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     Volume 4 Issue 30 | January 21, 2005 |

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News Notes

Abbas's effort to bring
Peace to the Gaza Strip

Right from the onset, the newly-elected Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is finding himself in between rock and hard place. Though he is all buckled up for re-launching the peace talk, the Israeli counterpart is all set to upset his plan. But he is determined to see through his side of the plan. Abbas will arrive in Gaza on Monday afternoon to start ceasefire dialogue with Palestinian political powers and militant groups, official sources closed to Abbas said.
He would stay in Gaza for a few days talk with these groups, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, said the sources.
Abbas will ask the factions and their armed wings to halt attacks against Israel and give him a chance to bring Israel back to the negotiation table.
On the other side of the border, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is on the offensive. On January 15 he ordered all government officials to cut contacts with the Palestinian National Authority until it curbs violence, one day after militants killed six Israelis in the Gaza Strip.
Sharon also gave a free rein to the Israeli army to operate against militants in the Gaza Strip, accusing Abbas of not doing enough.
On the other hand, senior Jihad leader Nafez Azzam told reporters that his movement will study a ceasefire with Israel only if Israel immediately refrains from carrying out military actions in the Palestinian territories.
Mahmoud-al-Zahar, a top Hamas leader, said "it is the Zionists (Israelis) that are killing and wounding civilians, we are only defending ourselves and our civilians."
He described the pressure imposed on Hamas to drop its arms and declare a unilateral ceasefire as unfair.

Life Sentence for Denying Paternity
A man by the name of Islam Ali received a sentence for life in jail and a fine of ten thousand for not acknowledging his son. And in the occasion of the failure to produce the thousand taka fine, the sentence is to be extended for another year. An additional session judge named Md. Shajahan Mojumdar of Jhineda gave the verdict.
Meanwhile, Ali's son, Milon was declared the offspring of Islam Ali and the daughter of Kashem Ali. The verdict entitles the child to maintenance till he reaches 21, which the government will provide.
According to the proceedings of the case , Islam Ali started a pre-marital relationship with the child's mother in the month of February, 2003. After the young woman became pregnant and gave birth to their love child, Ali denied having anything to do with the newborn and refused to marry the young women.
Kashem sued Islam Ali on behalf of his daughter in the court for Prevention of Repression against Women and Children. The recent verdict followed the accounts of ten witnesses who confirmed Ali having a relationship with the child's mother.

Highway Bandits
A gang of bandits stopped a group of busses on the Dhaka-Barisal highway into a ditch at Nowpara in Bhanga upazila at 2:30 in the morning on January 15th. The hold-up resulted in one of the busses falling into a gorge, killing eleven people and hospitalising eighteen, eight of whom are critically injured. The passengers of the bus were members of he Kushtia Bar Association and their families. They were returning to Kushtia from a picnic party in Kuakata beach of the Bay in Patuakhali district, when the group of bandits stopped the bus and began breaking windows, attempting to rob the passengers. According to a witness, the driver of one of the picnic busses tried to move in reverse gear in order to save his passengers but the bus fell into a ditch, killing eleven people instantly. Deputy commissioner and police superintendent of Faridpur and firefighters received a tip on the robbery and rushed to the scene, recovered the bodies and rescued the remaining passengers with the help of locals within the area. After the accident, the Police suprintendent in Faridpur put the officer-in-charge of the Bhanga Police Station, Shahidullah and Pakuria police outpost ASI Faruque under suspension for "neglect of duty." Colleagues were in tears as the bodies were brought to the Kushtia Bar Bhaban around 1:00 as the lawyers hoisted a black flag and wore black badges to mourn the deaths. Textiles and Jute Minister Shajahan Siraj, who is the minister-in-charge of Kushtia, and four MPs from the district expressed their deep shock at the deaths of the lawyers and their family members.

No end to the blasts
Bomb blasts have become a more or less common phenomenon in Bangladesh in the last few years with few investigations, if any, making any headway at all. Late last Friday and early Saturday morning, two people were killed -- yet again -- and at least 60 injured in blasts at jatra shows in Bogra and Natore. The annual winter event in Bogra was attended by at least five thousand people. Two powerful bombs hurled at the audience left a rickshaw-van driver dead and 40 others injured. A number of villagers told reporters that an influential quarter had warned the youth organisers of the show against holding it, regarding it as "immoral and irreligious". Some villagers have also linked the attack to Bangla Bhai, whose home is in a neighbouring village. Yet others see it as a sequel to previous rivalry between locals. In Natore, one of the two bombs thrown apparently exploded when a woman performer was dancing "indecently". Apart from the 42-year-old man who died in the blast, 20 people were injured in the stampede that ensued. Will we hear anything more of the crime, or will the files gather dust above those of Ramna, Udichi, Sylhet and many others?

Bombing away, safe and sound
January 20, 2005 is a day when the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) will be mourning the deaths of its members, caused by a bomb blast four years ago at Paltan Maydan. However, justice still seems to be silent. In fact, in the past six years a total of 14 bombs were blown in many different parts of the country, but with no one to pay any heed to any of these horrific events. The most recent blast had taken place last Friday at fairs in Bagura and Natore, where two people died and 70 were badly hurt.
Reports say that out of the many blasts that have been occurring in the country, only three have had a chance to actually go through investigations, but were eventually stopped. Seven of these blasts cannot be investigated, due to lack of so-called witnesses. Only the blast involving the British High Commissioner, Anwar Chowdhury, had some real investigation and is probably being worked on actively. Some of the huge blasts which rocked the country and disrupted the normal lives of people, including the one which occurred last August, attempting to kill the opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, are not going under any kind of investigation what so ever. Due to these bombs going off anytime and anywhere, the citizens of the country find it difficult to trust the government and also to carry trust in simple humanity.

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