Bangladesh News and Discussion

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Gerard » 11 Apr 2009 23:57

Bangladeshi fisherman shot dead by Nasaka
One Bangladeshi fisherman was shot dead and anther injured by Myanmar border force Nasaka in the Bay of Bengal this afternoon. BDR sent a letter to Nasaka protesting the killing of Bangladeshi fisherman

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby nsa_tanay » 13 Apr 2009 22:40

TOI Link
Man behind Hasina bid held in Baguiati
13 Apr 2009, 0348 hrs IST, TNN

KOLKATA: A dreaded Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami Bangladesh activist, wanted for at least two failed attempts on the life of Bangladesh Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina and several other terror attacks in the country, was nabbed by CID officers from a hideout in Baguiati on Sunday.

Police said he had undergone a cosmetic surgery here to evade detection.

Mufti Ibrahim, alias Jalauddin, is the cousin of HuJI-B commander Mufti Abdul Hannan, now in a Bangladesh jail, police said. He hails from Kotalipara in Gopalgunge and joined HuJI-B after Hannan returned from Afghanistan in 1993 where he fought for Taliban as a mujahid.

Ibrahim is wanted for planting 76 kg explosives near the venue of a Hasina meeting at the Kotalipara helipad in July 2000. The explosives were detected just minutes before the rally. Four years later, he is suspected to have played a role in a grenade attack on an Awami League rally on Bangabandhu Avenue. Mufti Hannan was arrested for masterminding the attack.

Soon after, Ibrahim fled, took shelter in North 24-Parganas and got in touch with other Bangladeshi gangsters hiding in the state. With the help of these criminals and an influential person believed to be a former Bangladeshi politician now hiding in Kolkata he rented a flat in Baguiati's Aswininagar area. Late on Sunday, officers of CIDs special operation group raided his house.

Ibrahim's local accomplices had put him in touch with a cosmetic surgeon in central Kolkata a few years ago and he is believed to have altered his looks.

"A few other dreaded Bangla dons, including Mohammed Iqbal and Sufi Khan, also changed their looks with cosmetic surgery at the same clinic. We are trying to find the exact changes to Ibrahim's appearance," said a CID officer. "We are grilling him for further details," added S N Gupta, DIG CID Operations.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Rahul M » 13 Apr 2009 23:06

oh dear, I used to live there couple of years back ! that whole place is in fact becoming a hotbed of criminals, musclemen and illegal immigrants from BD.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Gerard » 14 Apr 2009 06:39

Another BDR man commits suicide
With the death of sepoy Ashraf, 11 BDR men, including the Pesh Imam of BDR headquarters central mosque, have died since the Feb 25-26 Pilkhana carnage.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby kidoman » 17 Apr 2009 16:29

Yet another BDR jawan dies

Havilder Kazi Saidur Rahman, 46, of 13 Battalion, arrested in connection with the February 25-26 BDR carnage, was the 13th jawan to die in custody.

Is the army taking its revenge??

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Lalmohan » 17 Apr 2009 17:51

probably heavy handed interrogations going wrong... the dead men may not even have been involved... from earlier reports, many fled. if you were a ring leader, would you come back?

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Tilak » 19 Apr 2009 10:21

Menon warned Dhaka of assassination plot: report
Sat, Apr 18th, 2009 5:30 pm BdST

Dhaka, Apr 18 ( – India has warned Bangladesh's political leadership, including prime minister Sheikh Hasina, of a possible assassination plot, an Indian newspaper reported Saturday.

The Indian Express said foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon had informed Dhaka of the threat during a recent visit.

Menon arrived in the capital on an "unscheduled visit" on Apr 12.

Bangladesh foreign ministry officials had said it was the first time an Indian foreign secretary had arrived without prior announcement at such short notice.

Indian officials in Dhaka had played down the 'unnanounced' element, saying the trip was just "part of ongoing dialogue between friends, between neighbours".

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby sum » 19 Apr 2009 14:40

India has warned Bangladesh's political leadership, including prime minister Sheikh Hasina, of a possible assassination plot, an Indian newspaper reported Saturday.

The Indian Express said foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon had informed Dhaka of the threat during a recent visit.

Menon arrived in the capital on an "unscheduled visit" on Apr 12.

Very interesting...Our agencies must have picked this up from all the Pakis they are monitoring..

Hope SH remains safe for India's sake.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 20 Apr 2009 07:29

The following article points to official sanction from BNP, that much I can sense, cos NSI is nobody without the body politic of BD... Shri MKN's visit was not only for informing SHW about an assassination attempt, but also for Anup Chetia handover and the arms drop case. What gets bandied about is the tip of the ice-berg... Watch for some movement in the next few weeks. It is in India's interests in ensuring that SH stays healthy for her term.
Ctg Arms Haul Case --- NSI officer held for hiring trucks --- Transport agents identify him

A National Security Intelligence (NSI) field officer was arrested and placed on a two-day remand yesterday for allegedly hiring the 10 trucks that were supposed to carry the arms and ammunition seized at the CUFL jetty. Meanwhile, Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Ltd (CUFL) former managing director (MD) Mohsin Talukder was placed on a two-day fresh remand and investigators got the permission to interrogate CUFL former general manager (GM) Enamul Haq at the jail gate in connection with the arms haul. Ten truckloads of firearms and ammunition were seized at the CUFL jetty in the early hours of April 02, 2004 and two cases were filed in this connection later on.

Sources said arrested NSI field officer Akbar Hossain Khan, now serving as a field officer at NSI Gulshan circle, reportedly hired the 10 trucks under the fake name of NSI field officer 'Abul Hossain' to carry the deadly weapons. Akbar Hossain was interrogated Saturday after owner and manager of the transport agency, which provided the trucks, made statements before a magistrate. Habibur Rahman and Taslim Mallick--owner and manager--of Greenways transport agency in their statements before the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate Kiron Chandra Roy on April 12 said NSI field officer 'Abul Hossain' hired the trucks from them saying he would transport salt.

Following their statements the investigators Saturday interrogated Akbar Hossain as well as Assistant Director (AD) Mohammad Ali Chowdhury of NSI Gulshan circle (the then AD of NSI, Chittagong) at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Chittagong divisional headquarters in Dampara Police Lines. Since Akbar Hossain continued to deny his involvement in the matter Habibur Rahman was brought in to identify him as the person who hired the trucks. The CID arrested Akbar after receiving clearance from higher authorities. NSI AD Mohammad Ali Chowdhury, who gave statement under 161, was kept under close vigilance and he might be called for further interrogation later, said investigation officer of the case Muniruzzaman Chowdhury, senior ASP of CID, Chittagong division.

Akbar Hossain was produced before the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate Abu Hannan with a five-day remand prayer yesterday afternoon. The investigators also produced CUFL former MD Mohsin Talukder and former GM (administration) Enamul Haq before the same court with a prayer for five-day fresh remand for each. The court placed Mohsin on two days' fresh remand and permitted investigators to interrogate Enamul at the jail gate. The CUFL former MD and GM were placed on a three-day remand each on March 17. The former CUFL officials were reportedly not cooperating with the investigators during questioning. They were arrested after former CUFL assistant security officer made a statement before a magistrate on March 12.

Meanwhile, nine more Bangladesh Navy officers, who were serving in Bangladesh Coastguards on deputation early 2004, appeared for questioning yesterday. With them, a total of 26 Navy men including officers and crew, out of listed 38, were questioned in connection with the sensational Chittagong arms haul case. The IO of the case said some of the 26 former Coastguards men who had been interrogated earlier might be called again for further questioning.

For every move from India, there is a counter move from the other side. Why should BD talk to SA in handling war criminals?! The hold of the custodians of Makkah and madina amazes me.... The sooner the oil dries out, the better it is for the world at large, and India, in particular. This is de javu all over again. SMR also claimed from Mt Everest that he will try the razakars and razakar-lites, we all know where it went. This posturing from SHW was just election manifesto, and most common-sensical observers knew the bluff. It is not that BD folks are so gullible to believe AL manifesto and yet vote for her, it is just that the widescale corruption under BNP was so intolerable that they could nt give a crap about AL's bullcrap manifesto. If there was an analogy for between the devil and the deep sea, this is it. DMK vs ADMK, the BD version of it....
PM goes to Saudi Arabia today

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Saudi Arabia will focus on crucial issues that include lifting of restrictions on recruiting Bangladeshi workers there and seeking Saudi support in trying war criminals. Hasina will also talk bilateral trade and investment with the Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. She is leaving for the Kingdom tonight with a 35-member delegation that includes Hasina's sister Sheikh Rehana, son Sajeeb Wazed Joy, cousin Sheikh Rekha, Awami League (AL) presidium member Kazi Zafarullah and three ministers and two state ministers.

Hasina's Saudi visit was postponed twice. During the four-day tour to the kingdom, Hasina will also perform umrah. Party sources said Hasina picked Zafarullah as a member of her entourage because he has close relations with Saudi government high-ups. Hasina will meet King Abdullah on April 21. Hasina will request the Saudi government to resume, in full swing, recruiting Bangladeshi workers there. Recruitment was partially banned in March last year that resulted in a significant drop of manpower export to that country.

"We will of course seek their support in trying the war criminal in our country," said a senior cabinet minister preferring not to be named. Talking to The Daily Star State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hasan Mahmud, said, "The issue of manpower will surely come up for discussion with the king." State Minister for Labour and Employment Monnojan Sufian said, "We will request Saudi Arabia to hire more workers from Bangladesh and make sure that they get good salaries." Sources say that the labour issue is at the top of Hasina's agenda.

There are around 20 lakh Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia, the largest labour market for Bangladesh, but the number of workers going to that country has drastically dropped in recent times due to the partial ban. In 2007, Saudi Arabia hired 2.04 lakh Bangladeshis. In 2008 the number was only 1.3 lakh. In January-February this year, the Kingdom employed only 2,500 workers from Bangladesh. Manpower businesses and experts said that it would be a great success for Hasina if she manages to get the partial ban lifted.

The prime minister will also urge the kingdom to allow Bangladeshi workers to change jobs while they are under contract. Sheikh Hasina will also discuss signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to protect the rights of Bangladeshi workers more effectively and increase their salaries, an expatriates' welfare ministry official said. Hasina's 35-member delegation also includes Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and State Minister Hasan Mahmud, Minister for Labour and Employment Khandker Mosharraf Hossain and State Minister Monnojan Sufian, Prime Minister's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad, Deputy Press Secretary Nakib Uddin Ahmed, APS Khairul Islam, Protocol officer Monzila Farook and Zafarullah's wife Nilufar Zafarullah.

