunday (August 8) did turn out to be a 'bloody Sunday' in the northeastern holy city of Sylhet when a car bomb went off outside Gulshan Hotel killing Mohammad Ibrahim Ali, publicity secretary of Awami League (AL) and injuring 30 others. The bomb, planted in a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), went off at 7:50 pm, moments after Mayor Badaruddin Ahmed Kamran, apparently the main target of the attack walked past it. Kamran, also Sylhet city AL president, was present at the Gulshan Hotel to attend a workers' meeting of their party.
What remained of the SUV was a pile of charred, twisted metal. The scene was one of horror and panic as chaos reigned. Intelligence agents were present on the scene, trying to solve the puzzle of the crime. They linked the crime to Islamic outfits as the Mayor had previously received death threats from one such group. A day-long hartal was called on Monday to protest the killing and the Al in Sylhet brought out rallies. This shocking incident followed two fatal blasts in a cinema hall in the city only 47 hours ago that killed a young man and injured 7 others.

FBI quiz execution video hoaxer
The FBI has interviewed a US man after he admitted faking a video that appeared to show him being beheaded while held hostage in Iraq. The FBI said it was still considering whether 22-year-old Benjamin Vanderford had broken any law. Vanderford said he filmed his own mock execution in a friend's garage to show how the media could be fooled. The apparent execution was widely reported after the footage appeared on a website used by Islamic militants. The video was reported to have been made by militants linked to top al-Qaeda suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi's group has released tapes of previous hostage beheadings, but doubts were quickly expressed about this purported killing.
The dark images of the faked video showed a man dressed in a plain T-shirt, sitting on a chair with his hands behind his back. "I have been offered for exchange for prisoners here in Iraq," he says. "We need to leave this country right now. If we don't, everyone is gonna be killed in this way."
After that, a body is shown on the floor with a knife apparently cutting at the neck.
Vanderford told the BBC World Service he did not send the video to anyone, but made it available on Internet share networks. The "people of the world" did the rest, he said, and the video found its way to Arab television stations on Saturday and then a US news agency.
"I thought about the nature of the American media and how easily it can be manipulated," he said on the World Today programme. Once the Arabic news channel al-Jazeera broke the story, it was picked up by the Associated Press news agency "and then suddenly it was the 'truth', when actually no physical evidence has been recovered", he said.
Vanderford, who lives in San Francisco, said he decided to make the video after watching some of the coverage of prisoner executions in Iraq. He said the videos tended to be of low quality with bad camera angles. "I am in no way trying to denigrate any lives that have been lost, but my first thought was this could be faked by someone," he said. Vanderford said he believed "anyone could do this for political gain" and he thought he should bring attention to that.
Source: BBC News

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2004