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     Volume 4 Issue 48 | May 27, 2005 |

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News Notes

AL leader slain
Last Tuesday, Advocate Khorshed Alam Bachchu, a Supreme Court lawyer and also joint general secretary of Awami Ainjibi Parishad, a pro-opposition lawyer's forum, was gunned down by unknown assailants at Tejgaon. This stimulated intense street demonstrations in the capital.
Investigations revealed that three gunmen sprayed around 10 bullets on Khorshed at 9:45 am, a while after he came out of his home in Tejkunipara and was on his way to work. Leaving the AL leader dead on spot, the assailants sped off in a CNG-run autorickshaw. Khorshed took at least nine bullets in the forehead, throat, chest, abdomen and one of his legs.
This cold-blooded murder led to several protests last week, where the opposition called dawn-to-dusk hartals in the city last Wednesday and Saturday. Hundreds of locals, AL leaders and activists demonstrated against the government and demanded arrest and punishment to the killers. Protestors vandalised vehicles on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue and blocked the road for an hour causing severe traffic gridlock. A picketing battle resulted between the agitators and the police, while all the speeding vehicles were getting stoned.
Advocate Khorshed's colleagues put off their work in protest. Supreme Court lawyers also stopped their work last week and observed a daylong work stoppage.
According to the police, anonymous callers had been threatening Khorshed, asking him to step down from the seven-member committee he headed. It seems that the callers had even warned him of dire consequences should he not quit the committee.
The slain leader's Namaz-e-janaza was held on the Supreme Court (SC) premises. The second one was held on the premises of the Court of District and Sessions Judge, Dhaka, which hundreds of lawyers attended.

Brutal Indeed
A minor girl was raped and forced into prostitution after she was sold to a hotel owner in downtown Dhaka. The 17-year-old girl was going to Rajshahi when a sister-in-law of the girl's stepmother allegedly sold her to the owner of hotel Capetown in the city's Maghbazar area.
"It was around 3am when she brought me to room 27 on the third floor (of the hotel). Saying she will be coming back soon, she went out and never came back," the girl told the journalist. The following day the girl was gang raped by a pack of men, whom the victim later identified as some policemen and local hoodlums. The nearby police station was only half a mile away.
A couple of days later she managed to flee and went to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. For the police, good sense prevailed; law enforcers raided the hospital upon the girl's information and arrested 10 of the hotel staff. Of them Mujibul Alam, manager of the hotel, cried innocence. "I have been working here for the last three years, but I have never seen any such thing or any girl of that name," Alam told journalists.
The government has done nothing though incidents of this kind have been repeated itself many times across the capital. With the complicity of some police members of different prostitution rings in the city remain very much active.

The new Food-for-Oil programme
On the water way between Dhaka and Chittagong, a shady deal unveils. The siphoning of government oil has become a common practice on this route and is a part of a tanker's voyage. Each day, more than ten tankers, each carrying over 1,000 metric tons of oil, make the same trip. On top, everything seems normal, but the river route has become an underground network for trade at night: the trade of oil in exchange of rice, chickens, fish, cash, etc. At other times, shipments of oil simply disappear. This form of siphoning is a tradition that has been followed by miscreants for a very long time. "We have been observing this crime since independence of the country," noted a prominent journalist of Bhola. Close to 3 crore taka is being traded off every month from this route. A large crime syndicate is behind this shady barter that comprise of local mastans, local administrations, some local police stations, political high-ups and even government officials in the area. Mohammad Abdul Mannan, deputy commissioner of Bhola, admitted to such occurrences but refused to make any claim. "We have heard about the crime but nobody has came forward with a specific allegation," he said. Other sources claim, however, that this exchange programme spans over a vast route and the corruption involves amounts in crores. The main reason behind all the corruption is due to government involvement, some say. If the trade was privatised, this problem would promptly be tackled.
Source: The Daily Star.

Hartal's cost
Hartal callers have always been sensitive to some issues like public examinations, religious events etc. But the AL seems to have decided to break up from that tradition. It has already enforced two hartals in four days while the SSC examinations are very much on. While the AL had some sort of justification--traditionally killing of an opposition leader is followed by a hartal the dawn to dusk hartal on May 21 irritated most. Even the most ardent AL followers thought the AL was overdoing the hartal act. Some four and a half lakh examinees and their relatives spent anxious hours as the government was taking time to decide the postponement of the exams on the hartal days. The hartals passed off rather peacefully except the savagery on the part of two allegedly pro-hartal activists who poured acid on a CNG driver and burned almost his entire body. His crime was he dared to come out on a hartal morning. Now he is fighting for life, his wife has already exhausted all the money she had for his treatment. She doesn't know where she will collect the rest of his treatment cost from. Then, of course, there are other problems ahead. Doctors have expressed serious doubt if Amer, the CNG driver, will ever return to normal life and, more importantly, if he will be able to earn his and his family's living. Who has gained from this hartal and from this beastly inhuman act?


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