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     Volume 5 Issue 80 | January 27, 2006 |

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News Notes

Seven Killed by Police Firing
Seven people were killed and over a hundred were injured in a clash between local mob and police in Kansat Bazaar in Chapainawabganj. Six police vehicles were torched at Kansat as cops tried to disperse the mob blocking the C'nawabganj-Sonamasjid Road. Less than three weeks ago, on 4th January a similar incident left two people killed in the same area. The firing took place when locals were demonstrating for the release of three leaders of Palli Bidyut Sangram Committee (PBSC), an organisation of local electricity subscribers, arrested in connection with January 4 violence in the area. On that day two people were killed in police firing in the same upazila when the locals laid siege to the Kansat Palli Bidyut Samity demanding uninterrupted power supply and reduced meter charge. On Sunday night, police arrested Golam Rabbani, Zahir Chowdhury and Manirul Islam Manna, leaders of PBSC, which is leading a movement on five-point demand including reduction of electricity meter charge and minimum charges. Additional contingents of police and BDR have been deployed in the area, where a tense situation prevailed as a result of the agitating locals.

Persecuted for Adopting Birth-control Method
In the Purba-Katakhali village of Hoaikong upazila of Cox's Bazaar a day-labourer has been the victim of persecution on the ground that he has infringed a religious dictum by adopting vasectomy. He has not only been ostracised by the community at the behest of the religious leaders, his house was set on fire.
Shamsul Alam (38), the day labourer, has been making a subsistence living as his family members stood at eight. So, he decided not to enlarge his family any more and went to the local clinic to have the vasectomy done. But he had little inkling of what has followed operation. The imam, the head clergyman, of the local mosque issued a fatwa banning him from the mosque and put an embargo on his family. The imam declared that "it is najayej (illegitimate) for a man to adopt family planning method." The saddest part of the story is that though it caused an uproar and many from the administration were informed of the incident, the victims -- Alam and his family -- did not receive any kind of official assistance.
Since the day Alam went through the vasectomy operation, he has not only been banned from the local mosque, he has been facing obstruction while seeking employment. According to a newspaper report it was in the night of January 17 that some miscreants set fire to Alam's house. He could only manage to save his family members. He said to the press that he lost all his belongings to the fire. At present, Alam is living in a makeshift thatch. On top of that, he has received a death threat from the same quarter that issued the fatwa. He was asked to keep mum about the incident of fire or else face death. He has also been asked to leave the village.
The local people have conceded to the press that the imam Moulana Abdul Aziz issued a fatwa during the Eid-ul-fitr congregation asking all to ostracise Alam and his family.
As for the accused Moulana Aziz, he is straight forward in his rebuttal. He said to the press that Alam infringed religious dictum, and the villagers have ostracised him. However, he denied to have anything to do with the act of arson.

Grabbers Kill Two over Minority Land
For the land-grabbers the minority community is the softest target of all. In a latest incident two Hindus were killed and 10 others injured, three of them critically, as alleged grabbers of minority community land attacked them in Churer Bhita village in Dhubaura Upazila on January 22.
The dead are Bimol Chandra Sutradhar, 26, son of Gouranga Chandra Sutradhar, 35, son of Chandra Kumar Sutradhar.
The attack was led by Omar Ali, who has been described by both the police and locals as a land grabber. According to witnesses Omar along with 25 men equipped with sharp weapons attached the group of men engaged in cultivating Boro on a 40-decimal piece of land at around 7:00 am. The attackers left two dead on the spot and injured 10 others, of whom six were admitted to Mymensingh Medical College and Hospital.
Shymol Chandra Sutradhar, Bimol's younger brother, told the Daily Star that Omar came to the area 10 years ago and grabbed about 100 decimal of land in last three years. He said Omar and his men encroached on the land of a temple, a cremation ground and a tree worshiped by the local Hindus. Omar's land-grabbing spree has already curtailed the regular religious practices of the minority Hindus. Shymol also told the newsmen that they were helpless in the face of his onslaught because Omar kept threatening the community of serious consequences if anyone filed a complaint with the authorities.
Sumati Rani, who received injuries during the incident, said that Omar has been making preparation for the last three months to grab the cropland. They took the matter to the Purakandulia Union Parishad Chairman Mohammad Monju, who held arbitration in Chandranath School premises on January 21.
The UP chairman asked the Hindus to continue cultivation and directed Omar and his men to stay off the land. But, Omar and his men, including his son-in-law Pradip Mia, a Juba Dal leader, went on to grab more land. The attack was the most blatant act on their part to terrorise the Hindu community in order to drive them away from their ancestral land.
What makes the matter worse is that the law enforcement authority seemed to be turning a blind eye to the gory incident. The officer-in-charge of Dhubaura Police Station said that they do not know anything about Omar's land grabbing. "If the allegation is true, we must take necessary action," he said.

Hartal Observed Amidst Violence
Nearly 20 Awami League (AL) activists and 12 journalists were injured when police swooped on an AL procession supporting the first hartal of the year called by the 14-party opposition alliance. Forty others were injured in separate clashes between the police and opposition activists the day before the hartal. Police attacked an AL procession with batons and lobbed at least 50 teargas shells when the procession tried to break through a police barricade enclosing the AL central office on Bangabandhu Avenue. The 14-party opposition alliance, comprising the AL, 11-party alliance, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) and National Awami Party observed the countrywide hartal demanding Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) MA Aziz's immediate resignation and cancellation of two new election commissioners' appointments. Sporadic clashes in the capital and elsewhere in the country during the countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal left more than 200 people injured, ten of them with bullet wounds by gunmen allegedly backed by the ruling BNP. About 100 leaders and activists of the 14-party including Awami League (AL) leaders Faruq Khan MP, and former lawmaker Dr HBM Iqbal were injured as policemen in riot gears charged batons on opposition leaders and activists at different points in the capital. The law enforcers also detained 68 people during the clashes on charge of violent picketing as they hurled brickbats at the police and passing vehicles. Schools, markets, shops and private offices were closed. Most of the motorised vehicles stayed off the streets in the capital and other major cities.

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