BD is an Islamist state, but still, when we see a PM making an entourage to SA, the following report should carry some sense.
PM's meeting with qaumi madrasa leaders -- Build up on the positive understanding

We have noted with due concern that in recent weeks much discussion has gone on about the alleged links of qaumi madrasas to religious militancy in the country. Against this backdrop, a team of religious leaders met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday and apprised her of their grievances vis-à-vis some comments on qaumi madrasas allegedly made by some senior government figures. The prime minister, we are happy to note, reassured them that the comments had been taken out of context and that her government sought the cooperation of the ulema in combating religious militancy. Clearly, the meeting has proved to be a useful exercise in establishing rapport between the government and the ulema community, a move that bodes well for the country. For their part, the qaumi madrasa representatives assured the PM of their cooperation in stamping out religious militancy wherever it might surface.

It was surely a commendable and wise move on the part of the prime minister to have met the qaumi madrasa leaders; and on the part of the madrasa representatives, it was a good gesture to have reciprocated the government move. At a time when religious extremism appears to threaten social and political order, it is hugely important that the cooperation of the ulema be made use of in the greater social interest. By far the most important job in allaying all fears about the alleged role of some madrasas in militancy lies with the madrasa people themselves. They will be rendering creditable service to the country by using their considerable influence on the community through ensuring that religion is not used as a cover for irreligious and other anti-social activities by any quarters.

And then there is more that these madrasas can do. They must ensure that this stream of education does not any more stay confined to a one-directional approach, that of rearing up the young merely as future preachers. In a world of increasing economic complexities, these madrasa students must face up to the realities around them -- that they must also acquire education and skills training which give them the opportunity to find jobs and earn a decent living. In this context, the law minister's assurance that the government is contemplating recognising qaumi madrasa education by bringing it into mainstream education is to be considered a step in the right direction.

The dialogue between the prime minister and the qaumi madrasa leaders is certainly a good augury. Let it be the beginning of many more to come. Madrasas can surely fill society's needs, through reinventing themselves in the greater public interest.

Pilkhana Carnage --- Investigators find 60 more BDR jawans involved

Sixty more Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) personnel are likely to be indicted for their alleged involvement in the February 25-26 carnage in the BDR headquarters. An official of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) tasked with the investigation said the BDR personnel are likely to be shown arrested in the mutiny case today. Seeking anonymity, the CID official said, "On the basis of our own intelligence and after scrutiny of the video footages, we identified around 60 jawans and have primarily interrogated them at Pilkhana." Meanwhile, five other BDR jawans have been taken to the Task Force for Interrogation (TFI) cell for intensive interrogation after investigators found their active involvement in the mutiny.

Two other jawans yesterday confessed to their involvement with the killings and lootings at Pilkhana during the mutiny while eleven others were placed on remand for interrogation by a Dhaka court. The court also sent sixteen jawans to jail after they were produced before it in the case primarily filed with Lalbagh police station and later shifted to New Market Police Station. Another investigator said the five taken to TFI for interrogation were directly found to be involved in the mutiny. "We expect to get important information from them," he added.

Our Court Correspondent adds: Two more Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) jawans -- sepoys Mohammad Rajib and Rian Ahmed -- made statements yesterday confessing their involvement in the killings and lootings at Pilkhana. Metropolitan Magistrates Julfikar Hayat and Tofael Hassan recorded statements of sepoys Mohammad Rajib and Rian Ahmed after the investigation officer of the case produced them before the court. After recording their statements, the two were sent to jail. Meanwhile, a metropolitan magistrate court placed seven jawans on five days remand and five others on four days remand each for interrogation in the case.

The jawans facing a five-day remand are sepoys Abdur Rashid, Abdur Rashid (2), Habibur Rahman, Habib Ullah, Suman Miah, Suman Mollah and Mintu Sheikh while subedar Ramendra Nath Bishwas, Lance Nayek Shariful Islam, sepoys Syed Anwar Hossain and Zikrul Haque were remanded for four-day each. Thirty-nine jawans and civilians, including yesterday's two, have so far given confessional statements on different dates. A total of around 1,050 jawans and civilians are now shown arrested in the mutiny case.

Challenges from within --- Kazi S.M. Khasrul Alam Quddusi

WHILE the BDR incident had been a real acid test for the Awami League led grand Alliance government in its first 100 days, some challenges from within the party rank and file have emerged sharply, and put it in a rather disadvantageous situation. Most of the upazila chairpersons, who have vowed to wage a strong movement even against the government to get their demands fulfilled, belong to Bangladesh Awami League. Some constitutional and positional changes that have taken place during the tenure of this government have, reportedly, also been propelled by the ambitious party people. Yes, the upazila issue seems to have heated up recently. While the upazila chairmen have also the option of taking recourse to legal procedure on the strength of Articles 58 and 59 of our Constitution, the LGRD minister has given a strong warning against the chairmen's threat of waging a movement.

Although the upazila system was introduced by a military ruler, its representative and developmental role is well appreciated. Admittedly, civil society organisations and academicians have been always crying out for decentralisation and strengthening of local governments. It is unfortunate that the upazila level of local government, which has the makings of being a strong local government body, had not been put into operation only because of resistance from the elected lawmakers afraid of losing their supremacy in their respective constituencies. It was expected that the Awami League led grand alliance would not scrap the changed upazila ordinance set in place by the Fakhruddin led caretaker government, providing the chairmen with some freedom to work; this has not been the case. In addition, the local government commission (LGC), too, became extinct as the government did not feel it necessary to ratify the related ordinance. Although the number of upazila chairmen and vice-chairmen is not a matter for Awami League (AL) to be concerned about, the internal discord centering round this MP-upazila chairmen row might hit the harmony among local Awami League leaders and workers, badly affecting the solid party support required for smooth functioning of state affairs.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Chatra League (BCL) continues to vex Bangladesh Awami League. Reportedly, the leaders belonging to this front organisation of Awami League have not been subdued despite party leader Sheikh Hasina's relinquishing the responsibility of BCL. Other front organisations have also been adding to the woes of the Awami League. Newspapers reports of extortions and internal feuds relating to BCL must have been a real pain in the neck for the Awami League led government. A newspaper report, published in the Daily Star recently, concerning people calling themselves BCL leaders and workers collecting tolls from food shops to tea stalls, is indicative of how things are being muddied by the miscreants.

Though the amount they are receiving is not handsome in comparison to the frauds that are committed by some leaders and bureaucrats, the fact that they are damaging the party's image is inexcusable. In fact, extortion has reportedly come back in full swing. Meanwhile, the civil society people have expressed disappointment over the resignation of the Anti-corruption Commission Chairman Hasan Mashud Chowdhury, which, I think, did not do anything good for the party's image. Some have expressed the optimism that Hashan Mashud's absence would not affect the viability of ACC. However, our sordid past does not permit us to fall for this.

Moreover, the Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir led parliamentary committee's summoning of ACC officials, including the outgoing chairman, seems to be have been instigated by party insiders. Though the validity of the summons can be judged by the court if required, it has been a matter of argument because of the committee chairman's alleged personal grudge. Controlling of the price-spiral and handling of the BDR issue are regarded as success stories of the Awami League led grand alliance government during its first hundred days. I believe, had some internal matters not disturbed Awami League, the start of the government could have been a flying one. The issues of discords have, however, not been resolved yet.

Statecraft is hardly a one-man show. Teamwork is crucial. I think the current government has found a superb captain in Sheikh Hasina, who needs to be supplemented and complemented by other members of the team. The sooner other team members find it easy to keep pace with her, the better will it be for the AL, the grand alliance and the government.

Global Recession --- Tk 3,424cr stimulus plan rolled out

The government yesterday announced a Tk 3,424 crore stimulus package to cushion the blow of global economic downturn. The fund meant to be used over the last quarter of the current fiscal year includes Tk 450 crore in cash subsidies for the export industries already hit by the recession. Unveiling the plan at a press conference, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said it may not satisfy all as only selected sectors will receive cash incentives. However, he stressed, those who are not getting the cash benefits will receive a bundle of policy supports no less valuable. Of the measures, some will be implemented on an urgent basis during the last three months of this fiscal year and the others in 2009-10.

In April-June period, cash assistance for export of jute goods, leather and leather goods, and frozen foods will be increased by 2.5 percentage points. To foot the bill for the package, an additional Tk 3,424 crore will be allocated in the revised budget for the current fiscal year. Of the amount, Tk 450 crore will be spent on cash subsidies to exporters, Tk 1,500 crore on agriculture, Tk 600 crore on power sector, Tk 500 crore on agriculture loans and Tk 374 crore on social security. With this, the budgetary allocations will mount up to Tk 14,554 crore, from Tk 11,130 crore originally.

Prime Minister's Finance and Planning Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman, Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, Finance Secretary Dr Mohammad Tareque, Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman Dr Nasiruddin Ahmed were present when the finance minister rolled out his much-anticipated scheme. Muhith said the additional funding for the social safety programmes will translate into a rise in the number of pensioners and the amount of pensions. The finance secretary said Tk 1,500 crore allocated for the agriculture sector will be used to ensure smooth flow of agri-loans through recapitalisation of Bangladesh Krishi Bank, Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank and Karmasangsthan Bank.

The amount set aside for power sector will be used to shore up the financial base of the Power Development Board (PDB). Of the exports, jute and jute-made goods will see cash incentives rise to 10 percent from 7.5 percent, leather and leather products to 17.5 percent from existing 15 percent, frozen foods and fish to 12.5 percent from 10 percent. There is however no cash incentive for the ready-made garments and ceramics exporters. Explaining the rationale for not including the RMG and ceramics industries among the recipients of the cash incentives, the finance minister said, "We're not saying they are insulated from the adverse effects of the global meltdown.

“But as the projection till June this year says they are not experiencing negative growth, we deem the time is not ripe yet for giving them cash assistance.” He said the government has drawn up the recession package in light of the recommendations by the taskforce formed recently to gauge the possible recession impact. It also considered the opinions of the technical committee formed by the finance ministry in November last year. The package will be implemented through immediate, medium and long term programmes.

Besides giving financial, fiscal and policy supports, the government will bring about major administrative reforms. The policy supports to be executed during the last quarter include disbursing 70 percent of the incentives immediately after primary assessment of the claims and the rest 30 percent after necessary audits. If any beneficiary is later found to have taken more than what it really needs actions will be taken against it. Previously, the money would be released only after a full audit.

To boost export, Bangladesh Bank will expand its credit at 7 percent interest to all products. It will also stretch the time limit for repayment to 120 days, upped from 90 days at present. The central bank has already raised the limit on Export Development Fund's credit for a single borrower to $1.5 million from $1.0 million. It yesterday issued a circular on the decisions to bring down the lending rate below 13 percent and allow rescheduling facility without down payment. Meanwhile, the finance ministry has requested the civil aviation and tourism ministry to withdraw the surcharge on carrying fruits and vegetable on international routes.

