Bangladesh News and Discussion

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Yogi_G » 16 Mar 2009 05:13

sum wrote:Was just reading the print edition of "India Today".The salient points it mentioned regarding the "mutiny" were( sorry if posted earlier):

* South block has prepared a document on the events from 25-28th and it clearly implicates the ISI in it.
* Our agencies have scores of intercepts of the Paki attache in Dhaka talking to Dubai consulate and giving detailed inside info of going-ons within the BDR HQ, something most BD army men themselves were unaware of, meaning that the ISI had plants inside the HQ.
* BDR commanders were paid 50 lakh takas and soldiers 4-5 lakh taka to take part in the revolt.
*India feels it was done by Pak to ensure their assets within the BD establishment are not purged if the 71 war tribunal comes about.
* GoI warned Hasina about her safety by the 28th and ensured that she was taken to a safehouse guarded by trusted BDA soldiers/officers. This warning was based on further intercepts and fearing a 1975 like situation.
* GoI activated 2 teams of Para SF in a forward base in Tripura and one in Kolkata( this must be the 50th Para which media talked about) to get Hasina to India if situation deteriorated. However, this plan didn't go ahead when things improved dramatically after 28th.
*Tons of intercepts with India of JeI leaders in BD talking to known ISI assets in London, Dubai and other places, discussing the revolt and future plans after the revolt.

Strangely, in today's online edition of India Today, a contradictory message is conveyed,

Excerpt from the link,

India caught napping on Bangladesh

India's intelligence agencies were caught napping when they failed to intercept the Mumbai attackers despite a specific input passed on by the CIA to RAW which was sent to the state government.

And the recent mutiny in Dhaka was no different.

On February 24, as the news of the firing in the BDR campus trickled in, our High Commission in Dhaka was clueless and so were our intelligence agencies, which monitor events in Bangladesh quite closely.

Infact the initial reports coming to South Block indicated that it was a minor incident sparked off by the resentment amongst the BDR personnel over poor salary and perks.

For India which has a huge strategic interest in Bangladesh, the fact that it didn't get even a small inkling about the attack should get South Block worried.

India has vital strategic stakes in the Eastern neighbour and for long its agencies have boasted about cultivating key assets in the country to keep Pakistan in check.

But all this has been punctured, as even after the mutiny India did make up for the lost ground. Some Western agencies did manage to get some damning evidence of the involvement of the Pakistani intelligence agency the ISI, but the fact remains India has a big stake in the stability of the Hasina government.

And that its agencies were caught napping should not be acceptable to the big bosses in South Block because country's national interest is at stake.

Surely some explanation is needed and some heads must roll.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 16 Mar 2009 07:54

GoI was utterly clueless in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Much of the Indian media was also clueless. NDTV, ToI, Chindu, Rediff, Outlook, India Today did not cover the news except for a brief ticker that there was "some unrest" in BD. They did not even use the place name Pilkhana in any reports on the first day. On the second day, ToI posted a report about how the BSF cadre were wishing for the safety of Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed Chowdhury. If heads must roll in GoI and RAW, they must also roll in the dhimmedia. Some of them kept carping about Sri Rama Sene and pink chaddi campaigns, as expected. India Today's BS report is that of a pot calling the kettle black.

Go back and look at what I had posted before, I spent the whole day refreshing BD news outlets that day. I thought BD blogs, twitter, BD cricket fora etc did a much better job in posting what happened there, updating all and sundry, even scooping the regular outlets. In fact, there was much blackout even within BD somuchso that the daily star and bdnews24 were making trite and known statements -- no updates. Cellphone connections were cut, power connections were cut near the Pilkhana HQ that most folks in Bangla cricket got updates from their near and dear ones in BDA. Saka Chowdhury's connection to the Pilkhana massacre was first guessed on Bangla cricket, then ToI mouthpieced what GoI circles may have zeroed on.

In the following report, ToI, since it sings congress' tune more often than not, could be assumed to be speaking for what GoI believes in. Most of the stuff is similar to what Bhaskar Roy @ saag also says. So this could be the official position in GoI circles.

Jittery Pak instigated Bangla mutiny? ... 269149.cms
Top intelligence agencies, including those representing the western powers, now see a strong link among a series of significant developments in Dhaka prior to the unprecedented BDR mutiny at its Pilkhana headquarters on February 25. The agencies suspect the whole episode was part of a Pakistani plot — helped by Bangladeshi collaborators — to fuel revolt in the armed forces for upstaging the Sheikh Hasina government. Just nine days before armed BDR jawans went on the rampage, ruthlessly killing their superiors from the army, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari had sent one of his emissaries — Zia Ispahani — to Dhaka to request Hasina not to open war criminal cases. This, expectedly, did not find much favour with the Bangladesh prime minister.

It may be recalled that soon after coming to power this time, the Awami League-led alliance had decided to prosecute war criminals responsible for killing and torturing thousands of people during the country's liberation war, 38 years ago. A similar initiative was called off after the 1975 political changeover that followed the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Ispahani apparently made it clear that any attempt to reopen the cases would adversely affect the relations between the two countries. He called on Begum Khaleda Zia a day after his meeting with Hasina. It is learnt that Ispahani and a senior officer of the Pakistani mission in Dhaka had advised the BNP supremo to stay away from her cantonment residence on February 25 and 26, which she did. Coincidentally, Khaleda's electoral partners — Jamaat-e-Islami leader Matiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid — were also out of their homes on both days. Investigations by top agencies reveal that some ISI operatives posted at Pakistan's Dhaka high commission had met a few senior BNP and Jamaat leaders on February 22, just three days before the BDR mutiny.

Investigating agencies are also probing the role of BNP leader-cum-shipping baron Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury alias Saka Chowdhury, who allegedly played a key role in abetting the mutineers by providing funds to the tune of several crores of taka. Chowdhury had earlier come under the scanner for his alleged involvement in the smuggling of 10 truckloads of arms into Bangladesh through Chittagong in 2004. (These arms were allegedly meant for the rebels in northeastern India.)

Soon after they swept the polls, the Awami League leadership had promised to conduct a full-fledged probe into the Chittagong arms seizure case. The Rapid Action Battalion, in its mopping-up operation, has already recovered unclaimed funds to the tune of a few crores from the Pilkhana territory, strengthening suspicion about outside involvement and funding. On March 4, parents of an absconding BDR soldier were arrested for allegedly keeping a large amount of unaccounted money. {Most of it was jewelry stolen from the BDR top level cadre's wives and homes. It is not clear if that cash came from outside.} Investigating agencies are now convinced that a huge amount of funds and arms had come from outside well before the BDR jawans went berserk. Lt-Col Shams, a survivor of the massacre, had described how he had seen arms being unloaded from a grey pick-up van while he was hiding inside the BDR headquarters.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby sum » 16 Mar 2009 09:29

Strangely, in today's online edition of India Today, a contradictory message is conveyed,

Very wierd :-?

However, to be fair to India Today, even the report i read didn't mention GoI preempting the "mutiny". It just says that GoI swung into action a day after the attempted coup started.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 17 Mar 2009 03:47

Tension along Myanmar border

Tension runs high along the Bangladesh-Myanmar borders as the neighbouring country started erecting barbed-wire fences unilaterally on its side of 200-kilometre land borders with Bangladesh, said defence sources. The neighbouring nation is also mobilising its troops and naval force, sources said. When contacted, Foreign Secretary Mohammad Towhid confirmed it saying Myanmar started mobilising its forces in the bordering areas since the November incident in the Bay of Bengal. "The reinforcements are still there but we do not have any information about the construction of fences," Towhid said.

Bangladesh has no problem if Myanmar erects fences on their territory, he said adding, "It will curb smuggling and illegal trespassing." Myanmar initiated erecting barbed-wire fences along its borders with Bangladesh since last November when its naval ships intruded into Bangladesh's maritime boundary. But the construction of the fences became visible recently. Sources said an airport in Myanmar's Sittwe, close to Bangladesh border, is being revamped through construction of long runways. Myanmar has also mobilised a number of China-made naval ships close to its maritime boundary with Bangladesh.

Defence sources said they have information that the Myanmarese military rulers were unhappy that the country in early November had to withdraw an oil and gas-drilling rig from Bangladesh's maritime boundary which they claimed as theirs. The rig was owned and operated by a South Korean company. The then Bangladesh caretaker government tackled the situation requesting South Korea to call back its drilling rig. Later, Myanmar withdrew its vessels reluctantly. Since then Myanmar has kept its soldiers on high alert alongside Bangladesh border while Bangladesh also put its troops on alert for some time.

Sources said Myanmarese soldiers recently erected barbed-wire fences at Kyin Chaung village in Northern Maungdau of Rakhine State in Myanmar's westernmost part. Four cargo ships carrying barbed wires from Maungadau port reached Kyin Gan Bin Jetty on Monday. They are being taken from the jetty to Nasaka Areas 1 and 2 with a plan to fence the areas from Maungdau to Paletwa, a triangle point on Bangladesh-Myanmar-India border, sources said. "As tension mounts, smuggling in the bordering areas stopped totally," said a source. "A Myanmarese drilling rig was positioned close to Bangladesh maritime boundary the day before yesterday. But it did not enter our waters," he added. The government has already been informed about the prevailing situation but no specific instructions were given to the army, navy or air force.

Defying a bilateral accord, Myanmar has started fencing along the Bangladesh border, according to government officials in Dhaka. The officials say some 200 "troops" have also been stationed just on the other side of the demarcation line. "Officials of the coast guard and the deputy commissioner of Cox's Bazar have told me that a new contingent of troops has mobilised across the Naaf river," home secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder told Monday night. "But this is nothing serious," he added.

According to a bilateral agreement, neither Bangladesh nor Myanmar can fence along the border or mobilise troops along the line without cause. On Mar 15, according to the Bangladesh officials, , Myanmar's border force Na Sa Ka began deploying necessary equipment for fencing in the village Kyin Gun just across the bordering river Naaf. "We have gathered they will construct a fence along Maungdaw township to Paletwa township," one senior official told Monday. The official insisted he not be named.

A foreign ministry official claimed that the Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka met the foreign secretary at his office and informed the latter of the fencing plan last week. The foreign secretary, Md Touhid Hossain, denied having discussed any such thing with the Yangon diplomat. "We talked about the Rohingya problem," Touhid Hossain told Monday night. "He did not tell me anything about fencing."

The Burmese are following the India-route in erecting fences in their BD border. There are two things going on here which the BD press is not reporting in full detail now. One obvious thing is the sea boundary demarcation process (UNCLOS) which needs to be ratified by India, Burma and BD by 2011 (more on this later). The other one is that the Islamist clique in BD has been trying to use its territory as a launchpad for aiding, abetting and pushing Rohingya rebels into Burma. This despite BD polity blasting their way through the Chakma refugees in Chittagong, not implementing the CHT accord in letter and spirit and cleansing out the Hindus from 47 and beyond. The aim of the Islamists is to link somehow through the Burma-Thailand axis all the way to Pattani and Narathiwat in Thailand, and then onwards to Indonesia and Malaysia.
See, for example, ... lim-Terror

While the group shown, the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), was founded by Rohingya Muslim's from Myanmar's Rakhine State and claims to be fighting for autonomy or independence for its people, the tape was, in fact, shot in Bangladesh. The RSO, and other Rohingya factions, have never had any camps inside Myanmar, only across the border in Bangladesh. The camp in the video is located near the town of Ukhia, southeast of Cox's Bazaar, and not all of the RSO's "fighters" are Rohingyas from Myanmar.

The Rohingyas, who are Muslims and speak the same language as the population in the Chittagong area of Bangladesh, are not regarded by the government in Yangon as an indigenous race. Hundreds of thousands of them fled across the border to Bangladesh during a crackdown in 1978, and militant groups soon emerged among the refugees. The UN eventually intervened, and most of the Rohingyas were repatriated to Myanmar. However, in 1991/1992, another wave of 250,000 refugees came across the border, and while most of them have also been repatriated, more than 20,000 remain in United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) supervised camps southeast of Cox's Bazaar.

An estimated 100,000 Rohingyas live outside the UNHCR's camps, and it is among these destitute and stateless people that various Islamist militant groups have found fertile ground for recruitment. The RSO was set up in the early 1980s when radical elements among the Rohingyas broke away from the more moderate, main grouping, the Rohingya Patriotic Front (RPF). Led by a medical doctor from Arakan, Muhammad Yunus, it soon became the main and most militant faction among the Rohingyas in Bangladesh and on the border. Given its more rigid religious stand, the RSO soon secured the support of like-minded groups in the Muslim world. These included the Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh and Pakistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami in Afghanistan, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) in Jammu and Kashmir, and Angkatan Belia Islam sa-Malaysia (ABIM) - the Islamic Youth Organization of Malaysia. Afghan instructors have been seen in some of the RSO camps along the Bangladesh-Burma border, while nearly 100 RSO rebels were reported to have undergone training in the Afghan province of Khost with Hizb-e-Islami Mujahideen.

The RSO's main military camp was located near the hospital that the Rabitat-al-Aalam-al-Islami had built at Ukhia. At this stage, the RSO acquired a substantial number of Chinese-made RPG-2 rocket launchers, light machine-guns, AK-47 assault rifles, claymore mines and explosives from private arms dealers in the Thai town of Aranyaprathet near Thailand's border with Cambodia, which in the 1980s emerged as a major arms bazaar for guerrilla movements in the region. These weapons were siphoned off from Chinese arms shipments to the resistance battling the Vietnamese army in Cambodia, and sold to any one who wanted, and could afford, to buy them.

The Bangladeshi media gave extensive coverage to the RSO buildup along the border, but it soon became clear that it was not only Rohingyas who were undergoing training in its camps. Many, it turned out, were members of the Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS), the youth organisation of Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami, and came from the University of Chittagong, where a 'campus war' was being fought between Islamist militants and more moderate student groups. The RSO was, in fact, engaged in little or no fighting inside Burma.

The existence of firm links between the new Bangladeshi militants and Al Qaeda is established through Fazlul Rahman, leader of the 'Jihad Movement in Bangladesh' (to which HuJI belongs), when he signed the official declaration of 'holy war' against the United States on February 23, 1998. Other signatories included bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri (leader of the Jihad Group in Egypt), Rifa'i Ahmad Taha aka Abu-Yasir (Egyptian Islamic Group), and Sheikh Mir Hamzah (secretary of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan).

HuJI sent its own people, as well as Rohingya recruits, to Afghanistan to fight for the Taleban and Al Qaeda. The Rohingyas, especially, were given the most dangerous tasks in the battlefield, clearing mines and portering. According to intelligence sources, Rohingya recruits were paid 30,000 Bangladeshi taka ($525) on joining and then 10,000 ($175) per month. The families of recruits killed in action were offered 100,000 taka ($1,750). [Ed.: While these appear to be small sums in dollar terms, they are princely amounts in a country where the annual per capita income works out to a bare US $ 380]. Recruits were taken mostly via Nepal to Pakistan, where they were trained and send on to military camps in Afghanistan.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 17 Mar 2009 04:30

Militants apart, a few others linked --- Faruk on BDR carnage; Shafique says nobody should be accused before probe completes

Sticking to his earlier claim of Islamist militants' link with the massacre at BDR headquarters, Commerce Minister Faruq Khan yesterday said involvement of some other quarters are also cropping up. However, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed yesterday said nobody should be specifically accused of having links with the conspiracy of the Pilkhana carnage before the enquiry reports are published. Talking to reporters after a meeting with Bangladesh Judicial Service Association (BJSA) leaders at his Secretariat office yesterday afternoon, he said activists of some banned Islamist outfits are still active. He said the militants are now working under the banner of different organisations and the law enforcers are arresting them.

Intelligence reports say that extremists inside the country have links with the Taliban militants of Afghanistan. "Some people are trying to assist those who were directly involved in the mutiny," said Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, recently assigned to coordinate the probes into the carnage, while talking to reporters at his Secretariat office. "Everything would come to the surface after investigation," he added. Some BDR members who fled with firearms and grenades could not be arrested yet which is a threat to the country, the commerce minister said.

Referring to the mass murder of BDR officers during the mutiny, he said it was staged to turn the country into a failed state. The retired army officer turned politician said last week that evidence of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh's (JMB) involvement in the Feb 25-26 massacre had been found. The minister repeatedly reminded about the prime minister's recent announcement that no innocent BDR soldier would be punished or harassed. He said for BDR members things are returning to normal quickly as they are now in touch with their family members and the borders are also well protected.


A Dhaka Court yesterday placed 19 BDR jawans on a five-day remand each after the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) tasked with the investigation produced them before it. The CID prayed for a seven-day remand for each but the court granted five days. The identity of the remanded BDR jawans could not be known. Meanwhile, our staff correspondent in Khulna reports: Members of Operation Rebel Hunt rounded up BDR jawan Jahangir Hossain Sunday at Katianangla of Batiaghata upazila in Khulna. Police said Jahangir, who was on a 45-day leave, did not rejoin service and violated the government order. He is now being quizzed at the Khulna camp of Operation Rebel Hunt. Officials in intelligence and law enforcement agencies have further geared up their operations in the Sundarbans on information that some fugitive BDR men have joined notorious groups of pirates with arms they looted from Pilkhana.


Ten teams comprised of members of the army, BDR and intelligence agencies are now screening BDR members at Pilkhana to find out mutineers, home ministry officials said. All BDR members were given a common questionnaire on the mutiny to fill it out in an effort to hunt down rebels. "The answer scripts will help us trace those who were directly involved in the mutiny," said an official of the ministry wishing anonymity.

Sea border talks in Delhi today

The crucial maritime delimitation talks between Bangladesh and India starts today in New Delhi after a pause of six months. Additional foreign secretary MAK Mahmood heads a six-member Bangladesh delegation that left for the Indian capital yesterday to attend the two-day technical committee level talks. Bangladesh has long-standing dispute over the sea boundary with both of its neighbours India and Myanmar and all the three countries are yet to explore oil-gas options in the Bay. India claims ownership of nine while Myanmar claims that of 11 out of Bangladesh's 28 exploration blocks in the Bay. Now two neighbouring countries are claiming the sea boundary in such a way that entry of vessels to Bangladesh's seaports will be virtually blocked due to its geographical position.

According to UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on Laws of Sea) 1982, Bangladesh's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) should extend up to 200 nautical miles, with a further 150 nautical miles of extended continental shelf falling within its maritime boundary. The latest maritime talk between Bangladesh and India was held in Dhaka last September after an interval of 28 years. India has to submit its claim on sea boundary within June 29, 2009 while Myanmar has already submitted it recently without resolving the disputes with Bangladesh. Foreign ministry sources said Bangladesh has already lodged a protest with the UN against the claim of Myanmar. It will do the same against India's claim if India submits its claim without resolving the disputes. Under the UNCLOS, Bangladesh also has to file its claim by July 27, 2011. {The difference in dates correspond to the different times at which GoI, GoBD, GoB signed and ratified UNCLOS.}

The last talk between Bangladesh and India was limited just to determine the mid channel of Hariabhanga, a bordering river in the western part of the country. During the meeting, Bangladesh's claim over South Talpatty Island on the estuary of the Hariabhanga was disputed by the Indian side. Even the countries could not reach a consensus on how the mid point of the Hariabhanga will be measured as there are two major flows on both sides of Talpatty island, emerged in the estuary of the river. Bangladesh proposed at the meeting that the middle point should be determined from the western side of the river while India wanted that the measurement should start from the eastern side. The technical committees will try to reach a consensus on demarcation details before recommending for a final agreement.

Retired Brig Gen Manzur new NSI chief

The government yesterday appointed Brig Gen Manzur Ahmed (retd) as the new chief of the National Security Intelligence (NSI) replacing Maj Gen Shaikh Monirul Islam. Manzur has given a two-year contractual appointment to operate the NSI, said an establishment ministry official last night. Shaikh Monirul will join as the director general of the government think-tank Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS).

After 35+ years of independence, BD is still not clear as to its independence movement... Does that bring de javu to us folks?
BNP MPs stage walkout amid debate over proclamation of independence

Treasury and opposition bench lawmakers in parliament yesterday locked in an unscheduled debate over who proclaimed the country's independence in 1971. During the debate the BNP-led opposition lawmakers walked out protesting against "indecent remarks" made by treasury bench lawmakers about late president Ziaur Rahman and demanding the remarks be expunged from the proceedings. They returned after the over an hour-long debate was over. Presiding over the sitting, Speaker Abdul Hamid assured the opposition lawmakers of expunging the remarks, if there was any "un-parliamentary language ", from the proceedings.

The speaker also urged them not to walk out since they were being allowed to speak. During the debate, BNP lawmakers claimed that Zia proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh while the treasury bench lawmakers denounced the claim and termed it a complete distortion of history. "I have doubt whether Ziaur Rahman fought for the country's liberation. On his indirect support, criminals assassinated the father of the nation," said Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, deputy leader of the House.

Awami League (AL) lawmaker Tofail Ahmed said nothing could be more unfortunate and disrespectful to the nation if someone claims that Zia proclaimed the country's independence. "The country was not liberated by the declaration of an army major. Ziaur Rahman is responsible for the country's current poor condition. He corrupted the country's politics by rehabilitating war criminals," Tofail said. AL lawmaker Suranjit Sengupta said, "There is no need to prove that Ziaur Rahman declared the country's independence on behalf of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman." He also urged the speaker to give a ruling on the historic truth. :P

Mainuddin Khan Badal, lawmaker of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, a component of the AL-led alliance, urged the speaker to arrange a discussion on this and invite to it freedom fighters who are witness to the historic March 26, 1971. BNP lawmaker MK Anwar said they never claimed that Ziaur Rahman's declaration of independence liberated the country. "We said he made the declaration at a time when many people were fleeing the country. His declaration inspired people," Anwar claimed. The BNP lawmaker also demanded that all "indecent remarks" on Ziaur Rahman be expunged. When the opposition lawmakers were making their noisy walk out, BNP lawmaker Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Anee left his seat, proceeded to the space in front of the front left side bench, and kept shouting at the speaker to expunge the remarks.

Recession task force to sit from Mar 24

A 29-member task force to advise on Bangladesh's response to the global recession will convene from Mar 24, finance minister AMA Muhith said on Monday. "The task force will advise the government on ways to protect the country from the crisis," said Muhith. Its members will include representatives from the major parties, including the main opposition BNP, economists, specialists and businessmen, he said. "The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting earlier today," said Muhith, speaking after a seminar on "Global Financial Crisis and Impact on Bangladesh".

The finance minister first announced in January that a task force would be formed to decide the must-dos to face the world recession. On an FBCCI-proposed Tk 6000 crore special package for businesses, the minister said, "The government is yet to decide the amount of money for the package pledged by the government. It will be fixed on careful appraisal." Muhith told the seminar earlier, "The world recession has already started affecting the exports of frozen foods, jute and jute goods and leather. The readymade garment sector is also poised for the impact."

"We are keeping a close watch on the global economy, and giving priority to our agriculture and SME sectors. The government is also looking to boosting employment generation." The minister said the government was contemplating direct foreign investment in the energy sector to resolve the gas and power crisis. He also emphasised the importance of increasing skilled manpower exports to keep the remittance inflow. The seminar was held by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies. BIDS director general Kazi Salah Uddin presided, programme director KAS Murshid presented the keynote paper. Former foreign secretary Faruq Sobhan, executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue Mustafizur Rahman, chairman of Association of Banks Bangladesh Kazi Mahmud Sattar and Prof Syed M Ahsan of Concordia University of Canada also spoke.

Intelligence asked to watch out --- PM asks for synergy among agencies to check failures

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday directed the intelligence agencies to work in a coordinated way to thwart recurrence of incidents like the last month's massacre at the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) headquarters. The directives came at a regular cabinet meeting that began at 11:00am at the Secretariat. Most cabinet members mentioned lack of coordination and sharing of information among the intelligence wings as the major reason for the failure in preventing almost all major untoward incidents starting from the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the last month's BDR mutiny.

Hasina also directed the intelligence agencies to share information with each other for the sake of country's security and its people. "Our intelligence wings function without maintaining any sort of communication with each other. One agency remains in the dark about the other. That's why the prime minister has directed them to work in a coordinated way and share information," a senior minister told The Daily Star after the meeting wishing anonymity. The minister said the prime minister is planning to reorganise the activities of the intelligence wings gradually for their smooth functioning.

Bangladesh has five intelligence agencies -- National Security Intelligence (NSI), Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), Military Intelligence (MI), Special Branch (SB) and Detective Branch (DB) of Police. The meeting also expressed concern over activities of militant outfits in the country. The prime minister asked the law enforcement agencies to remain alert about the militant outfits and urged people to share information about them with law enforcers, said the PM's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad after the two-hour-long meeting. The premier and the senior ministers at the meeting expressed dissatisfaction over a home ministry report on militant outfits.

The cabinet earlier asked the ministry to submit a complete report on militant activities including the August 17 serial bomb blasts across the country with findings about the mastermind behind the blasts, their sources of finance and ammunition, people involved in it and the reason for the intelligence agencies' failure to prevent it. Some ministers who attended the meeting told The Daily Star that the prime minister was unhappy about the report as the home ministry failed to incorporate the information in it. Terming the report 'incomplete', Hasina directed the ministry to come up with an in-depth report.

"The home ministry submitted the report based on information before 31 December, 2008. Although many incidents including the BDR mutiny happened in the country after the election, it had no information about those," said a minister wishing not to be named. Meanwhile, the home ministry directed deputy commissioners, superintends of police and intelligence agencies to hunt down militants and prepare a list of militants and their outfits. "We have directed the deputy commissioners, superintendents of police to find out the militants and take actions against them," said Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder after holding a meeting with the ministry officials. The cabinet approved the proposed amendment to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Act 2003 and renamed the national award on agriculture the Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 17 Mar 2009 04:36

Like in pak, BD history starts with the Muslim conquest...
Port city

The descendants of the Portuguese are still to be seen in Chittagong. Most of them married local women and are known as Kala Firingis or Matia (earth coloured) Firingis. They are mostly Roman Catholic Christians. During the British period they enjoyed certain privileges and were given preference in appointments in certain institutions like the port and the railway and in clerical posts in government offices. An area in the city known as Firingi Bazar is said to be named after them. The most significant contribution of the Portuguese is the presence of many Portuguese words in the Bengali language which are in daily use till now. A few examples are - Anaras (pineapple), Pepe (papaya), Padri (clergyman), Fita (ribbon), Alpin (pin), botam (button), Chabi (key) etc.

Chittagong has been a seaport since ancient times. Arabs traded with the port from the 9th century AD. The Chittagong region was under the kingdom of Arakan during the sixth and seventh centuries. Before Muslim rule, Chittagong had been either under the control of the Arakans or under the kings of Burma. Sultan Fakruddin Mubarak Shah of Sonargaon conquered Chittagong in 1340. The explorer Ibne Batuta passed through Chittagong during his travels. After the defeat of Sultan Ghyasuddin Mahmud Shah at the hands of Sher Shah Suri in 1538, the Arakanese again captured Chittagong. From this time onward until its conquest by the Mughals this region was under the control of the Portuguese and the Magh pirates.

The Mughal Commander Umeed Khan expelled the Portuguese from the area in 1666 and established Mughal rule there. The Mughals renamed Chittagong as Islamabad. The city was occupied by Burmese troops shortly in the Anglo-Burmese War in 1824. During the period 1920-40, Chittagong became the main hub of revolutionary activities against the British Raj. The geographical position of Chittagong, on the southeast corner of a vast and scattered empire, made it ideal for such clandestine activities. The main mastermind of these activities was Surya Sen, known to common people simply as 'Masterda'. After some minor attacks on the Raj, the revolutionaries took control of the town on 18 April 1930. The revolutionaries captured the Chittagong armoury under the leadership of Masterda. The Indian republic was proclaimed with Surya Sen as the first president. The revolutionaries, however, failed to isolate the city, and reinforcement came quickly to the British. After 3 days the British were once again in control of the city. The revolutionaries were scattered, yet their operations continued. Even after the arrest and execution of Masterda (in Jan. 1934), the activities continued. A number of women were also involved. The leaders of the women revolutionaries were Pritilata Waddedar, Bina Das, Lila Ray, and Kalpana Dutta, among others. Finally, during the early 40's, as the battle in the Far East became very intense, Chittagong became a vital component of the defence of British India. The regular presence of British Army and Navy in the town made it difficult for the revolutionaries to carry on their activities. After more than two decades, Chittagong lost its revolutionary character.

In 1971, The Declaration of Independence of Bangladesh came from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra located at Kalurghat, Chittagong.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 17 Mar 2009 13:37

Home secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder placed the report that named 12 militant outfits:
1) Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB),
2) Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI),
3) Hizbut Towhid,
4) Ulama Anjuman al Bainat,
5) Hizb-ut-Tahrir,
6) Islami Democratic Party,
7) Islami Samaj,
8 ) Touhid Trust,
9) Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, {1) and 9) are one and the same}
10) Shahadat-e al Hikma Party Bangladesh,
11) Tamira Ar-Din Bangladesh (Hizb e Abu Omar) and
12) Allahr Dal. ... 274941.cms

Read the ToI article with the following:
by Md. Abdul Mannan ... mannan.pdf
JMB, after parting from Harkatul Jihad, was launched in 1998 under the leadership of Shaykh Abdur Rahman. But little has been known about its activities until 17 August 2005. This is because, on the one hand, the organization did not claim the responsibility of its terrorist attacks committed at times during pre-August 17 period. On the other, it was also the blame game in internal politics which barred the state machinery to find out the group(s) responsible. According to the post-17 August media investigations, it is found that the first conference of JMB was held at Khetlal in the northern district of Joypurhat in early 2002. After that JMB activists started receiving training and occasionally clashed with the local police of the districts of Joypurhat and Dinajpur. At one stage, JMB went underground; extended its network around the country and Shaykh Abdur Rahman built his permanent headquarters in another northern district of Rajshahi where he founded Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) as the public front of JMB.
Starting from April 2004, JMJB under the leadership of Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, made attempts to unlawfully neutralize the country’s north-western region of the left-wing extremists. But JMJB’s connection with JMB was unknown to the public. During this period local media was very vocal about JMJB’s unlawful activities and accused some elements in the government of patronizing this militant organization. The government denied the existence of Bangla Bhai, its alleged patronization of JMJB and accused the media of deliberately creating a Bangla Bhai with a view to damaging the image of the country. Eventually, reportedly under pressure from the influential foreign missions and donor agencies in Dhaka, the government issued a press note on 23 February 2005 which admitted the involvement of JMB and JMJB in terrorist activities and banned both the organizations. Sooner or later, the 17 August and the subsequent bomb violence in 2005 by JMB for which it claimed its responsibilities and through which the militant organization conveyed its existence and its agenda and intentions.
According to another media investigation, Rahman was inspired for jihad in 1995 and in the same year he employed lawyers for the release of as many as forty activists and leaders of HUJI Bangladesh nabbed by the local police of Coxbazar, a southern district. In 1997, he travelled to Pakistan controlled Kashmir and received training there. His tour was sponsored by Abdul Karim alias Tunda, a top militant of Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant organization Laskar-e-Taiba (LT). He returned to Bangladesh in 1998 and formed JMB modelling it after LT. These findings by a leading Bangla national daily claimed its source from the Task Force Intelligence (TFI), the intelligence unit assigned to interrogate the arrested JMB chief and its other leaders. Although the TFI disclaimed its connection with the information, the Bangla daily defended their position.
Saudi-based NGO Al Haramaine Islamic Institute is one such organisation that brought in Tk 20 crore through the NGO Affairs Bureau from 1997 to 2001, its annual report of 2002 said. It was finally banned in September 2002 after the UN listed it as a terror cell. Haramaine had Tk 19 crore more in the pipeline to be spent on Islamic education in 38 districts. The police arrested seven foreign citizens of Al Haramaine in September 2002 and later, under a special arrangement with a Middle Eastern country, they were taken to a five-star hotel right from the Dhaka Judge’s Court and then put on a flight under strict secrecy.

