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     Volume 4 Issue 37 | March 11, 2005 |

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News Notes

Opposition Party's Month Long Agitation Plan
The mainstream opposition parties on March 2 announced a series of identical agitation programmes demanding resignation of the government, tackling the extremist groups and demanding trial of all the killings in bomb attacks and arrest of criminals involved in the biggest ever arms haul. The Awami League 11-party alliance and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal made the announcement from separate rallies in the capital. The agitation programmes will commence from March 13 to April 6 to press the opposition's various demands. The opposition leaders said that they would enforce even tougher programmes after the public examination end next month. The programmes include a dawn-to-dusk hartal on March 27, the forming of human walls in cities and district towns on March 13, a countrywide "hunger processions" on March 23 and country-wide demonstration against rise of extremist groups on March 20.

Police Rapes Again
Five out of 14 police personnel accused of the gang-rape of a housewife in Chuadanga were charge-sheeted last month. The accused are camp-in-charge Kuddus, Habildar, Rokunuddin, constables Harun, Sakil and Harunur Rashid. Nine other accused were exempted from the charge. The policemen picked up a 25-year old housewife from Bisnupur cillga while she was waiting for a rickshaw to go home from Chuadanga. They took her to a police camp nearby and raped her. After the rape, Kuddus and Rokunuddin took the woman to a man who lived in that area and asked him to send her to the hospital. The policeman also warned the victim not to report the incident. After human rights organisations from Dhaka and Kushtia launched a joint movement demanding proper investigation the police formed a probe body. The 14 accused were suspended and five of them were arrested. But the police probe report says that the woman was not raped at all. The human rights organisations have demanded a fresh investigation by a judicial committee and started a country-wide campaign on the issue. What is most disheartening though, is that even after fresh medical tests proved the rape and even though all 14 were initially arrested, nine were released on bail. The victim, meanwhile, is in the safe custody of Mahila Parishad where she is undergoing treatment.

Six-Year Old
Jailed for Rape

BNP leader, Abul Kalam Shamsuddin filed a case with the Jessore Kotwali Police Station on March 2nd, accusing ASM Abdur Rob, President of ward no. 9 unit of Jessore Krishak League, and his entire family, of rape and rioting. Unfortunately, officer-in-charge of the thana, Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal did not bother making any investigations to get the actual story, and ended up filing the rape and rioting case in which one of the accused party was a six-year old boy. Apparently Rob and his family members were attacked by Shamsuddin and his men earlier in the evening, which was followed by a dispute over the possession of a building at Nilganj Tatipara under Jessore Kotwali thana. After the dispute Shamsuddin went to the thana and filed a complaint against the entire family, including, Rob's wife, elder son and Chhatra League leader Reaz, daughter, and the seemingly dangerous six-year old. The entire courtroom was shocked when the family convened on Thursday, with the minor sitting in Rob's lap. Unfortunately because the office hours had been finished for the day, the petition for bail could not be placed before the court and lawyers are hoping to place bail soon. Although OC Abu Hena was condemned for allowing such an incident to occur, he claims that he is not "bound to give an account of my works to the press." Bound to the press or not, he will be remembered for a long time as the OC who allowed a rape and rioting case to be made against a six-year old boy, causing him to spend three days in jail. And although he may be in the ruling party's good books for this, the rest of the nation is shaking their heads at his lack of common sense.

and the Monster

Bangla Bhai, operations commander of the recently banned Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) fled to India last week. The dreaded leader, whose real name is Siddiqur Rahman, along with fellow members of the notorious organisation crossed the border at Naogaon. Sources in the group told newsmen that their leader would come back home as soon as he got the "green signal" from two cabinet ministers belonging to some northern districts of the country.
Meanwhile, the government's recent move to crack down on these militants has cast a shadow over Bangladesh Nationalist Party's (BNP) alliance with the Jamaat and Islamic Oikkya Jote (IOJ). Jamaat and IOJ have asked the government to stop what it called "raiding Kawmi madrasas across the country". These religious schools follow a syllabus that is approved by India's Deoband University. Hundreds of Religious schools following the Deoband Syllabus have plagued the South Asian subcontinent since the school of thought was first born in northern India.
Mullah Umar and other members of the Taliban graduated from madrasas in neighbouring Pakistan. In fact all the members of the group follow Deoband school of thought. All the 15,000 Kawmi madrasas Bangladesh are believed to be a stronghold of Jamaat and IOJ.
Perplexed by its partners' threat to break the alliance, the BNP is in a dilemma over the recently launched crackdown. "We are discussing issue at the party high level to determine our strategy. If we continue with the drive it will hurt our coalition partners and if we stop it, the donor agencies may again criticise use," an unnamed government policymaker told the Daily Star preferring anonymity.
The alliance's religious partners have reacted furiously to the government move. "The government did not respond positively to our demand to stop raiding Kawmi madrasas. Even today police raided some Kawmi madrasas in Gazipur and Kapasia," Fazlul Haque Amini, IOJ chairman said.
Saying the raid must stop immediately, Amini said, "If the government does not do so, we'll decide our strategy at the March 16 meeting (of our party)." The party, in fact, has called on all the senior faculty members of these schools to attend the meeting.
At a rally on March 1, Amini said that an Islamic revolution would be brought about in the country through Kawmi madrasas.
Newspaper reports, meanwhile, suggest that the intelligence agencies have been too lenient on Muhammad Asadullah Al Galib, leader of Ahale Hadith Bangladesh, who was arrested two weeks ago along with four leaders of two other militant organisations. Quoting an unnamed source a report published in the Daily Star said, "The intelligence officials did not vigorously interrogate Galib and his associates as expected even though six day of Galib's 10-day remand have already expired."
Galib, who allegedly travelled to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan with false documents, has so far denied any link with militancy.

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