Bangladesh Bank will take necessary steps on case-to-case basis to help the export-oriented industries get through the economic turmoil. At the press conference held at his ministry, Muhith also spoke of the measures to be included in the next fiscal year's budget to promote export, remittance and investment. BB Governor Dr Salehuddin Ahmed said the sectors that have not been chosen for cash incentives will get banking facilities worth more than the direct monetary help. He said the commercial banks however will have to make sacrifices with regard to their earnings in order for these efforts to succeed.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 20 Apr 2009 07:32

'Top JMB man' arrested

Police arrested a "top leader" of the banned militant group Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh from Jhaldhaka Upazila in Nilfamari on Sunday. The arrestee was identified as 25 year-old Moshiur Rahman. The police seized a mass of literature on jihad and militant activities during the arrest. "He is a top JMB figure in the region of greater Rangpur and Dinajpur area," said M Rashedul Islam, acting police superintendent of Nilfamari district. He runs all operations in the region and is responsible for distributing jihadi CDs and leaflets," said Islam.

JMB operatives arrested from December 2008 to March 2009 from the same region named Moshiur Rahman as their chief in confessional statements, said the SI. Jhaldhaka police chief Norendranath Sarkar said they would request 10 days to question the suspect. "Crucial information on JMB operations may come out during the interrogation," he said.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby sum » 20 Apr 2009 09:34

Bangla steps up Hasina's security after India's alert
Quoting sources close to the Hasina, the Daily Star newspaper said the intelligence agencies were asked to rev up efforts to track down the “conspirators.”

Citing the Indian media, it said New Delhi picked up intelligence on this in the form of “electronic chatter by terrorist groups active in the neighbourhood in recent weeks.”

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 24 Apr 2009 13:16

16 BD mutineers die in custody

DHAKA: Sixteen Bangladeshi border guards accused of taking part in a mutiny have died in custody, the military acknowledged on Thursday, while insisting the deaths were the result of suicide or illness. The New York-based Human Rights Watch group, which has demanded an investigation into alleged torture of the 1,000 detained soldiers, questioned the official account of how the men died. Four of the deaths — which all occurred between March 9 and April 16 — were suicides, six were a result of heart attacks and “six died of other diseases,” the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) said in a statement. The soldiers have been detained for questioning since the two-day revolt in Dhaka in February, when scores of officers were killed by their men.

“Some of the BDR soldiers connected with the mutiny are committing suicide which is quite unexpected,” the BDR statement said. “We believe that perhaps they have failed to cope with the mental pressure associated with the guilt of committing the brutal attacks. Suicide is seen as a sin in religious terms and is also socially undesirable.”

Startling confession from CUFL's ex-MD

Former managing director of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Limited (CUFL) Mohsin Talukder yesterday implicated the then industries secretary and Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) chairman in the offloading of the 10 truckloads of arms and ammunition hauled in 2004. Mohsin in his confessional statement on the second day of his two-day fresh remand mentioned about former BCIC chairman Maj General Imamuzzaman. He also claimed to have informed the then industries secretary Nurul Amin who was staying at the CUFL rest house the night the consignment reached.

The former CUFL MD made the hour-long confessional statement after he was brought to the court around 12:30am. Metropolitan Magistrate Osman Gani recorded the threepage statement, sources said. In the confessional statement Mohsin Talukder said he was not aware of the arrival of the two engine boats carrying the deadly consignment. “As soon as Mobin Hossain Khan, the then assistant security officer of CUFL, informed me of the offloading I directed him to beef up the security and made a phone call to the then BCIC Chairman. However, he did not receive the call,” said the sources quoting the confessional statement.

“Later in the next morning I met the industry secretary at breakfast and informed him of the matter and also the BCIC chairman of the offloading over phone,” he said. “At this, the BCIC chairman rebuked me for not informing him of the matter at night at any cost,” he claimed in the confession. “Later, the BCIC chairman and the industry secretary talked about the matter over phone. But, I did not receive any instruction from them and was kept inactive,” defended the former CUFL MD in the confessional statement.

Sources said, before making the statement under 164 Mohsin Talukder also gave the same statement to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) investigators at Chittagong divisional headquarters. Meanwhile, two witnesses--Sheikh Ahmed, a Kodomtali based transport broker, and Salim Ullah, an accountant of the Dewanhat overbridge adjacent to Greenways--also gave statements under 164 yesterday. They identified arrested NSI Field Officer Akbar Hossain Khan as the person who hired seven trucks and a crane from Greenways Transport Agency, which were to carry the seized consignment.

Metropolitan Magistrate Abdur Rob recorded their statements, sources said. Meanwhile, the IO of the case ASP Muniruzzaman of CID filed a petition at the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court, Chittagong yesterday praying for a fresh 10-day remand for Akbar Hossain as they failed to extract anything from Akbar in his earlier two-day remand that ended last Tuesday evening.

Indian envoy meets Khaleda

Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia and Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty agreed that there should be regular discussion at all levels between Bangladesh and India for further strengthening bilateral ties. They discussed the happenings in both the countries as well as in the neighbourhoods. Both sides also expressed a unanimous opinion that the relationship between the two neighbouring countries "should be very cooperative" and the relations would further improve if the outstanding problems between them were resolved.

The unanimity of views came when the Indian high commissioner made a courtesy call on the BNP chairperson and former premier at her Gulshan office yesterday evening. After the meeting that lasted about two hours from 7:05pm, BNP Chairperson's Foreign Affairs Adviser Shamser Mobin Chowdhury, who was at the meeting, told newsmen that India and its people believe that if a "stable and strong society builds up in Bangladesh, it would be good for all". Both sides also hoped that "parliament should be active so that all can give and listen to one's opinion".

The high commissioner expressed sorrow over the killings that took place at the BDR headquarters, Shamser said. Speaking at the joint briefing, the envoy said, "The leader of the opposition has an important role to play in parliament." He said what they discussed encompassed what is happening in India and Bangladesh and in its surroundings. He termed his meeting with Khaleda "excellent and productive talks". Asked whether the matter of eviction of Khaleda from her cantonment residence came up during the meeting, the Indian high commissioner said, "We did not discuss internal issues."

Replying to couple of questions regarding recent surprise visit by Indian external affairs secretary to Dhaka, he said it was nothing secret and everybody knew it and it was a formal visit. This matter of visit was also not discussed in the meeting, he added. BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain, BNP chairperson's adviser Reaz Rahman and the Indian deputy high commissioner were also present at the meeting.

22 held in Barisal on suspicion

Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) arrested 22 people, including 21 female, in Barisal yesterday. Some religious books were seized from their possession. Rab officials at a press briefing said they were arrested on suspicion of criminal activities. Rab handed them over to Kotwali Police Station after daylong interrogation.

The arrestees are Abdul Jalil Howladar, 60, and his wife Sultana Razia, 55, Salama Akhter, 15, Tania Akhter, 16, Marzina Akhter, 12, Zannatul Ferdous, 18, Khadiza Akhter, 17, Aleya Khatun, 48, Anwara, 60, Amena Begum, 65, Shahida Khanam, 18, Hosneara, 40, Rahima, 9, Irina Jahan Tanzila, 19, Monira Akhter, 18, Rahima Khatun, 50, Ayesha Khatun, 45, Rabeya Sultana Minu, 18, Marzina Begum, 60, Shahida Khatun, 50, Nurbanu Khan, and Mohsina, 14.

An 18-member team of Rab-8 led by Lt Commander KM Mamunur Rashid in the morning arrested Jalil and two women at a house near Rab's Rupatoli office. Later, the team rounded up another 19 while holding a meeting at a house at New Circular Road. The arrestees claimed that they are Tabligh Jamaat members and came to attend Tabligh and Talim from different areas of the region and other districts. Safura Khatun, 71, a resident of New Circular Road of the city, told The Daily Star that Rab detained them from the house of Rashu Begum.

Rashu resides in Dhaka and Tabligh Jamaat is using her house for last 10 years, Safura said. Hayatul Islam Khan, assistant commissioner of Barisal Metropolitan Police, told The Daily Star that the arrestees would be produced before judicial magistrate court under section 54 of CrPC for their suspicious movements.

Protesters Gather On Surma Bank --- Thousands call to stop 'disastrous' Tipaimukh project

Several thousand people yesterday joined a programme on the bank of Surma River in Sylhet city protesting the much talked Tipaimukh dam project on the upstream of Barak River in Indian state of Manipur. The project will create a disastrous situation in 12 districts in the north-east region of Bangladesh and areas in Indian states of Assam and Manipur, speakers said at the programme organised by Angikar Bangladesh. Calling upon the democratic and patriotic forces to raise voice against the looming crisis, they said there should be adequate awareness among our citizens about the Tipaimukh project.

Meanwhile there have been strong protests in three north-eastern states of India -- Manipur, Assam and Mizoram -- against the mega project that would threaten the existence of at least 40,000 aboriginals people and cause immense harm to ecology and environment in a large area. Shahjalal University Teacher Dr Nazia Chowdhury, Sujon Sylhet chapter General Secretary Faruque Mahmud Chowdhury, Bapa Sylhet chapter Secretary Abdul Karim Kim, Sylhet district Bar Association Vice-President Kishore Kumar Kar spoke at the rally.

“Implementation of the said project, mainly aimed at producing electricity, would cause a disastrous situation for the Meghna basin, especially the greater Sylhet region, during the dry season due to large-scale withdrawal of water of the Barak River in the upper stream. Also there are apprehensions of recurrent flooding during the monsoon due to possible release of water,” a senior official in the Bangladesh Water Development Board said. The Indian government is going ahead with the project even ignoring protests in Manipur state, he said, adding that it will be another Farakka for Bangladesh. The Barak River bifurcates as Surma and Kushiyara while entering into Bangladesh territory.

People of greater Sylhet region started protesting the project since the news of approval of the project was published a few years ago. However, the Indian officials claimed that the hydro-electric project in their territory will not cause any harm for the Sylhet region.

Job switch liberty to put workers' misery to rest --- Over 20 lakh Bangladeshis in Saudi Arabia heave sigh of relief

Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia now can change their jobs to get better facilities as the Saudi Council of Ministers Monday passed a series of regulations facilitating transfer of jobs of people employed by operation, maintenance, catering and cleaning companies in government departments. Over 20 lakh Bangladeshis have been working in the oil-rich Gulf country while most of them doing such jobs, sources said. “The Bangladeshi workers who have left jobs for low salaries or other reasons and even whose job contract period is over now can change their jobs,” an official of expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry told The Daily Star yesterday.

