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     Volume 6 Issue 7 | February 23, 2007 |

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News Notes

The Relief Thieves
The headlines in the newspapers these days never cease to shock the readers. Sometimes they are downright embarrassing. The huge amount of relief goods -- essential items that could have saved more lives or helped to ease the suffering of victims of natural disaster - seized by law enforcers from the dens of deputy ministers, MPs and their minions, is a sickening reminder that corruption has no limits and that for the corrupt, there is no end to greed.
It started with the news of law enforcers carrying out a raid on former MP Mosaddek Ali Falu's cement factory, which happened to be made with corrugated tin stolen from relief supplies. Even the seals saying that they were for relief purposes were still on the iron sheets which would have been used to rebuild homes devastated by floods or cyclones.
After this startler came a whole lot more. One after the other the law enforcers raided houses and buildings owned by stalwarts of the immediate past ruling party and discovered hordes of relief items.
Corrugated sheets for relief purposes seem to be the favourite item to be stolen and horded. These essential relief items were found in the village home of former deputy minister for land Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu in Natore and from a college established by former BNP lawmaker from Shujanagar upazila in Pabna, Selim Reza Habib.
Forty-four pieces of the CI (corrugated iron) sheets were found in the house of former deputy minister for land Ruhul Quddus Talukder at Ramshakazipur village under Naldanga upazila. They had been used in the veranda of his drawing room, the shallow water pump room and the employees' quarter. The law enforcers could not find the former deputy minister there.
It gets a little hackneyed after that with more and more of these corrugated sheets found in various BNP bigwigs. In Pabna 342 CI sheets were found from the educational institution established by former BNP lawmaker from Shujanagar upazilla in Pabna, Selim Reza Habib. Naturally the MP was not to be found. There were more such discoveries in Barguna, from the house of UP Chairman of Sreebordi upazila and union BNP President, from a college in Nilphamari established by a former BNP lawmaker,
The army-led joint forces arrested former BNP lawmaker Helaluzzaman Talukder Lalu from his house in the Bogra town on charge of corruption and then raided a nearby house, reportedly owned by BNP's Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman.
A huge amount of government relief materials and 11 wireless sets was recovered from the house of Lalu after his arrest.
Lalu, of course has a history in such criminal activities. He was involved in the Bogra wheat scandal in August, 2002. He put pressure on the food department officials at that time to purchase rotten wheat. The then prime minister apparently just scolded him.

Old Tales of Horror
This week 1,065 tonnes of poisonous ghee was seized, which was imported 25 years ago. The consignment was picked up from Chittagong Port and sent to Eastern Refinery to be destroyed. A small portion of the inedible ghee was immediately burnt at the approval of a high-level committee. Reports said that the ghee dates back to 1982 when 23 importers had imported 2,500 tonnes of inedible ghee from Australia. While only 1,065 tonnes had been found and seized, the rest still lie in warehouses of different financing banks.

Humiliated, Persecuted and Killed
It cannot be a happy day for a woman when her husband goes against her will and marries for the second time. But when her husband, along with his new wife starts persecuting her for dowry it's an abuse of human right of the worst kind. But 38-year-old Yasin and his 22-year-old second wife Rina Begum did not stop at torture when Putul failed to come up with the required amount of dowry. They, along with others from Yasin's family tried to strangled Putul and later poured poison in her mouth.
According to family soures, Putul got married to Yasin from Hirapur village in Akhaura seven years ago. From the very beginning of their marriage Yasin used to demand dowry from Putul's family. When her poor father could not meet those demands, helpless housewife Putul had to bear the brunt of her husband's greedy rage. After three years, without feeling the need to let Putul know he got married for the second time to Rina Begum, who joined in with Yasin in making Putul's life a living hell.
On Saturday morning, the torture went a step further when the whole family joined in and poisoned Putul. When she cried out in pain, neighbours hurried in to see what was going on. On seeing Putul in this condition, they rushed her to Akhaura Hospital where the duty doctors shifted her to the main district hospital. Putul's husband and in-laws took her away from the hospital and brought her back home where she succumbed to her wounds at 12 noon. Police recovered her body in the evening and sent to the morgue the day after for a post mortem. Police have also arrested Putul's mother-in-law, 55-year-old Rufia Begum but Yasin and Rina are unfortunately absconding.

Drive against Bill Defaulters
There has been a recent drive by the joint-forces in different parts of the country against bill defaulters. In Narayanganj, Titas authority and the army-led joint forces launched a drive against the gas bill defaulters in Fatullah industrial area. The amount of arrears bills had amounted to Tk 96 crore. The team also cut gas connections of Afsar Drum Factory which has outstanding arrears of Tk 2.69 crore, Jilani Dyeing Factory which has outstanding arrears of Tk 1.80 crore and Hamid Re-rolling Mills which has defaulted Tk 43 lakh. Six people from the first two factories were also arrested in this connection. In Barisal, the authorities cut off power connections to houses owned by four ward commissioners and a BNP leader, also vice president of Barisal Chamber of Commerce and Industry. They had been using illegal connections and had tampered with the metres. Law enforcers also fined Tk 80,000 to Hotel Gulbag for not paying their electricity bill.

Army may Prepare Voter ID Cards
Recently the army offered their help and expertise to the caretaker government for the purpose of preparing the voter ID cards. The project had previously been estimated to cost 800 to 900 crores, but the army has said they can prepare the voter list and the ID cards for approximately 300 crores. The only catch being it will take roughly eight to ten months to prepare it. While their effort is laudable, their proposal costs only about one third of the original estimate, the time frame of eight to ten months must be looked into. With any foreign countries pushing for elections as soon as possible in Bangladesh, news of a ten-month delay will not taken very well. Aside from that, the current caretaker government has vowed to uphold democracy, which one might say can not be fully achieved till the next elections take place. The army's assistance in the highly important matter of preparing voter ID cards and the vote list is praiseworthy, but the proposed timeframe needs to be adjusted. The ID cards, voter list and elections must happen sooner rather than later, if democracy is truly to be upheld in Bangladesh.

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