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     Volume 4 Issue 55 | July 22, 2005 |

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News Notes

More troubles ahead
The country seems to be heading towards a certain trouble of a great magnitude for certain. The political front is gaining heat with the opposition parties led by the AL finally spelling out their caretaker government reform plan and the BNP-led alliance government rejecting it outright. It appears to be another political impasse in the making, quite similar to the one we saw in 1996. While the AL has threatened that no elections would be held without reforming the existing caretaker government system, the government has found no merit in the reform proposals and in fact saw evil intention to disrupt the country's democratic progress. Somehow, our two major political parties always manage to take absolutely opposite stands and never try to heed what the other party has to say. Unfortunately, it is us, the general people, who have to pay for their stubbornness, though, it is the general people for whom these political parties claim to be fighting their battles.

Child Play
Who says there are no similarities between the reel-life and the real-life, as in reality and the things shown in the movies?
It so happened that last year in March, on account of an everyday mother-daughter squabble, 18-year-old Beethi left home for Dhaka, after an argument with her mother, Usha Rani Biswas. After running off to Dhaka, she even worked as a domestic help somewhere in the capital.
For some reason or the other, Pulin Biswas, Beethi's father filed a case with Swaronkhola Police Station accusing 18-year-old Obaidul and 11-year-old Asma Akhter of abducting his daughter. After the kids were arrested, the police sent the two to Bagerhat District Jail in July. Asma was bailed out. However, Obaidul's bail petition got rejected. This innocent teenager is still spending time in prison though falsely implicated in a case based on poor police investigation.
Beethi, however, did return to her parents two weeks ago with the help of the Dhaka office of Aparajeyo Bangladesh, a non-govt organisation (NGO).

Fear the Rab
What Rab did last Saturday shocked many and frightened many more. One Abu Bakar Sultan Bidhan, a middle-aged garment businessman, was taken to Rab-1 office blindfolded and then severely beaten with iron rods. His leg bones were fractured and the soles of his feet bruised. His crime was to protest manhandling of an elderly private car driver by some Rab members in front of an Otobi showroom in Uttara. At one stage, Bidhan had a scuffle with an ASP of Rab, who was sitting in a jeep and watching his men rough up the private car driver. No doubt, Bidhan did commit the severest of crimes--he dared to right the wrongs of RAB. And Bidhan had learnt a lesson, as the ASP threatened he would, for protesting Rab's violence.

Save us from Unsafe Food
It's a real wonder that people in our country are not dying in scores eating what we call 'food'. There is hardly any food item, from fish to meat, vegetables to milk, biscuits to chocolates, that is not adulterated in one way or another. Recently, newspaper reports of a whole variety of adulterated food getting caught by mobile courts across the city, have once again brought to light the magnitude of adulteration of almost all sorts of food items. Last Monday, a mobile court fined four Chinese restaurants -- City Garden and Midnight Sun in Mohammadpur, Kiangsi in Darus-salam and G-1 in Mirpur -- Tk 1.6 lakh for using unsafe food ingredients and keeping their kitchens unhygienic. The court caught the restaurant people red-handed using chemicals and artificial colour, which are usually used in dying clothes, in food. The same court on the 18th of this month fined Hotel Purbani for serving adulterated food items. The court is one of the two formed by the home ministry following newspaper reports on adulterated food.
One however wonders what BSTI (Bangladesh Standard Testing Institution), which is entrusted to keep an on the standard of food items, is doing. It seems the institution is either ineffective or, as most believe, in collusion with those who are directly and indirectly involved in food adulteration. Whatever the reality, is it a great demand for general consumers to ask for fresh food? In any case, the home ministry deserves thanks for its initiative, but one hopes the original institution that is BSTI will be made active and do what it is supposed to do and make sure that consumers get at least reasonably safe food.


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