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     Volume 7 Issue 6 | February 8, 2008 |

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Deadly Traps for Foreign Job-seekers
Stories of men and women seeking jobs abroad being swindled by unscrupulous fraudulent middlemen are endless. Many migrant workers after paying local brokers a fat sum of money, amounting to all they possess in terms of assets, end up languishing at foreign airports or on the streets or worse, in jails of foreign lands. Many find they have been given false papers or nonexistent jobs. Most don't have the money to come back home. But a new even more terrifying fate can await such job seekers. A recent report by The Daily Star's Rajshahi correspondent reveals that some gangs operating in the northern districts of the country, are luring people with the promise of jobs abroad, only to imprison them, take their money and then brutally kill them. These crimes go undetected as the criminals later tell the families of the victims that their relatives have already gone abroad.
A few days ago in Natore, police nabbed Helal Uddin, a man from Bogra, with a sack containing a dead body. Disguising himself as a madrassa teacher, Helal Uddin rented a microbus and took two sacks with him one containing the corpse. The driver of the microbus was suspicious and called the police.
Helal confessed to the police that he was a member of an organised gang that had a network across the northern districts where its members would try to swindle and then kill foreign job seekers. The man Helal had killed was a shop owner named Enamul whom he had promised a job in Saudi Arabia in exchange of Tk 2 lakh. When Enamul came to Helal's Natore house on January 29, with one and a half lakh taka, Helal killed him and took the money.
Helal's accomplice was also arrested and is currently being interrogated.
This chilling story is unlikely to be an isolated case. Unless these gangs are rounded up and given exemplary punishment and until the process of getting jobs abroad is made more transparent and well-monitored, there will be more such grisly murders. The practice of individuals acting as middlemen must be stopped and only legitimate agencies should be allowed to operate.

The Real Challenge Ahead
In his inauguration speech at the Ekushey Boi Mela, the Chief Adviser has broken a piece of good news: the Right to Information Act is in the final stage and the act is going to be enacted soon. The need for such an act has been talked about in many forums, and the pressing necessity of it to establish transparency and accountability in the society is immense and can no longer be ignored. Even though the government has declared about half a decade ago that it is about to formulate the Right to Information Act, this is for the first time that a head of the government has come up with a statement about it. Pakistan is the first in the South Asian sub-continent to pass the law, which the country did in 2002, three years later India followed suit, and Nepal has made it a law last year.
At a time when the parliament remains absent, the government should circulate the draft law among the cross section of the society so that people give their input to the law. There is no doubt that the act will strengthen democracy in the country, the real challenge lies in implementing it. Only time can tell if we will be able to live up to the challenge.

Gas Suspension Brings City to a Standstill

Many areas in the city came to a standing halt last week when the gas supply was suspended around midnight on Saturday. Many people found that their gas pressure was either zero or extremely low. People were not able to cook all day. Many households were well prepared for the sudden decline in gas pressure and were, as a result, awake all through the previous night cooking their meals for the next two days.
In addition to that, many CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) stations shut down, resulting in many CNGs being forced to lose a day of business. Those CNG vehicles which were able to run charged exorbitant prices making it difficult for commuters to travel back and forth from work.
The cause of this inconvenience was Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited 's two-day suspension of a supply to a major part of the city in order to repair a faulty main gas transmission line which started on Monday in the area of Daudkandi in Comilla. According to the Chief Advisor's Special Assistant for energy, M Tanim, gas from the areas in the city which were not affected was being transferred to the areas that did not have any gas pressure. However, the fact that there is no back-up plan for a situation like this, especially in a country which seems to suffer so many calamities, speaks volumes about how well prepared we are for future mishaps.

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