<%-- Page Title--%> Newsnotes <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 148 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

April 2, 2004

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Khasru Resigns
In a surprise move, the Prime Minister Khaleda Zia dropped a minister and a state minister-- Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury and Reaz Rahman from the cabinet. Khasru, who was holding the ministry for commerce, was called in at the prime minister's office; the PM then asked the businessman turned politician to resign, who readily complied. Interestingly, Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, who as a home minister had miserably failed to maintain law and order in the country, was reassigned as the minister for commerce.
Many believe the new move was meant to punish Khasru for giving permission to the Taiwanese government to open its commercial office in the capital. The minister, however, has remained tight-lipped.

Politics at the Crossroads
Bangladesh Awami League, on the eve of the Independence Day, declared new programmes to oust the ruling BNP-led four-party alliance government. Though the party is yet to make any considerable headway towards its ultimate goal, the Awami League's secretary general Abdul Jalil's words are becoming more bombastic day by day. The beleaguered politician once fondly prophesied the fall of the government by the end of this month. In its new programme, the party has called dawn to dusk strikes on April 7 and 8. The party, however, has been in constant touch with the left leaning political parties. Though the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and other like-minded groups have decided to move on with their own political programmes, CPB sources hope the left parties will declare joint programmes with the main opposition in near future.

Meanwhile another polarisation has been brewing in our political horizon. Dr Kamal Hossain and his Gono Forum, once thought to be dead in the water, have suddenly found themselves alive after Dr Badruddoza Chowdhury has formed his so-called 'Alternative Stream', to counter what the former president calls misrule and corruption of the current government. A new alliance between these two will certainly give Dr Chowdhury's future plans a new lease of life.

Old Dhaka in Turmoil
Ten people were injured, including former Awami League lawmaker Haji Selim, in a violent exchange between activists of Jatyotabadi Jubo Dal and Awami Jubo League over occupation of place for rally at Lalbagh on March 23. The Daily Star report said that the confrontation took place during a day-long strike called in a large area of Old Dhaka by over 40 local business bodies protesting a police raid on the business establishment of a local AL leader and subsequent ransacking of it allegedly by Jubo Dal cadre on Monday.
Shops stretching from Lalbagh to Islampur were kept shut and a human chain was formed on Chawk Circular Road as part of the strike that also codemned the rampant extortion, threats and murder in the area.

Israel Targets the Stalwarts of Palestine
Israel is out to wipe out the entire leadership of Hamas. Security sources said on March 23, citing a decision made by Israeli chiefs following the assassination of Hamas’ founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin. The wheelchair-bound cleric was killed in an Israeli missile strike outside a Gaza mosque on Monday, March 22. For Israeli Internal Security Minister Tahai, the world is in black and white. "Anyone who is involved in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank or anywhere else in leading a terrorist group knows it from the beginning that there is no immunity", he declared on March 23.

Meanwhile, the killing of Yassin threatens to make the situation from bad to worse, as Hamas vowed to avenge the death of their revered leader. The threat put the Israeli forces on high alert. And there is widespread speculation that the next target would be Yasser Arafat.

Women, War and Valour
The epithet ‘guerrilla women’, may make many sit up and take notice, as Bangalis have long forgotten the role of the masses in the war of liberation in 1971. Women fought shoulder to shoulder with their men counterpart besides extending support to them by way of playing the other half.

Some of our valiant fighters shared their memories with The Daily Star on the occasion of the Independence day. The report of Julfikar Ali Manik clarifies any misgiving about women's participation in the war. He writes that these women have never been rewarded for taking up arms to free the nation. They look like ordinary rural women in ordinary garbs, but they proudly nourish memories of a glorious war they fought to win freedom. Kanchanmala of the village Goriganj in Munshiganj, remembers how difficult it was for a village woman back then to go to war. She had been picked up by the army and kept confined in Birishiri camp for 18 days. Mother of a son, at 22, she was tortured in captivity. After she lost her sense, she was dumped in a ditch outside the camp. She was found by a boy, and later she went to Netrokona to join with the Muktibahini.


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