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     Volume 4 Issue 34 | February 18, 2005 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   Time Out
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News Notes

A Festival Marred
by Violence

Valentine's Day ended in bomb blasts and a stampede at Dhaka University (DU), injuring at least 16 people, 12 of them DU students. Three bombs reportedly exploded one after another behind the Swoparjito Swadhinata sculpture at the TSC road-island where several thousand people were gathered for a function organised for the special day. The crowds dispersed in seconds after the blasts, causing a stampede. Another bomb went off at the nearby Hakim Chattar, close to the Central Library.
The blasts follow a series of others around the country in the past few years, including, on the university campus itself, the Ramna Batamul blast in 2001 which killed 14 people and blasts on the roof of Jagannath Hall last year as well as a number of bomb threats at different faculties of the university.
As usual, the BNP's student front, Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) and the AL's student party Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) were prompt to blame each other for the bomb blasts soon after they took place.
Different organisations have condemned the attacks while vice-chancellor Prof SMA Faiz has demanded exemplary punishment of the perpetrators and promised the beefing up of security on campus.
Most people, however, seem to have all but given up hope of justice in such cases, as they have seen none at all in the past several years, with few being arrested and none punished.

EU Worried over "Crossfire" Deaths
Head of delegation of the European Commission in Bangladesh, Ambassador Esko Kentrschynskyj on February 13 expressed deep concerns over the recent 'crossfire' deaths during operations of the elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (Rab).
While speaking at a press conference on future development policy of the EU, at the delegation office in the capital, Kentrschynskyj termed the deaths as extra-judicial killing and said the government should look into the incidents of more than 200 people being killed in 'crossfire'.

Editors United
against Violence

The editors of 23 national dailies issued a joint statement expressing concerns over the deaths of their reporters and the attacks on journalists all over the country. "We are extremely concerned about the fact that journalists are dying at regular intervals, yet the government and the administration remain indifferent and unconcerned. So far, not a single incident has either been properly investigated or the culprits punished," said the editors of Forum to Protect Journalists (FPJ), a newly formed group of the national dailies.
The Forum came into being following the death of the Khulna Bureau Chief of daily Sangram, Shaikh Belaluddin following a bomb attack, which also injured three other Khulna-based journalists.
"We observe with deep regret that after every incident of killing and bomb blast the perpetrators are able to dodge the police noose. This has led to a natural sense of anxiety and insecurity not only among journalists but also in the society at large," they said.
"We cannot accept this situation anymore. Time has come for a united action to protect the lives and professional freedom of journalists. We call upon all editors, journalists, publishers, and all those involved in the newspaper industry to join hands to resist the killing, attack, threat and harassment being faced by journalists. We have also decided to hold simultaneous joint mass rallies in all the Press Clubs throughout Bangladesh at 11:00 am on Saturday, February 19, 2005. The Dhaka rally will be held at the Jatiya Press Club. We call upon all journalists and everybody concerned with the profession of journalism, to make our rally a grand success," the members of the forum urged.

Being buried Alive
One doesn't have to only read and imagine the overwhelmingly horrible human mentality involved while burning the so-called witches or drowning them. It's still happening here, even in this age.
Last week, 22-year-old Nur Banu, a mother of a three-year-old, was almost buried alive by her in-laws, as advised by the village fakir, since it so happened that Nur Banu supposedly had affairs with several men. In a remote village of Syedpur, all kinds of preparation were taken to bury the dead, starting from boiling water to wash the body to digging a grave at around 1 am that night. Fortunately, Nur Banu's father came to the rescue with his clan just in time and took his daughter away.
Nur Banu informed the press that her in-laws would torture and beat her on a regular basis, in the hope of driving her away and getting their son married again with a good dowry.
Her husband, 35-year-old Jahenur, informed the media that his family had been torturing his wife for a long time and that they deserve to be punished severely for this. One also wonders as to how Jahenur's family got away with all this right in front of him and if there is a slight chance of him being involved as well.

The Clash over
Quran Lesson

Two people were injured when activists of Jatiyatabadi Chatra Dal (JCD) and Islamic Chatra Shibir (ICS) clashed over forced participation in holy Quran lessons at a college hostel in Rajshahi on February 14.
The injured, Jewel and Wahidul, belonged to the JCD, the student wing of the ruling party. They were admitted to Rajshahi Medical College hospital. At least six rooms of the Shamsuddin Hostel of Rajshahi New Government Degree College were damaged during the half-hour-long clash.
Later, the police took control of the hostel and arrested two ICS men, student front of the ruling coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami. Rajshahi city JCD President Abul Kalam Azad Sweet alleged that ICS workers had forced one JCD activist to attend holy Quran lessons at room no 118. He also alleged that when the JCD activist refused to attend the session, they hit him on the head with an iron rod.
Meanwhile, ICS leaders claimed that that the JCD workers launched the attack first when they were in a meeting. General students related to a Daily Star reporter that the ICS leaders often put pressure on them to attend ICS meetings and Quran lessons.

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