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     Volume 4 Issue 74 | December 9, 2005 |

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News Notes

Bombing away

Thinking of the packet containing food, three street urchins, 7-year-old Bazlul Karim, 4-year-old Jasim and 5-year-old Akbar, discovered a ticking bomb upon opening the packet. The packet was found under a passenger bus at Gabtoli bus terminal in Dhaka last week. According to RAB and experts, the bomb was highly explosive and could have killed all the passengers in the bus if it had gone off.
The bomb had a detonator, a timer and two batteries. They further informed that half a kilogram of trinitrotoluene, two bicycle bearkings and 50-60 small iron balls were used to make the bomb.
The box was taken to Traffic Sergeant Abu Naser Mohammed Zahir, who quickly buried the bomb under sand and informed the police. Almost immediately, explosive experts defused the bomb and stopped traffic in the area for at least an hour.

JCD, Shibir men make Hay with Leaked Questions
The practice of leaking question papers of entrance examinations for the Bangladesh Civil Service Commission, also known as the Public Service Commission (PSC) has become a norm of sorts. This year the cadres of Jatyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), BNP's student wing, and Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS), Jamaat's student front, have had a field day earning a large sum from sales of these leaked question papers. The incident of the leak of question papers of the 27th BCS preliminary tests held on November 18 was the fourth in a row, beginning from the 24th BCS examinations in 2003 under PSC chairmanship of Prof ZN Tahmida Begum. She had been appointed in 2002, and since her appointment persistent allegation of the leak of question papers of both preliminary and written tests have undermined the credibility of the PSC. According to PSC sources, 14,095 persons were appointed to the cadre and non-cadre services by BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government in the last four years, while a total of 25,585 public servants were employed since the country won independence.
The allegation of leaks have emerged anew after the question papers of recently held 27th BCS preliminary tests had been widely distributed across the country ahead of the exams. Educationists blame the alleged practice of the current regime of appointing officials to the PSC based solely on political persuasion for proliferation of corruption surrounding the BCS entrance exam. As the posts of the PSC chairman, members, controllers and senior officials have allegedly been filled out by persons having political clout, the PSC itself has become an fraternity that breeds corruption. Experts emphasised on the urgent need to a stop such appointment to put a stop to the leakage.

Suicidal Maniacs
Following the recent attacks and suicide bombings Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman has ridiculed the notion of 'going to heaven by killing innocent people', an idea which is entirely at odds with the basic principles and tenets of Islam. The hypocrisy contained in such a view is not merely that killing innocent people is wrong but the act of suicide is itself condemned in all forms under Islamic doctrine.
This raises the question of how any Muslim could entertain the idea of taking on a suicide mission, in the hope of entering paradise in the after life. The finance minister commented further that often those recruited by the fanatical leaders are uneducated or educated only to a minimal level. This goes some way in explaining how ordinary men can be transformed into suicide bombers, holding beliefs that to most are clearly contradictory.
The extent to which the educational system of the country, charged by the minister as not helping merit to flourish, is to blame is something which is difficult to gauge, and in any case there is another more disturbing aspect to consider. The ability of the fanatics to manipulate ordinary young men plays a vital role in the recruitment process and is indicative of the immense power that these extremists have.
There is clearly a serious need for action at the governmental level with regard to the attacks being carried out, but the comments made by Saifur Rahman highlight the need also for reform in terms of factors like education, which seem to be influencing the events of late.

Niko to pay Tk 250cr as compensation
Petrobangla, the state-run oil, gas and mineral corporation, is going to claim Tk 250 crore as compensation from Canadian Niko Resources Ltd for losses caused by explosions at Tengratila. Officials at the energy division will make a formal claim this week, a summary of which has already been sent to Prime Minister Khaleda Zia who is in charge of Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources. The damage includes Tk 84 crore for environmental degradation and Tk 166 for burning eight billion cubic feet (CFT) of gas in the two explosions. The first accident dates back to January of this year when Niko was drilling at the abandoned gas field under a joint venture agreement (JVA) with Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (Bapex), a subsidiary of the Petrobangla. The second blowout took place in June of the same year when Niko was drilling a relief well to extinguish the fire. Though Niko claimed that it successfully put out the fire in October, Bapex said that there are still flames at several points of the site. Edward S Sampson, Niko Executive Chairman, recently met the energy advisor and sought permission to begin production from the gas field but Niko will not be permitted to start production until it agreed to make the compensation. So far, Niko has only paid Tk 2.5 crore in compensation to the local people. Sampson claims that accidents in the oil and gas industry are common. "Every year 300 such accidents take place across the world, but there is no provision of compensation for burnt gas," he added. He said he will follow the JVA if Petro-bangla formally makes the claim.



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