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     Volume 5 Issue 114 | September 29, 2006 |

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News Notes

Unsafe at Dhaka University
Prof. Aftab Ahmad, former vice-chancellor of National University (NU) and professor of political science at Dhaka University (DU) was attacked by unidentified assailants earlier this week. The killers went to his third-floor residence on Fuller Road and shot him. Three days later, the professor died in hospital. His killers, as well as those of other university professors around the country who have been attacked or killed, are yet to be arrested and punished.
This is only one of the more recent and evident displays of the lack of security at DU.
Last week, there were two bomb blasts between the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) and Modhur Canteen. The week before, a couple of cocktail bombs went off in front of Modhur Canteen. Though no one was injured, the fact that these blasts occurred demonstrates the level of security and safety on the DU campus, which turns into a battlefield anytime anything of political consequence happens anywhere in the country.
Dhaka University has always been the centre of the nation's culture and politics, but when going to class means having to dodge bullets and bomb blasts, the choice between one's life and getting an education is difficult only for the very brave and ambitious.
Moreover, with the upcoming elections, students are beginning to fear just how bad things might get. The last elections showed that when no political party is in power, the university can remain closed indefinitely due to student strikes and violence on campus. With the current government about to hand over power to the caretaker government, the threat of classes being cancelled, exams postponed and, ultimately, severe academic backlog looms large over the students.

Manpower problems, again!
BANGLADESH is in the news again, and as usual it is for all the wrong reasons. The manpower export to Malaysia seems to be in dire straits again, following some allegations against the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira). Operations of the Baira office in Kuala Lumpur were suspended on orders from the Malaysian home ministry after a number of employers had accused the Baira President MAH Salim of trying to influence them to issue more job orders in favour of his agency. Some of the problems stem from the fact that Baira charges an additional Tk 30,000 per worker without giving them a receipt. MAH Salim denied the allegations that he had been charging more than the agreed amount for sending workers to Malaysia. Aside from that he assured that the agencies would charge no more than Tk 84,000. The agreement between Malaysia and Bangladesh states that no more than Tk 84,000 will be charged per worker, but now with an additional 1800 Ringgits needed the cost has been pushed up to Tk 150,000. The state minister has also been implicated with some people claiming that he accepts part of the money illegally taken by Baira. The manpower export to Malaysia might end anytime soon if the dispute is not resolved immediately. It has long been suggested that the government should take over manpower export, to prevent illegal activities. Who is the lesser of the two evils?

Securing the nation in a hurry!
EVERYONE is in a hurry nowadays, likewise, the government, is in a hurry to restore the peace back into the country. That's why they had about 821 Sub-inspectors placed at police stations in a hurry, clearly violating regulations. Field level training was ignored for the remaining one and a half years, to ensure election duty.
According to the Police Regulation of Bengal 1943, an SI has to undergo a year's basic training at Sardah, where upon, he is placed at a police station for six months as part of a two-year practical training programme.
After completion of training at the police station, the SI is posted at a circle office for three months, at a court for six months and at the police lines for three months. Finally the SI is taken back to a police station for six months. During this period, the SI performs almost all police duties including investigation.
Breaking the police regulation, the government has exempted these training sessions for the SIs, directly posted them at police stations across the country. Earlier, the one-year basic training of these police officers at Sardah was curtailed by six months.
If the police regulations were followed, these SIs would be stationed at the courts during the next general elections learning the legal activities and would not be in any law enforcement capacity, according to a senior police official on condition of anonymity.
However, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Anwarul Iqbal denied that the postings of the SIs at police stations were made for the upcoming election and blamed it on the accommodation problem. According to the IGP, the SIs will complete their training in phases.
The Police Headquarters in a rejoinder to a report headlined "Half-trained cops made sentinels of balloting" published in The Daily Star on Saturday claimed that the report is exaggerated and not based on facts. Their placement has been rearranged, as the number of circle ASP offices is less than the number of probationary SIs. It was further said that an SI is appointed on merit of his/her qualification.
However, the authorities were well aware of the fact that there were 133 circle ASP offices, when the SIs were appointed. How will the entire 821 SIs be accommodated in the 133 circle offices, which, according to the Police Headquarters itself, is not possible?
This can obviously be interpreted as the fact that they have been posted directly at the police stations with a political objective ahead of the general election while the fact remains that they might also be posted at courts or police lines for training as the number of circle ASP offices is less than the number of probationary SIs.
Most of these 821 SIs recruited on August 23 last year were activists of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), ruling BNP's student wing, and Islami Chhatra Shibir, student wing of BNP's coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami. They were involved in JCD and the Shibir activities in educational institutions at upazilas and districts across the country. Some of these activists were arrested and taken on remand in connection with the Ramna Batamul bombing incident, a case, which is still pending. One such SI was even arrested in Bogra for militant activities.

'No evidence' of Bin Laden's death
The Saudi government has denied a French newspaper report saying France's secret services believe Osama Bin Laden is dead. The newspaper quoted the Saudi secret services as saying the al-Qaeda leader had died of typhoid in Pakistan.
But, in a statement, the Saudi government said it had "no evidence" that Bin Laden was dead. The French president has ordered an inquiry into the leaked French secret service memo containing the claim. "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no evidence to support recent media reports that Osama Bin Laden is dead," the Saudi government said. "Information that has been reported otherwise is purely speculative and cannot be independently verified."
French newspaper L'Est Republicain quoted a document as saying that the Saudi secret services were convinced the al-Qaeda leader had died of typhoid in Pakistan in late August. Officials in Pakistan and the US said they could not confirm the account. --Source: BBC.

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