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     Volume 4 Issue 26 | December 24, 2004 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   A Roman Column
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   In Retrospect
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News Notes

Mahathir's Motto:
Don't Indulge the West

Mahathir Mohamad's recent visit to Dhaka has caused quite a stir especially after his fiery speech urging Muslim countries not to trade in US dollars as it only strengthens the capabilities of the US to develop and supply arms to Israel that 'they use to kill Muslims'. This he said at a breakfast meeting organised by the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) on 'Islam and the West'.
Mahathir asked Muslim countries to put aside their differences and concentrate on developing their economic potential. Mahathir advocated the strategy of selling oil and other raw materials possessed by Muslims, in currencies other than dollars as this would devalue the dollar. "If the US is poor it cannot eliminate the world," said the former prime minister of Malaysia who is known for his anti-West speeches. Mahathir also renewed his earlier proposal of a new joint currency, the Muslim Dinar, which could be used to boost trade and economic cooperation among Muslim countries. He also warned that the new powers dominating the world in the future may very well be China, India, Japan and Korea. Thus the need for strengthening the Muslim Ummah.
Mahathir stated that 'democracy' has been forced upon Muslim countries by the West: "Democracy is a very good system if you know how to work it. However we have seen that it has weakened a number of our Muslim nations by splitting the polity." One way of strengthening their position said Mahathir would be to develop 'centres of excellence' at the very best universities in the Muslim world. These centres would give scholarships to the best Muslim students. He said that this would revive the mastery of knowledge that Muslims had before the 14th century.
Mahathir, who is a popular figure in the Muslim world, was conferred an honorary Doctorate of Law by Dhaka University when he attended the institution's 42nd convocation.

Gruesome murder of
mother and daughter

The news of 50-year old Sabera Begum Baby, the Headmistress of Siddheshwari Girls High school,
and her 25-year old daughter Sharmin Alam Shampa's brutal murder on Thursday December 16th, has been the latest shock to the nation. They were killed where they were supposed to be the safest--in their own home, on the fourth-floor of an apartment in Baridhara. The questions as to who killed them and why are yet to be known, but, the police believe that the unidentified assailants were known to Sabera as they didn't break into the house rather were allowed in. Johor, the security guard, who was wounded when he tried to stop the killers from going away, also said that one of them talked to 'madam' (Sabera) on the intercom. Her husband Shamsul Alam Mridha and some of her relatives suspect some of her colleagues and members of the school's governing body, who, they added, had a conflict with Sabera over teachers' recruitment and tender for the construction of a new two-storied building in the school premises. Sabera known and respected for her honesty had opposed the corruption associated with the awarding of the tender and recruitment of teachers which was allegedly manipulated by two influential members of the school governing body. But no one thought that enmity could lead to such cold-blooded murder. The way the killers managed to kill two persons and flee the scene almost unchallenged through the general belief that the apartment dwellers are safer than others has proved piteously mistaken.

Mirpur Road Freed
from Rickshaws

Mirpur road, one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city has been made off-limits to rickshaws and other non-motorised vehicles from Russel Square to Azimpur. Similar attempts were made earlier but all went in vain at the face of strong resistance from the rickshawpullers. This time too rickshawpullers agitated against the ban, but the authorities' persistence to keep to their decision finally prevailed. One day after the ban was imposed hundreds of rickshaw pullers and owners were advancing towards Azimpur bus stand in a violent mood prompting the police to swing into action. Very soon the entire area was turned into a battlefield some 15 people were injured, glasses of a number of cars were peltedat, and 7 rickshaw-pullers were arrested. The angry rickshaw-pullers and owners called a dawn to dusk hartal, as well as a 48-hour rickshaw strike in Dhaka city but could hardly make it happen. BRTC has already introduced 40 double-decker buses that would carry passengers from Gabtoli to Azimpur free of cost to make sure that commuters don't face troubles in the absence of rickshaws. Many have appreciated the government initiative, but, some believe, women and elderly people will find it difficult to get into those crammed buses.

PBCP Founder
Mofakkhar Killed

Mofakkhar Hossain founder of banned Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCPML; Communist Party of East Pakistan Marxist-Leninist) was killed in a so-called crossfire with the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) last week in Kushtia. The killing has put an end to an era of dedication and struggle. After the death of Mohammad Toaha and Abdul Haque, he was been the last old guard leading any armed Marxist group.
PBCPML has been waging its self-styled "class struggle" to overthrow the government to establish a Maoist people's republic.
Mofakkhar, who also went under the noms de guerre of Mahmud Hassan and Arpan, was hiding at a rented house in the city's Rupnagar Residential Area. Acting on a tip off, a team of Rab-3 cordoned off the house and arrested the 63-year-old leader.
"As our men asked if he was Mofakkhar, he replied in the affirmative," a Rab source told the Daily Star.
During interrogation at Rab headquarters, the PBCPM leader had allegedly admitted to having taken some steps to settle a feud among different other banned communist outfits operating in the country.
The leader was later taken to Kushtia after, according to the Rab, "he had confessed to having large caches of arms and party cadres scattered in the southern and northern regions. He also said that the outlawed operatives were scheduled to sit at a meeting in Bhadalia area of Kushtia".
The team then took the blindfolded leader to Kushtia and handed him over to the local Rab. When Kushtia Rab was on their way to the alleged meeting venue in Bhadalia, PBCPM cadres ambushed their microbus at Baliapara ground of the district. According to a Rab press release, "Mofakkhar tried to jump out of a Rab microbus during one-and-half hour gunfight and was caught in the crossfire. He died on the spot."
Mofakkhar was born as Mofakkharul Chowdhury in Shunamjang. In a career that spanned 33-years, he was arrested once in 1974. After getting bail in 1977, the leader founded Purbo Banglar Communist Party, rejecting the country's independence from Pakistan in 1971. Though its stance has been criticised by leading Marxist theoreticians of the country, the party has never changed its name. In its manifesto, the party adheres to Mao Zedong's famous policy of armed struggle to establish socialism and has so far allegedly killed 200 people including many politicians and businessmen.
Many compared the PBCP (ML) with other armed "communist factions" of the country that work as bands of thugs and extortionists.
The party suffered a break-up when a group led by Abdur Rashid Malitha Tapan walked out and formed PBCM-ML-Red Flag.
The party deplored the killing and on a phone-call to a local daily the spokesperson for PBCP (ML) vowed to avenge the leader's death by establishing a socialist republic in the country through continuous armed struggle. "Revolution will take its own course," he said.

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