In Saudi, job transfer was restricted to the workers and their work permits were not renewed generally for which many Bangladeshis had to either do jobs 'illegally' or were forced to return home, But now as they can change jobs, they will not have to face such situation, recruiting agency sources said. Even earlier workers were subjected to exploitation, as Saudi employers used to retain foreign workers' passports to prevent them from leaving jobs, but the new regulation on job transfers would help reduce such abuses, experts said.

Since imposing a partial ban on recruiting workers in March last year, many Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia were also not allowed to renew their residency visas after completion of job contract period. Now under the new rules, workers will be allowed to renew residency visas after job contract period is over and can join other jobs, said Badrul Amin, managing director of recruiting agency-- Career Overseas, which has a good business with Saudi Arabia. After Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's talks with the Saudi king in Riyadh, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on Tuesday said Bangladeshi workers would be able to transfer their job to join new companies following the regulations.

The Saudi Labor Ministry will transfer the sponsorship of such workers. The state will bear their 'iqama' (work permit) and sponsorship transfer fees, leading daily of Saudi Arabia Arab News reported on Tuesday. The transfer of workers from the previous employer to the new one should be based on their desire and on agreements between them, Saudi Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja said while explaining the cabinet decisions.

Manpower business sources said Bangladeshis would be truly benefited by the new decisions as a few lakh Bangladeshi workers are believed to be working illegally, under the employers other than those who officially hired them, either for low salaries or dissatisfaction over their previous jobs. Experienced workers who are familiar with the culture of that country can now get better salaried jobs, a recruiting agent said. If the restriction on changing jobs continued, many Bangladeshis will be forced to return home after completion of job, he added.

“When many developed countries are retrenching foreign workers following economic recession, it is a good development for the Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia,” said the expatriates' welfare ministry official. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is now in Saudi Arabia has requested Saudi government to recruit more workers from Bangladesh but no result is known yet. Meanwhile, thousands of Bangladeshi workers in Singapore, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates have already become jobless while many are returning home.

Some fireworks are in order with the Tipaimukh issue leading to union of forces against Indian projects
Water, Power Crises --- BNP declares month-long programme

The main opposition BNP yesterday announced month-long agitation programmes from May 5 protesting 'the government's failure to rid the people of electricity, water and gas crises.' The programmes include protest rallies, processions and human chains in all upazilas, districts and divisional towns, said BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain at a press conference at the party chairperson's Gulshan office. "As a popular political party we cannot remain silent about the sufferings of people. But we shall continue our protest against the government's illegal notice served to the party chairperson asking her to vacate her house," Delwar said replying to a question.

He said they have been offering the government advice, recommendations and cooperation on a number of issues over the past few months. But in return the government is slandering BNP leaders and activists. "Our people are being murdered, sued and attacked. But we have not announced any tough programme as it might hamper law and order," he said. Delwar said the government has totally failed to perform its duty causing the existing crises to deepen further.

The party will hold protest rallies and bring out processions in metropolitan cities, districts and upazilas on May 5 demanding an end to water, power and gas crises. On May 10 human chains will be formed across the country demanding quick and fair trial of the perpetrators of the massacre at the Pilkhana BDR headquarters. BNP will hold rallies and bring out processions across the country on May 14 in protest against 'deterioration in law and order.' Human chains will be formed in all metropolitan cities, districts and upazilas on May 19 demanding an end to the "ongoing violence in educational institutions."

They party will hold rallies and bring out processions on May 24 demanding reduction in diesel prices, bringing commodity prices within the reach of the common man, ensuring fair prices for agricultural products and protection for export-oriented industries. Similar programmes will be held on June 2 in protest against "deterioration in law and order and incidents of murder, robbery, extortion and harassment." Besides, BNP will hold protest rallies in all divisional and district headquarters across the country on Saturday demanding withdrawal of the government notice that was served to Khaleda Zia to evacuate her cantonment house.

Party leaders Nazrul Islam Khan, Rizvi Ahmed and chairperson's press secretary Maruf Kamal Khan Sohel, among others, were present. When asked about intra-party problems, Delwar said they are working on it. "It's true that there are some problems in the party but those will not put obstacles in the way of making the party pro-grammes successful," he added.

Meeting with Nasaka ends without result --- Myanmar vows to continue construction on border

The battalion-level flag meeting in Myanmar territory between border force BDR and Nasaka ended yesterday without any understanding to resolve the dispute over construction of embankment within 50 yards of the zero line. Nasaka told the meeting that they would continue to build the dam saying the construction at the Myanmar border of Naaf river is going on the basis of the agreement of the two foreign ministries in 1998, BDR sources said. Nasaka also warned Bangladesh of "not making excesses regarding construction of the embankment," said a source.

The meeting was held at Dhekhibonia Nasaka outpost in Mondou at noon. Cox's Bazar 17 Rifles Battalion Commander Lt Col Sakhawat Hossain led the Bangladesh delegation while No. 3 Sector Commander Major U Wang Yi led Nasaka. After the meeting Sakhawat Hossain said, Nasaka presented a one-page paper written in English with 'some conditions' before them but no signature on behalf of Bangladesh government put on it adding, "I think the paper is fake." He said Bangladesh side proposed to suspend the construction of the dam for 15 days for more talks but Nasaka did not agree. Nasaka informed the BDR delegation that they are constructing the embankment through Mondou municipality but not by their (Myanmar) army. Nasaka said barbed fence wire would also be hung over the embankment.

BDR man alleges torture

A BDR member alleged torture in RAB custody as a court ordered him and 26 of his fellow border guards into remand on Wednesday for grilling by CID investigators in connection with the Peelkhana mutiny case. CID officers produced 27 BDR men at the Dhaka chief metropolitan magistrate court requesting 10 days to interrogate them. The court granted five days. During hearing of the remand prayer, sepoy Harunur Hashid Mia told magistrate Atiq Bin Qader that Rapid Action Battalion had earlier held him without remand or charge.

"RAB members detained me for seven days and tortured me with electric shock," said the sepoy. "I dont want to die. Please don't put me on fresh remand. Let me live," he pleaded in court. Harun also claimed to be suffering from jaundice and in need of medical treatment. But the judge replied, "Your eyes look normal. There is no symptom of jaundice." The jawan burst into tears at the comments, before being taken into remand with the other border guards.

List of fugitives goes to 'rebel hunters'

Meanwhile, BDR chief Maj Gen Moinul Islam told Wednesday that the border force had sent a list of names with photos of over 100 fugitive border guards to police and law-enforcing agencies that have been involved with Operation Rebel Hunt since the Feb 25-26 mutiny. A good number of BDR members fled their Dhaka headquarters in the wake of the armed uprising by rebel border guards. Thousands reported back to work in line with a government directive issued early March, while others were arrested up and down the country.

Earlier this month, authorities said some 800-1100 BDR members were still absconding. Investigating agencies later revised the number to around 200. "Many reported to police stations and BDR camps around the country soon after government announced a reward of Tk 50,000 for information leading to capture of the fugitive BDR men," Gen Moinul told Wednesday. "Around 100 are now still fugitive. We have sent the list of names and photos to police stations, Rebel Hunt members and others concerned," he added.

No foreign NGOs to run without local registration: minister

No foreign NGO will be allowed to operate in Bangladesh if future without first registering locally, said social welfare minister Enamul Haq Mostafa Shaheed on Wednesday. The minister also said the government was in a dilemma over the activities of "some Middle East-based NGOs" in Bangladesh, "Many of them were able to establish themselves here in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr. The government doesn't want to aggravate them but is trying to bring them under proper regulation," he told reporters at the secretariat.

"We will not allow any foreign-registered NGOs to operate in the country. They'll only be allowed to operate after registering here," said the minister. Last month, law enforcers unearthed a massive haul of weapons, ammo and bomb-making equipment at a madrasa in Bhola which was being run by a UK-based NGO called Green Crescent. The government said it would take immediate steps to bring all NGOs under stricter registration, regulation and review. Saheed said Wednesday the government was making rapid progress in forming the proposed social security council, a single body to register, monitor and regulate NGOs.

He said some 175,000 NGOs were registered across the country under the the social welfare ministry, women and children affairs ministry, Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, social services directorate and NGO Bureau. "Some 25 percent of those registered under the social welfare ministry have been barred from their operations and their registration might be cancelled altogether," said the minister. Other active NGOs will have to register afresh under the proposed social security council, he said

"We have already sent letters to the women and children affairs ministry, Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, social services directorate and NGO Bureau," he said. "We have also asked them for information on the funding and activities of NGOs for review," said the minister. "If any anomalies are found regarding any NGOs, we will take stringent action against them and all others will only be able to operate after fresh registration" he said. The proposed council will be approved before the next budget, said Shaheed. The minister said the proposal had been sent to the prime minister and would go on to the cabinet for approval before passage by parliament.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 28 Apr 2009 17:04

Missing BDR weapons may end up in India

A former chief of the Bangladesh Rifle (BDR) has said the ammunition and explosives that went missing during the troopers' mutiny could have been smuggled to militant groups in northeastern India, fuelling Dhaka's worries.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Gerard » 03 May 2009 19:17

Another BDR man dies in Sylhet
Another Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) jawan died, in Sylhet, yesterday raising the death toll to 19 since March 9.
The deceased, nayek Renu Mian, 43, of 20 rifles battalion in Sylhet felt pain in the chest while taking lunch.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Lalmohan » 04 May 2009 00:29

didn't the soviets develop some kind of heart attack drug? as someone else pointed out, lots of BDR men seem to be having heart problems these days...

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby sum » 04 May 2009 20:07

I just hope that few of these "naturally dead" BDR men were involved in the brutal massacre of BSF men in 2001.
It will be poetic justice that they meet their end in a similar fashion by their own countrymen when a impotent India stood back and watched without raising a finger at the torture of its own soldiers...

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby ramana » 11 May 2009 23:14

No new updates? Was the mutiny/coup aimed at infleuncing Indian elections? And it failure has made it a non sequitor?

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 12 May 2009 02:44

ramana wrote:No new updates? Was the mutiny/coup aimed at infleuncing Indian elections? And it failure has made it a non sequitor?

No updates because the Sh. Hasina government is projecting its helplessness in many ways that is hard to miss. Multiple evidences: 1) The Chittagong arms haul case is going not farther to Indian liking, 2) The Razakar case is dying slowly, as expected {The AL never had the balls to take on the Razakars and razakar-lites in the first place, all this election manifesto was all bullcrap to mislead the masses and more importantly, the DDM, yet again. Any projection that the hoi polloi voted for AL because of the razakar issue is also a strawman. They voted for AL cos they were sick and tired of the corruption deals of BNP, and lack of money circulation, period.}, 3) The mutiny case is bungling along slowly with no "significant" updates from the folks that matter, 4) Indian elections has meant that noone is bothered to look at BD in DDM, not like they did that job carefully before, 5) It is not clear why Shiv Shankar Menon visited Dhaka April-mid.