Militants received funds for madrasas from UAE-based welfare organisations Al Fuzaira and Khairul Ansar Al Khairia, Kuwait-based Doulatul Kuwait and Revival of Islamic Heritage Society and Bahrain-based Doulatul Bahrain, said intelligence sources. The HDRC study said the JMJB, under a programme called ‘Operation Research’, received funds from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Muslim World League. Ladin’s close associate Enam Arnot and his organisation Benevolence International Organisation, which was registered with the NGO Bureau, had bank accounts in Bangladesh. A UN report said he was a top fundraiser for Ladin. Pakistani citizen Mohammad Sajid, who was arrested for attacking poet Shamsur Rahman on January 18, 1999, told police that he received Tk 2 crore and gave it to someone called Bakhtiar. Bakhtiar, when arrested in Sirajganj the same year, confessed to police that he distributed the money among 421 madrasas for training activists of Harkatul Jihad (Huji). Both the militants said Ladin had sponsored them to develop madrasa infrastructure. The Korea Times reported on October 13 last year that three Bangladeshis, who were deported to Dhaka from Seoul in April the same year, collected about $87,000 and sent the money to Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh. The three were members of a Seoul-based Islamic Organisation, Dawatul Islam. Bangladesh embassy in Seoul, however, denied the contents of the report. Dr Asadullah Al Galib, a militant now under arrest for attacking different NGOs including Brac and Grameen Bank, had confessed to the Joint Interrogation Cell (JIC) that he received around Tk 27 crore every year from the Middle East, especially from an organisation called Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS) of Kuwait. RIHS was registered with the NGO Affairs Bureau on January 11, 1996. In his version, Galib spent the funds on the JMB, JMJB and AL Hiqma, all banned and the first one is suspected to be involved in the August 17 bombings. Since Galib’s arrest, the government stopped disbursement of funds from RIHS. RIHS was blacklisted by the State Department on September 9, 2002 for funding Islamist terrorists.

Hizbut Touhid
Cadres of Hizbut Towhid, an Islamist militant outfit, are regrouping in remote areas of Tangail district. They have resumed organisational activities and are recruiting members, intelligence sources said. Their number could be over 1,000 across the country. Tangail being its birthplace it may have a good number of activists, they said. They are under watch and law enforcers will son launch a drive to nab them and dismantle their dens, a source said.They had gone into hiding after the August 17 serial bomb blasts across the country last year. The organisation headed by Bayezid Khan Panni of Karotia started its activities in Bangladesh in 1991.

Chittagong Metropolitan Police in raids in different areas of the port city on the night of August 10 arrested seven Hizbut Towhid men including an engineer of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Limited (CUFL) and sales manager of a
soft drink company. Police also seized from them 200 leaflets and books, calling for establishing Islamic rule in the country through armed revolution.
During a primary interrogation the arrestees confessed to have been working for Hizbut Towhid in Chittagong for two years but denied having any link with outlawed Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Most of the armed activists of Hizbut Tawhid hailed from Basail upazila in Tangail district, a senior police official in Tangail said seeking anonymity while talking to this correspondent.

"Hizbut Towhid recently recruited armed activists from different parts of the district including Bathulee Sadi, Kashil, Kamutia, Basail and adjacent villages in the district", an intelligence official said. They went into hiding after police arrested seven activists of the organisation from Chittagong recently, he added. Maolana Abul Kalam Azad, an Imam of a mosque in Karotia, while talking to this correspondent said a good number of people including some educated persons from Karotia and adjacent areas joined Hizbut Towhid in last few months. "A good number Hizbut Towhid men are active in all the 11 upazilas of the district. They are doing organisational activities secretly", he said. ... 26604.html
However, besides these four, the 29 listed outfits include the Bangladesh chapter of international organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh, 10 of whose leaders and activists were arrested in Rajshahi on Sep 18 and freed on bail on Sep 30. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a worldwide controversial organisation, which is banned in many European and Middle Eastern countries and also in neighbouring Pakistan. Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), a political party recently formed by leaders of banned Huji who had fought in Afghanistan against former Soviet forces and had links with Al Qaeda and Taliban forces, is also on the updated list.

As the drive against Huji remains limited only to the detained Mufti Hannan-led faction, the other key Huji leaders, who founded the outfit, have floated a political party and are continuing open activities. ... 27n6.shtml
Many have joined hands with the Tablig Jamaat, an ostensibly non-violent and non-political religious movement. The main outfits operating in the country at the moment include the Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, both led by Shaikh Abdur Rahman. The top leadership of these outfits were reportedly trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and originally belonged to the Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student front of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, a coalition partner in the government. Some reports, however, say the JMJB is the youth front for the Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami, or HUJI.

The JMJB is said to be behind the recent nationwide blasts and the attacks on judges. Launched in 1998, it wants to capture power 'through armed revolution and establish Islamic rule by a Majlish-e-Shura.' It also wants to rid the nation of 'anti-Islam forces' which allow women 'out of their houses'. Though the group was officially banned in February, the top rung of the outfit -- responsible for a string of attacks across the nation -- remains at large. 'Our model involves many leaders and scholars of Islam. But we will take as much ideology from the Taliban as we need,' Shaikh Abdur Rahman is quoted as saying. The JMJB will 'build a society based on the Islamic model laid out in the Holy Koran and Hadith.' The operations commander of the JMJB is 'Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai alias Azizur Rahman alias Omar Ali Litu,' who claims 'the outfit has 300,000 activists and about 10,000 full-time activists across the country and spends up to Taka 700,000 (roughly Rs 488,201) on them a month,' says the Star report.

Other outfits include:

HUJI: Launched with Osama bin Laden's assistance in 1992. Mainly active in the southeastern coastal belt stretching from Chittagong through Cox's Bazar to the Myanmar border, 'its cadres allegedly infiltrate frequently into the bordering eastern region of India to maintain contacts with terrorist outfits of the region.'

Shahadat Al Hiqma: Linked with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Nepal-based Maoist organisations, this group believes 'firearms are the only way to eradicate injustice.' Its leader, Shamim Uddin, who is in police custody, says fugitive Indian gangster Dawood Ibrahim was among those who provided him with funds. Banned in February 2003, but sections of top leadership still at large.

Hizbut Towhid: Founded by Mohammad Bayezid Khan Ponni alias Selim Ponni in 1994, the outfit does not believe in the democratic system of government, and is known to promote strict adherence to Sharia laws in places where it is active.

Hizb-Ut Tahrir: Originally founded in 1953 by Tokiuddin Al Nakhani in Jerusalem five years after Israel captured Palestine, the extremist outfit's Bangladesh branch was set by Golam Mowla, Nasimul Gani and Kawsar Shahnewaj in 2000. The outfit believes a true Islamic State can only be achieved when Muslims worldwide unite, and aims to do this through various seminars and lectures which openly promote radical Islam at various university and school campuses across the nation.

Islami Biplobi Parishad: Led by former Jaamat e Islami leader Moulana Abdul Jabbar, who launched the new outfit in June 2001. Soon afterwards, Jabbar wrote to newly elected Prime Minister Khaleda Zia demanding that she declare Bangladesh as an Islamic State within three months. Several of its top leaders were arrested after it set up a so-called parallel government, but its leaders and members continue to assert that it is the religious duty of all Muslims to revolt against the government.

Despite the damning exposes by the Star and other domestic and international media organisations, the government refuses to officially acknowledge the growing fundamentalism in the country. On March 8, 1999 Islami Oikya Jote Chairman Fazlul Haq Amini told a public meeting that 'We are for Osama (bin Laden), we are for the Taliban and we will be in government in 2000 through an Islamic revolution.' Amini is currently a member of parliament, and his party a part of the ruling alliance. That did not, however, stop him from telling an Islamic conference in Comilla in March that 'an Islamic revolution will take place by Quami madrassas. By terming us gunrunners and terrorists, the Quami madrassa movement cannot be stopped.'

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 17 Mar 2009 14:11

Veena Sikri, Indian HC to BD's old interview to rediff
So what are the main issues?

There is this strong feeling in Bangladesh about the trade imbalance. But one has to analyse that. Number one, we recognise that there is a trade imbalance. Number two, we are willing to do our best to resolve it. But number three, this trade imbalance is basically on goods which Bangladesh entrepreneurs, traders, buyers and manufacturers import from India. Because these are international quality goods at highly competitive prices.

Many of these goods, even five years ago, were imported from Italy, the US, or Japan. But today Bangladesh is importing them from India. Like textile machinery, printing presses, CNG [compressed natural gas] vehicles, buses, trucks, foodgrains, construction materials, all these things. So an adverse trade balance in itself is not necessarily an issue. Bangladesh's adverse trade imbalance with China is almost as huge, and some fear that it's even more than that with India. Bangldaesh has a similarly large positive trade balance with the US. So the US has a similarly adverse trade balance with Bangladesh. That's part of trade.

What one can discuss are ways of increasing Bangladesh's exports to India. We have offered a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with Bangladesh, along the lines of the one we have signed with Sri Lanka. The latest figures show that within the SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] countries, Sri Lanka has overtaken Bangladesh as India's largest trading partner. So knowing that this works very well, we have offered -- it's still on their table -- a similar bilateral FTA with Bangladesh.

We feel that this [the FTA] would encourage further Indian investment in Bangladesh. But whether we discuss this bilateral FTA or not, in order for Bangladesh to get access to Indian markets, we need to have a 'rules of origin' agreement. We also need to harmonise our codes and standardise our classifications and so on. So all these are technical matters which need to be worked out through a very intensive trade dialogue with Bangladesh. And we would very much like to do that.

We also have interest by big Indian groups like the Tatas to invest substantially in Bangladesh, perhaps one of the largest investments ever in Bangladesh. If that were to materialise, Bangladesh's exports to India could be up to $1 billion a year, of products that the Tata group would like to manufcture in Bangladesh.

What I am saying is that an adverse trade balance is not an issue in itself. It is perhaps leading to a problem, but it is not really a problem in itself. We understand their concerns, and we have very sincerely offered to talk to Bangladesh about it. We would appreciate if those talks take place. But to politicise this issue, to mark it as a concern, in fact makes it even more difficult to solve it.

For trade, there needs to be connectivity within the northeast. Our prime minister spoke of connectivity among the SAARC nations. And here, for instance, Bangladesh has been talking about trade with Bhutan and Nepal. As fellow members of SAARC, we are truly alive to the importance of this. All of us must trade. All of us must have connectivity.

We have actually given transit facilities for Bangladesh's trade with Bhutan and Nepal. That trade does take place, though it's a very small figure at the moment, and even the facilities we have given at the moment are substantially under-utilised. Should this volume increase, requiring more Indian facilities, we will look at it.

But we do feel that just as Bangladesh attaches importance to trading and getting access to Bhutan and Nepal, then certainly for the government of India, it is very important to have access to the northeast. For this, we have made several proposals, to increase the connectivity of India with its northeast through Bangladesh, whether through roads, rail, or riverine routes, and we would very much like to have a chance to talk to Bangladesh about this. Because again it is a win-win situation.

At the moment, even if you look at our trade with Bangladesh, at least 70 per cent is focused on the land route. Whereas if you were to diversify the connectivity, the transport linkages between Bangladesh and India, use the riverine route, use containerised cargo through barges, similarly the rail route, the entire trade -- the mechanism, the facilitation -- would be modernised. At the moment, it is so difficult, that what is a pure physical overload is thought to be a para-tariff barrier or a non-tariff barrier. It's just physically impossible to handle that kind of a load through that one land route.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Philip » 18 Mar 2009 13:13

In the aftermath of the BDR mutiny,the govt. has revamped the intel. services. ... t-up-38345

Dhaka Revamps Intelligence Set-up
Tagged with: Bangladesh Army, BDR, Dhaka Revamps

Dhaka: A retired Bangladesh Army brigadier general will head one of the premier intelligence agencies of the country as part of the revamp spurred by last month’s mutiny by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) troopers.

The government Monday appointed Brig. Gen. Manzur Ahmed (retd) as the new chief of the National Security Intelligence (NSI), replacing Maj. Gen. Shaikh Monirul Islam.

Manzur Ahmed has been given a two-year contractual appointment to run the NSI, it was officially announced.

Gen. Monirul Islam will become the director general of the government think-tank Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies.

Political analysts said the changes were due after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took office in January after the December election.

The mutiny that led to over 80 people, mostly Bangladesh Army officers, being killed, has been attributed to intelligence failure. The border guards’ mutiny took place Feb 25-26 over low wages and poor working conditions.

The government last week changed chiefs of the Special Branch and the Criminal Intelligence Department of the police.

The government’s concern found its echoes in the words of Sheikh Hasina Monday who directed the intelligence agencies to work in a coordinated way to thwart recurrence of incidents like the massacre at the BDR headquarters.

The directives came at a regular cabinet meeting, The Daily Star said.

Most cabinet members mentioned lack of coordination and sharing of information among the intelligence wings as the major reason for the failure in preventing almost all major untoward incidents starting from the killing of the country’s founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to last month’s BDR mutiny.

Hasina also directed the intelligence agencies to share information with each other for the sake of country’s security and its people.

“Our intelligence wings function without maintaining any sort of communication with each other. One agency remains in the dark about the other. That’s why the Prime Minister has directed them to work in a coordinated way and share information,” a senior minister told the newspaper after the meeting, requesting anonymity.

The minister said the prime minister is planning to reorganise the activities of the intelligence wings gradually.

Bangladesh has five intelligence agencies - National Security Intelligence, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Special Branch and Detective Branch of the police.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 18 Mar 2009 14:25

NGOs under scanner for 'militant links'

The government would scan the activities of the non-government organisations (NGO) approved by the past 4-party alliance government, in efforts to find out the sources of militants' money. Finance Minister AMA Muhith today told reporters that the activities of the NGOs, those were approved when Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid was in charge of the social welfare ministry, would be examined. In reply to journalists on what steps the government took to stop financing militancy, the minister said the government would also find if anybody helped the extremist religious sects indirectly. He said the clauses of the money laundering law would be examined to find out the possible ways to stop financing to militancy. The NGO Affairs Bureau will work on the matter.

2nd FBI team arrives in Dhaka

Another team of the Federal Bureau of Investigation short-named FBI arrived in Dhaka last night, said Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, who is also the head of the coordination committee on the BDR mutiny probe. Speaking to reporters at his office at the Secretariat, Khan said the government sought help of the FBI of the United States to find out whether there was any international connection to the BDR massacre. "The BDR mutiny was staged to damage the economy, armed forces and national solidarity," he said after a meeting with Sri Lanka high commissioner in Dhaka. "We are not hiding anything. Everything is being done transparently. We will disclose everything by making the investigation report public," Khan added. He said he would have a meeting with the FBI team tomorrow. A two-member FBI delegation had earlier visited Bangladesh. A team of the Scotland Yard of the United Kingdom also came to Bangladesh to help probe into the last month's BDR carnage.

FBI asked to look into international linkages

Dhaka, March 18 (—The government has requested the FBI, whose second team has arrived in Dhaka, to help uncover international linkages, if any, to the February mutiny at Peelkhana, said the commerce minister Faruq Khan Wednesday. "The second FBI team is here. We've requested them to help investigate the killings with special emphasis on suspected links of international organisations," said Khan, who is coordinating the probes into the mutiny.

Asked why international ties are being probed, the minister said, "One can't accept that so many army officers were killed just for a couple of kilograms of rice. The Peelkhana killings were done to wreak damage to the country's economy and the morale of the army. Many have been party to it." Asked if 'anti-liberation forces' were involved, Khan said, "Please be patient, the probe reports will reveal everything." Faruq Khan again called on fugitive BDR men to turn themselves in. He also urged the public to help law enforcers nab suspected mutineers. The commerce minister was speaking to reporters after attending an hour-long meeting with the Sri Lankan high commissioner in the morning.

Killer of Gen Shakil, 2 others identified --- Investigators so far find 650 involved in BDR carnage

At least three of the detained BDR men were among the mutineers who gunned down their DG Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed and some other senior army officers at the Pilkhana Headquarters. The three have been identified by suspected mutineers now being grilled at the Taskforce for Interrogation (TFI) Cell. The BDR men claimed a group of six to seven who first opened fire at the Darbar Hall were riflemen, not outsiders. "None has so far revealed the names of the initial shooters during interrogation, though it seems they know them," said a top law enforcer tasked with investigation into the carnage.

He however hopes they will get important breakthrough once the shooters are identified and quizzed. "We've identified the killer of BDR DG Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed and at least two others who gunned down other senior officers," said the investigator speaking anonymously. He however did not reveal the names of the three now in custody. They have earlier arrested the BDR jawan who killed the wife of Maj General Shakil, he added. The investigator also said they have so far detected around 650 riflemen who had involvement in the mutiny.

Those mutineers have been detected through examination of video footage, interrogation of arrested jawans and from the statements of the survived officers and family members. The investigator also said over 150 out of the 650 BDR members were directly involved in serious offences like killing, looting arms, ammunition and explosives from armouries, distributing those to other soldiers, and guarding entrances to the BDR HQ. He said a good number of the suspected mutineers and serious offenders have already been arrested, while the rest are still on the run. The BDR authorities say they have yet to figure out how many BDR members are still at large. Director General Brig Gen Mainul Islam told The Daily Star: "We could not collect information about all the BDR members from all the sectors, battalions and companies. Therefore we have yet to ascertain how many BDR members are still at large."


The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) yesterday arrested 12 fugitive BDR personnel in different parts of the country and turned them in to Lalbagh police. Rab officials said primary interrogation suggests their involvement in killing, repression and looting. The arrestees are subedar Shafiz Uddin, nayek subedars Helal Uddin and Shahjahan Ali, havildar Billal Hossain Khan, nayek Matiur Rahman Khan, lance nayek Shahidul Islam, sepoys Abdul Matin, Abdullah Al Mamun, Shahiduzzaman, Altaf Hossain, carpenter Narayan Kumar Das and electrician Zakir Hossain.


A Dhaka court yesterday placed three mutiny suspects on a five-day fresh remand and sent nine others to Dhaka Central Jail, reports our Court Correspondent. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is investigating the case, produced 12 suspected mutineers before the court on completion of their five-day remand and prayed for further remand for subedar Gofran Malik, lance nayek Gausul Alam and sepoy Abdul Latif. The CID prayed for seven-day remand for each of them, but the court granted five days for each. The court also ordered to send havildar Rezaul Karim, lance nayek Yusuf Ali, sepoys Jayanta Kumar Sardar, Jamir Ali, Sohrab Hossain, Ismail Hossain, Shariful Islam, Rafiqul Islam and Masudur Rahman to jail, as the investigation officer (IO) did not seek further remand to quiz them.

Govt unhappy about Padma water inflow: minister

Dhaka, Mar 17 (—The government is not happy over the volume of water flowing from Farakka point into the Padma, the water resouces minister has said. As little as 42000 cusecs of water were received Monday whereas 56000 cusecs were available 15 days ago, water resources minister Ramesh Chandra Sen told reporters Tuesday. To ensure proper use and management of waters in Padma, the Ganges barrage project was finalised and sent to the Cabinet Committee On Purchase. The work on the project will begin on approval by the committee, he said

After completion of all formalities in two years, tenders will be invited for construction of the barrage, Sen told reporters at his Secretariat office. "We have started the process of dam construction by creating blocks on seventy rivers in two and a half months. Besides, 25,000 tonnes of wheat were sanctioned for building dams on the rivers in the Sidr-affected areas and their protection. About 90 percent of work has been completed."

He said the India- Bangladesh Joint River Commission would discuss issues such as reclamation of land eroded by border rives, inter-river link project by India near the Tepaimukh embankment and water sharing of common rivers. On why the JRC meeting had not been held for so long, the minister said, "India is now concerned with the (general) election. That is why scope to discuss these issues before election is thin. But after the election, date for the JRC meeting will be fixed". About the causes for reduced water flow in the Surma, Kushaira and Teesta, the minister said, it needed to be kept in mind that in last seven months there was no rainfall in these areas. Besides, because of siltation, water absorption capacity of these rivers has gone down. Initiative has been taken to excavate these rivers. Dredgers were sent in Kushaira and Surma, Sen further said.

BDR stays alert on Myanmar border --- Frontier people panicked by troops build-up

Bangladesh border guards stay alert on Myanmar-Bangladesh borders following the neighbouring country's move to erect barbed-wire fences on its side of 200-kilometre land borders with Bangladesh. "We are aware of the matter. Everything remains normal," Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Director General Brig Gen Moinul Islam told The Daily Star yesterday. He ruled out the rumour that no senior BDR official is on the borders and said there was nothing to panic for the people living on Bangladesh side.

Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain told The Daily Star on Monday that Bangladesh has no problem if Myanmar erects fences on its territory. Our Bandarban correspondent reports: People living in the bordering areas got panicked following deployment of huge number of Myanmar troops along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. Of the 200-kilometre border between the two countries, 173 km is along Bandarban. There are 11 border outposts in Naikkhangchhari upazila and eight in Thanchi upazila. Earlier, initiatives were taken to increase the number of BOPs on Bangladesh side but it was not materialised.

When contacted, acting Bandarban Deputy Commissioner Satyajit Karmakar said the situation in bordering areas remain completely normal. Dochhari Union Parishad (UP) Chairman Habibullah Khan told The Daily Star over telephone that although the BDR members have been put on alert, no high official of the paramilitary force was there since the February 25-26 mutiny at the BDR headquarters. Dipak Barua, UP chairman of Ghumdhum Ghat, close to the Myanmar border, said they failed to find any BDR official to enquire about the border situation. He said assistant police super of Lama Circle in Bandarban sometimes comes there to supervise the BDR men.

More shake-up in admin

Four additional secretaries and 10 joint secretaries have been transferred and given new postings in the latest round of reshuffle in the administration. At the additional secretary level, Suraiya Begum of Establishment Ministry (OSD) has been transferred as registrar to Cooperative Department, Land, Record and Survey Department DG Mohammad Mahfuzur Rahman to Bangladesh Computer Council as its executive director, Dr M Aslam Alam of Establishment Ministry (OSD) to Land, Record and Survey department as its new DG and Khurshida Khatun of Establishment Ministry (OSD) as the new chairman of Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation.

At the joint secretary level, Bangladesh Bridge Division Director AKM Yahiya Chowdhury has been transferred to Home Ministry, ATM Mostafa Kamal to Economic Relations Division, Tahmina Begum to Education Ministry, Mohammad Abul Kashem of Establishment Ministry (OSD) to Non-Government Teachers' Registration and Certification Authority, Shahjadi Anjuman Ara of Establishment Ministry (OSD) as project director to Primary School Construction Project Phase-2, William Atul Kuluntanu as Registrar of Copy Right office, Shamima Sultana as member of Mongla Port Authority, Additional Divisional Commissioner of Khulna M Abdus Samad as director to Jute Department, SM Abdul Wahab as member to Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) while Mohammad Abdul Kadir as director of Bangladesh Bridge Division, said a handout yesterday.

Govt no to Pak series

The government has decided not to go ahead with the postponed limited-overs home series against Pakistan. State Minister for Youth and Sports Ahad Ali Sarkar revealed the government decision after a meeting with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) high-ups at his residence last night. "After the Pilkhana events, our national security is not yet full-proof. In these circumstances, it is not possible to invite any foreign team," Ahad Ali Sarkar told reporters. "That's why the tour of Pakistan team has been suspended for now," he added. The BCB was forced to postpone the series following the carnage in Dhaka's BDR headquarters on February 25 as well as the terror attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team bus in Lahore on March 3. The BCB then prepared a revised schedule to get the government's green signal but finally it has postponed the tour yesterday.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby sum » 18 Mar 2009 18:55

Bangladesh has five intelligence agencies - National Security Intelligence, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Special Branch and Detective Branch of the police.

The first three names seem to have the same agenda!!!!!

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 19 Mar 2009 02:09

Bangladesh: Anatomy of the BDR Mutiny
Hasina Wajed has started well and India has reasons to feel upbeat. The Bangladesh Prime Minister has declared that she would not allow the soil of her country to be used for anti-Indian activities. This is likely to help New Delhi greatly in its fight against international terrorism as Bangladesh had, of late, become a very important junction in the terror networks. Her other actions also arouse hope. She had already prepared, during the days of her internment under the previous caretaker government, a list of Cabinet Ministers in the event of her party’s victory at the hustings discarding most of the discredited faces of Bangladesh politics although many of them were heroes of the liberation war. Her selection of Matia Chowdhury as the Agriculture Minister, Dipu Moni as the Foreign Minister and Sahara Khatun as the Home Minister is extremely laudable. Matia Chowdhury, a survivor from the previous Awami League Government, had given an outstanding performance as a Minister during her past term. Both Dipu Moni and Sahara Khatun have distinguished themselves in various social and political movements of Bangladesh in recent times and, like Matia, are known for their probity in public life.

But how has India reacted to the BDR mutiny, a development of grave importance having connection with at least one great conspirator of the subcontinent? That the Indian Foreign Minister is hopelessly unequal to his official duty became amply clear when he, during his visit to Bangladesh a few days before the BDR mutiny, declined to entertain Hasina’s proposal for a South Asian Task Force to combat terrorism on the superfluous argument that such mechanisms do already exist and that sincerity is the key word. But he did not clarify what these existing mechanisms are or whether they have really served any purpose so far.

Now there are indications that the mandarins in the South Block are loathe to accept the possibility of any conspiracy behind the BDR mutiny. Apart from the facts mentioned above, several other worrying developments had also taken place. The Bangladesh Government as well as the Army are now convinced that the intelligence wing of the BDR had played a mysterious role and that, according to video footages of close circuit electronic devices, outsiders were there inside the BDR headquarters donning the uniforms of the paramilitary force. Moreover eyewitnesses had found a grey coloured unauthorised weapon carrier inside the BDR Headquarters a little before the rebellion broke out. ... r1509/at02
ULFA investing in Bangla tea, textile sectors: DGP

GUWAHATI, March 14 – Reiterating that militant organisations including the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) have stakes to the tune of Rs 860 crore in various businesses in Bangladesh, State Director General of Police (DGP) GM Srivastav today divulged that those outfits, of late, had started investing in tea gardens and the garment industry of the neighbouring country. This, according to the DGP, has come to the fore in two of the recent assessments made by the Police department. Srivastav was speaking at a workshop on ‘Terrorism in Assam: Challenges for Civil Society’ organised by the SB Deorah College today. Srivastav also said that most of the Northeast-based outfits get their training in Pakistan and Afghanistan and then operate from Bangladesh.

Urging the people, especially the youth of the State, to come forward against terrorism, he stated that the prime source of money for the militant organisations in the region was extortion, which the administration needed to address. “ISI is also one of the major funding sources for the militant groups operating in the region as they are against any kind of development in this part of the country,” the DGP pointed out. “Their so-called war against the establishment has no base and the demand for sovereignty, too, appear rather hollow,” the DGP said, reasoning that the ULFA which started its armed struggle with deportation of Bangladeshis from the State as one of the aims, was now itself taking refuge in Bangladesh.

Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari of Gauhati High Court, while speaking on the occasion, said that terrorism could not survive without funding and those acting as funding agencies should be brought to book first. “Having a strict law alone is not enough, the same has to be implemented to fetch the desired results,” he asserted. Justice Ansari further appealed to the general public to develop courage against terrorism. MLA Captain Robin Bordoloi, Dr Nanigopal Mahanta of Gauhati University (GU) and Dr Ramesh Barpatragohain, Professor, Department of Law, GU were also among those present.

Old news item, dated Mar 15
No final deal on Bay gas exploration anytime soon

Dhaka, Mar 15 ( – No final decision on exploration of oil and gas in the Bay of Bengal is coming anytime soon as the country reels under a debilitating power crunch on a lack of gas supply. The prime minister's energy adviser said Sunday Toufique E Elahi Chowdhury told reporters Sunday they were examining the papers "which will take time". On how long it may take for them to be through with it, he said it was difficult to say. The state minister for energy Shamsul Haq Tuku also said they were examining the papers.

Former special assistant to the chief adviser in charge of energy M Tamim told an immediate decision should taken on both offshore and onshore exploration. Power generation is suffering severely on gas supply interruptions, and the businesses and industries are counting billions of taka in lost production. The state-owned oil, gas and mineral resources exploration company Petrobangla has warned that it will not be able to supply gas to new plants beyond 2012. It says it produces nearly its capacity of 1800 million cubic feet of gas a day.

The two companies winning the bid are USA based Conoco-Phillips and Irish company Tullow. The former is due to get eight deep-sea blocks –10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21 – while the latter is set to sign a production-sharing contract for Block 5, they said. The government floated an international tender on Feb 15 for 28 offshore blocks, and Petrobangla opened the bid documents on May 7 to complete evaluation in three weeks. International companies Houston-based Conoco-Phillips, Australia's Santos International, Longwoods Resources, a US-China joint venture, Korea International Oil Corporation, China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), Comtrack Services and London-based Tullow dropped bids.

The emergency government selected Conoco-Phillips and Tullow for the exploration in late last year but the interim cabinet left it for a political government for a final decision. The government will sign a four-year exploration deal for shallow sea blocks and five-year agreement for deep-sea blocks–both renewable by four years, officials said. On submission of development plans by the selected bidders, agreement will be signed for gas and oil fields for 25 and 20 years respectively. The companies will pay compensation in case of accidents stemming from neglect and inefficiency. Any company wishing to sell more than 50 percent of its shares would have to take permission from the government, the officials further said.

If we rightfully explore the BoB or what we deem as blocks in our EEZ, we are facing a conflict of interest with the US. The choice of Conoco-Philips was no accident. Wheels within wheels....

India tackles non-state actors --- By Neeta Lal ... angladesh/
The Burmese military government is now preparing to fence its border with Bangladesh to prevent human trafficking between the two countries, said an official from Maungdaw on the condition of anonymity. “Many soldiers arrived in northern Maungdaw bringing a lot of barbed wire fence to the western Burmese border with Bangladesh. I think the project will be implemented very soon,” the official said. Over 200 soldiers arrived at Kyin Chaung Village in northern Maungdaw Township to implement the project. At the same time, a large amount of barbed wire has been transported to Maungdaw from Sittwe on cargo ships to use in the construction of the fence. A townsperson from Maungdaw said, “I saw much barbed wire piled up at the Kyin Gan Byin Jetty in Maungdaw that was brought there by four cargo ships. Large amounts of barbed wire is being transported to Maungdaw by cargo ships.”

