Kilometre long Human Wall
The anti government movement that got somewhat damp in the
recent months appears to have acquired some heat last week
when the opposition parties organised arguably the longest
human wall in history. The fourteen party opposition alliance
led by Awami League organised an almost 1,000 kms human wall
connecting the two furthest corners of the country, Teknaf
and Tetulia on December 11 protesting the misrule of the BNP
government. The government though pretended not to be bothered
used the state apparatus to foil the planned programme. The
government, in the name of ensuring law and order, unleashed
the much-feared RAB along with the entire police force. Hundreds
of opposition activists were put
behind the bar; and goons allegedly aligned with the ruling
parties, barred and attacked people who were participating
in the human wall. RAB, whose armoury has recently been enriched
with helicopters, patrolled the sky round the clock. In the
end, however, the programme ended reasonably peacefully. The
opposition leaders termed it "a stunning success"
and "a sure expression of the people's no confidence
in the government", while the ruling parties, following
the political tradition of the country, described the human
wall programme as an absolute failure. Whatever the truth
is, many believe that instead of calling hartals every now
and then, which have anyway lost much of its effectiveness
and appeal, opposition parties should organise such peaceful
for Justice for 16 Years
A 34-year-old woman is still on the run for the last 16 years,
fleeing from three men who had kidnapped and raped her when
she was 18. While still in hiding the woman told Anwar Ali
of the Daily Star that in April 1988 three men kidnapped her
from her house in a village in Tanore Upazilla. The three
accused are a current Upazilla Bangladesh Nationalist Party
(BNP) vice president and the chairman of Chanduria union parishad
and two of his accomplices. The three men, says the woman,
kidnapped her and took her to an unknown place and raped her.
Local people found her unconscious and took her to the then
Chanduria UP Chairman for protection. But he too raped her.
The woman's uncle, who had previously taken bribes from the
first three rapists before they carried out the crime, lodged
a case against a man accusing him of the rape. But this was
refuted by the woman at a special tribunal in Rajshahi. She
told the judge that the person accused was not the rapist
but it was the four men mentioned.
In January 1989 the tribunal recorded a "no-confidence"
petition and ordered further investigation into the incident.
In July a sub-inspector of Tanore, in a supplementary charge
sheet, pressed charges against the four BNP men.
The four men petitioned the high-court division bench of the
Supreme Court challenging the Rajshahi Tribunal decision to
order a fresh investigation. But a court order stated that
there was no reason for a fresh investigation to be scrapped
and the trial should continue. Strangely, however, the High
Court order went missing in 1995. The woman has sought another
copy of the court order and this has been received recently
at the District Commissioner's office.
Face Contempt of court
Two daily newspapers are facing charges of contempt for running
reports on an additional High Court judge's alleged result
tampering. In the hearing of the case against editors, publishers
and reporters of the Daily Prothom Alo and Bhorer Kakoj the
counsels asserted that the press had rightly done its duty
to "disinfect" the judiciary by bringing the incident
to light. Dr Kamal Hossain, the counsel for Daily Prothom
Alo, said that on December 12. He went on to add, "While
carrying out its duty to inform people, the newspaper published
the report for the public good and all facts are there to
Mohammad Faiz, father of the Additional Judge, Justice Faisal
Mahmud, filed the contempt petition on November 8 accusing
the Prothom Alo, publisher Mahfuz Anam, Editor Matiur Rahman,
Reporters Ekramul Haq Bulbul and Masud Milad and publisher
of Bhorer Kakoj, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Editor Abed Khan
and reporter Shamaresh Baidyo of acting in contempt against
However, Kamal Hossain stressed the fact that there was nothing
in the reports that was in contempt of the judiciary. The
two dailies carried the report after an inquiry committee
of Chittagong University unearthed the certificate tampering.
While making his submission, Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud,
counsel for Bhorer Kakoj editor and reporters, said, "The
report raised a concern at the selection of a wrong person
for guarding the constitution." Rokan pointed out that
the report did not deal with the judiciary, the Supreme Court,
other judges and even judicial activities of the Additional
Judge Faizee. He added that it dealt with irregularities made
in the results of 111 students including Faizee.
The court on December 12 exempted the respondents from personal
appearance at court and adjourned the hearing until January
Publish or not to Publish
The High Court issued another rule of contempt on the editors,
publishers and reporters of four national dailies for publishing
a story on judge's alleged roadside allegation. Daily Star,
New Age, Bhorer Kakoj and Prothom Alo published the report
on November 2.
The Supreme Court on December 5 issued a suo moto rule on
the editors, publishers and reporters. The notice said, "The
attention of the Chief Justice was drawn to the news item,"
and that the Gulshan Police station "reported that no
such Additional Judge of the High Court Division was detained
by the police, nor has anyone by that name been taken to the
Police Station" for public nuisance.
The court asked the respondents to show cause "as why
they should not be proceeded against for contempt of this
(R) thedailystar.net 2004