The mainstream media in BD is not saying much worth knowing about. So some off-beat newspieces.
1) Seems like the mutiny had much to do with ULFA and the NE terrorist groups. Here are two pieces not reported so far in the DDM. ... neers.html
Intercepts: ULFA being trained by BDR mutineers

SHILLONG, April 28: Some Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutineers who went missing after the uprising in Bangladesh are now imparting training to ULFA cadres along the Indo-Myanmar border. This specific intelligence input has been dispatched to New Delhi, a senior Central intelligence official under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs told The Sentinel. As Bangladesh intensified its search operation to nab the 1,100-odd BDR mutineers who have been absconding with arms and ammunition, intelligence sources told The Sentinel, "Our input is clear that 27-28 well-trained BDR men are imparting training to ULFA cadres along the Indo- Myanmar border."

"The ULFA has new instructors and the Bangladesh Army is not aware of these new developments," stated intelligence sources on the condition of anonymity. The sources did not rule out that the arms taken by the absconding BDR men might have been sold to the Northeast insurgents with bases in Bangladesh. Maintaining that the Bangladesh Army will tackle the sudden development in Bangladeshi elements linked with Indian rebel groups, the intelligence official said: "Bangladesh's power transition and the ever-lasting power game have not diluted the country's anti-India stance, and its lethargy in dealing with anti-national elements will spell doom for the country." The official, however, expressed his concern over the recruitment process in Bangladesh Army and BDR. Since 2001, radical elements have entered the Bangladesh armed forces and the fear factor is their links with anti-Indian forces and fundamentalist groups like the Jamiat.

Meanwhile, an IANS report from Dhaka adds: A former chief of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) has said the ammunition and explosives that went missing during the troopers' mutiny could have been smuggled to militant groups in north-eastern India, raising concerns in both countries. "The missing weapons could reach the hands of terrorists and other criminals, and could even be smuggled to neighbouring countries' separatists like the United Liberation Front of Assam," Lt. Gen (retd) Atiqur Rahman, a former BDR chief, told The Daily Star. India says militants in its Northeast use Bangladeshi soil to stage armed operations, a charge that Dhaka denies.

Faruq Khan, a minister in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government, said mostly small arms had gone missing. The minister, a retired army colonel who is coordinating the government's effort to probe the mutiny and related developments, however, did not give details of what all had gone missing, the report said. Eighty-one people, including 55 Bangladesh Army officers on deputation to the BDR, were killed during the February 25-26 mutiny. The troopers revolted over low wages and poor working conditions.

Quoting officials, the newspaper said the mutineers not only looted firearms, ammunition and explosives from the armouries at the BDR headquarters on the outskirts of the national capital, but also destroyed many of the ledger books making it difficult for investigators to make an estimate of missing weapons. "The BDR authorities, and intelligence and other law-enforcing agencies are worried about the missing weapons, mainly about the grenades, as those might fall in the hands of terrorists and other criminals causing threats to the country's security," the report said. BDR sources said the mutineers broke into all armouries of all sectors, battalions, and other units, and looted indiscriminately.

BDR Director General Maj Gen Md Mainul Islam said: "We're trying to estimate how many arms and ammunition are missing, with back-up information from different sources, and we are hopeful we will be able to complete the estimation soon." But former BDR chief Rahman said: "It's impossible to know the exact figure, one could only imagine a figure." Talking to The Daily Star, both the incumbent and the former BDR chiefs feared that the missing weapons might end up becoming a national security concern, which was echoed by intelligence and other law-enforcing agencies. ... talks.html
Bangladesh Presses ULFA To Start Talks With Delhi --- By Subir Bhaumik

The ULFA is under huge pressure from Bangladesh to start a "positive dialogue" with the Indian government after the parliament elections are over and a new government takes charge in Delhi. Regardless of who comes to power in Delhi, the Awami League government wants the ULFA to open political negotiations and leave the country. Through clandestine channels, possibly its own intelligence which has nurtured the ULFA for more than a decade, the League government has made it clear to the Assamese rebel leadership that Dhaka cannot accept a strain in its relationship with Delhi for the sake of ULFA or any other northeast Indian rebel groups based in Bangladesh.

"Get out of Bangladesh at the earliest and in as decent a way as possible, or else we will be compelled to strike very hard " seems to be the message given to the ULFA by the new government in Dhaka. Obviously, the new government wants to avoid the embarassment of having to hound the ULFA out from its country because that will support India's long-drawn allegations of Bangladesh supporting the ULFA. Now that's a legacy of the Ershad and Begum Zia years that Hasina will have to put up with, but under the given circumstances, her best option is to get the ULFA involved in a dialogue with India that will slowly help the rebels to get out of Bangladesh without causing any major embarassment to Dhaka.

In a way, Hasina is trying to do India a long overdue return favour.
In 1997, India forced the Parbottya Chattogram Jansanghati Samity (PCJSS) and its armed wing, Shanti Bahini to sign a political settlement with the Hasina government that ended the two decade old bloody guerrilla insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. I know for a fact that the PCJSS leadership was not willing to sign the deal so quickly - but they were forced to by Indian intelligence, who had helped them over the years. This was a favour done to the Hasina government - alongside the Ganges waters treaty - by the United Front government on which the Left had huge influence. I have reasons to believe that Jyoti Basu played a major role in Delhi's decisions to do Bangladesh the twin favours.

But except for the arrest of ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia, Dhaka did very little in return. So it's about time. As the pressure mounts on the ULFA - and the Chittagong arms haul case will only keep the pressure up because Paresh Barua has been named as the ultimate recipient of the huge quantity of arms - one can see some tell-tale signs of the new dynamics.

Just before the parliament elections in Assam, senior BJP leaders received calls from Paresh Barua personally offering resumption of the peace dialogue that was opened and discontinued by the Congress government in 2006. The calls followed some behind the scene parleys involving civil society personalities close to ULFA and BJP leaders in Assam. The ULFA commander in chief was trying to open a line with the BJP - after having attacked the organisation all these years as a communal group perpetuating Indian hegemony in northeast - in case the next government in Delhi is formed by the NDA. Barua is also in touch with some Congress leaders and senior intelligence officials in Delhi - in case he needs them to open the dialogue with a government headed by the Congress. He is dismayed, though, by Indian home minister P Chidambaram's refusal to start any dialogue with the ULFA because of its involvement in the 30 October, 2008 bombings.

That explains why the ULFA did not go in for any of the fireworks it usually starts off during elections. It also avoided attacking any BJP and AGP worker or leader during the poll campaign, as it has done so often in the past. The AGP may be useful for him because as an Assamese regional party, it would want the peace process to start in the state and its alliance with the BJP would help if an NDA government is formed in Delhi.

Bangladesh terrorism, Indian anxieties and threat to both

Terrorism is entrenched in inadequate governance and incomplete policies, writes Afsan Chowdhury

INDIAN media has reported that there is an assassination attempt in the works against Sheikh Hasina. Indian Daily Express has also mentioned that the recent ‘unscheduled’ visit by the Indian foreign secretary was also in this connection and the purpose was to warn the Bangladesh government and its chief of the threat. This has been confirmed by Bangladesh official sources.

Bangladesh is a victim of multiple vulnerabilities to which has been added the new one of terrorism as understood in contemporary parlance. Indian anxiety is also obvious because Bangladesh could actually export more terrorism to India than even Pakistan due to the high border traffic and proximity. It also seems that ‘terrorism’ is being perceived in the region as a dominantly law and order threat existing independently of political economy of the states. It is not seen as a matter which is part of a larger expression concerning inter-state relationship and democratic governance in the region. The South Asian response has largely been modelled on conventional western models although the conditions are different.

India’s extremist problems

THERE are at least three trends of extremism in India. The largest by far is the Maoist trend which is active in most parts of India but heavily in Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, etc. The Maoists have control or influence over several million people and were described once by the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, as India’s ‘prime security threat’. The Maoists operate in those parts of India which have been forgotten by the engines of Indian prosperity pulling people to the consuming middle class. Poverty and failure to response to it has created its own brand of terrorism and its echoes can be seen as well in Nepal and Bangladesh too.

India’s second terrorist problem is in the northeast where the ethnic populations are violently resisting central authority and ULFA is a top example. The government describes them as insurgents, separatists, etc but the people there feel they are fighting for their rights across the range. The people there feel they too have been left out by the Indian state entitlements and the land exploited for its natural resources. These people have generated a great deal of violence covering a variety of political, ethnic and cultural identities.

The third extremist or terrorist forces come from what has been called the Islamic jihadists. The principal source of conflict is Kashmir where many feel they are victims of Indian ‘state terrorism’. To this is added Pakistan’s support for such militancy. One result of this has been a sense of alienation of many Indian Muslims who are also demonised by many Indians who consider the Muslim population as pro-Pakistani and they are expected to prove their loyalty to India regularly. All these factors have created a sense of insecurity for all but large sections of Muslims feel left out.

As is obvious, most of the extremist movements are located in unresolved issues of identity seeking and denial generated by that identity which is always a great contributor to violence. However, what we call terrorism doesn’t have a monolithic face. A state’s inability to provide an inclusive nation-building framework always enhances this aggravation.

The failure of India and Pakistan to resolve their disputes with each other have reached a critical point because Pakistan creating the Taliban in the hope of greater instability in Kashmir backfired. As a result, Pakistan is collapsing and remains propped up largely due to artificial lungs provided by the US to serve US interests in the region where it fights multiple wars and is not doing well at any. Pakistan is unable to protect its own people and has even handed over Swat to the extremists. The same army which committed 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh against the innocents now runs away when confronted by the Taliban, its own child. India has also not been very successful in managing poverty or ethnic, communal and social discord. Kashmir provides a good channel to vent and funnel pent up feelings within. Both have internal and external crisis combining to what can be called the ‘terror situation’.

India’s problems as far as Bangladesh is concerned are two. One is that the past governments have given shelter to the north-eastern extremists in Bangladesh. This has been done by Bangladeshi governments as a sort of bargaining chip hoping to use it to counter what they had seen as India’s domineering positions on matters of trade, territory and natural resource issues. However, this had worked only partially because there is no record of the advantages gained from this strategy till now without paying a price within too.

The other issue is that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance government of 2001-2006 allowed the Islamic extremists to grow and spread, thinking it was to their advantage. They thought it was to its advantage, both internally and across the border, as they were actively playing the Indian card, a matter made easy by short-sighted Indian policies. It didn’t do too well though as events have shown. However, jihadists in Bangladesh aren’t only an internal phenomenon but also part of the growing global jihadist movement.