The barbed wire has been transported and distributed from the jetty to Nasaka Areas 1 and 2, which are very close to Bangladesh in the north of Maungdaw. “Our government will fence its lands from Maungdaw Township to Paletwa township near the triangle area among Burma, Bangladesh, and India,” the official said. Even though the Burmese military government is preparing to fence its border with barbed wire to prevent human trafficking, the authorities have yet to officially make any announcements about the project. Many people are traveling across the Burma - Bangladesh border without permission, and the Burmese authorities intend to curb such unauthorized movements with the barbed wire fence on the border. ... 9&Itemid=2
Burma eyes Chittagong Port for trading purposes

Chittagong, Bangladesh: Burma and Bangladesh are proposing to use the Chittagong Port for trading purposes between both countries, according to a local trader from Chittagong. Burma has proposed to use the Chittagong port for vessels from Teknaf, linking Burma’s Maungdaw Town in Arakan State to directly shipped goods, he added. The matter was discussed between Brig General Maung Maung Thein, Minister for Livestock Breeding and Fisheries and the Adviser to the Bangladesh Commerce Ministry in Nay Pyi Taw recently, according to a Rangoon Times report.

Burma said the government had permitted its private sector to export rice to meet Bangladesh's necessity. It also pointed out that the government was undertaking many important communication linkages in the Western Arakan State, saying that transport facility and smooth flow of commodities would soon improve between the two countries through Arakan State. Burma also proposed to establish banking arrangements between the two countries to promote trade, stressing the need for Burma’s Investment and Commercial Bank and the Burma Foreign Trade Bank, to have corresponding banks in Bangladesh, for effective and reliable payments, related to trading transactions.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has highlighted the need to promote bilateral trade and change the trends of border trade to normal trade, revealing that Bangladesh wanted to invest in Burma’s agriculture and livestock breeding sectors, through bilateral cooperation, sources said. Another border trade point, Taunbro sub-town, under the Maungdaw Township is being planned by Burma in the state in addition to Sittwe (Akyab) and Maungdaw. It would be the only land border trade point between the two countries.

Currently, Burma and Bangladesh are engaged in more border trade than in normal trade. Burma exports marine products (fishes, shrimps), beans and pulses, wood and kitchen crops to Bangladesh, while it imports pharmaceuticals, ceramic, cotton fabric, raw jute, kitchenware and cosmetics from Bangladesh. In early October 2008, during the visit of Vice-Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Vice Senior-General Maung Aye, the two countries decided on the purchase of 100,000 tons of rice from Burma by Bangladesh. Besides, Burma would import pharmaceuticals from Bangladesh, construction of a 25-kilometer trans-border road and delimitation of maritime boundary was also discussed. An agreement on evasion of double taxation was also signed during the visit.

According to an official source, Burma exports 23,000 tons of marine products to Bangladesh annually. On March 3, a ship, loaded with Hilsa and Salmon fish, arrived at the Teknaf Land Port under the Masud Shah Futia Company of Chittagong. It carried about 30,000 bags containing 20 to 30 kgs of Hilsa and Salmon fish per bag, according to our sources. Bilateral trade between Burma and Bangladesh currently stands at USD 140 million and both countries are struggling to achieve the target of USD 500 million for the next fiscal year 2009-2010. The two countries formally opened border trade in 1994. ... 9&Itemid=2
2-DPA member arrested with firearms in Bandarban

Bandarban, Bangladesh: Two Arakan People Army (APA) members, the army wing of Democratic Party of Arakan (DPA) were arrested with two sophisticated firearms on March 13 by Bangladesh army from Roangchari upazila under Bandarban district, said a source from Nychonchari of Bandarban District. The two arrested APA members were Kyaw Maung Marma (29) and Kyaw Sein Marma (23) of Aungjaipara village of Roanchari upazila under the Bandarban district. The army patrols found an American M-16 with grenade launcher, an SLR and 18 grenade launchers and some bullets in a dense area of forest.

Being informed, Major Khaled of the 34 East Bengal Regiment led the expedition into Aungjaiparha of Roangchari on 12th March nights. The army also recovered a sizable ammunition store, including 299 SMG bullets, 91 rounds of SLR ammunition, two M-16 magazines, four ammunition pouches and a holster, as well as a pair of Bangladeshi and Indian army uniforms. There are armed groups hiding in the forests of Ruma and Roangchari. They occasionally come to the village and take shelter in the village and also collect tolls from the villagers, said a local villager who declined to be named.

The arrestees said that the DPA members from Burma had given them the arms and ammo for safekeeping, according to official. According to Major Khaled, Thursday night's raid had been carried out on information got from two other criminals arrested earlier. An earlier operation on February 19, led by Captain Mirza, had recovered two Chinese firearms and huge quantities of ammunition from DPA members. Major Mosleh of the 69 Infantry Brigade said various units, alongside overall peacekeeping in the area, had retrieved automatic weapons, local firearms, grenades, ammunition and other military equipment. Similar operations and raids will be regularly conducted in Bandarban and border areas to maintain law and order, the Major added.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby ramana » 19 Mar 2009 02:23

Nightwatch Comments on 3/17/09

Bangladesh: Bangladesh will reorganize its intelligence services following the mutiny of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), Press Trust of India reported March 17. The government has appointed retired Brigadier Manzur Ahmed as the new chief of National Security Intelligence, taking over from Major General Sheikh Monirul Islam, who was shifted to head the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, a government think-tank. New leaders of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Special Branch of the Police and of military intelligence have also been named.

All of the agencies receiving new leaders have internal security missions, rather than external intelligence responsibilities. The changes indicate the government is blaming the internal security intelligence agencies for not detecting the planned insurrection by the Bangladesh Rifles and for failing to warn.

I think the external agencies will also get revamped once the mess is clearer as to what were the external linkages to the coup attempt.

Still good move by BD govt as opposed to GOI which is still shell shocked after Mumbai attack.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 21 Mar 2009 09:17

FBI smells conspiracy in BDR carnage --- More time needed for fair probe: Faruk

The visiting Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team has said the carnage at Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) headquarters last month was a "conspiracy". The FBI agents made the observation after comparing the BDR incident with mutinies staged by military and paramilitary forces in other countries, said officials of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) after a meeting with the team yesterday. The CID sources, however, declined to elaborate on the matter.

At the meeting the FBI team has also assured the local investigators of giving all kinds of assistance in finding out foreign links to the February 25-26 BDR massacre in which 73 people, including 56 army officers and their relatives, were killed. The FBI agents said Bangladeshi investigators seriously lack modern equipment in probing such a grave incident but appreciated their skills. "It is not possible to carry out fair probe with the existing equipment. But we are ready to provide you with all kinds of technical supports in this regard," an FBI agent was quoted by a CID officer as saying at the three-hour meeting held at the CID headquarters from 9:00am.

The meeting evaluated the latest outcome of the investigation into the tragic incident and discussed the scope of further cooperation. The FBI team told the meeting that they would prepare a report and submit it to Bangladesh government upon their return to the US. Senior ASP of CID Abdul Kahar Akond, who was present at the meeting, told The Daily Star that they discussed the problems they are facing during investigation and what they will work in the future. He said the investigation has made quite a progress. Akond said 60 CID officials are working in eight groups to probe the BDR carnage. He refused to make any comment on the FBI's comment that the BDR incident was a "conspiracy".

This is the second FBI team, comprised of experts, which arrived in Dhaka Tuesday night to help probe into the BDR incident at Pilkhana. The FBI team is supposed to leave the country in a day or two. Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Faruk Khan yesterday said the government needed more time for fair investigation into the BDR carnage. "Justice hurried, justice buried," the minister who is coordinating the probe said, adding that a fair investigation report on the incident would come out within "a very short time". "We probably need a few more days to coordinate all investigations," he told reporters after attending a children's programme organised by Bangladesh Children Theatre Federation at Shishu Academy to mark the World Children's Theatre Day.

Asked about the procedure of punishing the killers, he said the government will take pro-people decision to ensure justice. "The government is checking all probable motives behind the BDR incident and within a short time the investigation committee will complete a fair investigation report," Faruk said.

From the woodwork comes HRW, spooky to me.

The government will take a final decision on the trial process of the BDR mutiny case only after reports of ongoing investigations are in, the law minister has repeated. "There is no decision so far to hold the trial under the Army Act," Shafiq Ahmed told on Friday after a number of newspapers, quoting the law minister, reported that his ministry had given the go ahead to try the BDR accused by "court martial". Calling those reports "misleading", the minister said, "The law ministry did not give any such decision to the home ministry; we have only suggested the possible procedures of the trial." He said, "The government could issue an order to try the accused under military law. But the government is yet to take a decision."

Rights group urges open trial: Meanwhile, a US-based rights group has urged the Bangladesh government to try the accused in the country's regular courts or by special tribunal, rather than military court. The border force, Bangladesh Rifles, is under the charge of the home ministry not the defence ministry, said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, in Dhaka on Thursday. The trial process should rightly go through the normal judicial system under civilian law, not military law, he told a briefing at Dhaka Reporters' Unity. If necessary, the case could be tried by a special tribunal, with an assurance of protecting all rights of the accused, said Adams. He also asked the government to ensure an independent investigation into the BDR mutiny.

250 BDR men under Dinajpur Sector marked as mutineers --- They fired 3,288 bullets on February 26

At least 250 members of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) have been identified as involved in February 26 disorderly act in Dinajpur BDR Sector headquarters and four battalions under it when at least 3,288 bullets were fired. The culprits were identified with the help of snaps and video footages taken by print and electronic media, BDR sources said, adding that they sought home ministry's permission to file sedition cases against the 250 BDR men. Thirteen of the BDR men, who fled soon after the incident, are yet to return to their jobs, said BDR officials in Dinajpur Sector. Primary investigations by BDR officials and Dinajpur district administration revealed that the deputy assistant directors (DADs) of these battalions had led the BDR discipline-breakers.

As the unruly BDR men fired a number of bullets, panic spread among the villagers in areas around headquarters of BDR Dinajpur Sector and the four battalions under it -- Dinajpur-2, Phulbari-40, Thakurgaon-20, and Joypurhat-3. As tension among the BDR men was quelled, Dinajpur police administration took over temporary charge of the four battalions under Dinajpur Sector on February 28 and sealed off their armours. Counting of the bullets and arms of BDR sector and battalion headquarters, however, confirmed that no arms were missing. Recently BDR officials took charge of Dinajpur Sector and the four battalions under it and checked condition of the armours.

One more case .....
Govt probing 100-day job scheme

The government has started investigation into alleged irregularities of the '100-day employment generation scheme', with four allegations being proved already, initiated by the previous caretaker government, the food minister said Thursday. The ministry has received 102 allegations, of which 53 are under investigation and investigation into eight more allegations have been completed, Abdur Razzaq told reporters at the secretariat after attending a workshop on the scheme. "Four allegations have already proved to be true," he said.

Razzaq said two Union Parisad chairmen and four Union Parisad members in Jessore, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Panchagar were brought under charges in these incidents. "Of them, four have been sent to jail." Investigation is ongoing in other areas, he added. The minister, however, said the participants of Thursday's workshop – DCs, UNOs, project implementation officers, Upazila and Union Parishad chairmen and members — have recommended the government continue with the scheme, as it had worked well for the hardcore poor.

Razzaq also said the remainder of the scheme would be realised in Monga-affected regions. The government will also intensify supervision of the implementation process. The minister said some probe teams, to be formed by food ministry officials, would directly deal with the allegations in the field. He said in the first phase of the 100-day scheme, 60 days last October-November was "marred by irregularities and corruption". Over Tk 1,000 crore was allocated for the first phase.

The pearl of strings strategy includes Cox's Bazar and Chittagong in BD, Sittwe in Burma among other sea ports.
Move to increase investment potential --- Abdullah Al Mahmud

With a view to improving infrastructure and other facilities for increasing investment potential here, an international commercial centre will be developed in the port city. Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) has taken the initiative to develop the centre titled “Chittagong International Exposition Centre (CIEC)” at an approximate cost of Tk 250 crore. Under the guidelines of Chittagong Metropolitan Master Plan 1995 and Detailed Area Plan 2008 to boost tourism as well as draw investment in the port city, CDA has already selected a site of 216 acres of land near Patenga Sea beach for the centre.

The site is to the west of the 150-foot wide Patenga Sea Beach Road near Shah Amanat International Airport. A conceptual sketch has already been prepared for the centre to be constructed with the financial assistance of China, said the sources in CDA. Replying to a memo from the foreign ministry, CDA proposed CIEC along with three other projects on March 16 to be raised in the “9th Annual Bilateral Consultation between Bangladesh and China” likely to be held in June or July, they said. The three projects include a flyover from the airport to the Kalurghat industrial area; a new township along the Karnaphuli River like Pudong Commercial City in Shanghai and providing training facilities to CDA planners, architects and engineers to improve human resources to face urban problem.

CDA emphasised on the proposed projects to achieve the metropolitan development goal as well as establishment of human resources for new “Digital Bangladesh”. The components envisaged to be included in the Chittagong International Exposition Centre are exhibition centre, conference hall, banquet hall, amphitheatre, theatre hall, history museum, national heritage and culture centre, information and media broadcasting centre, commercial and international institution, public library and cruising facilities and tourism activities. “This type of centre is available in Pudong Commercial City in Shanghai ,” said CDA Chairman Shah Muhammad Akhteruddin.

Linked with the outside world in air, land and sea routes Chittagong is considered as the commercial capital of Bangladesh. Chittagong is also blessed with resources and potential tourism. As such planned development projects and more installations of international standard are required to be developed here, he said. “If infrastructure and investment potential are developed, Chittagong can play an important role in bringing about social and economic development in the country,” he added. He also emphasised on developing flyover, new township along the Karnaphuli river and training in urban sector.

Sources in CDA said a flyover was needed to establish a link between the developed northern fringe of the city with the southern fringe along the coast where sea port, airport and other important installations are situated. Justifying the development of new township they said there is an ample space along the river that can be turned into valuable land for commercial, tourism and living like Pudong along the river Huangpu. With the help of China same city concept can be replicated along the river Karnaphuli, they said.

Underlining the need for training in urban sector they said a city cann't develop without trained and expert professionals in the urban sector. In this regard, they said urban professionals like architects, engineers and town planners may be allowed to participate in training programmes in China Planning Institute for acquiring modern knowledge on urban development.

An interesting article with an interesting theory in the end. ... ?nid=80554
BDR Carnage and the geo-political equations

Bangladesh, once a part of Pakistan, has somehow been embroiled in all of these equations. It's not only for that that the country was a part of Pakistan, but also for its geographical edge which can pose the biggest threat to Indian territorial integrity. And all of Indian rivals naturally have found their common interest here. For this reason, the war of independence of Bangladesh was also viewed as the showing of muscles of these rivals while India aligned with Bangladesh's just struggle and China and the United States with Pakistan. The battle of 1971 was not the end of the game but the beginning of a new front of the enduring war of these rivals. Unfortunately, Bangladesh, who struggled solely for its political and economic emancipation, had been mired into that equation. That has done many untoward and horrific damages to the newly independent country including the killings of its founder father and later another president.

After nearly four decades, the equation of that new front still remains with a major reshuffle of alignment. While the United States found its new ally India, the other big power China remains the partner of Pakistan. And the Chinese and Pakistani hostilities with India still continue in many forms. All intelligence games remain alive; calculating Bangladesh with either side can immensely sophisticate the nature of the game.

During the last tenure of BNP-Jamaat government, we were the spectator of gruesome political events. Among them, at least two were directly linked to our national security system. The notorious one was the seizure of the 10 truck-loads of deadly weapons. Many believe that the consignment was meant for the northeast India's rebel group United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), which would have a safe passage through Bangladesh with the help of the then bigwigs of BNP-Jamaat government including some top brasses of the intelligence agencies. Anthony Davis of Jane's Intelligence Review was one of them who reported on July 6, 2005 that the shipment involved ULFA and Isak-Muivah faction of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), another insurgent group of Indian northeastern part. The startling feature Mr Davis mentioned that the purchases were financed by a foreign intelligence service (India alleged it's ISI of Pakistan) seeking to destabilise India's northeast. But, as Anthony Davis pointed, following a tip-off from (probably) Indian intelligence sources, the cache was interrupted and later seized.

Another event was the Bogra arms haul case where more than one lakh bullets and 174 kg powerful RDX explosives were recovered from Kahalu, Bogra in 2003. Regarding the case, the finger was also pointed in the same direction.

The issue of financing and arming Indian rebels benefits whom does not need any further explanation. But the focal issue is that any unfavourable government is not that safe a passage of doing such dealing; the then government also captured one of the top rebels of ULFA Anup Chetia. Therefore, any unfavourable government (to that equation of intelligence game) is not only a threat to Indian north-eastern rebel groups but also can jeopardize a long existing line of intelligence battle. Therefore, that unfavourable government in Bangladesh will become a natural target of many. Furthermore, reviving the 10 truck-loads arms hauling case at present is also an existential threat to the network that worked for more than three decades successfully. The question is - will those stakeholders allow anybody to cause that sort of damage?

The recent BDR mutiny is not a simple game. If that game worked, it was, apparently, the present government who would be the first victim. The incident could lead to the ousting of the present government, causing more bloodshed, igniting more hatred and deepening the existing political divide between the parties. Who would take full benefit of all of these? The players who long played the game? The players who don't want to lose their edges in that battle of intelligentsia where they made Bangladesh a guinea pig and the victim of their bloody game? Probably.

House adopts freedom fighters bill

Parliament unanimously adopted a bill Thursday on listing "genuine freedom fighters" who fought for independence in 1971. On the private members' day, Naogaon-5 MP proposed deleting names of "fake" freedom fighters from the official list. Several other members taking the floor voiced their support saying many people who were never involved in the independence war appeared on the list of freedom fighters.

They demanded amendment to the list and inclusion of genuine freedom fighters, who were not earlier registered. State minister for liberation war affairs AB Tajul Islam admitted the flaw with the list. "The last four-party alliance government published a gazette of 70,000 freedom fighters many of them being fake," he said. Speaker Abdul Hamid asked the state minister if he had objection to tabling the bill. Islam replied in the negative. The bill for drawing up an amended list of freedom fighters was placed before the House that adopted it unanimously.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 21 Mar 2009 18:00

I am veering to the possibility that the US has something to do with this massacre. The way in which the US HC to BD, James Moriarty, has been cuddling up with all and sundry, FBI and Scotland yard have been trying to get themselves incorporated as some sort of a peacemaker between AL and BNP, the way in which HRW has started making its pipsqueak statements about human rights to put pressure on AL to lower the levers a bit all make for one hell of a suspicious drama. Either the US is aware of the paki involvement and is trying to don the peacemaker hat and thus get a better say in the runnings of BD, or the US is cahoots with the gang that indulged in the Pilkhana massacre.

The US has always had an eye on the Indian NE and has actively supported and abetted the Mizos, Nagas, Kukis and the Karens across the Burmese border with arms coming from China. The arms drop to ULFA and NSCN had its origins in China. With the widening of the conflict in Darjeeling, the ageing of Khaplang, Muivah and Isaac-Chwu, and the arrival of team Obama, the US may be trying a plan B to rescue their mission in NE. With China in sync. Either way, this is just the beginnings of a great tragedy and we have uncovered just the tip of the iceberg. As Rudradev pointed out in another thread.

Reconstituted BDR with new name soon: BDR DG

Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) force would be reconstituted under a new name with the honest and capable jawans who were not involved in the last month's Pilkhana carnage, BDR Director General Brig Gen Md Mainul Islam said today. The new BDR DG said this while visiting BDR Mymensingh sector headquarters today (Saturday). After the Pilkhana bloodshed, the BDR chief started to visit different BDR sectors in the country as a part of exchanging opinions with the border guards in a bid to reform the force, ATN Bangla, a private television reports. He was scheduled to pay visit to the BDR Jamalpur sector headquarters and a border checkpoint today.

BDR court martial trial will not violate human rights: Minister

Human rights would not be violated if the people involved in the last month's Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) bloodshed were tried under the provision of court martial, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said today (Saturday). "Only the accused will be brought under the trial and they will also get the opportunity of self-defence. So there is no doubt that the trial cannot be transparent," the law minister told reporters after inauguration of a new coronary care unit at Ibrahim Cardiac Hospital and Research Institute (ICHRI) in the capital. "The trial proceedings will be free and fair. The innocent, under no circumstances, will be brought under trial, he added. Barrister Rafiqul Haque also echoed the law minister and said, the system of the court martial is fairer than the traditional court, private television channel ATN Bangla reports. Under this system, there is a chance to change the court also, he added.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Tilak » 22 Mar 2009 00:41

Mutiny-hit Bangladesh to raise new border force

By Nizam Ahmed
DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh will disband its mutiny-hit paramilitary unit and raise a new force to guard its borders, a top security official said on Saturday.

A mutiny that began on Feb. 25 at the headquarters of the paramilitary force in Dhaka and then spread to a dozen other towns, killed at least 80 people mostly army officers.

The BDR, responsible mainly for guarding Bangladesh's more than 4,000 km (2,500 miles) border with India and Myanmar, is traditionally commanded by officers drawn from the army.

Bangladesh has a history of frequent coup attempts and political intervention by such forces.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby sum » 22 Mar 2009 12:09

What happens to the current crop of BDR men, many of whom are radicalized?

Setting them free onto the road will only lead them to joining the JeI and other Razakars full time. However, including them in the new force will defeat the purpose of disbanding the BDR. Tough choices indeed.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 25 Mar 2009 04:26

Weapons found at Bangladesh Islamic school

DHAKA (AP): Authorities uncovered a cache of weapons and bomb-making materials during a raid on an Islamic school in southern Bangladesh on Tuesday, a police officer said. A special anti-crime unit found about a dozen guns, several thousand bullets, bomb-making materials and booklets on ``jihad'' or holy war at the ``Green Crescent'' Islamic charity school in the coastal district of Bhola, said Mamunur Rashid of the Rapid Action Battalion.

He said a teacher and three employees at the religious school, or madrassah, had been arrested and officials were continuing to search the premises. Mr. Rashid said the school, which also houses orphans, was opened a few months ago in a remote area of the coastal district, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of the capital, Dhaka. No further details were immediately available.

Bangladesh has seen a spate of bomb attacks at political rallies, courts and cultural venues in recent years by Islamic militants who want to establish strict Islamic law in this Muslim-majority nation governed by secular laws. Last week, Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith said authorities would examine the activities and sources of funding of some Islamic charities that were approved by the previous alliance government, which included two Islamic parties.

Militants' 'ammo factory' busted --- London-based Bangladeshi sets up so-called madrasa in remote Bhola village; the den fortified with canal, hanging bridge; arms, ammo materials seized

In a chilling reminder of how the militants are still alive and kicking, the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) yesterday unearthed a mini-ammunition factory inside a madrasa-cum-orphanage in a remote village of Bhola. During the bust, they recovered a huge cache of firearms and ammunition, explosive substances, four pairs of German-made uniforms and booklets on jihad, Moulana Moududi and al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. Besides, the elite crime-busters arrested four suspected militants--Abul Kalam, Abdul Halim, Jasim and Moulana Mohammad Russell. The raid was still on as of filing this report at 1:00am.

Earlier at night, the coastal district's Superintendent of Police Azizur Rahman told The Daily Star that the arrestees did not yet disclose their organisational identity. But the materials seized suggest they are lined to a banned Islamist group like Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Following up leads, a team of Barisal Rab-8 had been keeping a close watch on Green Crescent Madrasa in Ramkeshob village under Borhanuddin for the last one week. Then at around 11:00am yesterday, they stormed the building that stands on a four-acre land. The seizure list includes nine firearms, 2,500 bullets, 3,000 grenade splinters, an explosives blaster, 200 gram gunpowder, bullet-making components and equipment, two walkie-talkies, two bows, two remote control devices, binoculars and a book on how to operate firearms.

Pretty well furnished, the seminary has no signboard. It drew attention of the neighbourhood, but few knew it was a militants' den capable of making improvised explosive devices (IED) and assembling ammunition. Rab officials said they suspect it might have been used for training militants. Lt Commander Mamunur Rashid who led the operation told The Daly Star that the madrasa, launched recently, is circled by a trench-like canal to keep off the locals. In the daytime, the occupants would use a hanging bridge over the canal to get in and out. But they would remove it at night-time so no-one could gain access to the premises.

Referring to the items recovered, Mamun said, "We've found materials needed to assemble bullets. They include percussion caps, cartridge cases and bullet heads. And all these are made in the UK.” About the blasting machine, Mamun said it is a military item that can detonate wired-up explosive devices planted in the distance. It is usually used in training on how to explode bombs. "The recovery also indicates they [the militants] have all equipment necessary to make IEDs," he continued. In primary interrogations, the arrestees told the Rab officials that they were recruited by one Moulana Mohiuddin. They also said Faisal Mostafa, a Bangladeshi expatriate in London, has been financing the madrasa. He is nephew of former BNP minister and ex-lawmaker from Bhola-3 Major (retd) Hafizuddin Ahmed.

Faisal, who has been living abroad for over two decades, often comes to Bangladesh. Now he is on a visit to Chittagong. His father Golam Mostafa, Major (retd) Hafizuddin's cousin, too is settled in London. Contacted, Faisal's father-in-law Shahidul Haque Naquib Chowdhury, who was the founder president of Bhola BNP, said they are shocked to know of the arms haul. As far as he is concerned, he continued, Faisal and a few of his friends have been running an NGO named Green Crescent. Their organisation is headquartered in Doulatkha of Bhola. He said the building has been constructed on a piece of land that he sold to Faisal. He was told it would be used as a vocational training school for orphan children.

The Rab team hauled in 11 students of the madrasa for questioning. But they could not capture Kajal, caretaker of the building, as he has gone to Chittagong with Faisal. The students told the Rab officials that the madrasa is only a month old. Those involved in the operation said they can tell from the interior and exterior and tile floors that a handsome amount of money had been spent on construction of the building.

Note on Golam Mostafa
Mostafa, Golam (1897-1964) poet and writer, was born in the village of Manoharpur in shailkupa thana, jessore (now jhenaidaha), son of Golam Rabbani and grandson of Kazi Golam Sarwar, both folk poets. Golam Mostafa passed BA from Ripon College in 1918 and BT from David Hare Training College in 1922. In the mean time he started teaching at Barakpore Government School in 1920. He retired as headmaster of Faridpur Zila School in 1949. He was the secretary of the East Bengal Government's Language Reform Committee, formed in 1949. He believed in the ideals of Pakistan and, during the language movement in 1952, supported Urdu as the state language of Pakistan. {That is a Razakar-lite}

Though known mostly as a poet, Golam Mostafa was a skilled writer of both prose and poetry. His poetic works include Raktarag (1924), Khoshroj (1929), Kavya-Kahini (1932), Sahara (1936), Hasnahena (1938), Bulbulistan (1949), Tarana-i-Pakistan (1956), Baniadam (1958), Gitisanchalan (1968), etc. He also translated the writings of the Urdu poets Hali and Iqbal: Musaddas-i-Hali (1941), Kalame Iqbal (1957), Shikwa O Jawab-i-Shikwa (1960). In 1958 he translated the holy quran. His prose works include Islam O Jehad (1947), Islam O Communism (1946), Amar Chintadhara (1952), Pakistaner Rastrabhasa etc. His Bishwanabi (1942) is a popular book about the life of Prophet muhammad (Sm) and is often read aloud at milads.

Golam Mostafa's poems are characterised by their simple and artistic expression and lyrical quality. He also wrote some textbooks, which were used in undivided Bengal. Some of his poems are prescribed reading at school. He also composed and sang songs, many of them Islamic and patriotic, inspired by the Pakistan movement. He recorded a number of his songs, including some duets with abbasuddin ahmed. In recognition of his literary and cultural contribution, he was conferred the title 'Kavya-Sudhakar' (1952) by the Jessore Sangha and 'Sitara-i-Imtiaz' (1960) by the Pakistan Government.

Poet Golam Mostafa was born in village Monoharpur in Shailkupa Thana in District of Jhenaidah in 1897. As per his Matric certificate his year of birth is seen 1897; but, poet Golam Mostafa said that at the time of his admission in Shailkopa High School his father had curtailed his age by two years. So his actual year of birth was 1895. Family members of poet were highly educated and thoroughly developed in Islamic tradition. There was regular culture of Arabic, Persian and Bengali language in their family. His grand-father Kazi Golam Sarwar had vast erudition in Arabic and Persian language.

Poet Golam Mostafa believed in one nationality of the Muslims of whole world. He sang the song of that nationality in his whole life. He thought that all the Muslims of the world is one nation irrespective to colour, language and country. He felt proud of it that he was included in that nation. He did not distinguish between east and west, rather he thought the whole world as his own country. His arms were ever extended to embrace all Muslims of the world. {So why did he choose UK of all places to settle down?}

No footage of Darbar Hall meeting found --- Only audiotape, CCTV recording at BDR arms depot found

Investigators of the BDR Headquarters carnage have so far recovered CCTV footage from the arsenals and DG office but not any footage of the meeting held at Darbar Hall on February 25, CID sources say. However, a CID official said they found a piece of audiotape of the Darbar Hall meeting on March 1. Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, president of the committee to coordinate the probe activities being conducted by different ministries, yesterday told The Daily Star: "Only an audiotape of the officers' meeting was found abandoned at the Darbar Hall, while the video footage of looting the arms and ammunition captured by CCTVs was also recovered."

Speaking anonymously, an assistant superintendent of police engaged in the CID investigation said, "The audiotape of the Darbar Hall meeting contains part of the BDR DG's speech as the mutineers had cut power supply halfway. There were nine CCTVs installed at the arsenals and the office of the DG. These nine CCTVs captured events until those were damaged by the mutineers," said a CID analyst, who is examining the audio-video footage.

The CID sources say they first identified one of the BDR men, who took part in the CCTV destruction, as his action was captured. Another CID official said they found the cassette player containing the audiotape abandoned at the Darbar Hall on March 1. The sources say besides the CCTV footage they have also collected all the video footage from BTV and nine private TV channels and identified around 70 mutineers by analysing the footage. An investigator said, "We are identifying the mutineers with the help of the BDR members, who have already been identified."

Meanwhile, CID has engaged around 200 more of its personnel in the investigation considering the massive task and also increased its groups from eight to 12. Besides, CID yesterday arrested 103 more BDR members from the Pilkhana HQ. Of them, 23 were placed on seven-day remand. The investigators have also recorded statements of 33 more BDR members and 18 members of the victims, who were held hostage by the mutineers. Moreover, they recovered some ammunition and evidence from Pilkhana yesterday. A CID official said, "We have yet to gather all the pieces of evidence as we entered the BDR Headquarters on March 1 and by then army, Rab and police collected much evidence. If they share the evidence with us, it would help our investigation," he added.

The Pilkhana carnage is being investigated at a time by the army, CID and a committee formed by the government. Meanwhile, the commerce minister yesterday said the two committees formed by the government and army would submit their reports in one week. He said this while talking to journalists at the end of the postponed meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on commerce ministry.

Dhaka-Delhi inland water transit, trade protocol renewed --- Minister says govt to build deep-sea port

Bangladesh and India renewed the protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade to enhance trade between the two countries through waterways. The two-year protocol was signed yesterday after a two-day negotiation between delegations of the countries. The present protocol was supposed to be over on March 31 and it is under the bilateral trade agreement of the two countries. Though the delegations discussed several issues, no change was made in the renewed protocol. This protocol was signed in 1972 and renewed in every two years. After the formal signing of the renewal agreement, both parties talked to the media and said that no major issues were kept unsettled.

Meanwhile, Shipping Minister Dr Afsarul Amin yesterday said the government is determined to move ahead with the deep-sea port project at Sonadia in southern Chittagong, one of the pre-election pledges of the present government. “It has been mentioned in the election manifesto of Awami League and the government will implement the project (deep seaport) if it does not face any hindrance in its implementation,” he told reporters after holding a meeting with the Indian delegation, reports UNB.

