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     Volume 4 Issue 33 | February 11, 2005 |

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News Notes

BNP Leader as Suspect
On Fabruary 5, law enforcers picked up AKM Abdul Quaiyum, the Habiganj district vice president and president of Zia Gabeshana Parishad, from his Shegun Bagicha home and had carted him to Habiganj. He is a suspect in the January-27 grenade attack that killed five including SAMS Kibria, the Awami League lawmaker and former finance minister. On February 6, he was officially declared arrested under section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code and was taken on eight- day remand.
Investigators involved denied having picked up Quaiyum at the onset. It was his wife, Suraiya Afroza, who told a Daily Star reporter that the cops just said they were picking him up for questioning. The police sources earlier said that if they were convinced about his involvement in the Habiganj grenade attack after quizzing him he would be put under arrest.
Sources also said statements of the arrestees, Shah Alam and Jainal Abedin Jalal and Momin brought the attention to Quaiyum. His arrest predates the arrests of these two BNP men. On February 2, law enforcers picked up Lashkarpur Union BNP President, Jamir Ali, and another by the name of, Jainal Abedin Momin, Lashkarpur Union Ward-2 BNP Secretary, on January 31.
On February 5, Habiganj Sadar police showed two more local BNP leaders as arrested under section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code and took them in seven-day remand.
Meanwhile, the ruling BNP high-command is closely observing arrests and detentions of the local leaders and activists of Munshiganj. They two are assessing whether the detainees and the arrestees have anything to do with the attack.

Is Pen Mightier than Bomb?
The present spate of attacks proves that journalists seem to be the most targeted species in Khulna. The February 5 bomb blast just in front of Khulna Press Club that wounded four journalists, one critically, in the latest incident of targeted violence against the journalists in the city. Belaluddin Ahmed, Bureau chief of daily Sangram, Abu Hasan, bureau chief of daily Prothom Alo, Jahid Hossain, staff photographer of daily Jugantar, Tutul Ahmed, staff reporter of daily Loksamaj, came out from the press club at around 9.15 pm on that fateful night after the day's work. Belal suddenly spotted a bag on the seat of his motorbike.
An unsuspecting Belal took the bag by the hand to see what was there and the next moment a huge bang shook the entire area. All four of them were injured but Belal suffered serious injuries. Later he had to be flown to Dhaka CMH as his condition deteriorated. Though there was supposed to be police patrol in front of the press club, there wasn't any at that time, for reasons best known to the local administration. The incident evoked angry reactions from the local journalists as well as the journalists all over the country. After Balu, the editor of Janmabhumi, was killed his wife said she was not seeking justice because no one gets justice here. Following the recent bomb attack the local journalists are reported to have seriously been thinking of leaving their profession -- Life is more valuable than writing the truth. Is anybody listening?

FBI Finally Given Full Access to
Evidence of Bomb Blast

An inside source from the home ministry claimed that the government's request for detectives to investigate the January 27 grenade attack in Habiganj is yet to receive a response from Washington. The government will be providing full access to evidence to the FBI to investigate the January 27 grenade attack in Habiganj that killed former Finance Minister SAMS Kibria and four others.
According to the US embassy source, close communication between Dhaka and Washington at different levels is on to determine the terms of this investigation. Christina Rocca, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, called Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan on January 30, to inform that she would convey Bangladesh's request to Washington, the source said. According to a US embassy press release, Rocca further said that the FBI assistance would be useful and that it would be important for the government to establish clear terms of reference and to make other provisions to ensure that the FBI consultants are given full access to all relevant evidence and witnesses.
Yet another home ministry source said that Interpol has already been given 'full access' to all relevant evidence and witnesses regarding the August 21 grenade attack on an Awami League rally in Dhaka.
While talking to The Daily Star, State Minister for Home, LZ Babar, said that the government has given top importance to the investigation into the August 21 and January 27 attacks to identify the criminals. "I have not mentioned the name of the FBI or any other agency in my request. I have asked for expert investigators. They have many detective and investigation departments and it is up to them whether they send the FBI detectives or detectives from any other department," he added.

Frequent Hartals Lead to Rice Price Hike
Due to the frequent hartals in the country, traders say that a short supply of rice in markets has led to an increase in the prices of different varieties of rice in a week in different districts. In Barisal, prices of rice have increased by Tk 200 to Tk 400 per kg in a week and are to continue till April. The lowest price in the retail market is Tk 18 per kg and the highest Tk 24. According to Siddique Hossain, a trader at Fariapatty rice market in the city, only 45 to 50 tons of rice are being supplied in the market daily against at least 100 tons earlier.
Truckers have also started to demand more fare due to fuel price rise and risky road journey during hartal. A truck from Kushtia or Jessore now demands Tk 8000 against at Tk 5000 earlier. Imports from India are also not arriving due to hartal. Taking this advantage, traders have also increased the price of flour, which now sells at Tk 18 per kg.

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