The Islamist radicals were also contesting Bangladeshi law and order and even the state, at whatever level that may be. To jihadists, a woman leader is unacceptable which may explain why Khaleda Zia may have been a target of their wrath around 2008 election time. Of course, Sheikh Hasina has already been targeted, their main enemy in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s terrorist situation

BANGLADESH too has two extremist threats. The first are the Maoists and the second are the jihadists. Records show that more people have been killed by the Maoists in the last five years or since records were kept than the Islamics. And, of course, many more Maoists have been killed too. According to the South Asian Terrorism Portal, which runs an ideologically conservative but a well-informed website, dismisses the Maoist threat as disorganised but records death figures that show a wider threat than thought of in Dhaka circles.

The reason why the Maoist threat looks weak is because it is local in nature, fragmented into many groups and central cities are not attacked by them. The jihadists are national even when their actions are local as they are deemed to be a challenge to the state. Plus the jihadist movement in the region involves cross border partners. The connection to international al-Qaeda networks gives them international interest too.

However, the Islamic threat in Bangladesh is weak compared to what exists in either India or Pakistan. India’s situation is more precarious because most militants are entrenched in the Kashmir valley and have developed support bases within some segments of the disgruntled Indian Muslim population. They are also often aided by Pakistan as the latest Mumbai incident shows. India’s Kashmir problem and Pakistan’s Waziristan or Swat problem, basically the traditional tribal areas, are also a militant response of the extremist element of the people there who see the state as an oppressor and in Pakistan as an ally of the US, the original source of their oppression.

But Bangladesh doesn’t have such an internal situation, certainly not anywhere near in scale or resentment level. The closest it came to was the Chittagong Hill Tracts crisis which has been contained through a variety of methods including some peace building and India has stopped doing what Bangladesh had done to the north-easterners in the hope perhaps that Bangladesh would reciprocate the honours. Barring that, the most oppressed population group in Bangladesh is the Hindus but they are not into militancy. They are keener to move to India than fight back oppressing members of the majority which keeps Bangladesh safer than it realises. There are many groups in India who could easily fund and arm them making Hindu extremist threat a major issue here.

The members of the jihadists in Bangladesh comes from the lower class, people who study in madrassahs and are from birth denied entry to the mainstream. Just as many second-generation Pakistanis in the west turn to religious identity and sometimes extremist politics as they grow up marginalised from birth as migrants and are given no space in the mainstream, these Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh and other group members rarely come from the middle class and thus feel outcasts from birth. In this age and time, for many people, especially in the rural areas, the language of resistance is found in the supposed words of religion though many find it in Mao too.

In Bangladesh, the Maoist movement like in India and Nepal are essentially rural movements which fail to draw attention of urban analysts. The roots of both movements are in socioeconomic denial. As some part of the global resentment is being expressed through religious extremism, many follow that. Once, for the same reason, many followed Mao all over the world and many still do. What is permanent is denial and that resentment is fuelled by religious or secular ideology.

It should be remembered that people of this region have always been part of religious radicalism though the social content was much higher before and anti-colonial in nature. This is a rebellious society where the holy books of revolution and revelation have always found some willing ears. The extremists are now being linked to the incident at the Bangladesh Rifles headquarters too and that would expose the vulnerabilities of the Bangladesh state. Indian anxiety is heightened as they know that a run-over attempt of the state would have spill-over impact of high intensity for India. If the pirates emerging out of the disintegrated state of Somalia which the west tried to control by force and then allowed it to collapse can hobble international shipping using only small arms, the threat to India from Bangladeshi Islamic militants can be understood, especially if it gets actively linked to international al-Qaeda.

What motivates Bangladeshi jihadists is hatred of Hindus and India, to them, is a Hindu state. Perhaps that’s what bonds them to Pakistan too who have had fingers in several anti-India actions coming out from Bangladesh and also the religious parties including Jamaat-e-Islami whose rabid anti-Indian position is on record, the reason they give for opposing Bangladesh’s independence war.

The options in front of India and Bangladesh

IT DOES seem that both states favour military approaches to this security issue and wish to meet the militants’ security threat with force following conventional practices elsewhere. But that usually goes only so far and as the US experience shows can pull any state down. Till now, India has not experienced al-Qaeda activism but that of Kashmiri militants who are loosely linked. The Lashkar-e-Taiba is interested in Kashmir first and then in the rest of the world and its main support comes from Pakistan and not Osama bin-Laden. It’s Pakistan who faces al-Qaeda and as reports show is doing very poorly at that. India deals with Pakistan as part of each other’s ‘regional instability’ programme centring on their failure to solve the Kashmir question. In that case, it’s Pakistan which may have an interest in encouraging Islamic militancy in Bangladesh too in the hope of causing India some discomfort.

As long as Kashmir remains a sore point the chances of Islamic militancy disappearing from the region is slim. In Bangladesh, India is not a popular country and it isn’t popular with any of its neighbours for various reasons. Indian action also does feed into resentment elsewhere and that will continue to provide the social platform for more instability. India has also not done well in balancing its relationship with its neighbours although it’s the largest of them all, part of it in its denial that any of its policies could be wrong.

The western response to terrorism is limited and even the richest country is severely ailing trying to pay costs for this approach. In this region, Pakistan’s situation tells us what can happen when it tries to fight this unwinnable war. The fact that Swat had to be practically handed over to the Pakistani Taliban is a striking example of the shrinking state. While India will certainly fare better, how much better that will be is a question.

Bangladesh simply cannot afford to deal with any large-scale militancy. At some point, if the situation worsens, India may have to do inside Bangladesh what the US is doing in Pakistan to control the border areas which will be disastrous for both India and Bangladesh. Or it may have to develop policies that address key issues that cut across cross-border resentment and hostility, something it hasn’t done very well or isn’t interested as much in doing so.

For Bangladesh, the dangers are obvious. For the moment, it looks the situation is somewhat under control but everyday the media reports arrests and actions showing how quickly an alternative imagination is fomenting a section. What breeds terrorism beyond a point and it becomes a threat is when its platform is social inequity. That is there. Bangladesh also has to keep al-Qaeda away and to do that its needs to have far more inclusive social structure and a more functional state management. If it doesn’t see the need to have a better government, no number of visits informing of terrorist plans can protect the country and its people. Nor its neighbours, big or small.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 12 May 2009 05:15

Now, the burden of proof lies on the defendants, who will have to prove themselves innocent of the charges.
Seems not in line with a democratic law at all, which suggests that after this sensational stuff subsides, things will be quietly buried. Why should someone prove his innocence, beats me?! Just a migratory bird for "ill-treatment."
Prove innocence in war crime
Court orders Ghulam Azam, Nizami, Mojahid, SQ Chy, 32 others; asks why they should not be barred from polls

A Dhaka court yesterday summoned Jamaat leaders Ghulam Azam, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid, BNP lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, and 32 others to appear before it on July 20 to explain why they should not be declared war criminals for committing crimes against humanity during Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971. According to the court order, Jamaat's former ameer Ghulam Azam, incumbent chief Nizami, Secretary General Mojahid, senior BNP leader Salauddin, and the 32 other accused will also have to explain why they should not be disqualified from contesting in elections on charges of war crimes.

The 32 other defendants include Jamaat's senior central leaders Abdus Subhan, AKM Yosuf, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, Abdul Quader Molla, Delwar Hossain Saydee, Mir Kasem Ali, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Barrister Korban Ali, and Advocate Ansar Ali, and former BNP lawmaker Abdul Alim. The majority of the rest of the 32 are also leaders of Jamaat, the anti-liberation force, which was constitutionally banned immediately after the country's liberation in 1971, but it was allowed to resume political activities after the bloody August 15, 1975 regime change.

The court's order sent the entire Jamaat hierarchy into a hectic damage control manoeuvring, with leaders frantically calling each other seeking advices on what steps they should take to save themselves from the long hands of the law, party insiders said. Jamaat's Senior Assistant Secretary General Muhammad Kamaruzzaman however told The Daily Star that the party's lawyers will take necessary steps in connection with the court summons. Jamaat Secretary General Mojahid told reporters yesterday that the case is baseless, adding that no Jamaat leader of any level is linked to any war crime, the case was filed with mala fide political intentions.

On taking into cognisance a civil suit, filed on November 13 last year by three lawyers -- Mohammad Liton Miah, Mohammad Safayat Hossain Sajib, and Rajeeb Ahmad -- Judge Iftekhar Ahmed of the 9th Assistant Judge's Court took the matter for trial and issued the summons yesterday. The suit seeks to declare the defendants war criminals, barring them from contesting in elections. Now, the burden of proof lies on the defendants, who will have to prove themselves innocent of the charges.

Thirteen of the defendants, who are already dead, will be exempted from personal appearance before the court, counsels of the plaintiffs said. The 13 deceased defendants include Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, ASM Solaiman, former prime minister Shah Mohammad Azizur Rahman, Advocate Mohammad Ainuddin, and Abdul Majid Talukder. Yesterday's court order follows the AL-led government's initiative to hold long due trials of war criminals of 1971 under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973.

Many other criminal cases were also already filed in different parts of the country against war criminals, and some of the accused were already arrested in connection with the cases. In the wake of a tidal demand of all sections of the people, the immediate past caretaker government inserted a new provision in the Representation of the People Order, barring convicted war criminals from contesting in parliamentary elections. Before the ninth parliamentary election, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda assured Sector Commanders' Forum of collecting historical documents on trials of war criminals that had taken place between 1972 and 1975, in an effort to bar convicted war criminals from contesting in the poll.

But the Election Commission (EC) failed to deliver on its promise, paving the way for many alleged war criminals to be able to contest in the December 29, 2008 parliamentary election, without any difficulty despite having widespread allegations of war crimes against them. During yesterday's hearing, lawyers of the plaintiffs submitted documents to prove the charges of war crimes against the defendants. They argued that the defendants were actively involved in war crimes during Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971, and they should be declared war criminals disqualifying them from contesting in any election.

After the hearing, the court took the charges into cognisance for trial, as it found substantial evidence in favour of the charges. Advocates Delwar Hossain, Syed Ahmed Mostafa Rana, Khandaker Mohibul Hassan, Saidur Rahman Saju, and Abdul Mannan appeared for the petitioners. Within moments of the court's order, pro-Jamaat lawyers thronged the court to collect the case documents. The plaintiffs prayed that Ghulam Azam and the 35 others be declared war criminals for their involvement in genocide, rape, arson, pillaging, and for collaborating with the invading Pakistani army in 1971.

They also prayed for barring all war criminals from forming any political party in the country, and for disqualifying them from participating in any election in the country. The plaintiffs also mentioned in their plaint that in the immediate aftermath of Bangladesh's liberation, Ghulam Azam and the 35 other accused were identified as war criminals, but are yet to be tried. The accused also killed a large number of intellectuals on November 14, 1971, the plaintiffs stated in their complaint.