The minister said they would soon sit together to discuss further the issue and a presentation ceremony will take place on April 12. "The trade between Bangladesh and India will enhance following the treaty," said Secretary in-charge of the Shipping Ministry Md Masud Elahi who led the Bangladesh delegation and signed the protocol for Bangladesh. Shri Vijay Chhibber, additional secretary to Indian ministry of Shipping, Roads, Transport and Highways, led a 24-member Indian delegation. He termed the protocol a "win-win situation for both countries" and said Bangladesh can import goods at much cheaper rate from India. Before inking the protocol, the two delegations agreed to continue the discussion of technical committees from April.

Besides the existing river ports, Dhaka and Narayanganj ports will be used under this protocol from next year. The technical committee will discuss several issues, including the navigability of Bangladesh rivers like Padma, Meghna and Teesta where movement of vessels is disrupted due to poor navigability. Under this protocol, Bangladesh receives levy worth Tk 2 crore annually from India for allowing Indian goods cargoes to use Bangladeshi waterways. Entering through Godagari, Rajshahi, the Indian cargoes go to Karimganj in Assam using a shortcut way.

Pakistan! slip of tongue?

Instead of saying the trade protocol was signed between Bangladesh and India, acting Shipping Secretary Md Masud Elahi while delivering speech after signing the protocol said twice that the trade protocol was signed between India and Pakistan. {And he is a shipping secretary of GoBD and he could nt even recognize the name of his country properly? Wow!! If its a slip of the tongue, its something so disastrous for BD.}

In BD, heart attacks are synonymous for RAB-type action. After all, is nt it uncommon to see a 20+ year old jawan who is probably fit and hale, in compared with the rest of the population, suffering a heart attack out of the blue. So the jedi is biting finally, after all.
Another BDR man dies of heart attack

A BDR man of 9 Rifles Battalion in Bagaichhari upazila of Rangamati district died of cardiac arrest yesterday, sources said. Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, 40, son of Taher Uddin of Jaldhaka upazila of Nilphamari district was a Sepoy (No. 43305) of the battalion. Marissha BDR zone and Khagrachhari Adhunik Sadar Hospital sources said Mizanur became senseless at about 11:20am and later rushed to Bagaichhari Upazila Health Complex where the attending doctors declared him dead.

The body was sent to the sadar hospital morgue for autopsy. Major Iqbal of the battalion said "his death was natural" and they will hand over the body to his family after the autopsy. With the death of Sepoy Mizanur, eight BDR men, including pesh imam of central mosque at BDR headquarters, have died since March 9.

Savar ancient site left 'unprotected'

The "Harishchandra Rajar Dhibi" in Savar may appear to the visitors as a dump, garage, poultry farm or any sleazy place, but obviously never a 'protected' archaeological site. The way the Department of Archaeology maintains the site only 32 kilometres off from the capital would definitely take visitors, if there is any, by surprise. They might even wonder what is happening to those sites scattered elsewhere across the country. But it's really no wonder the scenario is the same in almost everywhere in Bangladesh. The government has not yet conducted a nationwide survey to trace or detect how many ancient sites are there in the country.

As many as 391 archaeological sites, many of which have already been encroached, have so far been announced "protected" since the British rule here. "Harishchandra Rajar Dhibi" in Savar is one of those. A metalled road crosses a part of "Harishchandra Rajar Dhibi" on which heavy vehicles including goods-laden trucks ply all day long. A brick-built room stands at one point where a deep tube-well was installed once. Now people use the building for drying cow dung. Animal faeces are in fact dried all over the site. The excavated parts where Buddhists probably practiced traditional art and culture around 1,000 years ago are nearly filled up with people binning garbage every day.

The "Dhibi" also stinks as a poultry farm stands close to it in addition to herds of cattle grazing on the site. In sheer contrast to the scenario in Bangladesh, movement of people is restricted over a certain number in Ellora and Ajanta in neighbouring India to avoid noise pollution and damage to archaeological sites, which have buffer zones for protection. "This is most unfortunate and very dangerous for our national heritage. The scenario is almost same in all the heritage sites across the country," said Asiatic Society of Bangladesh President Prof Sirajul Islam. "We have been neglecting our heritage over the years. We are dealing with our heritage in such a way that it won't survive much long," he added.

Noted historian Prof Abdul Momin Chowdhury suggests that a board of experts from multiple disciplines might be formed to deal with the declining archaeological sites. He said, "The ministry did not care much in this regard and caused severe degeneration to our antiquities. Rejuvenation and upgradation of the archaeology department is a must as it lacks skilled human resources and adequate funds. What is done is done but degeneration of the antiquities shouldn't be allowed anymore," he added. "It's very sad. The government must bring an immediate end to its negligence in dealing with antiquities. If the archaeology department has resources and fund crisis then the problem must be addressed immediately," observed Prof Sharif Uddin Ahmed.

Only a 15-minute rickshaw ride from the "Dhibi" leads to yet another sad tale of Bangladesh archaeology. Rajashan, another protected site measuring five acres and 17 decimals, has entirely been encroached. Despite a court order in 2003 to have the site in possession, the archaeology department lost its possession of the site as an individual named Shajahan, nephew of local ward commissioner Quader, is using it as personal property. The Daily Star tried several days but found no-one at the archaeology department who is entrusted to look after these sites. Instead, everyone said they were not responsible for the job. The officials were found even ignorant about the matters and reluctant to know anything about the sites' present status.

A guard from the department has been employed to look after the sites, but it's simply impossible for him, especially when his bosses turn a blind eye. Contacted, Director General in-charge of archaeology department Abdul Khaleque said: "I can't accept allegations of negligence by the department in conservation, preservation and restoration immediately. It has to be checked and requires debates and discussions in determining whether any wrong was done in carrying out the job." He denied commenting on specific allegations of neglect in Panam in Sonargaon, Shat Gambuz Mosque and Harishchandra Rajar Dhibi until he goes through necessary documents.

The previous DG, Shafiqul Alam, who has recently gone on LPR, said, "In reality the place is not in our possession. We informed the local administration, police and UNO several times but they did not help us. The department does not have enough manpower to keep the place secured. Who will take the responsibility for the loss? These are our priceless property. If the sites are lost the government must be held accountable," said Prof Shah Sufi Mustafizur Rahman of archaeology department, Jahangirnagar University. "An extensive and intensive survey to identify the archaeological sites of Bangladesh is a must; otherwise there will be no records of the sites one day," he added.


Shajahan has built a one-storey building on the site. He earns Tk 700 to Tk 1,200 from each of the 25 rooms in rent. He also owns five groceries there, while his family members long ago sold a part of the site. Moreover, he has also built a luxurious two-storey building on the 'protected' archaeology site. He has 'allowed' some of his followers on the land to encroach the entire site. Recently he 'permitted' a man to set up a rickshaw garage there for a monthly payment of Tk 500.

Speaking defiantly, Shahjahan's wife claimed they have court order and have seen so many journalists and newspaper reports that they don't bother about the media any more. Shahjahan admitted to constructing establishments on the land but denied making further comments. Locals allege Shahjahan regularly bribe some archaeology department officials so that the matter gathers dust. The Department, on the other hand, pins the blame on the local administration including the UNO and the municipality chairman for their failure to evict the encroachers. Shahjahan began grabbing the land by filing a case claiming the land to be his ancestral property.

In response, a Dhaka court in June 2003 directed the archaeology department to acquire the land. Shahjahan appealed to the High Court in July and the court asked the department for necessary papers. The HC also sought papers from the Dhaka court and the papers took four years to be sent to HC. No hearing was held on the appeal as the Department did not take any measures in this regard. Marksman Shah Alam, responsible to revive the case, said, "I do not know the present status of the case. I went to the High Court two months ago and learned no date is declared to hold hearing on the appeal." He mentioned that they have informed the police, UNO office and even joint forces in vain. The Department also filed a general diary with Savar police on June 15, 2005 regarding the matter. "I cannot say anything about it as I don't know much," said Field Officer Abul Bashar, another official involved with the site. Contacted, Regional Director Abdul Khaleque could not recognise the protected Rajashan site and denied to comment saying he was busy with an enquiry.


Savar occupies an important place in the early medieval history of Bangladesh. Harendra Nath Ghosh conducted an excavation here for the first time in 1913 and 1915. The British Raj announced the palace of King Harishchandra a protected archaeological site in 1920, according to a journal published by the archaeology department, Jahangirnagar University in 2004. Antiquities recovered from the site include turquoise blue glazed ware, silver coin, brick, bronze materials, Stupa and Vihara and inscription. A research by JU found 65 archaeological sites in the area. Eight were discovered earlier and the rest by the university teams. The discovery of Stupa and Vihara establishes the place as a Buddhist seat during the early medieval period. The Buddhist sculptures found at several places in the country include Lalmai and Maynamati in Comilla, Paharpur in Naogaon and Mahastangarh in Bogra.

What is surprising is that March 23 is celebrated as "Army Day" in pakistan!! Perhaps the day when the plan was etched to discard the BDeshis from their homeland.
Black night revisits

The black night of March 25 is here again, evoking the painful memories of how thousands of unarmed Bangalees were slaughtered by the Pakistani occupation forces in 1971. On this night, the Pakistani military rulers launched "Operation Search Light", leaving some 7,000 Bangalees killed. Dhaka University, being a bastion of protracted struggle of the repressed of the country, faced severe wrath of the Pakistani army as students, teachers and employees were exterminated in their hundreds.

The occupation army also cracked down on the Bangalee police personnel and EPR members to prevent them from joining the armed struggle for freedom. On March 26, the nation waged an armed struggle against the Pakistani forces following the declaration of independence by father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Pakistani forces arrested Bangabandhu as he, through a wireless message, called upon the people to resist the occupation forces with whatever they had.

Later, Awami League leader MA Hannan and Major Ziaur Rahman (later president of Bangladesh) read out the proclamation of independence on behalf of Bangabandhu, which was broadcast from Kalurghat radio station in Chittagong. The nine-month long Liberation War culminated in emergence of Bangladesh as an independent, sovereign state. Different socio-cultural and educational organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes to observe 25th March.

Ekattorer Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee will bring out a torch procession and place candles at the graveyard of the martyred freedom fighters at Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University. The programme is scheduled to start at 8:00pm at Central Sheheed Minar today. Liberation War Museum will hold a weeklong programme to observe 25th March on its premises. The Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Development Alternative has organised a street painting on Manik Mia Avenue.

Dhaka to further strengthen ties with Asean countries --- Says Dipu Moni

Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni yesterday said Bangladesh would further strengthen its ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries. She said the proposed link road through Myanmar would be helpful in increasing political, economic and cultural relations with the South-East Asian countries. She said this when the heads of the missions of the ASEAN countries paid a courtesy call on the minister at the foreign ministry yesterday.

Ambassador of Myanmar U Phae Thann Oo, Ambassador of Thailand Chalermpol Thanchitt, Ambassador of Philippines Zenaida Tacorda-Rabago, Ambassador of Brunei Haji Abdul Rajzak bin Haji Mohd Hussaini, Singapore Consul General Tan Kok Nam, Indonesian Charge d' Affaires Tri Surya and acting High Commissioner of Malaysia Hamizan bin Hashim were present. Mohammad Enayet Hossain, director general of the South Asia Cell of the foreign ministry, was also present.

The foreign minister said, “Our relation with the South-East Asian countries dates long back. Common culture and values and similar aspirations of the peoples have strengthened the relation further. We are determined to take the relation to a new level.” The relation between Saarc and Asean is getting stronger day by day. Both alliances have immense potential. If Saarc and Asean work together utilising this potential it would be helpful for improving the quality of the lives of 180 crore people of the region, she added.

The foreign minister also mentioned of the Mekong-Ganges Cooperation Initiative. “As a down riparian country of the Ganges, Bangladesh has the right to participate in this initiative. We will also have to work together to survive the prevailing world economic crisis,” she said. She added that Bangladesh has been playing a significant role in different international forums, including for promoting peace. The envoys of the Asean countries invited the foreign minister to visit their respective countries.

BDR-BSF confce cut short by 3 days

The six-day director general (DG) level conference between the border guards of Bangladesh and India, which was scheduled to start in New Delhi on March 27, has been cut short by three days due to the last month's carnage at BDR headquarters. Home ministry sources said that the conference would no longer be a formal one to resolve outstanding issues and border related crises as both sides agreed to go ahead with the talks, making it a courtesy conference.

“There will be no agenda of the conference,” said a home ministry document, which added that a six-member delegation led by the newly appointed DG of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Brig Gen Md Mainul Islam would leave Dhaka on March 30 to attend the courtesy conference. The sources said the February 25-26 mutiny and killings at Pilkhana also changed the officers of the Bangladeshi team.

“Usually a large team attends such a major conference but the number has been reduced this time around,” a home ministry official told The Daily Star yesterday. He said the Indian side proposed to reduce the conference taking into consideration the mutiny that left 74 people, including 56 army officers, killed.

Violence At RU, RMC --- Rajshahi Shibir files 3 more cases against 248 BCL men

Islami Chhatra Shibir men filed three more cases in connection with their bloody clashes with the activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) at Rajshahi University on March 13 and Rajshahi Medical College on March 10. After filing of the cases accusing a total of 248 BCL men with Rajshahi Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court on Monday, the court asked the police station concerned to take necessary steps.

RU Sher-e-Bangla Hall Shibir leader Saifudin Yahia filed a case against over 160 BCL men including BCL RU unit President Ibrahim Hossain Moon, Cultural Affairs Secretary Awal Kabir Joy, BCL activists Shanto and Roni for March 13 clashes, sources said. RU Shah Makhdum Hall Shibir leader Tarek Monwar Hossain filed another case against five local Awami League leaders and activists including Towhidul Islam Kalu for the same clashes. Meanwhile, Zahedul Islam, a Shibir activist of RMC unit, filed a case against over 83 BCL RMC unit leaders and activists for March 10 clash. Shibir activist Zahedul mentioned that a group of BCL cadres led by BCL RMC unit President Asok Kumar attacked Shibir leader Mehedi Hassan at Shaheed Shah Mainul Ahsan Pinku Hostel and stabbed him.

Advocate Abu Muhammad Salim on Monday filed the three cases on behalf of Shibir. March 13 clashes between BCL and ICS men on RU campus left ICS general secretary Sharifuzzaman Nomani killed and at least 100 people injured and it led to indefinite closure of eight higher educational institutions in the city, including RU. Some 25 students were injured in BCL-Shibir clash on RMC campus on March 10. Earlier as many as 304 people were made accused in cases filed by the two rival groups against each other but no one was arrested as of yesterday, police said.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 25 Mar 2009 04:38

'UK NGO' runs Bhola madrasa

A Bhola madrasa, where the Rapid Action Battalion seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition, bomb-making materials and equipment on Tuesday, was found to have links to a London-based NGO, said officials. The elite anti-crime force detained four suspected militants including two employees of Green Crescent Madrasa and Orphanage at Ram Keshobpur in Sachra union, Borhanuddin, some 20 kilometres from Bhola district headquarters.

Major K M Mamun, leader of the Barisal-8 RAB team that raided the madrasa complex for three hours from noon, said London-based 'NGO' Green Crescent constructed the madrasa and orphanage on the 12 acre site four years ago. These started operations three months ago. A man known as 'Faisal' who lives in London but is now in Bangladesh, funds the institutions and oversees the operations, said Mamun. The RAB officer said they were trying to locate and arrest him.

The recovery includes two pistols, two revolvers, four shotguns, eight magazines, two binoculars, two remote-control devices, 700 pistol and 200 shotgun bullets, 3000 splinters, six life jackets, 20 masks, two walkie-talkies and as many mobile phones. A number of Jihadi books were also recovered. The detainees include madrasa trainer 'Russel', 30, caretaker 'Hamid', 30, Abul Kalam, 32, and 'Jasim', 35. All of them have been sent to Barisal RAB camp for interrogation, Major Mamun added. He said the suspected militants were preparing for a major operation.

There were 11 children, aged between 5 and 6 years, present during the raid at the madrasa, which was heavily secured. A modern bridge that links a big pond to the madrasa remains closed at night. Locals had no idea what was happening inside, he said. Barisal RAB-8 chief Lt Col Monirul Haq and Bhola police chief GM Azizur Rahman visited the scene. Rahman told Tuesday night that Faisal was also overseeing Green Crescent operations at Daulat Khan Upazila. He said they hoped to know everything about the operations in a couple of days. The police chief said the Bhola district has been put on alert after the seizure.

Govt already looking for 'NGOs' with militant links

Finance minister AMA Muhith said on Mar 18 the government would examine NGO financing and activities and take strict measures against those found to be channelling funds to militants in Bangladesh. He said funding of militants came through many sources, through individuals and organisations. The minister mentioned "the large number of NGOs" approved during the past four-party alliance government by the then social welfare minister Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojaheed. The government would audit the accounts and activities of those NGOs meticulously, he added.

India goods to reach Dhaka by water in 2010

Dhaka, March 24 (—Businessmen will be able to transport consumer goods from India by water all the way to Dhaka and Narayanganj by middle of June next year, officials said Tuesday. Ending a two-day negotiation, Bangladesh and India renewed the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, first signed in 1972, for two more years. Officials of the two countries said cargo unloading facilities in Dhaka and Narayanganj would help Bangladeshi consumers to get commodities at much cheaper prices. At present, a small portion of cargo, mainly cement raw materials and crude oil, comes from India by waterways using Khulna and Sirajganj jetties.

Delegation heads of both the countries termed the existing volume of inland trade "very small". But acting shipping secretary Masud Elahi was enthusiastic about the new cargo facilities. "This gives us an opportunity to enhance the existing inland water trade with India," Elahi told reporters, after the protocol signing at the Sonargaon Hotel. Head of the Indian delegation, additional secretary Vijay Chhibber said: "We have been advised by the Bangladesh delegation that a container freight station at Narayanganj is close to finalisation … and it should be ready by June or July. Similarly we are very happy to be informed by the Bangladesh authorities that in Dhaka itself the container freight facilities will be ready by middle of next year."

Chhibber said the two developments would be "extremely beneficial" for the growth of inland water trade between Bangladesh and India. "Obviously we are very happy to participate in this process. And not only would this benefit further flow of trade, but the biggest beneficiary would be the Bangladesh consumers. So, it is a win-win situation," said Chhibber. The Indian delegation chief said more ports of call could be used to enhance the level of inland water trade. "How do we take it to higher levels; obviously is to include more ports of call," said Chhibber.

He said a joint-technical committee was formed after a previous similar meeting in Delhi in 2007. "The technical committee must look at the feasibility of using these ports of call. Certain infrastructure is required, certain depth of movement of vessels is required," said Chhibber. "And what has been agreed … jointly a consensus must emerge to which are the ports of call that can be added to the protocol," he said. India has been demanding that Ashuganj should be included as port of call to boost inland water trade with Bangladesh.

Samiur Rahman Chowdhury, managing director of Atlas Shipping Lines Limited, told that around 100 Bangladeshi cargo ships a month go to India for import of cement raw materials, fruits and crude oil. "But the number of Indian ships coming to Bangladesh is coming down day by day. On an average, two to three Indian cargo vessels come to Bangladesh a month," said Chowdhury. Bangladesh and India signed the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade in 1972 in the light of an Indira-Mujib agreement the same year. According to the agreement, Bangladesh and India can use each other's roads, water and railways. But the shared use of road and railway has yet to be fully implemented.

Govt fears attacks on RMG sector

The government fears militant attacks on the readymade garment factories, the state minister for home said Tuesday. "Some militant outfits have been on the prowl to carry out sabotage in and around Dhaka City," Tanjim Ahmed Sohel said after a meeting with the newly elected BGMEA office bearers at his office. We've alerted the law-enforcement agencies to the threat. Whoever should try to mess with the RMG sector must be ruthlessly dealt with. Each and every offender will be searched out and punished."

He, however, said the government didn't have specific information about any impending militant attacks. "(But) the turns and twists of recent events have compelled us to be apprehensive of such ominous forebodings. The recent phenomena made us consider the chances of workers being instigated or militant attacks in the RMG units."

The new BGMEA leaders headed by president Abdus Salam Murshedi duting the meeting with the home minister and the junior minister discussed the government's steps in handling the global recession, security of commodities in transit, raising an industrial police force and curbing terrorist acts. Asked if the BGMEA had any information on any impending militant attacks, Murshedi circumvented the issue. "We've discussed different problems faced by the RMG sector, the mainstay of Bangladesh's economy."

3 NSI directors moved

Three NSI directors, on deputation from the army, were ordered back to their military jobs and a two-star general attached to the foreign ministry Tuesday. The establishment ministry said Maj Gen Anup Kumar Chakma would be appointed as ambassador. Of the three directors of the National Security Intelligence (NSI), Brig Gen Enamur Rahman will be registrar of the army-run Bangladesh University of Professionals, Brig Gen Golam Mostafa and Brig Gen Tafaddek Hossain will return to the amry.

In another change, National Identity Registration Authority (NIRA) member Brig Gen Moazzem Hossain was made project director of Construction of Upazila and Regional Server Stations for Electoral Database (CSSED). Navy's Captain Saiful Kabir, serving as the managing director of Khulna Shipyard under the defence ministry, would return to the navy. ACC director Major Mohammad Maksudur Rahman will return to the Army. Major Asad Un Nabi, an army infantry officer, will replace him.

BDR chief to lead border force renewal

BDR chief, Brig Gen Moinul Islam, will lead the efforts to reform and reorganise Bangladesh's border force. A three-hour meeting, chaired by commerce minister Faruq Khan, coordinator of post-mutiny affairs, decided on Monday that a new frontier force would be formed with a new name. "A seven-member committee headed by the BDR chief will be constituted to implement the decision," Faruq Khan told a news conference.

The minister said: "There were over 7,000 BDR men at Peelkhana on the day of the massacre. Of them, 1,800 members did not report back after the mutiny. Many fled with weapons and ammunition. Some 714 suspects have been identified and 482 were arrested. Eighty are being interrogated in remand." He said that audio tapes of the Darbar Hall incident and video footage, caught on CCTV, of the looting of weapons and stores were available.

The minister refused to speculate on the number of weapons looted. "There are 24 armouries in the headquarters, with huge quantities of arms and ammunition. We do not have the required manpower at the moment to determine exactly how many are missing. "It will take time." Asked on his assertions about "militant connections" to the mutiny, he said he got the information from his own sources. He said he had talked with a number of people inside the headquarters and that he had not got it from any of the investigators.

From now on, he said, the BDR relatives will be allowed to meet only "if they can prove it's an emergency". On the students' appeal to allow them to take their educational materials or papers from their homes inside the BDR compound, Faruq said they would have to approach at the Gate no. 4 with proof to get those. In the last few days, the minister said, three BDR members and an Imam of the BDR mosque died inside the Peelkhana that a rights organisation alleged "deaths in custody". Of the four deaths in Dhaka headquarters, Faruq claimed one BDR member committed suicide and two other members died of "physical illness" and the Imam died of cardiac arrest.

Outside Dhaka, he said, one member committed suicide in Joypurhat and two more died of "physical illness". The minister added: "The frontiers are well protected since officers and jawans in border areas returned to their battalions and sector headquarters." BDR director general Brig Gen Moinul Islam, investigators including heads of probe committees and other officials were present at Monday's meeting.

Wow, BD migrants spreading the ummah-ness even in Malaysia, that should be new given that most of the migrants are poor and have no time for such BS.
'Too much talk of militancy harming our image'

Excessive references to militancy could tarnish Bangladesh's image in the international community, having a direct negative impact on the economy, the FBCCI chief said on Monday. "We all should be aware that if there is too much talk of militancy, others might take it to be true," Annisul Huq said in a pre-budget discussion at the trade body's offices in Motijheel. He attributed the references to 'militant activity' in the country for refusal of foreign visas to two FBCCI directors.

"There are also rumours in the air that the Malaysian government cancelled the work permits of 55,000 Bangladeshi workers due to militant activities here," Huq said. "I don't believe this personally, but if it is true, it's really a sad instance for us," said Huq.

Basundhara probe fails to find cause of fire

The probe into the devastating blaze at Basundhara City failed to find the initial cause of the fire that claimed seven lives and gutted the top six floors of the 20-story commercial complex on Mar 13. "The probe committee could not find the reason of the fire as we lack equipment to investigate such incidents," state minister for home Tanjim Ahmed said Monday. The committee submitted a report to the home minister Monday, recommending another committee try to find the reasons, he said.

"The committee tried to reveal facts behind the fire – whether it was accident or sabotage. But the specialists said no fire could spark at the building from electric short-circuit." Asked if the Bashundhara authorities themselves set the fire, the state minister said nothing was possible to say without investigation. He said the probe, led by joint home secretary Iqbal Khan, found that the fire service was called more than an hour after the fire broke out on the 18th floor.

The report also said security guards were "withdrawn" before the fire broke out. Questions have surfaced as to why the Bashundhara authorities did not cooperate with the probe committee, provide footages of CCTV cameras and use modern fire extinguishing machines, the state minister said quoting the report. The committee has put a further 19-point charter of recommendations to prevent a repeat of fire at high-rises. These include taking approval of fire service and following building code before any high-rise building is allowed; keeping internal fire extinguishing measures ready; ensuring water supply; widening narrow roads in old part of Dhaka and holding regular fire drills.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby BajKhedawal » 25 Mar 2009 08:04


I came across these pictures probably a few months ago, as you suggest not only the US has vested interests in BD but it seems they have actual boots on the ground. (Side note: only if they were in paki uniform they would elicit some very interesting comments on the BENIS thread)

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Gerard » 25 Mar 2009 15:30

Another BDR man dies of heart attack
Major Iqbal of the battalion said "his death was natural" and they will hand over the body to his family after the autopsy.

With the death of Sepoy Mizanur, eight BDR men, including pesh imam of central mosque at BDR headquarters, have died since March 9.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 26 Mar 2009 13:02

London NGO about to open 2 more dens --- Militants in Bhola found more equipped, trained than JMB, says investigators

The London-based NGO Green Crescent, which runs the madrasa-cum-orphanage in Bhola that turned out to be a mini-ordnance factory Tuesday, had plans to set up two more training centres for militants in Doulatkhan and Lalmohan upazilas of the district. Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) officials said the four militant suspects arrested at the madrasa revealed that the NGO has already purchased 10-12 acres of land in remote areas of the upazilas. But the arrestees could not clearly locate the areas.

At a briefing in Barisal yesterday the Rab said the militant den has more developed mechanism for operating terrorism and sabotage activities than Islamist outfits like Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). The madrasa in remote Ram Keshab village of Borhanuddin upazila may even have connection with international terrorist organisations. Major Qutubur Rahman Sarkar of Rab-8 in Barisal said, "The militants are more upgraded, modernised and well-organised than traditional Islamist militant groups like the JMB, reports our correspondent in Barisal.

The law enforcement agency yesterday recovered a speedboat and two bottles of acid from the madrasa. It also raided a Doulatkhan clinic financed by Green Crescent, a UK charity bearing registration no 1099233 and located at 62 Green Pastures, Stockport as per its website. The Rab however found none at the clinic. The Rab has meanwhile started a massive hunt to catch main suspects madrasa founder Faisal Mostafiz, 40, son of Mustafizur Rahman alias Golam Mustafa of Char Umed village in Lalmohan upazila, and Faisal's cousin and caretaker of the madrasa Mohammad Badol Miah. The arrested suspects said the two had gone on a visit to Chittagong. Talking to The Daily Star, Rab Lt Commander Mamun-ar-Rashid, who led the operation, said they would arrest the two main culprits, which would ultimately lead to revelation of many things.

On Tuesday, the Rab unearthed the mini-ammunition factory inside the madrasa-cum-orphanage and seized 10 firearms, 2,500 bullets, 3,000 grenade ball splinters, 200 gram gun powder, different parts of ammunition and 72 books on Islamic jihad, Abu Al Moududi and Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, the home ministry yesterday asked all district administration and law enforcement agencies to remain alert and beef up security and vigilance to avert any untoward incident following unearthing of the ammo factory. "We have been asked by the home ministry to remain alert and increase security," Deputy Commissioner of Bhola Md Mesbahul Islam told The Daily Star yesterday.

Busting the den, the Rab arrested Maulana Mohammad Russell, Jasim, Abul Kalam and Abdul Halim. During interrogation they told the Rab that a local committee comprised of Badal Sikder, Humayun, Alam, Shipon and Ripon supervised the activities of Green Crescent with the help of Maulana Mohiuddin, superintendent of Borhanuddin Darul Ulum Qawmi Madrasa and leader of the Qawmi Madrasa Association, the Rab claimed. They filed two criminal charges with Borhanuddin police against the four militant suspects. "We suspect that militants used to take trainings at the madrasa at night and perhaps they used the identity of students as a cover," said a Rab official. "We have got some sensational information which we cannot disclose now for the sake of investigation."

Locals said unknown people including women often visit the madrasa by microbus and private cars in the dead of night. "We have heard sounds of vehicles going to the madrasa around midnight every now and again," said Montu Mian, 65, who lives very close to the boundary wall of the madrasa. He, however, cannot say who the visitors are. When Faisal Mostafiz, known to the locals as a Bangladeshi expatriate in London, bought land from his father-in-law in 2005, he told the locals that a social welfare organisation will be constructed there, Montu said. But when construction began in 2007, mysteriously no locals, not even labourers from any nearby area, were employed for construction work, he said. Later also, when the madrasa opened no local students got admission, he added. Locals said when the madrasa started they saw more than 50 students of different ages--both male and female--with turbans on their heads and their bodies covered with veils frequently visiting the madrasa at night and leaving early in the morning.


Arrested Maulana Mohammad Russell used to learn the holy Quran at a mosque beside his home in Joya village of Borhanuddin upazila, some 10km from the Green Crescent madrasa. During a visit to his house, family members told The Daily Star that a person named Zahur Maulana took Russell to Kushtia several years ago. After returning from Kushtia, Russell, eldest son among the five children of farmer Abu Bashar, was admitted to Darul Ulum Keratia and Qawmi Madrasa in Borhanuddin and studied there for a year before getting a job at the Green Crescent Madrasa through his madrasa chief Mufti Mohiuddin. "I got him the job," said Mohiuddin. "One day I visited Russell and saw huge political books there. I asked him to leave the organisation. But as he did not respond, I expelled him from my madrasa," claimed Mufti Mohiuddin, whom locals consider as a mysterious person.

There are several hundred unregistered Qawmi madrasas and NGOs in Bhola, according to district administration sources. The district administration and law enforcement agencies yesterday held a meeting and decided to form a committee with police, the UNO, social welfare officer and ansar personnel to locate all madrasas in Bhola.


Created in 1998, the charity NGO mainly operates in Bangladesh but has also started working in Pakistan, according to its website. In Bangladesh, Green Crescent got registered with Bhola Socialfare Office on April 13, 1999 with registration no 59/99 as an orphanage and free medical centre. During the registration, a three-member managing committee was placed with Shafiur Rahman as its president, Faisal Mostafiz as vice-president and Saifuddin Badal as secretary. Its registration expired on November 15, 2005 and it has not been renewed. The organisation has a bank account at the Doulatkhan branch of Uttara Bank.

Abuse of religion: old tricks at play -- 38th independence day today ... ?pid=81400
This picture published in the daily Sangram in 1971 shows members of the fourth Razakar Force taking oath over the holy Quran after completing training under Rajshahi Peace Committee in 1971.

