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     Volume 4 Issue 52 | July 1, 2005 |

   Cover Story
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News Notes

Flight of Disaster
A Bangladesh Biman narrowly escaped danger on Friday, 3 July, when it skidded off the runway while belly-landing. There were technical faults in the plane's wheels and propeller. Onboard the plane were 201 passengers and 14 crew members, all of whom safely got off the plane. Five passengers, however including a six-year old baby, sustained minor injuries. Due to bad weather, the plane could not land on time and was hovering over Chittagong airport. The DC-10 pilot Captain Selim, sensing something was wrong, did an emergency landing procedure to avert a crash but on landing, the aircraft developed mechanical problems when one of its wings caught fire. The aircraft skidded off about 2000 feet as it touched the ground and came to a halt 12 feet further off from the runway. Six wheels, the front-right wing and the engine of the aircraft were damaged extensively in the accident. The pilot activated the emergency exits and all the passengers and crewmembers disembarked safely. The following day, Captain Selim was suspended and removed from the post of chief of safety. The co-pilot and the flight engineer were also suspended. Sources say Captain Selim has a lack of expertise in landing the aircraft. Officials at Chittagong tower had repeatedly told him to correct the position of the aircraft, which was not in position for landing. Selim apparently had been binge-drinking when not on duty but the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) didn't take any action in that regard though they were aware of the issue.

Playing cop-and-robber
Is there anyone we're safe with anymore? Well, what can one say when a police sergeant is arrested for robbery?
Sergeant Zulfikar Ali of the traffic department was arrested for robbing a businessman of Tk 14.47 lakh last week. Stopping the businessman, Azhar Ali, with two of his nephews in front of the General Post Office (GPO), the police sergeant accused him of possessing money obtained from hundi business. After asking a nearby patrol inspector as to what to do with him, Zulfikar Ali got into the businessman's car, but, instead of taking him to the police station, stopped him near a hotel in Bijoynagar and left with the cash. He, however, left the keys to his motorbike, glasses and a police duty sheet in the car. Azhar Ali later took these to the Detective Branch and, on the basis of the evidence, DB officials arrested Zulfikar Ali eight hours after the incident. The police sergeant admitted to the robbery, saying that he had targeted the businessman after receiving information from a source, Shahjahan. He claimed that Shahjahan also had the cash.
While police are on the hunt for Shahjahan, Zulfikar Ali remains behind the bars he is supposed to.

Parting Thomas calls
Bangladesh a
moderate country

US Ambassador Harry K Thomas left Dhaka last week, along with his wife Ericka O. Smith Thomas, a vocalist, and his daughter Casey Merie Eunice Thomas. He was the 11th US ambassador to Bangladesh, and upon his return to Washington, he will replace Karl Hofmann as executive secretary at the State Department.
He praised the people of Bangladesh for their hospitality, saying that they were wonderful to his family and to him. "Our heart will always be with Bangladesh and we will miss you. The people are wonderful and they impressed me most--they are resilient and inseparable."
During his stay in Bangladesh, he had spoken about the need for improvement in human-right conditions, highlighting the State Department's annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices as a key tool for moving the dialogue on human rights forward.
"I know that Bangladesh will continue to succeed and be a model for democracy and tolerance for everyone," he said.
Thomas was vocal on the issues of security and freedom of journalists who faced "intimidation and violence from criminals, political leaders, and religious extremists".
When asked to speak something in Bangla he said, "
Ami asha kori 2-3 bosorer moddye Bangladesh e ashbo (I hope I will be back in Bangladesh within 2-3 years)."
Responding to the reporters' appeal to comment on the political situation of Bangladesh, Thomas said, "You are trying to get the headline from me. I am no longer the ambassador... President Bush accepted my resignation."

Bangla Bhai

A follower of Bangla Bhai, Moshiur Rahman Peter, was arrested on June for the attack on journalist Shahikul Islam, daily Janakantha correspondent of Bagmara. Islam was attacked on June 28th, on his way to the Press Club because he was helping other journalists report on Bangla Bhai and the activities of the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB). In the past year, Bangla Bhai has become a household name in Bangladesh as well as having made international headlines for the terrorist activities carried out by both him and the members of the JMJB.
The arrest of Moshiur Rahman Peter was carried out by the Special Branch forces. From a tip off, plainclothesmen from the SB raided Peter's house. The accused resisted arrest and injured one of the policemen during the struggle, but SB forces still managed to arrest him. According to various sources, local BNP leaders lobbied for the release of Peter, who is apparently the nephew of Deputy Minister for Land Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu. Although Peter was sent to court, lawmakers will not indict him for attacking police officers.


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