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     Volume 4 Issue 38 | March 18, 2005 |

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News Notes

Anti-Ahmadiyya Campaign in Full Swing
With the apparent help of the police, the zealots forcibly hung a defamatory signboard on an Ahmadiyya mosque in Bogra. Newspapers last week ran a photograph, which showed two policemen fix the board that declared, "A Place of Worship of the Kadianis in Bogra Town. No Muslim Should be Deceived into Considering it a Mosque".

Carrying iron rods around 10 thousand zealots, who belonged to the International Khatme Nabuwat Movement (IKNM), ghearoed an Ahmadiyya mosque in downtown Bogra. Being intercepted by the law enforcers, the IKNM demanded the police hand them over the Ahmadiyya publications from the mosque. The mob also wanted to put the notice board they were carrying. Police took five IKNM leaders inside the Ahmadiyya mosque, which sparked an altercation between the community leader Abdul Awal Khan and members of the police.

Additional Police Super of Bogra, Zakir Hossain, soon came with a flag of rescue for the zealots. He ordered his force to listen to the demand of IKNM leaders, which the police carried out with uncharacteristic precision.

Meanwhile, from a meeting in the capital, leaders of International Majlis-e Tahaffuz-e Khatme Nabuwat (IMTKNB), another little known group, said, "Muslims in the country will not abide by any decision of the High Court (on the Ahmadiyya issue), rather they will fight until the end to establish Islamic laws in the country".

"The government lacks the courage to declare Ahmadiyyas non-Muslim. Those who consider Ahmadiyyas Muslims are not Muslims," Azizul Hoque, chief of a faction of the Islami Oikko Jote, said.

Khatib of Baitul Mukarram Mosque, Obaidul Haque, warned, "Kadiyanis (Ahmadiyyas) should be declared non Muslim for their own safety. Otherwise conscious Muslims may take law in their own hands."

Agent Orange claims go to court
A New York court began hearing a lawsuit brought by more than 100 Vietnamese affected by the chemical defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

Marking the first time the Vietnamese have sought legal redress since the US war of aggression against the south-east Asian country, the suit seeks compensation and a clean-up of contaminated areas by more than 30 firms, among them Dow Chemical and Monsanto, the largest producers of Agent Orange.

US forces sprayed an estimated 20 million gallons of herbicides, including Agent Orange, in Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 to deny food and jungle cover to the Vietnamese guerrilla forces. But the chemical remained in the water and soil for decades.

Some three million Vietnamese and thousands of US soldiers who fought in Vietnam have suffered from severe physical defects over the years. Agent Orange, named after the colour of its containers, is blamed for nightmarish birth defects in Vietnam, where babies appeared with two heads or without eyes or arms.

US veterans of the war have complained of a variety of health problems resulting from exposure to the herbicide. Dioxin, the toxic compound in Agent Orange, has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects and organ dysfunction.

It is unclear whether the Vietnamese plaintiffs will succeed, but there are precedents in a 1984 agreement by Dow and Monsanto to pay $180 million to US veterans. The US government has consistently refused to discuss compensation for the deadly effects of its chemical defoliants.
Source: Radio Havana Cuba

A member of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was caught (by another RAB team) taking a Taka 1 lakh bribe at a rice store in Gopibagh last week. He was number 107 in a long line of members of the elite to force to be arrested and punished for various offences since the inception of the organisation nine months ago. Besides being criticised for a large number of questionable deaths of criminals in "crossfire", RAB members have been alleged to have collected tolls from people and releasing criminals after arrest. The Intelligence Wing of the force apparently monitors the members and their activities. Those who violate discipline are sent back to their mother organisations to be dealt with accordingly and as per the regulations of that organisation. Punishment -- of the crime-fighting force comprised of members from various organisations, including different law-enforcing agencies, Ansar and defence forces -- has ranged from fines and suspension to rigorous imprisonment.

Three give confessional statements
President of Laskarpur union BNP M Jamir Ali, President of Laskarpur union Zia Smriti O Gabeshana Parishad Zainal Abedin Momin and driver Tajul Islam of Bhadoi village, three of the four people arrested regarding the killing of the former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria gave confessional statements before a first class magistrate this week. The fourth arrested, AKM Abdul Qayyum, central president of Zia Smriti O Gabeshana Parishad and vice-president of district BNP, declined to give any statement.

Some still seem to doubt the validity of these confessions, and wonder if the accused made them upon being taken on remand several times and interrogated extensively by the Joint Interrogation Cell.

Goodbye to smoking!
The government took yet another step, to bring about a change in the country for the better of its people, this week. Health and Family Welfare Minister Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain introduced the bill titled 'Smoking and Tobacco Usage (control) Act, 2005', imposing a ban on smoking at public places and in public transports, and on advertisement of tobacco products. It also prohibits publication of advertisements of tobacco products in newspapers, books and magazines, in radio and television broadcasts, and in cinema.

No Company will be allowed to distribute tobacco free of cost, arrange any competition and make any offer of scholarship or donation to publicise tobacco products. A punishment of three months imprisonment or a fine of Tk 1,000 or both is enforceable for its violation.

Mosharraf Hossain said that this bill is aimed at discouraging smoking and sales of cigarettes and tobacco products in the country. However, opposition Jatiya Party (Ershad) lawmakers were critical about the new law and said that it would create new scopes of corruption for the police who would definitely grab this chance to harass innocent people by misusing the law.

The category of public places include educational institutions, government, semi-government and autonomous offices, libraries, lifts, hospitals, clinics, court buildings, airports, sea and river port buildings, railway stations, bus terminals, ferries, cinema halls, covered exhibition centres, theatres, children's parks and other places designated by gazette notifications.

Anyone violating the law will be fined with Tk 50, though the authorities or caretaker of any public place or transport can make special arrangements for smokers.

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