Religion was the major weapon of the anti-liberation elements including Jamaat-e-Islami in their attempts to foil the birth of Bangladesh and in helping the Pakistani invaders, who launched genocide triggering the nation's armed struggle for independence on March 26, 1971. "Jamaat-e-Islami cherishes Pakistan and Islam as an inseparable entity," commented former Jamaat ameer Golam Azam in 1971. He was also the chief of the East Pakistan unit of Jamaat during the Liberation War. Jamaat's mouthpiece the daily Sangram covered a speech by Golam Azam in 1971. "Pakistan is the house of Islam for the world Muslims. Therefore, Jamaat activists don't justify being alive had Pakistan disintegrated," Golam Azam was quoted by Sangram as addressing a reception of Jamaat ministers at defunct Hotel Empire in Dhaka.

Jamaat incumbent Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami, who was the chief of Islami Chaatra Sangha, student wing of Jamaat in 1971, said in an article, "Sacred land Pakistan is the home of Allah for establishing His rules." Nizami, who has succeeded Golam Azam, had also labelled the freedom fighters as "khodadrohi" [rebels against Allah]. He said in that article, "The cowards [freedom fighters] who are against Allah have attacked this holy land [Pakistan]. Will the holy occasion of Shab-e-Qadr be able to evoke our courage to establish true peace and welfare through resisting all the attacks launched against Pakistan and Islam?" he asked.

Historical documents and news reports published during and after the Liberation War show that Nizami was the commander-in-chief of Al-Badr. The Sangram quoted him on September 15, 1971 as saying: "Everyone of us should assume the role of a Muslim soldier of an Islamic state and through cooperation to the oppressed and by winning their confidence we must kill those; who are hatching conspiracy against Pakistan and Islam." These are the few examples of the anti-liberation political elements, which stood against independence of Bangladesh with the Pakistani occupation forces when the freedom fighters were sacrificing their lives to liberate motherland.

Several political elements of Bangladesh had not only campaigned against liberation but also actively helped Pakistani forces commit genocide. Although some of these elements gradually disappeared from the political scene, some others like Jamaat became more and more powerful. Jamaat leaders had also formed some paramilitary wings like Razakar and Al-Badr during the Liberation War. These wings worked as the auxiliary forces of the Pakistani military and also killed many pro-liberation people across the country. Records show that Jamaat formed Razakar and Al-Badr to counter the freedom fighters. Razakar force was established by former Jamaat secretary general Moulana Abul Kalam Mohammad Yousuf, while Al-Badr comprised the Islami Chhatra Sangha activists.

During the nine-month bloody Liberation War, Pakistani forces and their Bangladeshi collaborators committed genocide and war crimes that left three million people killed and around quarter million women violated besides the planned elimination of the best Bangali brains on December 14, 1971. Anticipating sure defeat, the Pakistani forces and their collaborators -- Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams [mostly leaders of Jamaat and its student front] -- picked up leading Bangali intellectuals and professionals on December 14 and killed them en masse in an attempt to intellectually cripple the nation. Demand for the trial of war criminals is one of the oldest issues of the country linked to the birth of Bangladesh.

Despite their defeat on December 16, 1971 with the Pakistani army, remnants of the collaborators have apparently never left their fight in the last 38 years. Even the nation witnessed it in the same manner in the national elections in December last year. While the victorious Awami League had campaigned for secular Bangladesh, their main political rivals campaigned with the slogan "save Islam" through ballots. Establishing Bangladesh as a secular state was one of the major essence of the liberation struggle and to liberate the country from the Islamic republic of Pakistan.

This historical split has not ended even after 38 years of independence as the political elements against liberation have not been tried for their war crimes. The trial of war criminals is still a big challenge for the newly elected AL government, which led the War of Independence, even after having huge mandate for its major electoral pledges including trying the war criminals. The demand for trial of war criminals has always been ignored due to several reasons including pressures from home and abroad to save the killers.

When the nation became hopeful about fulfilment of that demand, it has apparently been sidelined following the carnage at Pilkhana BDR headquarters in the name of a mutiny on February 25-26 that left 74 people including 57 army officers killed. The brutality of the killings has again reminded the nation of many atrocities by the Pakistani occupation forces in 1971. The investigators of the carnage suspect the aim of such a heinous act was, among others, to foil the government's firm move to try the war criminals.

Arms, ammo still all around Pilkhana --- 6 BDR men offer confessional statements

Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) headquarters at Pilkhana is still an unsafe zone as grenades and other explosives remained scattered here and there even after a month of the mutiny by border guards. "Arms, ammunition and other explosives, including grenades, are still being recovered everyday as BDR members hid those at various places, even in socks and dresses," BDR Director General (DG) Brig Gen Md Mainul Islam told reporters yesterday.

Addressing a press briefing at the conference hall of BDR headquarters, the DG said it is quite impossible to say exactly how many explosives and ammunition were used during the mutiny and how many arms and explosives taken away by the mutineers. At the end of the counting, it would be possible to assess how many arms went missing, he said. Meanwhile, six BDR mutiny suspects yesterday gave confessional statements before the court about their involvement in the carnage for the first time after the incident. They are Subedar Haji Shafijuddin, Habilder Billal Hossain, Nayek Matiur Rahman, Lance Nayek Gausul Azam, Subedar Gofran Mallik and carpenter Nayan Kumer.

Court sources said metropolitan magistrates AEM Ismail Hossain and Moazzem Hossain recorded their confessional statements under the section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. CID senior assistant superintendent of police (ASP) Abdul Kahar Akond, who is leading the 250-member team engaged in the investigation, told The Daily Star that all the six persons confessed their involvement in the mutiny and disclosed information what they know. He, however, declined to elaborate their confessions. But another CID official who is also a team member said the six persons narrated the carnage incident and disclosed many names of the mutineers.

Talking to reporters at the press briefing, BDR Director General (DG) Brig Gen Md Mainul Islam, however, could not confirm how many more days would take to complete the assessment procedure though one month has elapsed after the mutiny. "Everyday we are recovering arms and explosives from different places. This is why it is still not a safe place", he said. The DG said, "We first kept the BDR members under tent in the field for their safety. But now they are staying at better places."

Brig Gen Mainul said although mutineers did not take away all explosives and grenades, they broke all the boxes containing ammunition and explosives, including grenades. Regarding the scheduled DG level meeting between Bangladesh and India in New Delhi on March 30, he said formalities and agendas of the meeting have been curtailed due to the mutiny and only a courtesy meeting will be held. A small BDR team will join the meeting to convey thanks to the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) for playing a very responsible role during the mutiny, the DG said.

Talking about the replacement of BDR officials, Brig Gen Mainul said most of the officials have already joined their designated places amid lack of confidence and are carrying out their duties. "I am not saying that the BDR officers are able to carry out their duties fully. But the flag meetings are being held and smugglers are being resisted," he said. Replying to a question, the DG said, "It is not the time to comment whether the existing BDR members would be included in the new organisation of border guards. Opinions are now being collected from various quarters to take decision in this regard."

"BDR members themselves have to regain their confidence through their own activities, including by confessing their involvement in the crime and disclosing information about others who were involved in the massacre," the DG said. "It is true that many BDR members helped in saving the lives of some army officials and their family members. After the enquiry, authorities will reward those who will be proved innocent and anti-mutineers," he said.

Flux even within the BAL to figure the direction to take on war crimes trial
Trial Of War Criminals --- Inter-ministerial meet ends inconclusively

An inter-ministerial meeting on trial of war criminals was held yesterday nearly two months after the House adopted a unanimous resolution for immediate trial of war criminals. The meeting ended inconclusively but it discussed the formation of tribunal to try war criminals, appointment of prosecutor and investigation agency to probe into war crimes committed in 1971. Home Minister Sahara Khatun chaired the meeting while State Minister for Home Tanjim Ahmed Sohel Taj attended it at the home ministry. State Minister for Liberation War ABM Tajul Islam and law secretary were supposed to attend the meeting but they did not turn up, meeting sources said.

“The meeting also discussed which ministry to lead the entire process but no decision was made,” a home ministry official present at the meeting told The Daily Star. Additional Attorney General Enayetur Rahim emerging from the meeting said decisions on the issue would be made immediately saying that another meeting would be called soon. The resolution passed in the House on January 29 reads: “Measures would be taken immediately to try war criminals.”

Taking part in the discussion on the motion, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the House that her government was gathering experts' opinions on the issue from across the globe. The foreign ministry is working on the matter. There was, however, no representation from the foreign ministry at the inter-ministerial meeting. After the meeting, Sohel Taj said they had taken the issue very seriously since the issue is one of the major poll pledges.

“We held the meeting for the first time as we want to start the trial as soon as possible,” he told reporters, adding that they were looking for the ways to ensure speedy trial of war criminals. "The government has decided to hold the trial under the International Crime (Tribunal) Act of 1973," Law Minister Shafique Ahmed, who was not present at the meeting, later told reporters at the secretariat in the afternoon. He said the tribunal would have two to four members as per the act for quick disposal of cases. He, however, did not say the number of tribunals to be formed but claimed the process to bring the accused under trial had already begun. He said the process was delayed due to the BDR mutiny. {So expect more fireworks in BD if that could delay this process further, and at some point BAL is going to give up, just like in the past. The direction for pakis and the razakars is clear.}

Home Minister Sahara Khatun, secretaries of the home ministry and liberation war ministry, additional attorney general, inspector general of police (IGP), joint secretary (political) of home ministry, director of national security intelligence (NSI) were, among others, present at the meeting.

Case For '71 Killing --- Complainant faces threat by accused

Abdullah Goldar, complainant of a case for killing his father against nine 'rajakars', is feeling insecure following threat by prime accused Rafiqul Morol alias Abu Taleb Morol and his younger brother Belayet Morol. “The accused have threatened me to withdraw the case or face dire consequences. I am staying outside my village home fearing attempt on my life,” Abdullah Goldar told this correspondent yesterday. On March 11, Abdullah Goldar filed a case with the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Md Abu Ibrahim accusing nine rajakars of killing his freedom fighter father Moslem Goldar on December 11 during the Liberation War in 1971.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate passed an order on March 22 asking OC of Batiaghata Police Station to record a regular case and take necessary action against the accused. Batiaghata Police Station OC Abdus Salek yesterday said he is yet to receive the court order to record the case and go into action accordingly. The nine people sued for killing freedom fighter Moslem Goldar on the premises of Phulbaria rajakar camp in Batiaghata upazila of Khulna district are Rafiqul Morol alias Abu Taleb Morol, Belayet Morol of Baliadanga village, Mostafa Molla, Mohor Sheikh, Ashraf Ali, Gaffar Goldar and Abdul Hakim of Phulbari village under the same upazila, Rajab Ali Sarder and Karbala Sarder of Rampal upazila of Bagerhat district.

The prime accused Rafiqul Morol alias Abu Taleb Morol, who renamed himself as ATM Rafique after liberation, was arrested by Rapid Action Battalion-6 while receiving Tk 20,000 as bribe from a deputy ranger of Sundarbans Forest Division last year.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Philip » 26 Mar 2009 19:19

Brit orphanage in BD is "Islamist taining camp"! ... 972749.ece
British-run orphanage in Bangladesh 'is Islamist training camp'
The orphanage has been described as a madrassa, or Islamic seminary. Green Crescent has plans to build two more

Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent, Russell Jenkins and Michael Evans

A raid on an orphanage in Bangladesh has uncovered a suspected Islamic militant training camp with links to a British charity run by a man acquitted of being part of an al-Qaeda bomb plot.

The home of Faisal Mostafa in the Heaton Mersey district of Stockport, Greater Manchester, is the headquarters of the Green Crescent charity, whose orphanage on the island of Bhola in Bangladesh is under investigation for allegedly being a front for a militant training camp and arms factory.

Lieutenant-Colonel Munir Haque, a senior officer of the elite Rapid Action Battalion, who oversaw the raid on Tuesday, told The Times: “We found small arms — about nine or ten in total — plus equipment to make small arms, about 3,000 rounds of ammunition, two walkie-talkies, two remote-control devices and four sets of army uniforms.

“We also found enough explosives and other equipment to make several hundred grenades. We found some ordinary Islamic books, but others that are in line with extremists like [Osama] bin Laden.”

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The battalion arrested four people — a teacher and three caretakers — and began an investigation into the Green Crescent charity.

Colonel Haque said that there were green banners around the compound bearing the name Green Crescent, and local people had told them that it was a British charity financed by a man they knew as “Faisal”, who they said had lived in Britain for 25 years.

Mamunur Rashid, another officer involved in the raid, described the orphanage as a madrassa, or Islamic seminary, and said that the charity had plans to build two more. “It is a big madrassa and we have so far gathered that this whole compound is being used for militant training,” he said.

The charity’s website,, shows that it is involved in projects in Bhola, as well as several others around Bangladesh and at least one in Pakistan. The site says that the charity — registered in Britain under number 1099233 — was founded in 1998 by students in Britain and Bangladesh.

The family of Dr Mostafa, 45, who has a chemistry degree and a PhD in metals corrosion, said yesterday that he had set up the orphanage because of a humanitarian desire to help poor children. Colonel Haque said that there were about 11 children between the ages of 7 and 8 at the compound at the time of the raid.

Ashraf Ali, a British Bangladeshi teacher from Stockport, whose telephone number is listed on the charity website, told The Times that he did not work for Green Crescent, but had helped to organise fundraising events.

“Faisal’s a respected guy,” he said. “They’re doing amazing work. He travels to Bangladesh once a year on average, sometimes taking teams of doctors with him.”

Dr Mostafa was acquitted in February 2002 of plotting with Moinul Abedin, also Bangladeshi-born, to cause explosions. Both were arrested in Birmingham. Abedin was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

They had been under surveillance by MI5 officers in an operation codenamed Large. Abedin was given the personal codename “Pivotal Dancer”.

MI5 regarded the Birmingham case as the first evidence of al-Qaeda activity in Britain. Since his acquittal in 2002 Dr Mostafa has remained a subject of interest to the security services.

He was acquitted of a similar explosives charge in 1996 after a trial at Manchester Crown Court. Prosecutors claimed explosives were found at his home. But he was found guilty of illegally possessing a firearm, sentenced to four years in prison and banned for life from possessing a firearm.

In July last year he was arrested at Manchester airport for trying to board an aircraft with a pistol in his suitcase. He checked in with the component parts of a gas-powered pistol and primers in his luggage as he and his family were intending to fly to Dubai.He claimed that it was to be used for hunting and fishing, and was given a suspended sentence.

Dr Mostafa is known as a quiet, industrious professional man who advises companies how to transport dangerous materials safely. He is married with three children.

Ghulam Mostafa, his father, accounted for the apparent discovery of an “arms factory”. He said that his son had enjoyed a life-long interest in hunting and that he manufactured his own ammunition using spent cartridges and gunpowder. He urged his son overnight to hand himself over to the British High Commission. The family said they understood that he had been arrested.

Mr Mostafa, who arrived in Britain in 1964, said that the compound in Bhola was an orphanage where youngsters could receive a well-rounded education and could not be described as a madrassa. “My son is not a terrorist,” he said.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office refused to comment yesterday.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Vipul » 26 Mar 2009 22:14

BDR chief to visit New Delhi to thank Indian border guards.

Dhaka: The chief of Bangladesh Rifles would visit New Delhi next week to thank the Border Security Force (BSF) for its cooperation after last month's savage mutiny at the paramilitary force's headquarter in Dhaka.

"I will go to New Delhi on March 30 on a three-day tour with a small delegation mainly to thank BSF for its cooperation during and after the Pilkhana carnage... we appreciate BSF's role which reflects the friendly relations the two countries have," Brigadier General Mainul Islam said on Thursday.

He said the scheduled director general-level consultation between the two border forces would not have any specific agenda coming in an unusual situation.

He, however, said thrust of the meeting would be bilateral cooperation in preventing cross-border movement of terrorists and militants alongside trafficking of weapons, drugs, women and children.

Officials said a six-member BDR delegation including a home ministry official would visit Delhi and would return on April 1.

BDR sources earlier said despite the debacle, the Bangladeshi border guards were patrolling the frontline while they held routine flag meetings with their BSF counterparts in the zero lines.

Bangladesh earlier said a process was underway for a total reorganisation of the BDR force under a new name and uniform to overcome the stigma it earned after the savage February 25-26 rebellion in which 58 army officers serving the paramilitary force were killed.

"The mutiny has not only caused the murder of many talented officers but has also shattered people's trust in the BDR," Islam said.

The government earlier suggested that the rebels could be tried under court marshal in Army Act as investigations were underway to find out the culprits.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby sum » 26 Mar 2009 22:29

"I will go to New Delhi on March 30 on a three-day tour with a small delegation mainly to thank BSF for its cooperation during and after the Pilkhana carnage... we appreciate BSF's role which reflects the friendly relations the two countries have," Brigadier General Mainul Islam said on Thursday.

Good to see the warmth despite the slaying of the previous openly pro-head head of BDR, Gen Ahmed...

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Tilak » 28 Mar 2009 05:20

Bangladesh to revert to 1973 act for 'war criminals' trial

Dhaka, March 26: Bangladesh will revert to a 1973 act to resume trial against those who collaborated with the Pakistan government during the freedom movement and are referred to as "war criminals".

"We have examined the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 for trial of the war criminals... The government will complete the trial in the shortest possible time," State Minister for Home Affairs Tanjim Ahmed Sohel Taj told the media after an inter-ministerial meeting.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed had earlier announced a "final decision" on the trial of the accused under the 1973 act.

One or more tribunals, of three to four members each, will be formed under the act for the quickest trial of the accused of war crimes in 1971, said Ahmed.

If a tribunal is formed, it will be the first-ever practical step for the trial of the war criminals of 1971, New Age newspaper said on Friday.

Ministers, experts and the authorities concerned have started examining provisions stipulated in the 1973 act, following a Parliamentary resolution passed on January 29.

The act had been passed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the freedom movement in 1971. But a general amnesty that he declared in 1973 and his assassination in 1975 ended the process of trying those dubbed as "collaborators" of the East Pakistan regime.

The trial is mainly against those who formed Islamist militias like Al Shams and Al Badr that carried out looting, rape and killings of unarmed civilians who sympathised with the freedom movement.


the trial is aimed at the survivors and the current top leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), the country's largest Islamist party.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Dipanker » 30 Mar 2009 00:57

Weapons cache

Inside Bangladeshi madrassa where arms were found

Bangladeshi police are investigating a madrassa (or Islamic theological school) established by a British charity where a cache of weapons was uncovered.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Avinash R » 30 Mar 2009 12:04

Border guards attempted uprising in 37 places, besides Dhaka

Mon, Mar 30 11:20 AM

Dhaka, March 30 (IANS) The February mutiny by Bangladesh border guards in which over 80 people were killed was not confined to the Pilkhana headquarters near Dhaka. Investigators have identified 37 more places across the country where troopers attempted rebellion, a media report said.

These were abortive attempts where personnel of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) withdrew arms from the armoury without authority and attempted rebellion, The Daily Star said quoting unnamed investigating officials.

Developments at different BDR battalions across the country show that what began at the headquarters at Pilkhana in the heart of the national capital could have spread, triggering a 'civil war'.

More than 80 people, including BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed and 54 Bangladesh Army officers, were gunned down or bayoneted to death on Feb 25-26 by troopers who said they had grievances about wages and working conditions.

The government has said it was ''a conspiracy' involving 'outside elements' that led to organised killing aimed at pitting the army against the BDR.

'In many BDR battalion offices a band of soldiers took up arms and ammunition from the arsenals and attempted to commit the same offences that occurred in Pilkhana,' an investigator told The Daily Star wishing anonymity.

At the BDR's first coordination meeting in the Dhaka Cantonment on March 9, new Director General Brig General Md Mainul Islam listened to details about the incidents at different BDR battalions across the country.

Following the meeting, a move to investigate the mutiny in BDR battalions outside Dhaka was initiated and investigators have so far detected 37 spots of attempted uprisings. In some cases, soldiers not only attempted to hold officers hostage but also came out in civil areas with arms.

The investigators say they have made a good progress in identifying the mutineers but did not give details, the newspaper said.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Tilak » 31 Mar 2009 06:03

Bangladesh Rifles’ new chief to visit India Monday
March 29th, 2009

Dhaka, March 29 (Xinhua) Bangladesh’s new paramilitary border force chief is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi Monday on a three-day trip to India to discuss border issues between the two neighbouring countries, a foreign ministry official said here Sunday.

Mainul Islam, who was appointed as Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) chief following the killing of Major General Shakil Ahmed during a mutiny last month, will meet India’s Border Security Force (BSF) head M.L. Kumawat March 31, the official said, adding that the meeting would basically be a “familiarisation meeting” between the two.

An official of the BDR said Mainul will lead a six-member delegation to New Delhi and attend a commemorative meeting in the Indian capital in honour of slain Major General Shakil Ahmed.

The BDR chief will express his gratitude to the Indian BSF for its cooperation in maintaining a peaceful border during the mutiny at the BDR headquarters last month.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 31 Mar 2009 16:56

BDR to lose its name, uniform --- Restructuring body to submit more proposals soon

The committee formed to report on restructuring and renaming of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) yesterday submitted a brief initial proposal to the government for changing name and uniform of the paramilitary force. The four-member body headed by BDR Director General Maj Gen Md Mainul Islam submitted the proposal to Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, assigned to coordinate the BDR-related activities between the Prime Minister's Office, home ministry and defence ministry after the Pilkhana massacre. "The name and uniform of BDR will be changed. The committee we formed with the BDR director general as its head is still working on it," Faruk Khan told The Daily Star yesterday.

"We have received a brief proposal from the director general. A final proposal will be prepared after fine-tuning the initial proposal," he said. Replying to a query, the commerce minister said a new force will be constituted disbanding the BDR. Opinions have been sought from various forces and also civil society members for choosing a suitable name and uniform for the border guards. Earlier, the BDR chief at the Zia International Airport told journalists about submission of the proposal before leaving for New Delhi to meet the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) chief.

Asked about the fate of the BDR personnel after the disbandment of the existing paramilitary force, Faruk said all the issues will come up before the formation of the new force and the final proposal will include everything. The committee was formed on March 23 at the third coordination meeting of the members of three committees now probing the carnage and offences committed inside the BDR Pilkhana headquarters.

Our court correspondent adds: Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate's Court yesterday placed on remand eight more suspected BDR mutineers and another person detained in connection with the Pilkhana massacre for questioning. Havildar Jalal Uddin Ahmed was placed on a seven-day remand and havildars Masud Iqbal, Yusuf Ali, lance nayek Anwarul Islam, nayek Abdul Qaiyum, sepoys Bazlur Rashid, Habibur Rahman and Alim Reza, and outsider Hafizur Rahman were taken on a three-day remand after the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) investigating the mutiny case produced them before the court. Meantime, the CID arrested five more suspected BDR mutineers but their identities were not divulged.

'Conversation' with Mutineers --- Razzaq quizzed

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) yesterday questioned Jamaat-e-Islami leader barrister Abdur Razzaq for over three hours about his alleged telephone conversations with BDR mutineers on February 25-26, said sources. Coming out of the CID's Malibagh headquarters, Razzaq said the government is out to implicate him in the Pilkhana carnage case to “humiliate him politically”. Senior Assistant Superintendent of Police (CID) Abdul Kahar Akand said, “We have no intention of harassing him. We asked him questions on specific information, and if necessary, we might call him again." He said, “Besides suspected BDR mutineers, we have talked to several people in connection with the carnage."

Talking to The Daily Star, Akand, also investigation officer in the mutiny case, said they summoned the Jamaat leader to verify some information they have about him. He however would not elaborate on the matter “in the interest of a fair probe” into the BDR bloodbath that left dozens of army officials killed. Investigation sources said CID has drawn up a list of persons including a lawmaker for questioning. Razzaq, Jamaat's assistant secretary general, was in the intelligence outfit's Malibagh office from 10:00am to 1:15pm. He was quizzed also over his “frequent visits abroad and connections there”.

The sources added that the interrogators decided to grill him after they became convinced about his conversations with BDR jawans by analysing phone records. The Jamaat leader said, "They [investigators] asked me where I was on February 25 and what I did that day." Queried if he had any phone talks with the border guards or if they [the rebels] sought any legal aid from him, he replied in the negative. "I said I was at the High Court. I watched the news on television though," he continued. "I told the investigators that the BDR carnage was an attack on our sovereignty, and they must unravel the mystery without tainting anyone's image.”

In a notice on Saturday CID asked the Jamaat leader to show up with passport at its headquarters yesterday. Shortly after receiving the notice, Razzaq sought HC directives against the CID move. In response, a vacation bench of the court on Sunday directed the government to consider him as a witness, not an accused, and return his passport after examination. It also gave him anticipatory bail till April 5, and directed the government not to harass or arrest him during that period in connection with the mutiny case.

The Jamaat leader yesterday said, “Despite High Court's instructions, time and again they [government] barred me and my wife from leaving the country.” He said his wife had an appointment with doctors in a Singapore hospital on March 19. That day a case was filed with the Airport Police Station against the couple on charges of obstructing the work of the airport authorities. The same day Razzaq filed a contempt petition against the government for “violating court directives”. The HC granted them bail and stayed the proceedings of the obstruction case. “Riled by failure in the legal battle, the government has resorted to harassing me. That's why CID asked me to appear before them with my passport,” he observed.

Razzaq said people at home and abroad have condemned the government's ban on his travel. “It is illogical, unjust and inhuman to stop me leaving the country.” Replying to a query, he said he loves Bangladesh. He belongs here and there's no question of fleeing it. Talking to reporters at the CID headquarters, Special Superintendent (Dhaka metropolitan) of CID Nasirul Arif said they did not interrogate Razzaq as an accused in the BDR case, rather they asked him some questions on specific information. The questioning was done in compliance with the court's directives, he added. “We have taken his personal profile. If necessary we'll ask him for more information.” In reply to a question, Arif said many people have been questioned and many more would be quizzed in future. Asked if summoning barrister Razzaq had anything to do with his political identity, ASP Abdul Kahar Akand said, “No. we just asked him some questions in connection with the BDR killing case.”


The government yesterday filed a petition with the Supreme Court to stay the HC order granting Razzaq anticipatory bail. Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told The Daily Star that the petition may be heard by the vacation chamber judge's court today.

Aug 21 grenade attack probe 'doctored' --- Three CID men sued for misdirecting investigation, accused of destroying evidence

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) filed a case against three of its former investigators in connection with intentionally misdirecting the probe into the August 21 grenade attack case. They are also accused of destroying evidence and forcing people into making confessional statements. All three investigated the case during the BNP-led four-party alliance government's tenure. CID's Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Fazlul Kabir, the present investigation officer of the grenade attack case, filed the case Sunday night with Paltan Police Station against retired special superintendent (SS) of CID and former supervisor of the case Ruhul Amin and two retired ASPs Abdur Rashid and Munshi Atiqur Rahman, former investigation officers of the case.

In his complaint, Fazlul Kabir said the former CID officials had implicated a number of innocent people in the case, filed in connection with the grenade attack on an Awami League rally on August 21, 2004, to hide facts and to let the actual criminals get away. He said they destroyed evidence and did not record the confessional statements of the culprits, including outlawed Islamist militant outfit Harkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji) leader Mufti Hannan, who admitted his involvement.

The complainant said the officials forced petty criminal Joj Miah and two others to confess before a magistrate by torturing them, threatening them and buying them with money. Talking to The Daily Star over phone yesterday, accused former CID official Abdur Rashid refuted the allegations and said, "I did not force or threaten anybody into confessing before the court. There were several authorities to justify that the accused persons were involved in the attack before they made confessional statements," said Abdur Rashid, adding, "It is not true that we tried to misdirect the case as we did not submit the charge sheet."

ASP Fazlul Kabir told The Daily Star, "Case-52 [filed Sunday night] was filed after investigation and following other legal procedures, including taking the opinion of the public prosecutor." Talking to The Daily Star, Paltan Police Station Officer-in-charge Mohammad Majibar Rahman said the case was forwarded to the court in compliance with standard procedures. According to the case statement, the CID took charge of the grenade attack case investigation on August 23, 2004, two days after the attack. The CID appointed ASP Abdur Rashid as the investigation officer and SS Ruhul Amin was made supervisor.

ASP Rashid arrested 20 people and forced Joj Miah, Abul Hasem Rana and Shafiqul Islam to confess before magistrates under Section-164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) on June 26, December 12 and December 17 of 2005, the case statement read. After Abdur Rashid retired, Munshi Atiqur Rahman was appointed investigation officer of the grenade attack case on December 24, 2005. In the meantime, CID had arrested Huji leader Mufti Hannan in connection with the Ramna Batamul blast case. He is also accused in several other cases filed in connection with militancy.

During CID interrogation, Hannan confessed to his involvement in the grenade attack and disclosed names of 27 others who were directly and indirectly involved in the planning and execution of the attack on the Awami League (AL) rally. The names include former BNP deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu. Through multiple investigations, the BNP-led alliance government tried to establish that the AL itself killed its own leaders and activists to tarnish the image of the BNP-led government. They also tried to prove that "foreign enemies" instigated the carnage and some listed criminals absconding in India had executed the attack.

A total of 24 people were killed and over 300 were maimed in the attack that was aimed to assassinate the then leader of the opposition and present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Fifty months after the attack, a Dhaka court on October 29, 2008, framed charges against 22 people, including former BNP deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu. Rest of the accused are leaders and operatives of Huji. Eleven days after the attack, the then prime minister Khaleda Zia blamed the AL for the attack.

Days later, during a BNP parliamentary party meeting, Khaleda had said that no Islamist extremist groups existed in the country. "We have to prove that we do not patronise extremists and that no such groups exist in the country," said Khaleda accusing the then main opposition AL of conspiring to tarnish the country's image. BNP MPs, in Khaleda's presence in parliament, blamed the AL of attacking its own rally and endangering the life of the AL chief. The BNP-led government's one-member judicial probe committee led by Justice Joynul Abedin never published its 162-page report, despite claiming to have identified a "foreign enemy" behind the attack.

The government had then asked for help from the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Interpol but their findings were also never made public. CID officials say that Interpol's detailed report was attached to the charge sheet and submitted to the government while the FBI never submitted a report even though they collected pieces of evidence for running tests. The BNP-led government's stance subsequently influenced the then investigators to weave a story involving Mokhlesur Rahman, a ward-level AL leader and former ward councillor of Moghbazar in the capital.

The investigators also tried to concoct another story through a dubious "confessional statement" made by Joj Miah, who named Mokhlesur as one of the planners of the grenade attack. Joj Miah turned out to be a creation of the investigators when his sister revealed that the CID had been paying his family Tk 2,500 a month for upkeep since his arrest. Joj and two others provided nearly identical and weakly woven statements, which were widely discredited by the media. Apart from Mokhlesur and Joj, 18 others were arrested and were allegedly tortured. A Dhaka court later ordered their release saying the charges brought against them by the erstwhile investigators were baseless.

Last year, several serving and retired investigators involved at different stages of the probe, told The Daily Star that the masterminds of the attack remain undetected even though charges had been pressed in the two cases--one for the killings and one filed under Explosive Substances Act.

Qawmi madrasas under watch

The police headquarters have sent directives to all the district police chiefs to mount watch on Qawmi madrasas in the wake of the March 24 arms and ammo haul at a Bhola madrasa-cum-orphanage. Sources at the police HQ say the directives were issued on March 28 asking the superintendents of police to watch activities of the Qawmi madrasas and other suspicious places. "We have been asked to mount surveillance on the Qawmi madrasas to know whether any outsiders or even foreigners visit any institutions and whether any lessons or motivation on jihad is imparted there," says an SP seeking anonymity.

