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     Volume 4 Issue 43 | April 22, 2005 |

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News Notes

The Final Verdict
The Ahsanullah Master murder case made headlines on Sunday April 17 as 22 of the accused were sentenced to death by a Dhaka court. This is the highest number of capital punishment ever awarded in a single criminal case.

The court also handed down similar punishments to the same accused for the death of a young man, Omar Faruq Ratan in the same shooting.

The accused include 17 BNP men while three belonging to the Awami League and two to Jatiya Party.

The mastermind of the killing Nurul Islam Sarkar, a Jubo Dal leader and brother of a BNP leader of Tongi is behind bars along with 11 others. Sixteen of the accused have managed to escape.

The court elaborated that Ahsanullah Master was an ideal teacher and social worker and peoples' representation worked to eradicate drug peddling and crime from his constituency. His death the judge said had deprived the nation of his welfare services for the people.

Although Ahsanullah's family has sad that they were satisfied with the verdict, Sheikh Hasina, AL's chief has termed the judgement as "incomplete." She says that the real culprits behind the assassination have gone scot-free. She added that the party believes that the high-ups of the BNP-Jamaat led ruling coalition were involved in it. Hasina says that it would not have been possible for local leaders to kill such a popular political figure without the green signal from the BNP high command.

She had said that was the same ploy as was used in the Shah AMS Kibria's murder in which the local BNP leaders were accused while the masterminds were saved. Of course all this did not stop her from cashing in on the verdict as she pointed out tat at least it shows that BNP leaders are involved in political assassinations of AL leaders -- something that AL has been harping on for ages.

Bangladeshis Killed in Border Clash
At least three Bangladeshis including a girl have been killed in a fierce encounter between Indian Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) on Akhaura border on April 16.

The girl was identified as Nahid Akhtar, age 10, of Anwarpur village. But the identities of the two others could not be known as the BSF took away their bodies. There are speculations that the death toll might be more than three. Unconfirmed reports put the figure at five.

BDR sources said that BSF men entered Fakirmura village of Akhaura upazilla at about 5:00pm and opened fire on the BDR, who had resisted the intruders. The BDR returned fire and the shootout that ensued saw the use of sophisticated firearms by both the border guards of the neighbouring countries.

As for Nahid, the villagers said that Bullet-hit girl was taken to the Akhaura Health Complex where she died. The BSF took away the bodies of the two Bangladeshis who died in the shootout while two other bodies were reported to have been lying on the zero-line.

The local people of Fakirmura, Anwarpur, Kuripaika, Hirapur and Klyanpur villages took refuge in Akhaura sadar, said the officials of the upazilla adminstration and police.

Commanding Officer of 7 Rifles Battalion Lt Col Sayed Quamruzzaman was on the frontline during the shootout. The director (operations) of the BDR accused the BSF men of trespassing into Bangladesh territory and assaulting several local villagers. "They looted some of the houses and forcibly tried to take away few villagers," he told The Daily Star. However many testified that the villagers countred the attack and injured some of the BSF men.

Here come the Police
Last week the police in Satkhira helped the International Khatme Nabuwat Movement (IKNM), an anti-Ahmadiyya group, hang a banner on the wall of an Ahmadiyya mosque. The banner read, "This is a place of worship for Kadianis, no Muslim should mistake it for a mosque".

Ahmadiyyas in the district's Sundarban Bazaar area panicked when hordes of zealots led by IKNM, armed with sticks, machetes and darts, tried to gherao the sect's mosque. When the procession got closer, local Ahmadiyyas resisted the bigots from hanging the signboard. Over 50 people, including six women and a number of children, were injured when the IKNM faithful pelted stones at the members of the sect. Seeing the anti-Ahmadiyya group in trouble, the police, who were stationed nearby, came with a flag of rescue. Presumably, following the instigation of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party high command, policemen fired blanks in the air. Frightened by the sound of gunshots, Ahmadiyyas backed off, and IKNM members stepped in to hang the signboard. At one point, partly to look it more official, partly out of generosity, IKNM leaders requested the police to hang the board, which the men in blue happily complied. Magistrate Mina Masuduzzaman, Deputy Inspector General of Police Sohrab Hossain and Superintendent of Police in Satkhira Abdur Rahim were present when the policemen hung the signboard.

Immediately after this disturbing incident a group of bigots started to loot the houses belonging to Ahmadiyyas. Shocking it is surely, but the incident is not at all new. The government has recently budged to the IKNM and banned all the publications of the Ahmadiyya community in the country. Though the followers of the sect have not been officially declared as heretics, police help in anti-Ahmadiyya campaign suggests the government's silent nod to the persecution of the community.

Verdicts Enrages BNP, Jubo Dal Men
Supporters of Nurul Islam Sarkar, the main convict given death sentence in the Awami League (AL) lawmaker Ahsanullah Master killing case, went on a rampage at Tongi. They ransacked the Tongi Pourashava Chairman's office and damaged his Pajero Jeep in the afternoon of April 17.

Nurul Islam Sarkar along with 21 other Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) men were awarded capital punishment by a court in Dhaka for masterminding and executing the killing of the popular AL leader. The verdict provoked the local BNP and Jubo Dal men. According to witnesses, some 25 cadres stormed into the pourashava office allegedly in an attempt to hit Chairman AKM Mozammel Haq, who is also the general secretary of the Tongi AL.

A number of pourashabha employees were injured in the incident, as they tried to resist the miscreants. Before they went out for the rampage family members of Nurul Islam Sarkar along with some Jubo Dal and BNP cadres brought out a procession in the industrial town and set fire to tires blocking traffic movement in protest against the verdict.

Police however dispersed the agitators. Additional forces were deployed in the area to curb further violence.

When Three Makes Noise
After an eerie lull in bomb blasts there are hints that another spate of bomb-related violence may be imminent. Three powerful bombs were seized from the district Shechchasebak League office in Meherpur on April 18. Former Awami League (AL) leader Abdul Mannan was supposed to hold a meeting later in the evening, on the eve of Mujibnagar Day. Police who searched the office found the three bombs hidden in a bag and said that they were powerful devices that must have been smuggled from across the border. Two persons were arrested from the spot.



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