Focus back on, 8yrs after ---- Ghulam AzamJulfikar Ali Manik

Former Jamaat ameer Ghulam Azam stayed out of focus since he disappeared from open politics of Jamaat-e-Islami eight years ago. One of the front men of 1971 who actively helped Pakistani occupation forces' attempts to foil the birth of Bangladesh, he was brought to spotlight once again after yesterday's court order. Ghulam Azam, who was hyperactive against the Liberation War and became a symbol of alleged war criminals, said in 1971, "Pakistan is the house of Islam for the world Muslims. Therefore, Jamaat activists don't justify living if Pakistan disintegrated." (Source: Jamaat's mouthpiece the daily Sangram, 1971).

Ghulam Azam met Pakistani General Tikka Khan, who was known as "butcher of Beluchistan" 10 days after the war started and earned the same title "butcher" as an architect of the genocide launched at the night of March 25, 1971 in Dhaka. During the nine-month bloody War of Independence Ghulam Azam and his party Jamaat actively played a key role alone and along with their other political partners in attempts to foil Bangladesh's independence struggle. Immediately after independence Ghulam Azam and many others like him fled to Pakistan and returned only after the brutal killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family in 1975.

After victory on December 16, 1971 the first issue of newspapers of the new nation carried the government's decision to ban five communal parties including Jamaat-e-Islami on December 18 with immediate effect. The banned parties including Jamaat were given the green light to do politics during the regime of late president Ziaur Rahman after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975. As Ghulam Azam returned to Bangladesh after 1975 he became Jamaat's undeclared ameer, while another alleged war criminal late Abbas Ali Khan served for many years as the acting ameer.

In early 90s Ghulam Azam was officially declared ameer of Jamaat and Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam launched a unique mass movement demanding trial of war criminals. She held an unprecedented Peoples' Court as a symbolic trial of Ghulam Azam where thousands of people gathered and the court gave verdict that Azam's offences committed during the Liberation War deserve capital punishment. After long movement against war criminals launched by Jahanara Imam, Jamaat decided to change its chief in 2001 though Azam obtained Bangladeshi citizenship from the higher court in mid-90s.

Motiur Rahman Nizami, the incumbent ameer of Jamaat, in 2001 succeeded Azam, who disappeared from open politics since then. Though Azam was the brain behind Jamaat's anti-liberation efforts, the present ameer, also the then president of Islami Chhatra Sangha, played a vital role in collaborating Pakistani junta in committing genocide. The 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.

The Sangram quoted Nizami 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." Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid, head of Al-Badr in Dhaka in 1971, led the killings of the intellectuals a couple of days before independence, according to numerous research works, academic papers, accounts of both victims and collaborators, publications including newspapers and secret documents of the Pakistani home department.

Mojahid directed party workers to build Al-Badr force to resist freedom fighters, according to a "Fortnightly Secret Report on the Situation in East Pakistan". In line with an official procedure, the report was regularly being dispatched by the then East Pakistan home ministry to General Yahya Khan, the head of the government. Mojahid came to spotlight and drew huge flak making an audacious comment in October 2007 that "in fact, anti-liberation forces never even existed". Jamaat leader Mir Kasem Ali was general secretary of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1971.

On December 10 the same year, Al-Badr force organised a rally at Baitul Mukarram Mosque to orchestrate public opinion against 'Hindustani attacks'. Kasem also addressed the rally, according to a news report published in the Daily Azad on December 11, 1971. "We are fighting for truth and fairness. Victory must be on our side with the blessings of Khoda," Kasem was quoted in the report as saying. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, senior assistant secretary general of Jamaat, has a tainted past with Islami Chhatra Sangha and is blamed for his close links to Al-Badr.

"The Chhatra Sangha of Mymensingh was converted to Al-Badr and provided with military training. The man responsible for organising the Chhatra Sangha into Al-Badr was the chief of the Mymensingh district Islami Chhatra Sangha Kamaruzzaman," says a book titled Genocide '71. In the early 1990s, a People's Inquiry Commission was formed to investigate the activities of war criminals and collaborators. According to a report by the commission, the dreaded year, 1971, calls to mind the active role of Delwar Hossain Saydee, now a member of Jamaat's central executive committee.

Saydee played an active part in organising Razakar, Al-Badr and Al Shams forces in the southern district of Pirojpur, his stronghold, to assist the Pakistan army in the crackdown on Bangladeshis. "Saydee was not associated with any political party in 1971 but conducted his activities in his individual capacity as a 'maulana' or Islamic scholar. There are allegations that he actively helped the Pakistani forces in their campaign of killings, looting, rape and arson by forming local para-military forces," says the report. "During the war, he along with four associates formed an organisation called "Fund of the Five". The principal aim of the organisation was to loot and take over property of freedom fighters and Bangalee Hindus. He used to sell looted property and run a profitable business from the sale proceedings."

The report adds Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury opposed Bangladesh's independence and took a number of measures against the freedom fighters. He used to provide all-out support to the Pakistani occupation forces in his area grater Chittagong district. These are the few examples of the anti-liberation political elements, which stood against independence of Bangladesh and a Dhaka court yesterday summoned them along with more than two dozens defendants in a case.

Nuclear Energy ---- Russian team due tomorrow to sign MoU

A three-member Russian delegation will arrive in Dhaka tomorrow to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on peaceful use of nuclear energy in Bangladesh, science and ICT ministry officials said yesterday. The team, headed by a secretary-level official, is expected to sign the MoU the same day as the two countries earlier reached an understanding over exchange of nuclear technology for setting up nuclear power plants in Bangladesh. "The Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) and the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (RSAEC)," MM Neazuddin, joint secretary of the science and ICT ministry, told The Daily Star last night.

He said a final contract would be inked between the two countries in this regard in near future. However, ministry sources said more discussions at higher level of the two governments will be required for finalising the contract. "Crucial issues like the cost of setting up such a plant need to be determined through discussion. If we sign a contract we might seek soft loans from the Russian government," said a source. A Bangladesh delegation headed by Science and ICT Minister Yafez Osman will visit Russia to see its nuclear power plants soon after the signing of the MoU.

Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved a draft proposal, prepared by the ministry, which explains how Bangladesh and Russia can cooperate with each other in peaceful use of nuclear energy, said a source. The draft was prepared following three-day talks between Bangladesh government officials and a two-member Russian delegation in the first week of April. During the talks, head of international cooperation of RSAEC Vladimir Averkiev briefed Bangladeshi officials about Russia's nuclear technology and ability to set up plants.

Bangladesh has articulated its desire to set up two 1000MW power plants while Russia is keen to assist Bangladesh in this regard. According to a paper prepared by the ministry, the estimated cost of a 1000MW nuclear power plant ranges between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. Experts say installation of such a unit will take at least five years since commissioning of the deal for the project. Bangladesh has been negotiating with several countries for setting up nuclear power units. France and China have also shown interest in helping Bangladesh develop nuclear power plants. Bangladesh has bilateral agreements on nuclear cooperation with the United States, France and China.

BAF air defence exercise begins today

A two-day air defence exercise titled 'ADEX 2009-1' of Bangladesh Air Force will begin today in all Air Bases, says an ISPR press release. The aim of this exercise is to assess and evaluate efficiency and capability of BAF air defence and identify the weaknesses. All types of BAF aircrafts, helicopters and Radar Squadrons of different Bases are participating in the exercise.

Resolve trans-boundary water issues thru' talks --- Speakers tell roundtable

Trans-boundary water disputes in the region should be resolved through dialogues among the countries concerned, including Nepal, Bhutan, India, China and Bangladesh, speakers at a roundtable said yesterday. They also said the Farakka Barrage in the Ganges has caused severe damage to the country's ecology and that India should compensate Bangladesh for the damage. They also called on all to unite to protest the frequent withdrawal of water from international rivers by India, which is posing threat to the environment.

Bangladesh Centre for International Students organised the roundtable on 'Ecosystem aggression by India: Our duties' at the National Press Club in the city, with Prof Emajuddin Ahmed, former vice chancellor of Dhaka University, in the chair. Former water secretary Mohammad Asafuddoula said there are some weaknesses in the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, which should be reviewed. He also called for forging national unity to realise compensation from India for the damage caused by the Farakka Barrage.

"We need to act boldly to realise our demands," he added. Prof Dr Mahbubullah called for mobilising international support in addressing the issue of frequent withdrawal of water by India, which posing a threat to the environment in the country. Prof Emajuddin said the people should be informed about the environmental damage caused by the dams India has built in the international rivers. "The people of the country are divided; they should unite and forge a movement to address the issue of environmental damage," he said. He also suggested informing the international organisations working in Dhaka of the environmental damage caused by the Farakka barrage. The roundtable was organised to mark the 33rd anniversary of the historical Long March of Maulana Bhashani against the Farakka barrage.

Not exactly "news", but call it a Bukha-naan maaki defeating a BCCI-induced SRK CBM. One step forward, one back.
Kolkata Knight Riders

Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan's team Kolkata Knight Riders was undoubtedly the hugely promoted team of this year's IPL. After the drubbing of the last year, some people thought that this year Kolkata Knight Riders would be perish the same way, because even before the start of the tournament, the team engaged itself in a big controversy as coach John Buchanon wanted to introduce the multi-captain theory in cricket. Moreover, the unfair treatment meted out to Saurav Ganguly raised many eyebrows and there was no team unity and team spirit visible under the captaincy of Macculum.

Nevertheless, the hype and support for Kolkata Knight Riders is understandable and people of Bangladesh also joined in the Knight Riders (KKR) because of the inclusion of Mashrafee Mortaza. But all our hopes and expectations were simply shattered because even after losing match after match, the team management of KKR didn't bother to include Mashrafee in the final eleven. They bought Mashrafee at an unbelievable price of 6 million dollars and Mashrafee is also at the pick of his form. So the reason why they are not including Mashrafee in the playing eleven is indeed unclear. The bad treatment which our players like Ashraful and Mashrafee got from this year's IPL was unexpected and disappointing, to say the least. Kolkata Knight Riders is not a team worth the hype.

Luckily all the takleef is on Bukha-naan and not on "Indians", so far so good.
Indian Premier League --- We know what you're doing Buchanan

It was tolerable for the first three games but after the Kolkata Knight Riders ignored Mashrafe Bin Mortaza for the tenth consecutive time, patience is running thin for millions of cricket fans in the country. The Knight Riders turned a million heads when they insisted on landing Mashrafe in their books for an astonishing 600,000 dollars back in February. In fact the effort shown by the black-and-gold brigade during the auction to capture Mashrafe made sure that their fan base here was greater than before. But the honeymoon is over, thanks to the oddball nature of coach John Buchanan.

