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     Volume 5 Issue 102 | July 7, 2006 |

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News Notes

Mystery of the unwell President
The present government is out to change the highest post of the state, this is what Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the opposition, has been so vociferous about since Iajuddin, the president, came back after receiving treatment in Singapore. Iajuddin came back but he was not given the protocol fitting to a president. And on top of that the acting president, speaker Jamiruddin Sirker, has been accorded the protocol that Iajuddin deserves as he is the president of the country.
From the moment Iajuddin landed in Zia International Airport on June 20 till the writing of this newsnote, the president has not been allowed to see anyone on the ground that he was unwell. What has been made public about the status of the president is that the he was unwell and is not fit to return to his post.
What the leader of the opposition has been saying from the beginning is the fact that with the election around the corner the BNP might change the soft-spoken Iajuddin with a hardliner who would be able influence the result of the coming election. The recent news that the president has returned to the country and seems quite fit only supports her claim. Morris Chu, consultant physician of Mount Elizabeth Hospital where Iajuddinn had a successful bypass, told private satellite television channel ATN Bangla in an interview that the president's physical condition was permitted him to get back to work after he returned to Bangladesh.
After the bypass Iajuddin has gone through, the patient is generally suggested 15 to 20 days rest depending on their age. Iajuddin was flown back home 25 days after his operation and was taken to first the CMH from Zia International Airport and than to the Bangbhaban. It is the Bangabhaban authority who put a moratorium on meeting Iajuddin on the ground that the CMH physicians prescribed the president eight weeks of rest, and it was announced that during this period no one would be allowed to meet him. In the context of what Iajuddin's doctor who operated upon him had to say this announcement of the CMH doctors only seems like excuse to keep the president out of reach of the press and the people. If the BNP-led coalition government is not really hatching a plan to replace the president with a partisan man, they should come clean by putting a stop to this game of hide and seek.

Precious natural habitat and lives of indigenous people under threat
Implementation of Phulbari coalmine project by British company Asia Energy will require felling of about 25 lakh big and small trees. It will also require relocating around 4,70,000 people including 50,000 indigenous people in about 100 villages, and part of Phulbari town
The trees in four upazilas -- Phulbari, Parbatipur, Ghoraghat and Birampur-- in Dinajpur will be axed in different phases of the 30-year life of the mine.
The sources pointed out that in the mine area, there are about 50,000 trees planted 25 to 50 years ago, while the remaining trees are younger. The older trees are of species like eucalyptus, shishu, neem and teak or mango, jackfruit, black berry and coconut trees or bamboo. These are roughly worth around Tk 150 crore. Some types of the trees provide fuel wood for the locality.
Forest officials seeking anonymity told a Daily Star Dinajpur correspondent that implementation of the mine project will also cause decline of groundwater level in the area, which may result in extinction of 3,200 acres of forestland adjacent to the coalmine area.
There are a total of 17,344 acres of forestland with sal and other trees around the mine area. Of this, 3,200 acres are very close to the mine.
In their defence Asia Energy officials claimed that the number of trees to face the axe would hardly exceed eight lakh.
The departments of forest and environment last year gave environmental clearance to Asia Energy for the coalmine project. But many energy experts of the country term the project socially and environmentally hazardous.
Environmentalists condemned the granting of the dense forestland for coal mining purposes saying that it would encourage others to do the same.

... And it's the Policemen Once Again
Once again the policemen of the country are proving themselves to be not just the most corrupt in the world but also no better than the gangsters they are supposed to protect the common people from.
This time they lived up to their reputation by killing a helpless old woman Nayan Banu.
On Sunday night, Assistant Sub-inspector (ASI) Mukhlesur Rahman and constables Aleem and Munnaf of Savar Police Station in plain clothes went to arrest Badsha Mia and his son Jewel against whom Montu Miah, a resident of Nikrail in Bongram, filed a case on June 16 accusing them of abducting his daughter Dishari Akhtar Tumpa.
Montu's daughter Dishari Akhtar Tumpa, 17, eloped with Badsha's son Jewel, 17, and they got married on June 14, locals said.
Not finding Badsha and Jewel in the house, Mukhles became furious and started questioning Badsha's mother Nayan Banu (65) regarding their whereabouts.
As Mukhles tried to enter the house, Nayan Banu, suspicious about the identity of police in plain clothes, asked them not to enter. Mukhles started kicking Nayan Banu and kept beating her with the rifle butt. At one stage she fell down dead and the policemen fled when neighbours rushed in.
The policemen were suspended after preliminary investigation found them guilty of murdering a 65-year-old woman at Bagnibari in Birulia of Savar on Sunday night.
Hundreds of aggrieved people from neighbouring villages thronged Nayan Banu's house and demanded exemplary punishment of the killer policemen.
Salauddin Nagri, TNO of Savar, pacified the demonstrating people by assuring them of justice.

'Spies' Posted in Jails to Watch Corruption
Want to know a secret if you promise not to tell? It seems that the prisons in the country are going to be crawling with government spies! The Prisons Directorate had to come up with this idea to look into the matter of 'corrupt' jail staff and unlawful activities in 66 jails. Though it seems to be a good idea, it has managed to give rise to strong resentment among the jail staff. It does give one the goosebumps to have people creeping around the prison hallways, not to mention catching the real offenders red handed.
The senior jail officials have come up with a reason claiming that the introduction of 'spy jail guards' is in breach of the country's jail code and 'unprecedented' in the country's history. It just shows how much these senior officials have been updating themselves on the current activities that go breaching the individual's 'right to survive' codes. Almost anything that happens in the country today seems to be in breach of law.
"This is a clear violation of the jail code and a design to create a dual administration in the prisons," a senior jail superintendent said, on condition of anonymity, adding that these 'spy jail guards' are not only defying orders of their superiors but also humiliating them by issuing orders of their own.
But the Prisons Directorate said that the move was necessary for developing the prison system's own reporting mechanism to watch 'what is actually happening in the prisons'.
Noting that corruption permeates every nook and corner of the department, Inspector General (Prisons) Brigadier General Zakir Hossain said, "I've initiated a process to root out corruption which has earned a bad reputation for the whole department. I need my own reporting system to get the job done."
Innovatively terming the specially assigned jail guards as 'security teams', he said, "I've received permission from the ministry for this."

A truck-load of police runs over an activist from the 14-party opposition alliance during a transport shutdown in Dhaka. Two people died and nearly 100 were injured as police in Bangladesh fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters in several cities enforcing a nationwide transport shutdown to press for electoral reforms

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