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     Volume 4 Issue 20 | November 5 , 2004 |

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News Notes

Massacring the Protests
BNP's student wing Jatiyabadi Chatra Dal (JCD) and Islami Chatra Shibir (ICS) activists swooped on a protest rally organised by general students in the Rajshahi campus the attack, left about two hundred people, including students, teachers and journalists injured. Instead of catching the attackers the police launched several hundred tear gas shells, fired 50 shots and charged with batons to disperse the protesters. The trouble began when inmates of the female dormitory Tapashi Rabeya Hall spotted three youths on the roof at around 1 am. The furious students at first chanted slogans and at one state confined Provost Professor Shahuria Inam, house tutors Selina Sultana and resident teachers Mahbuba Begum and Monwara Begum for not cooperating with them in finding the culprits.
Unlike the regular campus conflicts a few teachers allegedly took part in the attack along with JCD and ICS cadres. Among the most badly injured is law department student Molly, who was hit on her head with a stone thrown by Science Faculty Dean Professor Nurul Absar. Then Absar along with IER Director Professor Nazrul Islam assaulted Prothom Alo photojournalist Azar Uddin, Amar Desh correspondent Asaduzzaman and ATN Bangla Correspondent Sujauddin Chotton. Another teacher Aurangajeb Rahman, Chairman of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) department allegedly slapped a student named Nupur. The RU syndicate has filed two separate cases against the female students who confined the hall provost and others in the provost's room and another against the RU students that caused damage around the campus. What action they are taking against the teachers who abused the female students, and the authorities who did nothing when female students were asking for help and protection, however, still remains a mystery.

Ahmadiyyas attacked again
The Ahmadiyyas have once again come under attack. This time the venue was Brahmanbaria, the eastern district of Bangladesh where Ahmadiat was first preached in 1912. A gang of about 100 zealots led by local BNP leader Abdul Quddus under the banner of International Tahaffuz-e-khatme Nabuwat Committee swooped on the Ahmadiyya mosque in Bhadughar just before the Juma prayers on October 29. The advancing party was joined by two imams of two nearby mosques who led about 1,000 people armed with sticks, machetes and axes. They stormed into the tin-roofed, bamboo-walled mosque and started to hit the devotees ruthlessly. Imam Sabuj who was delivering sermon at the time of attack was also hit on his head. While beating them up the fanatics ordered them to vacate the mosque immediately and never show up there again. They also declared that they would set up a madrasa here, Monjur Hossain, district amir of the Ahmadiyya Jamat, told. When the family members of the Ahmadiyya devotees heard about the raid and came forward to rescue their relatives, they were also not spared. A number of women and girls were injured. Some 10 to 12 nearby Ahmadiyya houses were also vandalised and plundered by the fanatics. The police, as usual, came to the spot one hour after the incident, and did not record any case. While our government never tires of claiming Bangladesh a country of great communal harmony the Ahmadiyyas are being subjected to continuous torture and harassment by a group of fanatics again and again. Will the government do anything about it?

Tensions Across the Border
Bangladesh Rifles was put on high alert last week along Bangladesh's border with India as heavy deployment by both India and Bangladesh's border guards near the border continued. The situation along the Panchagarh border remained volatile for a few days as BSF maintained its heavy reinforcements there after massive exchange of gunfire between the border guards of two countries. Tension escalated mostly along the northwestern frontiers of Bangladesh as the Indian Border Security Force is frequently changing their tactics to push more 2,000 Bangla-speaking Indian Muslims into Bangladesh through the Panchagarh border.
Meanwhile Dhaka sent an aide-memoir to New Delhi venting concern over the 'push-in' attempts to forcibly deport Banglai-speaking Indian nationals to Bangladesh through different border points.
Indian Deputy High Commissioner S. Chakravarti was called to the Foreign Ministry and handed the protest note.
Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan said the problem between the two close neighbours could be resolved through flag meetings at BDR-BSF level, as the two border forces are at loggerheads over the issue. "We've expressed our concern through the aide-memoire," he said.
" We have friendly relations with India, and if there is any such problem, it should be resolved through flag meetings. It is not right to push people into another country," the Foreign Minister said.
However, the BSF side was apparently maintaining a 'go-slow' policy to attend a sector commander level flag meeting proposed by the BDR to defuse the tension along these frontiers. The Indian Border Force is yet to agree to hold the flag meeting, and instead, has been continuing push-in efforts, the BDR official said.

Indemnifying the World Bank
The government introduced a bill in the parliament providing immunity to international financial organisations, including the World Bank and the IMF. The International Financial Organizations (Amendment) Bill 2004 was brought in the face of opposition from opposition parties last Sunday in the Parliament.
Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman said the proposed law would provide immunity to World Bank as a body--a liberty already being enjoyed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Under the existing legal provision, only officials and employees of the World Bank are given immunity from prosecution, not the Bank as a body.
Under the proposed indemnity law, the World bank will enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except in the cases arising out of or in connection with the exercise of its powers to borrow money, to guarantee obligations, or to buy and sell or underwrite the sale of securities.
Another provision says: "No action shall be brought against the Bank, by any agency, or by any entity or person directly or indirectly acting for or deriving claims from any agency or entity or person. There shall be recourse to such special procedures for the settlement of controversies between the Bank and the Government or the agency or entity or person, as the case may be." As per the proposed law property and assets of the Bank shall be immune from all forms of seizure, attachment or execution, before the delivery of financial judgement against the Bank. The preamble of the Bill says that the Bank includes International Development Association (IDA), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and International Monetary Fund.
Political leaders and development activists, meanwhile, threatened to go for a mass agitation, if the WB was given immunity for its activities in the country. All the major left-leaning political parties said Bangladesh's economic interest would be jeopardised if the government went on with the proposed law. Speaking at the rally held on 28 October, Workers Party president Rashed Khan Menon said the WB had no contribution in the development of Bangladeshi economy.
"If the activities of the WB are not questionable, then why should it be given immunity through passing law in the parliament?" Menon asked.
Jatitya Samajtantrik Dal (National Socialist Party; JSD) leader Shirin Akhter said general people of Bangladesh were afraid of the WB as it was responsible for shutting down mills and factories in the country. "The WB produces poverty as it always suggests the government to shut down mills and factories," Zakaria Mohammed Zakaria of Action Aid Bangladesh said.

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