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     Volume 4 Issue 22 | November 26, 2004 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   In Retrospect
   Photo Feature
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News Notes

Saifur will talk to TI
The BNP government has always been serious about the image of the country. When Bangladesh won the coveted title of 'most corrupt country in the world' in 2001 by Transparency International (TI), it bitterly criticised the AL, the then government. The government changed, but ironically Bangladesh continued to repeat its featthis year Bangladesh has won the title of the most corrupt country for the fourth consecutive terms. Which means the last came during the present BNP regime. Surprising though it might sound, BNP leaders who mocked at the AL government for acquiring this recognition are now casting serious disbelief about this type of ranking. Finance Minister Saifur Rahman who is going to Berlin on an official visit is considering dropping in at the TI headquarters, which happens to be in Berlin. "How could they say that there is no country as bad as yours? This is not right. Can I tell someone that no one is as bad as you are," he wondered. That's the right spirit. This is what the countrymen expect from our image conscious ministers and politicians.
Many however believe that instead of investigating into how authentic TI is or what type of methodology they use, the government should try to clamp down on the spiralling corruption Bangladesh is besotted with.

Doing Politics
over Overbridge

Though Khilgaon was supposed to have the honour of owning the first ever flyover in the country the privilege finally went to Mohakhali. It took less than three years to complete the Mohakhali flyover while the Khilgaon flyover could not be completed even after four years since its construction began in 2001. In fact, in the last four years construction of only 60 percent of the 1,162 metre long flyover has been finished. Though Housing minister Mirza Abbas and State Minister for Local Government Ziaul Haq Zia assured that the construction of the flyover would be completed by December not many are ready to rely on their assurance. During this time the plan was changed at least thirteen times and with every new plan a new deadline has been set, but the work remained incomplete. It is alleged that since the construction of the flyover was planned and undertaken by the AL government the present alliance government has been deliberately dilly dallying. Meanwhile about a million people who live in Khilgaon, Shajahanpur, Tilpapara, Mugda, Kamalapur, Rampura, Basabo and who have to travel through Khilgaon intersection are suffering miserably. But then who cares about their misery?

Police and Rohingyas
Trade Fire

Three Burmese Rohingya refugees died in a clash with Bangladeshi police last Friday in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar. It started when Muhammad Nurul Alam Chowdhury, the in charge of the camp, went to visit the refugees with a fellow police officer. Chowdhury found some of the Rohingyas holding a meeting against their repatriation to Myanmar. An angry mob of refugees held them up when both of them tried to persuade their leaders not to hold such meetings as it has been declared illegal long ago by the government.
Hearing the news, a joint task force led by paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles cordoned off the area; three Rohingyas died in a gunbattle that ensued between the force and armed Rohingya men.
Though the District Commissioner of the town described the situation as "normal", 20,000 Burmese Rohingyas who are staying in two camps in Bangladesh, has become a thorn in the flesh for the country's economic and social stability.

Fire In New Bangabazar
Yet another fire hit Banga bazar and the traders of the market are alleging arson. Last Sunday a blaze burnt down some 1,900 shops of New Bangabazar Hawkers' Market and 12 film-distributing offices near Gulistan killing one person and injuring 50 others and reportedly causing around Tk 150 crore in losses.
A former president of the New Bangabazar Market Committee alleged that it was a deliberate arson attempt by some henchmen of Chowdhury Alam and Mohan Mian, president and general secretary of the Committee. "Their men set fire to a shop after pouring fuel," said Abul Khair.
The motive behind the arson was to "to start construction of a multi-storeyed shopping complex through eviction of the traders, as the High Court has stayed it until April next year".
The market had 1,345 shop owners, "but in 2002 when Alam took over as president of the market by force, he enrolled 301 new members promising to allot shops to them after the shopping complex was built," alleges Khair.
Khair and Abul Kalam the elected and genuine president and general secretary of the present ones simply overwhelmed them by force, using muscle power. And now that arson is being alleged, the Chowdhury Alam and Mohan Mian duo has taken opportunism to an extreme end. Whether they would be punished for their misdeed if found guilty, is a matter that rests on the hands of the law, as for Bangabazar this is the fourth time that this tin-shed market has been gutted. After all these years, why the authorities have not yet taken into consideration the hazard of fire and arson and forced the committee to take safety measures is something that defies common sense.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2004