A police official in Bhola from the Rapid Action Battalion says they have already stepped up intelligence activities in all 115 Qawmi madrasas in the district. The officers-in-charge (OCs) of a number of police stations outside the capital say they have already been instructed to enter any Qawmi madrasa if anything looks suspicious. "Moreover, the authorities have also asked us to compel such madrasa authorities to demolish high boundary walls and barbed wire fences, if any," comments an OC.

Inspector General of Police Nur Mohammad yesterday said they have issued directives to mount watch on Qawmi madrasas and other suspicious places. He said the step has been taken to check whether the madrasas are really teaching or carrying out any fundamental or militant activities. "There are some grey areas in Qawmi madrasas, since rules and regulations regarding their [Qawmi madrasas] syllabus and studies could not fully be implemented," the IGP has recently told a private satellite TV channel.

About the present state of militancy, Nur Mohammad said he does not think militants have any strong base; rather militancy is very much under control now. As of 2006, there were around 40 lakh students in about 15,000 Qawmi madrasas, according to sources at Bangladesh Qawmi Madrasa Education Board. Around two lakh teachers are employed in these madrasas. Of these madrasas, 300 are under Bangladesh Qawmi Madrasa Education Board named Vefaqul Madarisil Arabia Bangladesh at the Takmil (Master's degree) level, 200 at the Fazilat (Bachelor's) level, 200 at the sanaria ammah level, 1,000 at the Sanaria ammah (secondary), 2,000 at the Mutawassitah (lower secondary) level, 3,000 at the Ibtedayi (primary) level, 2,000 for Tahfeezul Quran and 30 at the level of tazbid wal qiraat (higher course for reading the Quran).

Banned Kuwait-based NGO runs covertly

The Bangladesh chapter of Kuwait-based NGO Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS) is still running its offices and covert activities although its registration was cancelled nearly two years ago. The NGO spends at least Tk 2 lakh a month, said a few contractors who worked for RIHS. But the source of this money remains mysterious because foreign funding of RIHS was stopped and its bank accounts closed following the cancellation of registration, they said. Senior officials of the NGO are meanwhile lobbying hard within the present government either for reconsideration of the cancellation of its registration or for getting permission to continue activities in some other name.

The NGO Affairs Bureau cancelled RIHS's registration in May 2007 following a government decision made over intelligence recommendations. Ahle Hadith Andolon (Ahab) chief Asadullah Al Galib had helped RIHS get registered in November 1996. The organisation has appealed to the bureau for reconsidering cancellation of its registration, but a senior official at the bureau said there is no scope for reconsidering the registration.

According to RIHS staff, the NGO spends Tk 1 lakh for its office rented at House-40, Lake Drive Road, in Sector-7 of Uttara in the capital and pays over Tk 60,000 in monthly salaries to 11 staffs. But a few contractors of RIHS alleged that the organisation is not paying them some arrear bills on grounds of its fund having been stopped. "How can they spend for running office?" said a contractor. RIHS Deputy Director General Abbas Bao, a Sudanese national, is currently serving as its country director, said a contractor, alleging that Bao is frantic to get Bangladesh citizenship and married a Bangladeshi woman for that purpose.

After the government banned al-Qaeda donor-suspect Al Haramain Foundation (now banned worldwide) in 2003, many Haramain staffs including five foreign nationals joined the RIHS. Four of the foreign nationals were later withdrawn from the country following the August 17 serial blasts. A Bangladeshi Haramain staff Mojibor Rahman still works as a receptionist of RIHS. The other nine staffs of RIHS are chief accountant Abdul Wadud, office secretary Fazlur Rahman, public relations officer Ataur Rahman, two officers for its orphanage section and four peons and guards.

There are allegations that RIHS used to provide funds to the Islamist militants of Ahab, Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and other organisations, investigators said earlier. Executed JMB chief Abdur Rahman himself told the media in 2004 that he used to get funds from the RIHS and Saudi Arabian NGO Rabitat-e Alam al Islami, which is run by Jamaat-e-Islami men. The RIHS has so far erected 1,000 mosques, madrasas and orphanages across the country, many of which were used by JMB militants, said investigators.

A senior official of the NGO Affairs Bureau said the bureau has also nothing to do with the RIHS properties and its foreign staffs living in the country. Abbas Bao could not be contacted while other RIHS officials declined to talk to this correspondent. When contacted over mobile phone posing to be a job-seeker, chief accountant Abdul Wadud said, "We were considering recruitment a few months ago, but now it depends on the government whether it lets us operate." He confirmed that RIHS is running its office. However, when asked about the sources of its fund, he hung up.

While visiting the RIHS office at House-40, Lake Drive Road, in Sector-7 of Uttara around 1:30pm yesterday, The Daily Star correspondent found all doors and windows of the four-storey building shut. A bearded young man approached this correspondent and wanted to know the reason of visit. Asked about the office in the building, he suspiciously looked at the correspondent and said there is no office and that it is a residential building and only tenants reside there.

Taking Power from Sattar --- Ershad cleared of sedition charge

A Dhaka court yesterday discharged former president and Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad from a sedition case filed against him on charges of taking power from the then president Justice Abdus Sattar at gunpoint in March 1982. Hasanul Haq Inu, general secretary of Jatiya Samajtanrik Dal (JSD), filed the sedition case on March 9 of 1991, accusing Ershad of committing the offence. After scrutinising the case docket and other relevant documents, Metropolitan Magistrate Syeda Minhaz Um Munira accepted the final report (FRT) and discharged Ershad from the charges.

Police Inspector Matiur Rahman of Criminal Investigation Department (CID), also the investigation officer (IO) of the case, submitted the final report to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court of Dhaka on February 2 this year. In the probe report, the IO mentioned that the case was filed against Ershad on factual error. So, he prayed that Ershad be cleared of the charges. Ershad resigned on December 6,1990, after ruling the country for nine years, and handed over charge to the then Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed. Later, over 21 criminal cases were filed against Ershad for different charges and he was also convicted for different terms of punishment. He was earlier discharged and acquitted in several cases.

30 more days given for BDR probe report

The home ministry probe committee investigating last month's BDR carnage got 30 more working days to submit its report. This is the fourth time the ministry extended time for the probe body. The time extension came after the 11-member committee, headed by retired bureaucrat Anis-uz-Zaman, asked the home ministry for more time, says a home ministry announcement. The committee was supposed to submit its report last Sunday, according to the third extension of time. On that day, Anis-uz-Zaman claimed he had two more days to submit the report.

Meanwhile, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed yesterday said the government would not start the trial of the Pilkhana carnage case before getting the investigation report. "The government cannot start the trial, without completing the investigation," he told The Daily Star at his Bangladesh Secretariat office. "The probe report will show who were involved in the carnage," he added. On the extension of time, he said there are certain valid reasons behind taking more time. Shafique said the government would determine under which law the trial of the Pilkhana carnage case would be held.

The committee, which was reconstituted on March 2 by replacing Home Minister Sahara Khatun with Anis-uz-Zaman as its head, was initially given seven days to complete its task. Later, the government gave the committee seven working days more as the committee failed to produce any findings. It was allowed four more working days on March 23 to complete the probe. Time for the committee expired Sunday, as Thursday was a public holiday on the occasion of Independence Day followed by the weekend. The probe committee was comprised of the law secretary, additional secretary to the home ministry, director general of BDR, representatives from the cabinet division, the armed forces, the Prime Minister's Office and the police.

The committee, which is looking into the reasons behind the massacre, is supposed to make recommendations on related issues. The government on February 26 formed a six-member enquiry committee led by Sahara Khatun to investigate the incident at the BDR Pilkhana headquarters. Two more committees--one commissioned by the army and the other by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police--are still conducting their investigations. The BDR carnage left 74 persons, including 57 army officials, dead and many injured.

Gazipur Explosives Seizure --- 3 charge sheets against JMB men

Police have submitted charge sheets in three cases in connection with the seizure of explosive materials from the operatives of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and detonating explosive at district police super's office. Detective branch (DB) officials of Gazipur district submitted the charge sheets with Chief Judicial Magistrate Court Sunday after investigating the three cases filed with Tongi and Joydevpur police stations. The cases were filed in connection with the arrests of militants Mamun, Mina, Marzia and Noorjahan at Khortoil in Tongi on Friday 20, bomb explosion at Gazipur SP office on the same afternoon and recovery of bombs and bomb-making materials from four other militants at Kamarjuri of sadar upazila on February 21.

Investigators and court sources said Sub-Inspector (SI) Md Siraj filed a case with Tongi Police Station after the recovery of grenades and bomb-making materials at Khortoil and arrest of militants Mamun and three female JMB operatives. SI Madan Mohan Banik of Gazipur DB Police, who investigated the case, submitted charge sheet against eight suspects including the four arrested militants. Sub-Inspector Nazmul Islam Khan filed a case with Joydevpur Police Station in connection with the explosion at SP office. SI Md Kamruzzaman of DB submitted charge sheet against Mamun in this case.

After the seizure of explosive materials at Kamarjuri, SI Kamruzzaman filed a case with Joydevpur Police Station against four militants. IO Asadur Rahman of DB however submitted charge sheets against six suspects. Court sources said after a short hearing the court accepted the three charge sheets yesterday. Second Officer of Joydevpur Police Station SI Nazmul Islam Khan said a total of four cases were filed with Joydevpur and Tongi Police Stations (three in Joydevpur and one in Tongi) in connection with the February 20-21 incidents.

BDR Carnage --- Govt may ask for Interpol help in probe

The government might request Interpol's support in quizzing suspects of the Pilkhana massacre who are now abroad, said Commerce Minister Faruk Khan yesterday. He said the investigators are now questioning suspects and will interrogate more people at home and abroad. The minister, who is assigned to coordinate activities of the Prime Minister's Office and probe bodies regarding the Pilkhana massacre, was talking to journalists after a function celebrating the silver jubilee of ActionAid Bangladesh at the National Museum.

Asked about allegations of political harassment in the name of questioning, he said, "I think only those who had a hand in the BDR mutiny are making these allegations." Faruk said, "A few more days are needed to complete a fair and impartial probe into the BDR killings."

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 31 Mar 2009 17:08

Gas supply rises in nat'l grid as spur line set up

Petrobangla and Chevron have successfully commissioned a spur pipeline at Jalalabad gas field, which is to raise the country's gas production by about 40 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd). Official said commissioning of the pipeline was completed as per schedule to help the authorities start additional gas supply. Petrobangla Chairman Jalal Ahmed told the news agency yesterday the pipeline would enhance gas supply by 40 mmcfd to the national gas network which would finally lead to an additional supply to gas hungry power plants and other industries.

Apart from this pipeline commissioning, he said, Petrobangla has already enhanced the gas supply to power plants. "Last week, we supplied about 700 mmcfd to power plants. Now we are supplying about 747 mmcfd... this is a big enhancement." However, the country's electricity generation has not increased as expected after the enhancement of gas supply to the power plants. Jalal, however, alleged that despite the increase in gas supply, sometimes power plants cannot receive this additional supply for their own limitations. "Many power plants often remain out of operation because of technical faults although gas is available there."

According to the officials, the spur line will finally boost the gas supply by 70 mmcfd by the year end. The gas pipeline was built as 'spur-line' to increase the gas supply from Chevron's Jalalabad gas field, which is now producing about 143 mmcfd gas to supply to the national gas grid. The Power Development Board (PDB) generated about 3,700 megawatt (MW) Sunday while it was expected to generate about 3,735 MW yesterday against the demand for about 5,000 MW. However, the PDB claimed that the demand would be below 4300 MW.

Myanmar to fence border 100m off zero line --- Says Hasan Mahmud

Myanmar will erect barbed wire fence 100 metres off the 'no-man's land' along 40 kms of Bangladesh-Myanmar border to check smuggling, including drug trafficking, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hasan Mahmud said yesterday. “Myanmar's ambassador has officially informed us of this,” he said while clarifying the distance of the fencing from the zero point whether it will be 13 km or 13 metres.

The government will also investigate the matter of hacking the classified documents of 103 countries, including Bangladesh, by a cyber spy network based mainly in China, the minister said. Myanmar had earlier mentioned two varied versions about location of border fencing. Bangladesh has 180 km border with Myanmar. Government will ask the Myanmar ambassador (in Dhaka) for providing information about the border fencing officially, the state minister told reporters at a press conference at the foreign ministry.

He said as per the diplomatic norms, the fence can be constructed on 150 feet off the zero point inside Myanmar territory. Replying to a query, Hasan Mahmud said, “Its purpose is just to check smuggling and drug trafficking. There is no reason to be worried about it.”

Govt to implement CHT Peace Agreement -- Says state minister

The government has taken initiative to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Agreement, State Minister for CHT Affairs Dipankar Talukder said yesterday. The government has started the process of forming a committee to this end and has been seeking suggestions on ways to implement the peace accord gradually, he said at a seminar. "The government will also bring amendments to the land commission law within one or two months to ensure the indigenous people's right to land," he said, adding that it is not possible to implement the peace accord without resolving the land issue.

Samprity, a non-government organisation, organised the seminar on 'Human rights of minority and indigenous people: Post-election thoughts' at the National Press Club in the city. Speakers at the seminar called on the government to immediately implement the peace agreement and give constitutional recognition to the indigenous people to ensure their basic rights. To implement the peace accord, the first thing the government should do is to withdraw military camps from CHT and allow the local administration to work freely, said Prof Ajoy Roy, who presided over the seminar.

Prof Serajul Islam Chowdhury stressed the need to establish true democracy in order to remove all forms of discriminations against the minority. Decentralisation of power is a must to ensure the rights of all community, he added. Prof Dr Shaorav Sikder presented the keynote paper. Lawmaker Promod Mankin, Prof Robayat Ferdous, Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity leader Ushatan Talukder, Gono Forum leader Pankaj Bhattacharya and columnist Syed Abul Maksud also spoke.

Discrimination has increased manifold in education sector -- Speakers tell roundtable

Speakers at a roundtable yesterday said the education system in the country is mired in discrimination manifold though the country has achieved independence 38 years ago. They said communalism prevails in education sector in the country though freedom fighters sacrificed their lives in the War of Liberation against Pakistani occupation forces to establish a secular and democratic state. Samajtantrik Chhatra Front organised the roundtable titled 'Hope of the Liberation War, present education system and expected education policy' at National Press Club.

Educationalists Prof Ajoy Roy, Dr Shahidul Islam, Dr H K S Arefin, Dr Khandokar Bazlul Haque, A N Rasheda, Dr Salimullah Khan, Dr Sufi Mostafizur Rahman, Dr Abidur Reza, Siddiqur Rahman, Gulshanara Begum and Sultana Akhter spoke at the roundtable. Fakhruddin Kabir chaired the programme. Prof Ajoy Roy said an education policy could be introduced based on policies suggested by Kudrat-e-Khuda Commission. Though the constitution instructs to ensure education for all, introduce pro-people and unitrack system, the governments always work for 'education for all' and they do not think about pro-people and unitrack education system, he added.

Criticising some speakers and organisers Dr Salimullah Khan said they are running movement demanding combined education system, on the other hand, demanding education in own language for indigenous groups. The speakers also said the nation is becoming divided due to multi-phases education system. They recommended a combined education system till class eight. They also urged the government to increase the number of scholarships in secondary level.

Bangla Bhai's aide held

Police early yesterday arrested an activist of banned Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) from Baje Goalkandi village in Bagmara upazila. JMB cadre Fazlur Rahman, 28, was arrested from his house on his return from Maldives where he had fled to evade arrest, police said. An accused in several cases for alleged torture on opponents, Fazlur was an aide to executed JMB leader Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai, police said.

ADB sees slowest growth in 5 years

Bangladesh's economy is expected to grow its lowest in five years and slow down in FY 2009 as the global financial meltdown will create pressures on exports, remittances and revenues, says the Asian Development Bank. The 'Asian Development Outlook 2009', the annual publication of the multilateral lending agency, reports that GDP growth would fall down to 5.6 percent in FY 09 from 6.2 percent in the current fiscal. The ADB report, released Tuesday, also projects a further decline in GDP growth to 5.2 percent in FY 10.

ADB country director Paul J Heytens told a press briefing that Bangladesh was largely unaffected by the first phase of the global slowdown crisis due to its limited exposure to the international financial market system. He pointed toward returned migrant workers and a slowing number of workers leaving the country along with a drop in overseas shipments. Heytens warned the second-round effects would come through reduced export earnings and remittances. The report notes that a slowdown in remittance is inevitable as the global financial crisis is spreading beyond the credit markets to the real economy.

ADB expects that remittance growth to fall to 20 percent after a rise of over 32 percent in FY 08. "In FY 2010, growth will further slip to 15 percent," the report reads. It also says government revenues have dropped in recent months and a "crisis-induced slowdown" on the private sector has fuelled it. The ADB study adds that the agreed cut in customs duties for the next budget and lower international commodity prices will weigh on import receipts.

Meanwhile, the fall in commodity prices along with fuel price induced expectations of inflation to fall to 7 percent in the next fiscal year, much lower than the earlier projected 9 percent. "These factors should persist in the period ahead and the inflation rate is expected to fall further to 6.5 percent in FY 2010," Heytens said.

The most critical challenge for the government , according to the official, would be to take steps to improve the annual development program (ADP) implementation. "It [the rate of ADP implementation] has been low in the recent years." He also said that the ADB was in the process to triple their resource base which meant more fund for development projects.

Addressing climate change would be a top priority along with infrastructure, education and social sector for the ADB's Bangladesh chapter, said Zahid Hossain, senior economist at the ADB. The ADB report says the key challenges in tackling the effects of climate change are ensuring food and water security, protecting infrastructure and managing disaster risks. The donor agency has suggested incorporating climate change adaptation in development planning as climate changes may threaten the significant gains made in poverty reduction over the past 20 years.

It recommends raising infrastructure investments and improve the enabling environment for private sector activity. It specifically suggests addressing power and gas shortages to boost growth prospects and steps to encourage private investments, both local and foreign. Identifying food security as a major development challenge, ADB says there is a need to raise farm output for affordable food prices and provide fiscally sustainable incentives to farmers. The report says that the improved crop harvest is expected to boost agricultural growth to 4 percent from 3.6 percent in FY 08 and to 4.1 percent in FY 10.

Mynamar explains border-fencing move

The Myanmar ambassador explained to the government Tuesday Yangon's move to fence along the no-man's land along the border with Bangladesh . Phae Thann Oo, the envoy, met with state minister for foreign affairs Hasan Mahmud after the foreign ministry summoned the envoy Monday for a "detailed explanation". "It's not a defence structure. It is for prevention of narcotics and human trafficking," the ambassador told reporters afterwards. "We have verbally informed the minister. We will not give any written explanation."

He said the fencing would be "between 50 and 1000 yards" from the zero line at different points, and the total length would be 40 miles. The state minister declined to comment. He authorised a foreign ministry director general, Enayet Hossain, to brief reporters about the meeting. "Myanmar is constructing the fence by informing us through diplomatic channels. They are maintaining a considerable distance of 50 yards to 1000 yards from the zero line," Hossain told "There is nothing wrong with it," he said.

The construction of the barbed-wire fence will not worsen relations, he added. He said the fencing was going on in some sensitive areas, known as Golden Triangle. "They (Myanmar) are really cautious about the 'golden triangle'," Quoting the envoy, Hossain said the fencing was aimed at stopping human tyrafficking and narcotics peddling. Myanmar's foreign minister also informed Bangladesh ambassador about the fencing, he said.

According to Bangladesh officials, on Mar 15, Myanmar 's border force Na Sa Ka began mobilising fencing equipment at Kyin Gun village just across the bordering river Naaf in Cox's Bazar district. Bangladesh has a 207-kilometre border with neighbour Myanmar. Mahmud told Monday that Yangon had previously informed Dhaka about its fencing move, but it gave "different figures" on the distance of the structure from the zero line. He said he wanted a "detailed explanation" from the envoy.

This is at least the second time since November last year the ambassador was summoned by the foreign ministry for clarification on disputed issues. The envoy was called to the foreign ministry on Nov. 2 last year as Myanmar intruded into Bangladesh water territory for oil and gas exploration in the Bay of Bengal.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 01 Apr 2009 12:19

Dhaka prepares national defence policy ... 011021.htm

Bangladesh cultural movement inspires Indian musician ... 011151.htm

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 04 Apr 2009 00:55

Sporadic updates of this thread over the last few days, but quite a lot of stuff has been happening.
1) The investigation team into the Pilkhana massacre has been extending its stipulated period already citing too much evidence/enquiries. They are going hammer and tongs at everyone, from the J-e-I chief to the AL ministers to ULFA to BNP-cadre to BDR folks. In the process, they are trying to create an impression that they want to leave no stone unturned, but it seems like they are bloody clueless as to who was responsible and where the buck stops. They keep saying that they know more and things will come out, but from reading all the goings on, it looks like one big CBI-like-fiasco is in order in BD very soon. I wont be surprised at cover ups.
2) The enquiries into the Basundhara fire episode seems to have stopped for want of proper investigation equipment. That looked like sabotage to me.
3) AL has won many a by-election held over the last week or so.
4) BD is going through a major power shortage and the GoI as usual is citing elections/model code of conduct and sleeping on the wheel. In the absence of Indian help/trade despite AL's favorable indications, China and Russia seem to be making inroads. So put the blame on Pranabda, he is the man in charge for BD, and he is busy with election rhetoric.
5) Ruppur is a place we need to watch out for, looks like a civilian nuke facility coming up. Many other fora have been treating Ruppur as a pride of BD thingy. We cant afford to have a nuke power on this side of the Brahmaputra also. The Russkies are so much in red that they are willing to underwrite the nuke facility.
6) UK probably has put mucho pressure and tried to cover up their origins in the Bhola arms recovery case. I have nt read much investigation into the British BD guy who was funding the madrassa.
7) The Anti-corruption commission chief has been forced out because he went hammer and tongs at corrupt entities within AL also. One step forward, two back for BD. Corruption is an octopus that has squeezed BD's wealth and thrown it all away.
BDR Mutiny at Pilkhana --- CID to quiz ministers who tried to strike deal

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has decided to take statements of ministers and lawmakers who played roles in negotiating with Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) jawans involved in the February 25-26 carnage at Pilkhana BDR headquarters. "We will soon take statements of the ministers and lawmakers to learn what the mutineers told them at negotiation meetings and over mobile phones," said a top CID official investigating the carnage, seeking anonymity. Their statements will also help identify those BDR personnel. Meanwhile, three more BDR jawans yesterday confessed to their involvement in the carnage before Metropolitan Magistrate Zulfikar Hayat. They are Havilder Masud Iqbal, Nayek Abdul Qaiyum and Sepoy Monirul Alam.

Earlier, six BDR members confessed to their involvement in the BDR massacre. Sources said the investigators might talk to Home Minister Sahara Khatun, State Minister for LGRD Jahangir Kabir Nanok, lawmakers Fazle Nur Tapas, Mirza Azam and Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir. When contacted for comments, Senior Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Abdul Kahar Akand told The Daily Star that they may talk to the ministers and lawmakers and take their statements, if necessary, to gather information. "It is no secret that they talked to the mutineers--they were quoted in newspapers and shown on television channels," said Akand, the investigation officer of the mutiny case.

Sources said examining call lists of mobile phone operators the CID has already identified a number of BDR jawans who talked to the ministers, lawmakers and a few influential persons. Earlier, the CID summoned Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdur Razzaq to the CID headquarters and quizzed him for over three hours. It could not be learnt if the ministers and lawmakers will be summoned too. But CID sources said the investigators have prepared a list of politicians and other influential persons for summoning them for a hearing. The CID sources said they had been carrying out investigation in coordination with the two committees formed by the government and Bangladesh Army to probe the BDR carnage.

Talking to The Daily Star, ASP Akand said they yesterday interrogated 13 accused BDR jawans and produced eight more jawans arrested by the Rab on Thursday from the BDR headquarters before the court. The court sent them on three-day remand. Commerce Minister Faruk Khan yesterday said the investigators are gathering information about the involvement of more people. "Fresh evidence and clues are coming out, but those cannot be disclosed now. We hope that the investigation will end very soon," he said while addressing a reception accorded to the successful students of a coaching centre in the city. The eight BDR members arrested Thursday were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital early yesterday for treatment. But the cause of their injuries could not be known.

Sources said Lalbagh police took the arrestees to the hospital at about 12:30am and took them back around 3:00am. Our Rangpur correspondent reports: Rab members arrested retired BDR sepoy Mamunur Rashid at his house in north Munshipara in the town yesterday in connection with the Pilkhana carnage. They recovered a bullet and a set of BDR uniform from him. Mamunur Rashid was terminated from job last November for violating discipline, Rab sources said.

Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury's departure regrettable --- ACC must carry on with same zeal

It is with deep regret that we note the departure of Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). The resignation of the ACC chairman clearly raises a number of questions, the answers to which have not been provided by either Chowdhury or the government. There is, though, the subtle feeling that not everything had been going well for the ACC chief since the general elections in December despite his apparent belief that the new government would give him the cooperation necessary to continue the drive against corruption. The retired general met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and then emerged to tell waiting newsmen of the satisfactory nature of their talks.

One cannot say with certainty that the ACC under Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury did not stumble in some areas. Indeed, at times it appeared that the commission became overwhelmed with the cases it was filing against allegedly corrupt politicians, businessmen and others. But such an assessment does not detract from the fact that General Chowdhury's stewardship of the ACC made a huge and positive impact. In a society where politics increasingly came to be mired in corruption, Chowdhury and his colleagues at the ACC began their job with missionary zeal. The ACC went resolutely after people suspected of corrupt dealings; it was a job that cut across party lines. For the first time in Bangladesh's tortuous history, the message went out that individuals and institutions could not indulge in bad deeds and then expect to get away with their act. For a country that for years had earned the sobriquet of being among the most corrupt of nations globally, the ACC's drive was clearly aimed at turning a new leaf. The ACC instilled hope in the nation.

We regret Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's inability to withstand pressure, if any, to have the ACC chairman quit. We feel that she should have resisted that in line with her message of change. It is now our hope, though, that the government will ensure that a post-Chowdhury ACC will be as assertive as it was under its just departed chief and that the anti-corruption drive will not slow down. At the same time, we feel that nothing should be done or said, especially by those in power, which might raise questions about the future of the ACC. In this context, the happiness that the minister of state for law exuded on Thursday about Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury's resignation was disappointing and in less than good taste.

Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury is to be credited for creating awareness about corruption throughout the country. A man of decency and integrity, he has earned the enduring respect of the nation. Only time will tell whether his actions inaugurated a process of positive change.

Unauthorised firearms in unlikely places

The recent haul of arms and ammunition in a madrassa at Bhola once again proves that the ugly hands of so-called religious extremism have not remained inactive. There are credible indications to believe that links with regional and international terror networks, in the guise of charitable or ecclesiastical work, have been maintained with a view to causing fratricidal fissures in our democratic polity. If one browses through media reports of the not-too-distant past one will come across reports relating to the existence of many hundreds of strongly motivated workers, including suicide bombers, that have remained underground defying the security dragnet. The worrying part is that, as per confessional statements of arrested terrorist leaders, such fugitives can launch deadly attacks.

In such a scenario, anti-extremist operations should have been strengthened, and a continued campaign was necessary to bust the terror network and destroy the menacing arsenal. It is also important to locate the origin of the arms supply and financial support and to hunt the patrons/ harbourers of the so-called religious terrorists. In Bangladesh we cannot be oblivious to the fact that the terrorists displayed their potential by carrying out simultaneous bomb attacks in 63 districts and killing at least 35 people in other attacks. The nation has already paid a very heavy price by ignoring them or entertaining doubts about their mischief-making capability.

It may be pertinent to remember that the JMB terror network had established several training centres in north and north-western Bangladesh. There were reports of the horrendous acts of JMB operatives that show their authority and writ in those areas. They had the temerity to declare the activities of some NGOs and cultural organisations illegal, and at places did not allow the local people to observe national occasions. They compelled villagers to pay toll and grow beards. Therefore, those areas where the JMB supremos let loose a reign of terror to secure their command and influence, must come under sustained enquiry. The terrorists and their trainers, patrons, collaborators and harbourers must be dealt with under the law.

The ominous rise of religious extremism in Bangladesh, whose inhabitants suffered unprecedented sacrifices to de-link themselves from religion-based Pakistan, remains a paradox of contemporary history. A dispassionate analysis and explanation of this contradiction may indicate the action that will be necessary to counter and arrest religious obscurantism and keep us steady on the democratic way. Looking back, one will find that we were not so conspicuously religious under the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Many of us have not realised that in post-1975 Bangladesh, particularly during the last 30 years, there has been a phenomenal growth of madrassas. At the same time, many apparently religious institutions have been built by organisations/groups whose credentials are not known.

Was moral rearmament or spiritual renaissance the predominant factor behind such unusual growth of religious institutions? Doubts creep in as we do not see any corresponding rise in public or private morality. So, the suspicion is that while the establishment, the civil society and other activists have remained in dark about the designs and programs of the obscurantist elements, the so-called religious extremists have grown in strength and spread their tentacles taking advantage of the ignorance and inertia.

During the last couple of years, when the media international and national pointed to the potential danger, the authorities {both the CTG and the 4-party coalition} brushed it aside as another effort to vilify a democratic government. When the situation became unbearable there was still not a well-thought plan to arrest and contain the menace. There is no doubt that the battle against extremism will be long. However, since the activities of the so-called religious extremists are a manifest attack on the long cherished values of the mainstream, our strategy and thought process should undergo substantial change.

Persons or institutions having apparent religious or ecclesiastical appearance and activity must not be out of bound for the surveillance agencies. Those arousing suspicion must come within the ambit of threat perception and appropriate legal action should be started forthwith. Pre-empting their nefarious activities should engage the utmost attention of the regulatory authority. The surveillance should ensure that no one is allowed to interpret and propagate a distorted version of the holy books. Our inherently religious folks must not be misled. The so-called religious extremists committing violence should be treated like criminals and no element of respectability should be accorded to them. Institutions imparting religious training and the madrassas should be a focal point for inspection and monitoring with a view to rendering their students into employable individuals.

Last but not the least, as a nation, we must not suffer from any identity crisis as some mischievous quarters would like us to. The Pakistanis thought we were lesser Muslims. Their “Islamisation drive” resulted in a colossal tragedy. It is time, perhaps, to once again show our true grit. Our politicians must not be heedless.

Dhaka, Moscow draft nuclear MOU

A Russian minister will visit Bangladesh later this month to sign an MOU aimed to build nuclear power plants in this energy-starved country. Senior officials from the two countries ended three days of "useful" talks in Dhaka Thursday and said they had already drafted the MOU. "We'll now await clearance from the higher authorities," M M Neazuddin, who led the Bangladesh team to the talks, told Once the MOU was okayed, he said, further steps would be taken. Neazuddin, a joint secretary at the science and ICT ministry, would not give further details.

But Dhaka officials familiar with the negotiations say the two sides discussed the possibility of setting up two 1000-mw units. The talks did not cover the source of funding or financing terms. The Dhaka officials said the Russians were not too keen to discuss financing at this stage. "Let's sign the MOU first and then we'll sort out the financing issues," a Russian official was quoted to have told his counterparts. The host officials hinted that Russia was interested to lend the money needed to build the plants on easy terms. "It is unlikely they would consider giving us grants," one official said. The loan negotiations will be handled by the Economic Relations Division.

