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     Volume 4 Issue 54 | July 15, 2005 |

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News Notes

Madam, Put a Leash on Your Dogs...
The government's counter intelligence agency, National Security Intelligence (NSI), last week beat up photojournalists who were protesting the arrest of two fellow photographers. It began on July 7 at 11pm. Kabir Hossain, a photojournalist working with the daily Janakantha, was arrested by NSI-men for taking a snap of the perimeter wall of the NSI office in Shegunbagicha. When Mamun Khan, another lens-man of the same paper, went into the NSI headquarters, they locked him up too. Hearing the news, other photographers from different newspapers went to know the whereabouts of Hossain and Khan. NSI-men beat them up with clubs, iron rods and bricks.
"NSI's Deputy Director was present when three of his men pinned me down on the street and kicked me on the face, neck and stomach. I cried to him, 'You are like my father, please tell them to stop. We didn't do anything', But he turned round and walked into his office, leaving his thugs to us," says Anisur Rahman, a Daily Star photographer.
All the photojournalists sustained injuries, three of them severe. To make it even worse, an NSI habildar (marine) filed a case against the photographers for vandalising the agency's headquarters. It must have been a Jekyll and Hyde policy the government has been pursuing, for only a day later the Director General of NSI expressed regrets and said the case would be withdrawn.
The truth however does not escape us: Though Khaleda Zia and her cronies talk about democracy and freedom of speech, in reality they believe in an ideology that is fundamentally autocratic and thus utterly undemocratic. The ruling party takes the country for a fiefdom, they being the lords and barons, with ordinary people serving them as best as they can.
The irony does not escape us either: This is a government elected by popular vote. But then again, Hitler's was a democratic government too.

Another Crossfire and Same Suspicion
Ikbal Hossain Masum, a student of Jagannath University, is the latest inclusion in the ever increasing list of 'crossfire' killings. This time it was not the Rab though, but DB police. The Rab, whose reputation or dis-reputation, depending on the reader's liking, seems to have been successful in inspiring all the other departments of police to join in the short-cut to the 'terrorist elimination' means called 'crossfire'. Meanwhile, many human rights organisations, both national and international, civil society and opposition parties have condemned what they call 'extra-judicial killings', but this hue and cry is having little effect on the present government who are boasting about having dramatically improved the law and order situation. As newspaper reports suggest, the OC of Mohammadpur thana has said that there is no case against Masum. His parents, neighbours and even teachers have also expressed their shock after learning about the DB claim that he was accused in a murder case. It's possible that Masum's parents and everybody else who knew him are ignorant of Masum's evil doings, but just for the sake of eliminating doubts in the minds of the public the Home ministry should investigate into the matter and find out what is what.

Pass rate 53% or fail rate 47%
Happy, smiling faces and hands throwing up skywards were all around on July 09 after the SSC results were published. The sweet shops emptied instantly and millions of mobile calls across the country must have created a critical jam in the network system. If a pass rate of 53 could inspire such a euphoria, one wonders what would happen that day when the pass rate will be 100 percent. Meanwhile, the PM has expressed satisfaction and, of course, did not forget to remind the countrymen that her government attaches the highest priority to education. No doubt, the pass rate is rising, but even a 53 percent pass rate cannot hide the fact that 47 percent, that is almost half of the total examinees, did fail. Besides, what about the standard of the present education situation? Most experts and knowledgeable persons would admit, it is constantly falling. Does this good pass rate reflect any qualitative improve on our depleted education condition? Or, what benefit are we expecting this good pass rate will bring about for the country or the nation unless the quality of education shows any marks of improvement? Will we ever be able to sort out our real priorities or become ecstatic hearing pass rates of 53 percent as the people in the government are?

Tareq in Rath Jatra
Tareq Rahman, officially senior joint secretary general of BNP and unofficially the second most powerful man in the country, went to Dhamrai on Friday to inaugurate the traditional Rath celebration. He was accompanied by his wife Zobaida Rahman and his daughter Zaima Rahman. There are at least interesting aspects about the whole affair. Firstly, many have for the first time had the opportunity to see his wife and daughter. Though Tareq is the most familiar, young (and powerful) face in the country his wife and daughter have remained behind the curtains so far. Secondly, this is perhaps the first time Tareq, whose party BNP is widely believed to be antagonistic to Hindus, has chosen to be part, and that too along with his wife and daughter, of a Hindu celebration. Who knows, it might be the beginning of BNP's revised attitude toward Hindus. Though a very cynical interpretation is that Tareq paid the visit considering the upcoming elections, one would love to see them (the cynics) mistaken.


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