Russia, a global leader in nuclear technology, has supplied as many as 65 plants to Iran, India, China, Armenia, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Finland, Bulgaria and Germany. Last year, it supplied 10 nuclear power plants to different countries. The Russians are now working on 11 power plants all over the world. The idea of a nuclear power plant in the north of Bangladesh (Rooppur, Pabna) was mooted way back in 1961. Currently, 439 power plants are producing 16 percent of total electricity around the world.

A two-member high-level team of Russian nuclear experts by Vladimir Averkiev, head of international co-operation at Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation, arrived in Dhaka Monday for the three-day talks. Nikolay Poznyakov, head of external affairs of International relations department, was the other member. Liakat Ali, acting chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, project director of nuclear power plant Shawkat Akbar, former chairman of the Commission Shafiqul Islam and director of BCSIR Rafiqul Islam were in the Bangladesh delegation.

High-powered watchdogs to come for NGOs

Thu, Apr 2nd, 2009 10:58 pm BdST

The government is moving to form a single high-powered body to oversee registration of non-governmental and charity organisations, the social welfare minister said Thursday. Another body will be formed to regulate and monitor their activities. AH Mostafa Shahid said some 55,000 organisations including NGOs, orphanages, associations, aid organisations receive money from the social welfare ministry alone. "Due to lack of monitoring, the government does not know how they spend the government allocation."

"It's necessary to monitor the NGOs' sources of income, so that the government can step in to prevent any of them if they have ill-motives," Shahid told reporters at the ministry. Asked if the government would take any measures to stop "militant financing", Shahid replied the sources of militant financing were still unknown. Meanwhile, the government has sent letters to local MPs to monitor the activities of madrasas. Money will only be allotted for those institutions in the new budget upon clearance from them.

"NGOs are stronger now, with widespread of coverage. This is high time to monitor their activities," he said. A proposal for forming a registration authority, which will get police verification if necessary, before giving an NGO registration, has already been sent to the prime minister. Initiatives have also been taken to form a Social Security Council, which will monitor the activities of already-registered NGOs, charities and voluntary organisations, the minister said. "The council will have the power to cancel registrations of any organisations that will have to renew their certificate every two years."

At present, the NGO Bureau, social welfare ministry and the department of cooperatives under the LGRD ministry oversees registration of NGOs, charities and voluntary organisations. "If there is a single authority to register them, then it would be much easier." The finance minister AMA Muhith also appreciated the social welfare ministry initiatives. A registration authority will make it easier to control the activities of NGOs and how the money channelled through them is being used, he said. About the militancy financing, Muhith said the existing money laundering law was enough to prevent militancy financing.

Go regional for power: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stressed regional cooperation to solve the power crisis in Bangladesh, one of her top advisers said Thursday. Sheikh Hasina, also energy minister, had a meeting with senior ministry officials and discussed ways to quicken the pace of work towards finding new sources of power. "The Prime Minister laid emphasis on regional cooperation and asked us to explore 'power trade' opportunities with Nepal, Bhutan and India," adviser Dr Toufique-E-Elahi Chowdhury told journalists after the meeting.

The adviser said the World Bank had already done some work in this regard and talked with Nepal and India. He said a Bank mission would arrive here on April 5 to discuss the issue with Dhaka officials. The adviser said the prime minister also suggested looking into the prospects of joint venture hydroelectric projects with Myanmar. The adviser said the prime minister discussed the short-, medium- and long-term steps to solve the long-running power shortage. "We are getting many offers from foreign investors. Our job would be to ensure best utilisation of such opportunity.

"Only yesterday, China National Petroleum Corporation, the largest oil company in China, expressed interest in investing here." The adviser said the prime minister recommended use of solar power in offices, courts, schools and colleges as she referred to many alternative sources of energy. The prime minister also ordered quicker implementation of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) assisted 150-mw plant which would get gas from the Bhola field. A 125-mw plant fuelled by Barapukuria coal was also discussed. "The plants that are being pursued now could generate 3000 megawatts in 3-4 years. For some of these, tenders are being called," the adviser said, adding the prime minister instructed officials to speed up the work.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 04 Apr 2009 01:29

Pics from the Pilkhana revolt ... #more-3108
121 km of border road, fencing completed

NEW DELHI, April 3 – At least 121 Km of border roads and fencing has been completed along Indo-Bangladesh border in March in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal. In its latest report, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has claimed that work is in progress on strengthening border security. At least 67 Km of fencing and 54 Km of roads were completed in March in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal. In addition, 43 Km of fencing was replaced along the Indo-Bangladesh border, the report said. The Central Government released Rs. 56 crore to the States in March under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP). The entire budgeted amount for 2008-09 of Rs.635 crore has been released.

The Ministry also reported progress in preparations for the National Population Register, the MNIC project, and Census 2011. The pilot projects for direct data collection were successfully completed in three States and one Union Territory on March 20.

Saturday, March 28, 2009
Delhi can’t afford to let Dhaka slip off its radar

THE FALLOUT from Bangladesh’s February 25-26 sepoy mutiny is still floating in the wind. What first hits the senses is the sheer insensate savagery with which the mutinous riflemen of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) slaughtered their officers, and in some cases their families, reminiscent of March 1971 and the murder of West Pakistani officers and families in a similar manner, perhaps by some of the same units. Something must have gone very wrong indeed for uniformed troops to go berserk in this manner. What could it have been? Perhaps it was some form of radical indoctrination, possibly with a religious orientation, that could whip up frenzy on an intensity far beyond mere issues of pay, rations or other administrative problems? The timing of the mutiny too raises other obvious questions: Why now? Why not earlier when the political dispensation in Dhaka was different? Or why not later, by which time Sheikh Hasina Wajed’s Awami League government would, perhaps, have had more time to settle down in office and get a firmer grip on the mechanisms of power? All indications are that the BDR mutiny was a well-organised pre-planned manoeuvre to traumatise and unbalance Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her fledgling government, and pressure them from the very beginning of their tenure. The question is: by whom, for what purpose and who stands to benefit? Is there a foreign hand? If so, it is highly unlikely to be India, then who?

Three parallel inquiries have been instituted into the events of those fateful 33 hours at the BDR’s Pilkhana headquarters, to determine the causes, sequence and responsibility for the outbreak. The first is by the Bangladesh government, the second by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Dhaka police and the third by the Army. Bangladesh’s commerce minister Lt. Col. Faruq Khan (Retd) has been asked to coordinate all three inquiries whose findings are expected to be known by the end of March, depending of course on the progress made in each case.

Sheikh Hasina is known to be well-disposed towards India, something that would be anathema to many in the political, legislative, administrative and more significantly, the military and intelligence echelons of Bangladesh, where, as in Pakistan, political power frequently flows from the barrel of the gun. India must definitely be concerned at the turn of events because the situation developing from the BDR mutiny indeed has many disquieting overtones from earlier times, such as Ms Hasina’s somewhat precarious tenure as Prime Minister from 1996 to 2001 and, of course, the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975.

The Bangladeshi armed forces, particularly the Army and the BDR, have developed their professional and corporate ethos, culture and outlook more on the model of the Pakistan Army and the West Pakistan Rangers, rather than the Mukti Bahini, in particular the disdain for civilian political authority and antipathy towards India — it is part of a legacy transplanted by the large number of Bengali officers of the Pakistan armed forces who were reinstated in the Bangladesh military after repatriation following the break-up of Pakistan.

Sheikh Mujib’s largesse was against the recommendations of his advisers and would ultimately prove fatal in 1975. This is one of the reasons why Ms Hasina and the senior hierarchy of the Awami League have never developed a rapport with their armed forces, somewhat akin to the relationship late Benazir Bhutto had with the Pakistan Army. Ms Hasina has never been comfortable in office, neither in her earlier 1996-2001 tenure and not now. Both Benazir Bhutto and Ms Hasina reigned as Prime Ministers but were not really allowed to rule. This is not the case with Begum Khaleda Zia and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) who are more attuned to the Army, to which Begum Khaleda’s personal status as General Zia-ur Rahman’s widow has definitely contributed.

This is important because in one perspective, the war in Bangladesh between India and Pakistan never really ended on December 16, 1971, but continued thereafter as a "Great Game" between the protagonists to retain Bangladesh within their respective spheres of influence. Round one went to India with the military victory in East Pakistan in 1971, the creation of Bangladesh and the installation of Sheikh Mujib as its founding Prime Minister. He was accepted as India’s protégé, but his assassination within three years and the signal failure of India’s external intelligence services to detect, warn and protect Bangabandhu was viewed in some quarters as a substantial defeat of India’s policies and, by implication, a victory for the "other side". Round two, therefore, went to Pakistan, but the violent, tortuous course of politics in Bangladesh thereafter does not lend itself to easy or coherent encapsulation. That notwithstanding, every occasion the Awami League comes to power is good news for India, while the same holds true for Pakistan in relation to the BNP.

Since there is now an Awami League government in office, the sepoy mutiny sounds like the opening bell for the next round of the "Great Game", to destabilise the government and replace the India-friendly government of Ms Hasina and the Awami League with a Pakistan-friendly one of Begum Khaleda Zia and the BNP. New Delhi will certainly not want that to happen in a country which previous non-Awami League governments had turned into a sanctuary and base of operations for jihadi terrorists groups like Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) and anti-India separatist groups from our Northeast. New Delhi fully and totally supports the Hasina government in Bangladesh, but open Indian approval can also become a kiss of death for the Awami League. India has restricted options and has to play its cards very imaginatively and judiciously. It must, on one hand, tighten vigilance on the Indo-Bangladesh border in terms of border fencing, BSF manpower and surveillance devices and systems. And inside Bangladesh, India must encourage and accelerate economic, corporate, cultural and people-to-people, particularly Bengal-to-Bengal, contacts. All this requires hard and sustained diplomacy.

Meanwhile, even as a concerned Bangladesh awaits the outcome of the three inquiries, the names of hardcore jihadi organisations — including the Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMJB) and HuJI-B — have started emerging from the shadows. These organisations have well-known and long-established ties with counterparts in Pakistan such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and others, which tell their own familiar story. This is to no one’s surprise because the "Great Game" continues. But alas, too easily and all too often Bangladesh keeps slipping off New Delhi’s radar screen. This must not be allowed to happen now.

First published in The Asian Age, India, March 24, 2009

Conspiracy theories and psy-ops circling in the BD press
BDR Mutiny: Is the Bangladesh Government hiding something? --- M. Shahidul Islam

"An attack on my soldier is an attack on me," so declared a European king in 1648 following conclusion of the Treaty of Westphalia that had brought into vogue the concept of sovereignty after 30 years of bloody wars between various Kings, Vickers and Princes of Europe. Ever since, sovereignty and soldiering have evolved almost symbiotically and the power of a sovereign nation began to be measured by the power of its armed forces, the quest for economic power running in tandem.

Rebellion of necessity

But, despite soldiering being as old a profession as is prostitution, professional soldiers too rose in rebellion from time to time, more so in this subcontinent. Many of such rebellion became 'rebellion of necessity', including the one against the British in 1857. The rebellion on March 26, 1971, by eight East Bengal Regiment, then stationed in Chittagong, kicked off the first armed resistance against the occupation Pakistani armed forces.

President Zia, then a Major serving in that unit, ventured into a dare-devil mission to kill his commanding officer first before making a declaration for independence at the local radio station on March 27, on behalf of Sheikh Mujib. Mujib being in captivity, that particular declaration inspired Bengali men and officers of the Pakistan armed forces to wage a war of liberation in which less than three dozens officers died in combat. The military history of the nation thus gained prominence over the political one, although the two remain inseparable.

Rebellion against sovereignty

It therefore surprises none that the unexpected death of nearly 60 senior military officers during the recent BDR mutiny has begun to threaten our hard earned independence in many ways, least of all through a shaken morale of the armed forces' members. In contrast to the 1971 rebellion, the BDR mutiny of February 25-26 was a rebellion against the sovereignty of the nation, although few tears are being shed and only cosmetic and lukewarm attempts are being made to bring to justice the culprits who had planned and executed a horrendous barbarity against a huge swathe of mid and high ranking military officers, built through over three decades of dedication and diligence.

People have also begun to voice concerns as the investigation into the massacre is getting delayed and stymied, on pretexts that more evidence-like audio and video footages of the rebellion-has been recovered. Realistically, these footages will only show the known activities of some rogue soldiers who partook into a rebellion that the government too insists to have been sparked by elements from without, and, the FBI was called in to look into that angle in specific. That notwithstanding, anyone sincere about getting to the bottom of this diabolic conspiracy against the country's sovereignty must come out of the partisan closet in order to uphold the necessity of preserving the nation's sovereignty at any cost.

Moment of truth

That spirit to get to the truth is needed more now than anytime before. George Orwell once said, "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." As the nation passes through many deceitful power plays being orchestrated by forces within and without, telling the truth may be the only recourse to save our sovereignty and independence from many more impending catastrophes of the like of the Peelkhana tragedy. Unfortunately, the disconcerting ambiance has further accentuated due to another major reason: Never before, has the regional and global power play with the nation's fate been more dreadful.

Tell tale signs

Insightful observers say tell tale signs are everywhere that carries bad omens of something ominous being in the offing. Following the warning released on March 16 by Indian Foreign Minister, Pranab Mukharjee, that 'India would not sit idle' if what he said 'attempts to destabilize Sheikh Hasina's government continue' (see, March 16, 2009), another regional and budding super power, China, became equally concerned, for the first time, with the prospect of an abrupt shift in regional balance of power if India do carry out its threats against Bangladesh.
The Chinese reaction was instantly felt when, on March 17, Foreign Secretary Towhid Hossian confirmed that Myanmar had started mobilising its forces along the 200 km Bangladesh border. Myanmar is a regional clientele state of China and much of Myanmar's military hardware comes from Beijing. The news of Myanmar's military preparedness was later acknowledged by Foreign Minister Dipu Moni who tried to down play the gravity of the situation by saying, "I do not like to voice any opinion now. We will firm up our stance after considering the situation."

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder told the media that the Myanmar armed forces had pushed reinforcements of its paramilitary forces across the Naaf River and started construction of infrastructures near the frontier. Sources say, besides constructing barbed wire fences along the common border, Myanmar forces have been mobilising air power at Sitwe airfield closer to Bangladesh and had dispatched a flotilla of Chinese made naval ships near the vicinity of Bangladesh's territorial water. Analysts interpret that this threat has a twin aim: Claiming deep sea energy blocks and sending a message of the Chinese determination to checkmate the Indo-US threats to intervene in Bangladesh.

Regional reactions

Concerned by such developments, and apparently surprised by what seemed Dhaka's total ignorance about the ramifications of these aggressive military postures of the two nuclear armed big powers (India and China), other regional nations became worried and tried to send coded diplomatic signals to Yangon and Dhaka through carefully phrased cryptic statements. In Indonesia, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged Prime Minster Gen Thein Sein of Myanmar to cooperate with international organizations to resolve the issue of Rohingya boat people fleeing from the sensitive Burma-Bangladesh border area while Singaporean Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, speaking at a dinner in honour of the visiting Myanmar Prime Minister on March 17, urged Myanmar leader to engage in greater international cooperation. Analysts further say that the Malaysian government had meanwhile decided to send back nearly 70,000 Bangladeshi workers, apparently due to Dhaka's naked subservience to the US-India axis against China.

Enter super powers

Curiously, the following day, March 19, CIA Director Leon Panetta, in his first overseas trip since taking office, flew to Delhi and met with India's home minister to discuss what Indian media said 'intelligence sharing and security matters prevailing in the region.' Panetta's visit followed a visit to Delhi two weeks ago by FBI Director, Robert Mueller, coinciding with Dhaka's declaration to seek FBI cooperation in the BDR mutiny investigation. That showed the FBI's intrusion into the BDR mutiny investigation did not occur just to strengthen the investigation regime, as was being touted by governments in Dhaka and Washington. Long before the mutiny, the US intelligence services began to act in concert with Indian spy agencies to fend off a twin-threat: encirclement of China and crushing of Islamist militants in Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia and Pakistan.
As this Great Game continued in the regional theatre, a US spy ship, USNS Impeccable, engaged aggressively, was chased away by Chinese spy ships in disguise of fishing trawlers in the South China Sea on March 11.

However, the CIA became more alarmed after various think tanks cautioned of an impending danger in Bangladesh which could result in the pro-Western Government's loosing grip on power. For instance, Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, a South Asian expert for the British-based think-tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), summarized the Government's position in the aftermath of the BDR mutiny: "The government was caught totally unaware (by the mutiny) and that's a bit worrying." Chaudhury added, "There was no intelligence coming in, no warning signals. I don't think the government is as yet fully in control of the military."

In control or not, the military has since been kept on a roller coaster ride by the government, shuffling and shoving officers from their posts which many of them joined only months ago. The same has occurred in the civil service, police, hospitals, universities and other organs of the state machinery. The entire nation now seems in a state of flux. This seemed to have scared the Western and Indian backers of the government too. "Beijing is fully aware of what is going with Bangladesh", said one Dhaka-based Sinologist, insisting anonymity. Earlier, the influential China Post predicted in its March 2 issue that 'seething anger in Bangladesh's army over a deadly mutiny by border guards could boil over into bloody revenge." The Post claimed, "The revolt has highlighted the fragility of the country's political leadership, which was taken completely by surprise when the violence broke out in the heart of Dhaka."

A Commentary by Vinod Joseph on India-Bangladesh Relationship

Before I did the research that forms the basis of this article, I used to wonder why India and Bangladesh aren't the closest of friends. Consider this: India was responsible for the creation of Bangladesh. If Indian troops hadn't invaded East Pakistan in defence of the Mukti Bahini, it is very unlikely that Pakistan would have allowed its eastern wing to break free. India lost around 2500 soldiers in the course of the 1971 war. Around 2 million Bengalis were killed and a couple of hundred thousand Bengali women raped by Pakistani soldiers in the events leading to Bangladeshi independence. Despite all this, Bangladesh seems to be at least as much friendly with Pakistan as it is with India!

One of the reasons for this frosty state of affairs on India's eastern borders used to be the dispute over sharing of the waters of the Ganges. This dispute has now been resolved with the signing of a treaty in 1996. At present Sheikh Hasina's Awami League is in power in Bangladesh and traditionally, the Awami League has been much closer to India than the other major political party, Begum Khalida Zia's Bangladesh National Party. However, despite a friendly government being in power in Dhaka, there has been no change in popular perception in each country of the other. The average Bangladeshi on the street doesn't seem to like India all that much and the average Indian on the street doesn't give two hoots about Bangladesh. Why is this so? In my opinion, there are various reasons for this state of affairs.

To start with, Indians tend to (wrongly) assume that because East Pakistan revolted against West Pakistani domination, it has given up its aspiration to be an Islamic country. Bangladesh is doubtless proud of its Bengali culture, but it never gave up its Islamic character either. Consider these facts: Sheikh Mujib-ur Rahman, the father of the Bangladeshi nation, was a member of the All India Muslim Students Federation since 1940. Mujib-ur Rahman was very close to Huseyn Suhrawardy, a leading member of the Bengal Muslim League, who worked actively for the cause of Pakistan. Mujib-ur Rahman was based in Kolkata in 1946, working under Suhrawardy's guidance, when the Muslim League organised Direct Action Day, leading to large scale communal violence and deaths.

The East Pakistani fight against West Pakistani and especially Punjabi domination commenced soon after Pakistan's independence when Jinnah announced that Urdu would be the national language for the whole of Pakistan. Mujib-ur Rahman led the Muslim Students League as it launched an East Pakistan wide agitation. Ever since then, Mujib-ur Rahman and other East Pakistani politicians were at loggerheads with politicians from West Pakistan. Their quarrel over the language issue was accentuated manifold when West Pakistani politicians tried every ruse in the book to prevent Bengali leaders from holding positions of power at the national level, not an easy task since East Pakistan had a larger population than West Pakistan.

In order to offset East Pakistan's electoral strength, all four provinces in West Pakistan, namely Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier Province, were sought to be treated as a single political unit. When East Pakistani politicians such as Khawaja Nazimuddin, Muhammad Ali Bogra and Huseyn Suhrawardy become Prime Ministers of Pakistan, they did not stay in power for long before they were deposed by the President, backed by Pakistan's powerful Punjabi-Pakhtun dominated military.

In the 1970 elections, when Mujib-ur Rahman and his Awami League (originally founded by Huseyn Suhrawardy) won a majority of the parliamentary seats, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto proposed that Pakistan should have two Prime Ministers, one for each wing! When Mujib-ur Rahman refused, he was imprisoned and martial law was declared. The Pakistani army launched Operation Searchlight with the intention of teaching Bengalis a harsh lesson they wouldn't forget easily. Politicians don't like to lose power, especially just after they have legitimately won an election. Sheikh Mujib-ur Rahman's declaration of independence was smuggled out to Chittagong and read over the radio by Major Zia-ur Rahman. The rest is history. The day Mujib-ur Rahman made the declaration of independence (26 March 1971) is treated as Bangladesh's independence day, though it was not until 16 December 1971 that Bangladesh was actually liberated from Pakistani troops.

Would East Pakistan have revolted against West Pakistan if Bengalis were allowed to hold office after wining elections? I don't think so. Mere imposition of Urdu as the national language would not have made East Pakistanis break off from their co-religionists in the West. Even in 1965 when India and Pakistan went to war, East Pakistan stood fast with West Pakistan though they complained that the Pakistani army was not present in strength in East Pakistan to defend it in case of an attack by India. It must not be forgotten that even when the Pakistani army was systematically murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians, many thousands of Bengalis collaborated with the Pakistani army. Doubtless such people were fired by their Islamic zeal, which made them want Pakistan to remain unified as a single Islamic nation.

Bangladesh's Islamic nature started to reassert itself soon after independence. After a brief ban for suspected collaboration with Pakistani forces, the Islamic Academy was revived. Bangladesh sought membership of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Islamic Development Bank. In 1974, less than 3 years after independence, Mujib-ur Rahman made a trip to Lahore to attend an OIC conference and patch up ties with Pakistan. {JN Dixit's writings come out here :)} After Zia-ur Rahman came to power, Bangladesh moved much further into the Islamic camp.

Even now, Bangladesh has an Islamic fundamentalist base which fights for stronger ties with Pakistan and other Islamic states, rather than with India. In my opinion, it is wrong to assume that this core group of Islamic fundamentalists is something new. Bangladesh always had this hardcore chunk, for without them, East Bengal would not have voted to break off from West Bengal and the rest of India.

A fact which is easily forgotten when discussing the deaths of around 2 million Bengalis as a result of the Pakistani army pogrom is that a disproportionate number of the victims were Hindus. Most surviving family members of the victims fled to India as refugees. Currently Hindus account for around 10% of Bangladesh's population, as opposed to around 28% in 1941 and approximately 15% before the Pakistani army pogrom. I am not for a moment suggesting that Bengali Muslims did not suffer under the Pakistani army. They did and most of the rebels who formed the Mukti Bahini were Muslims. However the present day population of Bangladesh doesn't have among them as many victims and families of victims as such a large-scale genocide would otherwise have warranted. This is one reason why Bangladesh has been able to largely forgive Pakistan and not press for reparations or compensation.

Indians assume that Bangladeshis will be eternally grateful to India for its intervention in Bangladesh, which led to Bangladeshi independence. I feel that it ought to be the other way around. India ought to be grateful to Bangladesh for giving India a chance to split its arch rival Pakistan into two pieces! As a result of Indians assuming that Bangladesh has chosen to be just a Bengali nation that will intrinsically be friendly towards India, rather than an Islamic-Bengali state (which is what Bangladesh is), Indians expect a lot from Bangladesh without putting in the necessary effort. For example, Indians are disappointed when Bangladesh doesn't crackdown on insurgents from India's north-east sheltering there, even though India hasn't exactly been ladling out favours to Bangladesh after its creation.

I feel it is very important that Indians realise they should not take Bangladesh for granted. Instead for every favour India seeks from Bangladesh, India must be willing to pay back in double measure. India needs to fill Bangladeshi media with sound bytes about how deeply India cares for friendship with Bangladesh. India could provide scholarships for Bangladeshi students to study in India. It could be made easy for Bangladeshi commodities (like jute) and goods (like garments) to be sold in India. Leaders from Bangladesh, irrespective of the party they belong to, should be invited to India and treated with honour and respect. Instead of treating all Bangladeshi leaders impartially and well, India has been taking sides in what's called the 'Battle of the Begums'. For those unfamiliar with the rivalry between Sheikh Hasina and Begum Khalida Zia, let me briefly summarise the reasons for the animosity between these two great leaders.

Sheikh Hasina is the daughter of Sheikh Mujib-ur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh. Post independence, after a brief honeymoon period, Mujib-ur Rahman became more and more autocratic. In January 1975 he declared himself to be the absolute ruler of Bangladesh and President for Life. In August 1975, a few army officers staged a coup and took over power. They killed Mujib-ur Rahman and all his family members who were present in Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina was in Germany at that time and escaped death. She stayed in exile for 6 years and returned to Bangladesh in 1981 as head of the Awami League, when Bangladesh was under General Ershad. Democracy was reinstated in Bangladesh only in 1991 and in 1996, Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League came to power.

Begun Khalida Zia (who heads the Bangladesh National Party) is the widow of Zia-ur Rahman, the army officer who had read Mujib-ur Rahman's call for independence over the radio. Though a Bengali, Zia-ur Rahman grew up in West Pakistan and joined the Pakistani army, winning various awards and decorations for gallantry during the 1965 war between India and Pakistan. The Pakistani army had very few Bengalis, especially in the non-administrative officer class, and Zia-ur Rahman was in a small minority. When Mujib-ur Rahman gave the call for Bengalis to rise up against oppression by West Pakistan, Zia-ur Rahman was one of the Bengali army officers who answered his call {once Zia figured that Pakistan would be on the losing side}. Zia-ur Rahman distinguished himself during the Bangladeshi war of independence.

After Mujib-ur Rahman was deposed in a coup, there were a series of counter coups and Zia-ur Rahman became the Chief Martial Law administrator of Bangladesh and later its 6th President. Zia-ur Rahman founded the Bangladesh National Party. One of the things Zia-ur Rahman did after coming to power was to pardon many of those involved in the coup that overthrew and killed Mujib-ur Rahman. It has never been proved if Zia-ur Rahman himself was involved in that coup. Zia-ur Rahman reversed many of Mujib-ur Rahman's policies. Whilst Mujib-ur Rahman was a socialist, Zia-ur Rahman promoted the private sector. Zia-ur Rahman moved Bangladesh away from the Soviet Union and started to develop close ties with the USA and later China. Bangladeshi demands for reparations and compensation from Pakistan were dropped. Many individuals accused of collaborating with Pakistan during the war of independence were rehabilitated. Close ties were forged with Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states. The constitution was amended to give it an Islamic slant. Zia-ur Rahman talked of a Bangladeshi identity rather than a Bengali one, seeking to integrate various minorities such as the Chakmas and Urdu speaking Biharis. He ruthlessly crushed all political opposition and in 1981, he was murdered by a group of army officers.

Unlike Mujib-ur Rahman who was dogged by allegations of nepotism and corruption, Zia-ur Rahman was known as Mr. Clean, even among his enemies. All his actions seem to have been motivated by a love for Bangladesh and ideology, rather than any personal vested interest. As it would be obvious to anyone, the Indian establishment considers Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League to be much more India friendly than Khaleda Zia and the Bangladesh National Party. Most Bangladeshis believe that India does its best to keep the Awami League in power. The net result is that even when the Awami League is in power, there is not much warmth towards India from the average Bangladeshi.

In my opinion, India should not take sides in the Battle of the Begums. Even though it is unlikely that Begum Khaleda Zia and the BNP will ever be as friendly towards India as Sheikh Hasina and the BNP, India ought to treat both the ladies and their respective parties the same. Even more importantly, the average Bangladeshi on the street should not get the impression that India is partial towards one party. Not only should India be impartial, India must also be seen to be impartial. Currently, an Awami League victory in the elections is treated as a victory for India and a victory for the BNP is treated as a victory for Pakistan. Islamic fundamentalists inimical to India have an incentive in undermining the Awami League. It is even possible that the recent mutiny by soldiers of the Bangladesh Rifles was instigated by Islamic fundamentalists who feel that by making Bangladesh unstable when the Awami League is in power, they are sending a message to India.

Another reason for the average Bangladeshi on the street to hate India is India's treatment of Bangladeshi immigrants. As we all know, immigrant inflows and outflows are dictated largely by supply and demand. Poverty stricken Bangladesh has a large number of people willing to work very hard just to make enough to eat two square meals a day. India, despite its poverty and other problems, has many areas where an individual willing to work hard can make an honest living. And so a large number of Bangladeshis cross the border illegally to live and work in India.

India doesn't have a system of giving work permits to unskilled workers from anywhere in the world, except to people from Nepal (who don't need a work permit). However, India's borders, especially its eastern borders are porous and India doesn't have the sophisticated technology needed to prevent the inflow from Bangladesh. To be honest, not a single country in the world has been able to put a total stop to immigration.

Once the Bangladeshis are inside India, having the run the gauntlet of corrupt border security forces and cops, they are at risk of deportation at any time if they are caught. One assumes that these illegal immigrants develop no love for India during their stay in this country. In various parts of India's north-east, immigration from Bangladesh has taken place over many decades, even prior to independence. It is common for many landlords in Assam and Tripura to lease out their lands to hardworking Bangladeshi immigrants and take from them a part of the crop as rent. Many such immigrants have Indian ID cards and therefore have voting rights.

Since (as mentioned earlier) Bangladesh has always had a component of fundamentalist Muslims, it is only fair to assume that some of the illegal immigrants to India are fundamentalist Muslims. Not all fundamentalist Muslims are terrorists, or even supporters of terrorism, but some of the Bangladeshi immigrants in India are capable of causing trouble. I have no idea what percentage such people comprise. I assume it is not very large.

To be very honest, there is no clear-cut answer to the problem of illegal immigration from Bangladesh. In my opinion (and this is only an opinion), rather than having an outright ban on illegal immigrants, India should permit a fixed number of workers from Bangladesh to work in India on fixed-term, renewable, work permits. Work permits should be issued through employers or labour contractors who must shoulder some of the responsibility for the migrants once they are in India. Those given work permits will have their finger-prints and DNA on file and I assume it will be relatively easy to keep a tab on their whereabouts.

Legal immigrants have an incentive to be law abiding, irrespective of their personal ideology. Also, they will not be able to obtain fake Indian ID and vote in Indian elections. Regulating Bangladeshi immigration, rather than banning it outright, will also generate some goodwill towards India. It is very possible that some of those who come to India on work permits may indulge in acts that are harmful towards India. However, such individuals will not be stopped from entering India even if there is no work permit scheme in place. As long as religion plays a major role in the life of the average Bangladeshi and the common Indian on the street, I don't think Indo-Bangla ties will get warmer beyond a point. One could say the same for Indo-Pakistani relations, but that's for another post.

Vinod Joseph is a professional who works long hours. When Vinod gets some free time, which is not very often, he likes to write. When he is not in the "write" frame of mind, he reads.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 06 Apr 2009 16:56

And Faisal's arrest has been made official on April 5th whereas his father/family claimed he was arrested on March 25th. So one solid week of thulping behind the scenes. I hope they have busted all the chotta huzoors also. But with every small bit of good news, expect something bad to happen in BD... Expect the UK HC in BD to act strange in the coming few days.
Bhola madrasa founder Faisal arrested

The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) early this morning arrested British citizen Faisal Mostafa, alleged patron of the militants' den busted in Bhola. The elite force also detained Hasan Saifuddin Badal, general secretary of the UK-based controversial NGO Green Crescent's managing committee, along with Faisal. Additional Director General (ADG) of the Rab Col Rezanur Rahman Khan told reporters that a joint team of Rab-8 and Rab headquarters intelligence wing arrested Faisal and Badal at Boghra, Pubail road in Gazipur at about 4.00am. They, arrested on suspicion of their involvement in the militant activities, have divulged their identity in preliminary interrogation, Col Rezanur said at a press briefing at the Rab headquarters in the capital. Now they will be handed over to the Borhanuddin Police Station in Bhola, he added.

Green Crescent chief Faisal 'arrested'

RAB says it arrested Faisal Mustafa, who allegedly channelled funds through a British charity to finance terror activities from Bhola-based Green Crescent Madrasa and Orphanage, and another man at Gazipur early Monday, 11 days after his family said he was arrested on Mar 26. RAB media wing director AK Azad told, "At around 4 am, a RAB contingent detained [London-based NGO Green Crescent chief] Faisal Mustafa and Saifuddin Badal from Gazipur." Badal was reported to be an aide to Faisal.

A briefing will be held at RAB headquarters at 3 pm, he said, when all details of the arrest will be divulged. Faisal's arrest in Dhaka was widely reported by the media on Mar 26. He was not named an accused in either of the two cases that have been filed against four Bangladeshi employees of the madrasa, despite the fact that his UK-based charity Green Crescent funds the Bhola madrasa-cum-orphanage.

RAB seized a massive cache of arms and ammunition on Mar 29 at the madrasa at Ram Keshobpur in Sachra union, Borhanuddin, some 20 kilometres from Bhola district headquarters and arrested four suspected militants who had been preparing for a major operation. The recovery included two pistols, two revolvers, four shotguns, eight magazines, two binoculars, two remote-control devices, 700 pistol and 200 shotgun bullets, 3000 splinters, six life jackets, 20 masks, two walkie-talkies and as many mobile phones. A number of Jihadi books were also seized.

Eleven children, aged between 5 and 6 years, were at the madrasa, which was heavily secured, during the raid. A modern bridge that links a big pond to the madrasa remains closed at night. Locals had no idea what was happening inside, Major Mamun Ur Rashid Mamun who led the operations had said. Green Crescent constructed the madrasa-cum-orphanage on the 12 acre site four years ago. These started operations three months ago. Faisal who lives in London funds the institutions and oversees the operations, according to RAB.

Finance minister AMA Muhith said on Mar 18 the government will examine NGO financing and activities and take strict measures against those found to be channelling funds to militants in Bangladesh. He said funding of militants came through many sources, through individuals and organisations. The minister mentioned "the large number of NGOs" approved during the past four-party alliance government by the then social welfare minister Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojaheed. The government would audit the accounts and activities of those NGOs meticulously, he added.

'Arrested earlier
Faisal's father Golam Mostafa, who lives in the UK, told the BBC on Mar 27 he heard from people that his son along with an aide was arrested in Dhaka. "I'm not sure from where he was arrested or who arrested him, but I'm sure he was arrested," said Golam. Faisal's father-in-law, Shahidul Haq Naqib Chowdhury, who lives in Dhaka, told he had no confirmation on whether Faisal had been taken away by authorities, or of his whereabouts. "One of Faisal's uncles told me that RAB had arrested him as he was going to Gazipur from Dhaka."

But Shahidul said another relative told him he had been arrested him from Kalabagan in the city. Media reports gave similar conflicting accounts. One newspaper said Faisal was "understood to have been arrested at Dhaka airport." Almost none gave any official quote. The Times was one exception, quoting a junior RAB officer, Captain Shafiul Alam, as saying Faisal was detained along with a Bangladeshi "agent". The report did not say where. The British newspaper also said The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was still to confirm the arrest.

Bhola Madrasa --- Russell gives confessional statement

Arrestee Maulana Mohammad Russell of Green Crescent Orphanage and Madrasa yesterday in a confessional statement said one Hasan Saifuddin Badal and Humayun Ahmed used to hold meetings at Green Crescent. He made his confessional statement to a Bhola magistrate under section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Answering to a query during the confession he said expatriate Faisal was the owner of the madrasa-cum-orphanage and Russell did not know anything about militant activities there. Rab arrested Russell from the orphanage at Bhola on March 24. The elite law-enforcing agency also recovered a huge volume of arms and ammunition from there.

Indian business team meets PM

A visiting delegation of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Calcutta today met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office. The team, led by chamber President Sanjay Bodhia, discussed finance and trade issues of the two countries with the premier. At the meeting, Bangladesh and India agreed to increase trade between the two countries. Later, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pinak Ranjan Chakrabarty met with the prime minister. While meeting with Hasina, Pinak Ranjan discussed the bilateral issues of the two countries.

Process of war crime trial kicks off Apr 8 --- UN experts to visit shortly to assist in investigation

The process of trying war criminals is expected to begin on April 8 with the appointment of an investigation officer and a public prosecutor. Meanwhile, Bangladesh has accepted a UN offer of sending a team of war crime experts to help Bangladesh try those who were involved in various war crimes during the Liberation War of 1971. Law ministry officials said the group of UN specialists, having experience in dealing with war crimes that had occurred in different nations, might visit Dhaka shortly.

UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Renata Lok Dessallien put forward the offer at a meeting with Law Minister Shafique Ahmed at his ministry. Home Minister Sahara Khatun was also present at the meeting. "We have offered Bangladesh to bring here specialists, who deal with the war crime issues, so that the trial process of 1971 war criminals meets international standards," Renata told reporters after the meeting. She said mistakes have been made in trials of war crimes earlier in many countries. "The experts will share their experiences here in Bangladesh to avoid the mistakes," she added terming the process very complex and delicate.

Renata reiterated the UN's cooperation in holding the trial but said the trial would be of Bangladesh's own, not the UN's. State Minister for Law Quamrul Islam said steps have already been taken so that suspects of war crimes cannot flee the country. He would not say who are on the list of suspects. An inter-ministerial meeting, scheduled for Wednesday at the home ministry, would discuss the probe and trial issues for the second time since March 25. The meeting may also appoint a public prosecutor.

Once an investigation officer is appointed, law ministry officials said a large team would be formed to initiate investigation into the genocide that took place during the Liberation War. The government has also passed a resolution in parliament paving the way for holding the trial. "Appointment of an investigation officer is the first step towards kicking off the trial process," said State Minister for Law Quamrul Islam, adding that the investigation officer would be appointed in Wednesday's inter-ministerial meeting.

A similar meeting on March 25, however, failed to make any decision regarding the appointment of investigation officer and public prosecutor. In reply to a question, the state minister said whatever risk is involved the government is committed to holding the trial since it is in Awami League's election manifesto and people gave the Awami League an overwhelming majority. It has become a national demand, he said.

Govt won't bar Razzaq from leaving country

Jamaat-e-Islami leader barrister Abdur Razzaq today withdrew two contempt petitions he earlier filed against the government after the attorney general assured the High Court that the government will not restrict him from leaving the country. The HC rejected the petitions considering that those petitions were not submitted to the court. The court was due to pass an order on the contempt petition today.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam this morning told the court that the petitioner may withdraw the petitions as the government will not bar him from going abroad. The petitioner's counsel barrister Azmalul Hossain also agreed to withdraw the petitions following the submission of the attorney general. Barrister Razzaq on March 19 and March 22 filed two separate contempt of court petitions against the government since the government did not allow him to leave the country for treatment despite of having the HC order directing the government to allow him to leave the country. Razzaq told The Daily Star that he will leave for Singapore tomorrow night along with his wife for treatment.

Razzak granted anticipatory bail from HC

The High Court (HC) yesterday granted six months' anticipatory bail to Jamaat-e-Islami leader barrister Abdur Razzaq in connection with the BDR mutiny case. After hearing a petition by Razzaq, the HC bench of Justice MA Wahhab Miah and Justice Marzi-ul Huq also issued a rule upon the government to show cause within six weeks why the petitioner should not be granted regular bail. Meanwhile, another HC bench yesterday fixed April 6 (today) for passing order on Razzaq's contempt petition against government. He filed the contempt petition for obstructing him from going to Malaysia and Singapore on March 19 despite having an HC order to visit the countries.

Asked whether the government will appeal with the Supreme Court (SC) against the HC order, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told The Daily Star that he did not receive such instructions from the government till yesterday afternoon. During the hearing of the petition yesterday, Razzaq's lawyer Rafiqul Islam Mia argued before the court that his client had no association with the Pilkhana carnage. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) notice for interrogation was to serve political purpose to harass Razzaq, he said.

Earlier, the HC vacation bench, upon two separate petitions filed by Razzaq, granted him anticipatory bail on March 29 and directed the government not to harass or arrest him in this case till yesterday. As the tenure of the order expired, Razzaq yesterday filed a fresh petition with the HC seeking bail in this case. The CID authorities issued a notice on March 28 asking Razzaq to appear with his passport for an interrogation on the Pilkhana carnage case at its Malibagh office on March 30.

Razzaq filed a writ petition with the HC on March 29 challenging the legitimacy of the CID letter. He prayed to the court to stay the CID notice. The HC, however, did not stay the notice, but directed the government to consider him as a witness, not an accused, in the case during the interrogation and return his passport. Following the HC order, Abdur Razzaq appeared at the CID office duly.

Chinese team due April 8

An eight-member high-level Chinese delegation from the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) led by Feng Zuoku, vice-president of the CPAFFC, will pay a good will visit to Bangladesh from April 8-10 at the invitation of Bangladesh China People's Friendship Association, says a press release.

BDR chief says reform delay may cost the country

Delay in reorganising the BDR after the bloody mutiny at the border guards' headquarters might cost the country, its chief and head of the paramilitary force's reorganisation sub-committee Maj Gen Mainul Islam Monday. "The sooner we finish with the reorganisation the better it is for the country because the mistrust that had caused all the troubles had better be dispelled as early as possible," he told reporters after a meeting with home minister Sahara Khatun.

He briefed the minister on his recent New Delhi tour where he had meetings with India's border Security Force, and the status of the reorganisation process. The sub-committee is culling the opinions of the BDR members about the reorganisation, which will all be collated in recommendations, Gen Mainul added. "Soon we'll be done with gathering opinions and feedbacks. We'll then formulate our recommendations based on the information gathered and place them before the government for approval," the BDR chief said.

Asked when the sub-committee would be presenting the recommendations, he said, "Soon." "Changing the force's name, uniform are only part of the reorganisation." Questioned why the army officers deputed to BDR were not wearing the BDR uniform, the general said, "It doesn't matter. I'll explain it later if people get really curious about it." The BDR chief himself was donning army uniform as he was speaking to the media.

Asked if any steps were being taken about the absconding BDR members, Gen Mainul said, "We'll be sending their complete lists to the police stations within a day or two. Once that's done, arresting the runaways will not be a very challenging job." He said there had been much headway in accounting for the looted and lost arms and ammunition.

Remittance jumps to single month high

Despite the global recession, Bangladesh received $881.3 million in remittances in March this year, the highest ever for a single month, the central bank governor said Sunday. The March figure broke the record of $859 million earned in January, according to Bangladesh Bank numbers. February saw $784.5 million. "Our foreign reserves have crossed $6.03 billion dollar due to the rise in remittance," central bank chief Salehuddin Ahmed told Sunday.

"The global economic downturn is yet to cast its spell on remittance inflow. This is very positive for our economy," he said. The World Bank, IMF, ADB and local economists have all predicted a dip in remittances, one of the economy's main indices, in the face of the global crisis. The governor, however, is optimistic that remittances will maintain an upward curve in the remaining three months (Apr.-Jun.) of the current fiscal year. According to central bank figures, the first nine months (July 2008-March 2009) has seen remittance earnings of $7 billion, a 34 percent jump over the same period of the previous fiscal year (2007-08). Total remittance in 2007-08 was $7.9 billion, and $6 billion in 2006-07.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Lalmohan » 06 Apr 2009 17:55

I have a hypothesis that bangladeshi's in the UK are being subverted by pakistanis in the name of the greater jehad and then being encouraged to return to bangladesh to spread the message amongst their errant birathers who have strayed away from punjabi overlordship and urdu eloquence

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Keshav » 06 Apr 2009 19:41

Wasn't there a guy named Yusuf who used to post here? Was he Bangladeshi?

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby sum » 06 Apr 2009 21:40

Yusuf is Indian , IMO.
Shafqat was/is the local BD face on this thread(along with a few random BD-Paki trolls).

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 07 Apr 2009 20:56

The chargesheet of Sh. Hasina during the address to the Jatiya Sangsad
1) The BNP's statements on the Pilkhana massacre were motivated,
2) The BNP wants to spread civil war in the country,
3) The prices of essential commodities are down now,
4) BNP creates anarchy in educational institutions using its stooges like BCL, most of it can be logically extended to arise from Gen Zia's rule,
5) BNP and its stooges legalized a whale of black money during their rule,
6) etc etc and more.
I will leave out Begum Khaleda's stereotypical response as we have seen it over and over and over again. Its so damn boring. For BD to get better, both these idiots must be taken away, seriously. Thats what the CTG also tried to do, but the US and the west that bails out BD had different ideas. So that begs the question: Why is the west so fond of either of the two begums and NOT the army?! We dont need James Moriarty to answer this question, do we?!
The government today appointed Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Commissioner M Habibur Rahman as acting chairman of the commission.

35 'most-wanted' JMB men still at large in 4 N dists --- Police worried as Pahela Baishakh approaches

[b]Thirty-five out of 50 'most-wanted' activists of banned Jama'atul Mujaheedin Bangladesh (JMB) are still active in four northern districts as police so far could arrest only 15 of them in the last four months. The absconding militants have now become a major cause of concern for police as they fear subversive attempts on the eve of Pahela Baishakh, the Bangla New Year Day. Police, however, claim that they have intensified their drives to hunt down the militants. Police said they foiled JMB attempt to create a chaotic situation and panic prior to the Jatiya Sangsad election on December 29 last year. They also seized some compact discs (CDs) and leaflets from a courier service office in Jaldhaka in the same month. Those CDs and leaflets contained speeches of Osama Bin Laden and executed JMB leaders Shaikh Abdur Rahman and Siddukul Islam Bangla Bhai. The law enforcers thus came to know about a vast network run by 50 JMB militants and launched massive drives from December 3 to net them.

"The drives are still on," said a top police official. Police raided different parts of Nilphamari, Rangpur, Dinajpur and Lalmonirhat and arrested only 15 of the most wanted JMB members in the last four months. They recovered from their possession many 'Jihadi' books, important notebooks and documents on making and using firearms and bombs. Sources said the remaining 35 JMB members have now chosen inaccessible Teesta shoals making those safe abodes for shelter and training. The 15 arrested hard core JMB activists are Noor-e-Alam,22, of Shoalmari Munshi Para village of Jaldhaka, Mamunur Rashid,35, of Shaolmari Munshi Para village of Jaldhaka, Didar Rahman,53, of Shoalmari Dewani Para of Jaldhaka, Majedul Islam Labu,32, of Shoalmari Ansarer Haat of Jaldhaka, Afiar Rahman,22, of Jaldhaka municipality, Hasenur Rahman,21, of Bogulagari Sarkar Para of Jaldhaka, Guljar Hossain Nahid,22, of Dakshin Kharibari of Dimla upazila, Hafizul Islam, 28, of Dakshin Tit Para of Dimla, Abul Kalam, 19, of Chhatnai Bangla Para of Dimla, Abdul Baki, 25, of Patgram of Lalmonirhat district. Mostafa,28, of Mezakort village of Lalmonirhat, Shahjahan Ali, 40, of Jot Joy Ram village of Dinajpur district, Abdul Kuddus Khan Salafi,48, of Protab Joy Sen village of Rangpur district, Moshiar Rahman,40, of Purba Khutamara village of Jaldhaka and Moawar Hossain, 37, of Shoalmari Alsiya Para village of Jaldhaka.

Of the arrested, 11 were rounded up from Nilphamari, two from Lalmonirhat, one from Rangpur and another from Dinajpur. "The absconding 35 JMB members have become a major cause of concern for police. Like at Pahela Baishak celebration in Dhaka, a few years ago, these fugitive militants may launch similar attack on this year's Pahela Baishakh function in the capital," said a top police official. Three special teams of police have already launched a massive haunt to nab them, he said. “We take special measures not only for Pahela Baishakh celebration but also for other important events," said Rashidul Haque, acting SP of Nilphamari.

War Crime Trial --- Govt to seek evidence from Pakistan, US
UN names 4 international experts to help in probe

The United Nations (UN) has named four international war crime experts to assist Bangladesh in the trials of war criminals of 1971, responding to a request of the government, officials said. The government has also taken initiatives to ask Pakistan and the US which supported Pakistan during the Liberation War, to provide Bangladesh with particular war related documents and evidence for the trial. The requests are being made under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973. Pakistan in particular will be requested to send information regarding the Razakars (the collaborators of the erstwhile Pakistani occupation forces in Bangladesh), said the officials.

"We are going to request all, including Pakistan and the United States to provide documents and evidence relating to the genocide committed during the liberation war and about those who were involved in war crimes," State Minister for Liberation War Affairs ABM Tajul Islam told The Daily Star yesterday. He said although the evidence and documents Bangladesh already has, are enough to try the war criminals, more documents and evidence are required to make the trials acceptable worldwide. The names of the four transitional justice experts sent by the local office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are Louis Bickford who is a political scientist and a member of the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Priscilla Hayner who is a co-founder of ICTJ, Bogdan Ivanisevic who is a Belgrade based consultant for ICTJ, and Alexander Mayer-Rieckh who is the head of ICTJ's security sector reform programme. Alexander Mayer-Rieckh was also the chief of the human rights office of the UN mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and worked in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and East Timor. The names were sent to the law ministry.

Earlier on Sunday, UNDP Resident Coordinator Renata Lok Dessallien offered Bangladesh international experts while discussing the issue of investigation, prosecution and trials of the 1971 war criminals under the provisions of the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973, during a meeting with Law Minister Shafique Ahmed in Bangladesh Secretariat. In a letter sent to Renata yesterday the law ministry appreciated the UN offer and sought all necessary assistance regarding the trials. "The government deeply appreciates such offers and requests you to be so good as to provide such assistance so that the trial can be held in a proper manner and in conformity with domestic laws as well as international standards," reads the letter, signed by Law Secretary Kazi Habibul Awal.

Back in January, Renata wrote to the law minister suggesting the government to invite some renowned experts in the field of war crime proceedings and truth commissions to share lessons and experiences from around the world. "This will help the government to learn from experiences elsewhere and to avoid possible costly mistakes," the letter read, which reiterated UNDP's commitment to supporting the government in the vital areas of development and governance. Sources in the law and liberation war affairs ministries said Pakistan will be asked to send documents and evidence following an inter-ministerial meeting scheduled to be held at the home ministry tomorrow. "The Pakistani government will also be asked to provide us with the names of those who had collaborated with the Pakistani occupation forces in 1971," an official of the liberation war affairs ministry told The Daily Star.

"With the request letter, Bangladesh will provide some documents, including a 1971 official gazette of the erstwhile Pakistan that recognised the Razakras as an auxiliary force of the Pakistani occupying army," he said. The gazette was signed by the then cabinet secretary Ghulam Ishaq Khan, in September 1971. The process of trying the war criminals will formally kick off tomorrow with the appointment of a chief investigation officer and formation of an investigation agency to probe the atrocities committed during the liberation war of Bangladesh. State Minister for Law Qamrul Islam told The Daily Star yesterday that the modus operandi of the UN help will be fixed soon since there is no obstacle to trying the war criminals.

A resolution was passed in the parliament in January for trying the war criminals. The government also prepared a list of suspected war criminals and warned the law enforcement agencies so that they may not flee the country. Asked about the suspects, Tajul Islam said, "I can't tell you the number. What I can tell you is that the number of suspects will be quite large." He said the government will do everything to make the trials transparent and fair. "If needed observers from the UN and European Union (EU) will be allowed to be present at the trials." There are a total of 1,779 war criminals, including 369 members of the then Pakistan armed forces, according to an official document. Some 30 lakh civilians were killed by the erstwhile Pakistani occupying forces and their collaborators in 1971 during Bangladesh's war of independence, while about 2,00,000 women were raped, and tens of thousands of homes were torched and plundered.

Earlier, an initiative to prosecute war criminals was called off after the 1975 bloody regime change following the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family. Bangladesh Sector Commanders' Forum, a group of 1971 war veterans, last year revealed that 11,000 indicted war criminals were released from jail a few months after the August 15, 1975 assassination of Bangabanadhu, the architect of Bangladesh's independence.

Bashundhara Fire --- CID starts quizzing mall employees

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) investigators yesterday started quizzing the officials and staffers of Bashundhara City Complex about its 'mysterious fire' on March 13 that left seven people killed and several others injured. A team of CID led by ASP Syed Momin Hossain, also the investigation officer, visited the shopping mall yesterday. Momin said "We visited the spot and talked to a number of people of the shopping mall as part of our investigation." The quizzing would continue to unearth the cause of the fire, the ASP said. CID sources said the investigators have been assigned to unearth the cause of the fire and to estimate the loss of valuables gutted by the blaze. Earlier, a three-member probe committee, headed by a joint secretary, carried out an investigation into the incident but it failed to find out the cause of the fire. However, the committee submitted its report to the government with a recommendation to conduct further investigation by the intelligence agency.

Statement of Joj Miah recorded in Aug 21 case

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) today recorded the statement of Joj Miah in the case filed against three former investigators of the August 21 grenade attack case. The statements of Joj's mother Jobeda Begum and brother Babul Hossain along with Joj Miah were recorded in Kashimpur Jail of Gazipur from 12:30pm to 2:30pm, CID Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Rownakul Huq Chowdhury, the investigation officer of the case confirmed to The Daily Star. The CID also summoned Abul Hasem Rana and Shafiqul Islam to the CID Malibagh headquarters on April 12 for recording their statements.

Joj, Rana and Shafiqul were allegedly forced or lured into making false statements before magistrates in the case filed in connection with the August 21, 2004, grenade attack on an Awami League rally that claimed 24 lives. In the statement, Joy described how the three former CID investigators forced him to give false statements. Joj Miah is currently serving seven years' imprisonment at Kashimpur Jail in a case filed in connection with possessing illegal arms and explosives.

His mother and brother were summoned to present at the Kashimpur Jail gate for giving statements in the case. According to the case statement, retired ASP Abdur Rashid, the first investigation officer of the August 21 grenade attack case, arrested 20 people and forced three of them to make false statements. After his retirement, ASP Munshi Atiqur Rahman was appointed investigation officer of the case on December 24, 2005. Atiqur also followed the first investigation officer's path, sources say. Retired special superintendent (SS) Ruhul Amin was their supervisor.

The last caretaker government appointed ASP Fazlul Kabir of CID as the investigation officer of the grenade case. Fazlul revealed that his predecessors misdirected the case, destroyed evidence and forced people to make false statements to shield the real culprits. He filed a case with Paltan Police Station last March 29 accusing the three former CID officials. In the case he mentioned that the three former CID officials had tortured and lured Joj, Hasem and Shafiqul into making false confessional statements before magistrates. The CID has raided homes of the three retired officials and issued alerts to all immigration offices and border posts so that they cannot leave the country.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 10 Apr 2009 21:22

I dont think BD has the capacity to investigate this case to fruition. Too many cover-ups and random utterings by Faruk only make matters worse.

On top of that, Sh. Hasina has picked up her old battle with Beg. Khaleda from where they left off before the CTG came in. She is evicting BKZ from the cantonment area and thats creating a needless ruckus in the country when the focus should be on cutting off the legs of the remnants of JMB and the Razakar-lites, the radical Bhola-types, conducting the war crimes trial, and figuring what caused Pilkhana. By this very action, SHW has provided a cause for the opposition to rally around. We already have seen that the ACC has been morphed into an AL-chamchagiri.

If there is an election anytime soon, we may see a very different result from what happened on Dec 29, 2008. The shelf life of BD governments is just this much. Why did the Islamists have to do a Pilkhana for all this and rid BD of so many fine men? They should have waited for the AL to run the country for six months, and the people would have been happier to support them.
Arrests in mutiny case exceed 1,000

The number of BDR jawans arrested over the February 25-26 carnage in Pilkhana rose to 1028 with 15 border guards being shown arrested in the case today. Senior police officers said they did not see so many people to be arrested in a single case. "I did not see so many arrests in a case and so many investigators probing into one incident in my entire job life," said NBK Tripura, additional inspector general of police.

Fazlul Kabir, assistant superintendent of police of CID, told The Daily Star that the latest arrests were made on the basis of footage recovered after the bloodshed. Among the arrested, 190 BDR jawans were interrogated in remand for various terms. Thirty-one BDR men so far confessed to their involvement in the mutiny taking place on February 25 and 26. Additional IGP Tripura said the number of people investigating the BDR mutiny was the biggest he had ever seen in his life.

Seventy-five people, including 57 army officers, were killed in the two-day bloodshed. Shortly after the grisly incident, the Criminal Investigation Department launched its investigation with 60 personnel divided into eight groups. The number of CID investigators rose to 250 in 15 days. Over 500 CID members were now working on the case. Besides, the Rapid Action Battalion was helping the CID in the investigation. Colonel Reza-nur Rahman, additional director general of Rab, told The Daily Star that Rab personnel in all battalions across the country were helping the investigation.

In addition, a big number of army personnel were trying to arrest the fugitives in a drive styled 'Operation Rebel Hunt.' Dhaka Metropolitan Police was also of much help. Putting the arrested people in custody, taking them to the court and guarding the arms were among the key tasks of the DMP.

War crimes trial process has started, says govt

The government will appoint an investigating agency, prosecutors and form tribunals within two weeks, for the long-awaited war crimes trials, the law minister said on Thursday. "The trial process has started," Shafiq Ahmed told reporters after the first meeting of the committee for investigating and prosecuting war crimes committed during the 1971 independence war. He said the home ministry will engage the investigation agency early next week.

"We want the trial process transparent, neutral and proper so that no innocent person is victimised. Only the genuine offenders will be put in the dock." On allegations that some people in the government are war criminals, the minister said, all war criminals—irrespective of their partisanship or following—will be brought to justice. Whoever found accused of committing crimes against the humanity and killing innocent Bengalis in 1971 while working in aid of the Pakistan army will be tried under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973, the minister added.

The government earlier termed the formation of the high-level probe committee as the "first step" toward the long-awaited trials. Home minister Sahara Khatun, state minister for home Tanjim Ahmed Sohel, state minister for law Kamrul Islam, state minister for liberation war affairs AB Tajul Islam, attorney general Mahbubey Alam, home secretary Abdus Sobhan Shikder, the police chief, RAB director general and chiefs of intelligence agencies were present in the meeting. Demands from civil society for war crimes trials in Bangladesh have gathered momentum in recent years.

The new government came to power in January with a pledge to try war criminals. It has already announced that the trials will be held under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973. The UN has also offered support for the trials. Following a meeting earlier in the week with home minister Sahara Khatun and the law minister, UNDP country representative Renata Lok Dessallien said her agency had offered the government all assistance to ensure the trials met international standards.

Ganges Barrage project in sight of drawing board

The long-proposed Ganges Barrage project is finally set for the design stage, subject to approval of the purchase committee, said the water resources minister on Thursday. Development Design Consultants (DDC), a Bangladeshi concern, will take the project to the drawing board with some assistance from Australian, Chinese and Pakistani consultants. Water resources minister Ramesh Chandra Sen said the go ahead may be given as early as this month on completion of all formalities. "The government is set to give the order for study and design of the Ganges Barrage project," he told reporters.

He said the barrage, with proper management of water resources, would boost poverty alleviation and economic progress in 21 northwesetrn and southwestern districts from Rajshahi to Barguna. "It will enrich livelihoods in the Ganges-dependent region, reducing salinity, protecting wildlife diversity in the Sundarbans and developing and expanding agriculture and fisheries," said the minister. At the same time, navigability in 34 out of 54 rivers shared with India may be improved or restored.

Water resource secretary Sheikh Wahiduzzaman said the total expenditure for the study and design stage is estimated at over Tk 34 crore. "It may take four years to complete the study and design in two phases. Efforts will be made to do it in less time," he said. Questioned how long it would take to see the barrage completed, Sen said, "Work will start as soon as possible after the design is complete. But it may take 20 to 25 years to build." On the cost of such a mammoth project, the minister said, "Preliminarily work will begin with the government's own funds."

But financing the estimated Tk 10,000-15,000 crore project is not possible without help, he said. "Donor assistance will be sought out of necessity." Asked about hydroelectric power projections, the minister said, "Nothing definite can be said now." "But a similar Nepalese project is expected generate 86,000MW," said the minister.

Govt to quell unrest over Khaleda house

The home minister has said the government will quell any move to create unrest over the last week's cabinet decision to cancel lease on BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia's house in Dhaka cantonment. "Some people are trying to create disorder over the issue, but [we] won't let it happen," Sahara Khatun said Friday at a programme at the National Press Club in Dhaka. The minister asked how Khaleda being the opposition leader could do politics in the cantonment when Sheikh Hasina, while she was opposition leader, too, was not allowed to enter the restricted area.

Addressing Khaleda, the opposition leader, she said, "Please move to your Gulshan house in line with the government's decision. People will appreciate you." "How many houses does a person need?" Khaleda had occupied the house illegally and now the BNP were spreading misleading words, Sahara said. The home minister said Pakistan army collaborators in 1971 war, the Razakar and Al-Badr, would no more be allowed to drive flying national flag while freedom fighters wander about the streets.

The government has decided to appoint investigating agency, tribunals and prosecutors, she pointed out. On Peelkhana carnage by border guards, she said the government wanted to punish the perpetrators severely so that no-one dared to kill army officers again. She attended a discussion styled 'Importance of Homeopathic Treatment in Healthcare of Bangladesh' organised by pro-independence Homeopathic Doctors Council.

Dilip Kumar Roy, president of the council, presided over the discussion where state minister for law Kamrul Islam also spoke. State minister for law Kamrul Islam said prime minister Sheikh Hasina felt the importance of homeopathic treatment and so, her past government had allotted money to that sector although no other government allocated funds. He announced that the government would appoint a homeopathic doctor in each Upazila.

FM urges Bhutan to use Ctg, Mongla sea ports

Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni yesterday said Bhutan could use Chittagong and Mongla sea ports as those are much closer to it than Kolkata port. “Consequently, this can help save both time and money,” she said when Bhutanese Ambassador Dasho Tshering Dorji made a farewell call on her at the foreign ministry. On regional cooperation in generating hydropower, Dipu Moni said international financial institutions, including the World Bank, may provide funding if more than two countries in the region undertake a mega project for production of hydropower. She said the government could consider a joint initiative of Bangladesh-India-Nepal and Bhutan in this regard. Dipu Moni said Bhutan is a friendly country of Bangladesh and it can take skilled manpower from here. She said a proposal for recruiting Bangladeshi physicians to Bhutan is under consideration. The number of Bhutanese students is increasing in Bangladesh medical colleges and higher educational institutions. They stressed the necessity of high level visits, including the business delegations, between the two countries.

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