With only four foreigners allowed, it was natural to load a Twenty20 team with world-class batsmen. Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum and Brad Hodge were automatic selections while the last spot would naturally go to Ajantha Mendis or Mashrafe since David Hussey was unavailable for much of the campaign. But Buchanan gave that spot to Moises Henriques, a little known Australian all-rounder. Obviously the talent has not come through for the Australian: just 35 runs and two wickets from the four matches he's played. Clearly the Australian coach did not take past success or experience as a prerequisite when it came to picking a foreign bowler. How else would one describe the snub on Ajantha Mendis after just a few opportunities when commentators are waxing lyrics on the less-illustrious spinners on the dry South African pitches?

But the point here is picking a paceman and whether or not Henriques is better than Mashrafe. One would have felt Mashrafe was unlucky if the deadly Charl Langeveldt was picked ahead of him but to go for a greenhorn ahead of experienced international bowlers is simply illogical. But for the 'lateral-thinking' Buchanan, being illogical could probably be a compliment. Remember the multi-captain theory? The studious looking coach tried to employ what Kolkatans call the 'get rid of Ganguly' theory. It's history now even though McCullum has clearly been out of his depth with the bat. If the multi-captain theory had its merit then why wasn't the Kiwi dropped and the captaincy rotated?

When Gayle left, Morne van Wyk was picked as the fourth overseas player and although he did well, the Kolkata side has been inundated with wicketkeepers when the need of Twenty20 cricket is hard-hitters and wicket-takers. The quirky selection decisions have greatly contributed to Kolkata's eight losses out of ten games and so has the squabbles we hear about every day. The rather large support staff sent Aakash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar home and if the phantom 'fake IPL player' is to be believed, Buchanan's dispute with Sourav Ganguly is still on. Like most unsuccessful teams, the Kolkata Knight Riders also have the poisonous grouping problem where Mashrafe is neither in the Indian party nor in the foreign faction.

And all this means that only Ishant Sharma has taken the wickets while the second best has been Hodge's occasional off-break. So what could possibly make a successful coach not pick a likeable international fast bowler who has the track record, form and the hunger to perform? Mashrafe was not just picked to fulfil BCCI's promise but because he has been in top form since 2007. Just before the auction, Mashrafe destroyed the Sri Lankan batting line-up in a one-day final. His fielding has always been rated top-class and for a team that drops a million catches, Mashrafe's athleticism could have been useful.

But as is the case, Mashrafe is yet to make his IPL debut despite Kolkata's standing in the points table. Wickets don't fall after Ishant finishes his four overs and Mashrafe just sits in the dugout. Mashrafe is not on holiday; this is professional cricket and based on conceivable logic, our boy must play.

Hilsa export ban piles up losses

A long-running curb on hilsa exports to India costs businessmen Tk 1.5 crore in lost earnings a day, exporters said yesterday. Bangladeshi exporters and West Bengal importers have failed to reach a consensus on the importers' demand to reduce prices. Bangladesh is losing market out to Myanmar and Thailand because of the suspension that has been in force since February 19, the exporters said. On average, 40 tonnes of hilsa had been exported to India a day through the Benapole land port, said Yusuf Sikder, secretary of Barisal Hilsa Exporters Association. By one estimate, 20 importing firms in West Bengal purchased hilsa worth Tk 250 crore last year.

"But now the sector is losing Tk 1.5 crore a day on average," Sikder said. An official with the Barisal branch of National Bank, one of the two banks associated with hilsa exports, said hilsas worth Tk 17 crore were exported by two firms -- Nirala Fishing and Sikder and Co Pvt Ltd -- through the bank last year. On April 12, 2008, the commerce ministry fixed the prices of hilsa between $6 and $12 a kilogram. Following the announcement, Atul Das, chairman of Hilsa Importers' Association of West Bengal, sent a letter to the commerce ministry in Bangladesh, demanding price cuts.

In the letter, Indian importers said the prices of hilsa had been fixed by negotiations between the exporters and importers for the last 15 years. Since April 12, 2008, the Indian importers were forced to buy hilsa from Bangladesh at higher prices fixed by the commerce ministry in Bangladesh. Price fixing is against open market policies and the importers are incurring losses, as they are in competition with the traders who import hilsa from Orissa, Gujarat and Maharashtra in India, the Indian importers claimed.

Ajit Das, president of the Bangladesh Fish Exporters Association of Barisal, said Bangladesh is losing business to Myanmar and Thailand, as those countries export the same fish at cheaper rates. He alleged that Indian importers are passing off the 'Thai and Myanmarese hilsa' as Padma hilsa from Bangladesh. According to official statistics, 3,433 tonnes of hilsa worth Tk 65 crore was exported in fiscal 2006-07 and 2,647 tonnes worth Tk 75.45 crore in fiscal 2007-08.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 14 May 2009 06:16

Chinese envoy meets Azad

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xianyi called on Information Minister Abul Kalam Azad at the latter's office in the city yesterday and assured that his government would continue all out support to the overall development of Bangladesh. The Ambassador discussed matters of mutual interest with the minister. During the meeting, Xianyi invited the minister to attend the 11th Asia Art Festival scheduled to be held in Mongolia in August this year.

Azad thanked the ambassador for the invitation and assured him of considering it. Referring to current relations between Dhaka and Beijing, Azad praised China's role in the infrastructure development of Bangladesh. He hoped that the cultural cooperation between the two countries would be further strengthened in future.

Sylhet Power Project ---- Lobby pushes PDB for yet another inept Chinese firm

The Power Development Board (PDB) is opting for an inexperienced and unqualified Chinese company yet again for its 100 to 150 megawatt (MW) gas turbine power project in Sylhet, the same way inexpert Chinese company Harbin was awarded power projects, sources said. Under pressure from a powerful lobby, a PDB tender evaluation committee is set to recommend Shanghai Electric Group Company, China for the project as the lowest bidder with a price tag of US$ 100 million (US$ 48.34 million, € 36.35 million and Tk 20 crore). The biddings offered by the three other bidders are also very close to the price offered by Shanghai Electric. But neither the Chinese company nor any of the three other bidders actually qualify for the tender.

The evaluation committee found that all the bid proposals lack some necessary documents and they fall under the rejection clause of the tender. As per the Public Procurement Rules, there is no scope for evaluating the bids that do not comply with the rules. But the tender committee negotiated with Shanghai Electric two weeks back in violation of the tender rules. The tender floated on October 26 last year for this project had flaws in it since the beginning as the power ministry on December 12 abruptly changed a bid criterion allowing any power company having overseas experience of installing 'any type' of power plant to bid for the project.

The original bid criterion set by the PDB said a power company must have the experience of installing gas turbine power plants for being eligible for the job. The change was made saying it would ensure greater participation of bidders. In reality, it paved the way for some inept power companies to participate in it. Only four companies -- Shanghai Electric, China Chenga Electrical Ltd and Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (Bhel) and Gammon Sadelmi JV of India -- submitted proposals in March. Of them, Bhel is the most experienced gas turbine power company. Although Bhel won two bids in the country before, its bid offer was flawed and subject to rejection like the three other bids.

Instead of rejecting the bids, the tender committee took a long time for evaluating those and has recently come up with the decision of recommending Shanghai Electric for the project. Shanghai Electric cited Barapukuria coal-fired 250MW power plant as one of its accomplishments whereas the plant was actually built by a Chinese consortium led by CMC along with Shanghai Electric and SEEC. "Shanghai Electric failed to prove its overseas experience. It submitted a provisional acceptance certificate (PAC) from Pakistan water and power development board in the name of CMEC and another from Iran energy ministry in the name of CMEC-Shanghai Electric, which are unacceptable," said a source.

The Chinese company offered a gas booster compressor (GBC) from Shanghai Fiorentini, China that has no experience in supplying such equipment. In order to cover up this shortcoming, Shanghai Electric submitted performance certificate issued by end-users mentioning that Pietro-Fiorentini, Italy, not Shanghai Fiorentini supplied the GBC. Gas booster was a major issue for the Harbin's Tongi 80MW power plant that tripped many times because of a flawed GBC installed by that company. The plant tripped over 100 times in the first two years of its operation since March 2005. Besides, Shanghai Electric submitted manufacturer's authorisation in plain papers without any letterheads and has not provided Peak Load Data of the offered equipment in the guaranteed data sheet as required.

Shanghai Electric's bidding is US$ 100 million whereas the read out price offered by other bidders are actually lower and interestingly, all the three offers hover around US$ 95 million. But these offers proved to be costlier than that of the Shanghai Electric when the tender committee added the costs of spares. The recommendation is likely to be sent to the PDB board next week. A powerful ruling party man is allegedly putting pressure on the PDB committee to favour the Chinese company. "It's being done the same way Harbin was awarded power projects in Tongi, Fenchuganj and Chandpur under pressure from Hawa Bhaban," said an official.

A PDB high official said, "The PDB must be allowed to work on its own. The ministry or any other authority should not change the bid criterion. It's the job of the PDB to find what is right. Otherwise, the power projects will suffer." The technical evaluation of the bid is yet to be completed. On its completion, the tender committee will make a power point presentation before the PDB board explaining the bids, he added.

Nuke power MoU inked with Russia

Bangladesh and Russia yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to pave the way for exchanging nuclear technology and setting up nuclear power plants in Bangladesh. Acting Chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Md Mosharraf Hossain and Deputy Director of Russian Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation NN Spasskiy signed the MoU on behalf of their countries. Spasskiy is leading a three-member experts team from Russia that arrived in Dhaka yesterday to sign the MoU.

As per the understanding, the two countries acknowledged that the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and assurance of nuclear- and radiation-safety are important factors in ensuring social and economic development of both the states. "Russia will assist in the development of nuclear energy infrastructure in Bangladesh," reads the MoU signed at the science and ICT ministry at Bangladesh Secretariat. It mentions that the two sides are interested in establishing a joint working group to define the specific joint projects facilitating implementation of Bangladesh's plans to develop a safe and viable nuclear industry.

As per the understanding, Russia will supply Bangladesh with nuclear materials and provide services in the field of nuclear fuel cycle in accordance with national legislations of the two states and international treaties to which both Bangladesh and Russia are parties. The MoU also includes terms for cooperation in education, training, updating skills of administration, scientific and technical persons and radioactive waste management. The MoU singing is the result of a fruitful negotiation between officials of Bangladesh and Russia in early April. State Minister for Science and ICT Yafes Osman said, "Bangladesh and Russia moved one step ahead regarding cooperation in nuclear technology."

Talking to reporters after the signing ceremony, he said, "We have also signed such MoUs with USA and China. Now we will assess them and opt for the one that will be best for Bangladesh and its citizens." The main point of the MoU is building more confidence between the two nations for peaceful use of nuclear energy in Bangladesh, he added. Asked if Bangladesh will choose Russia for setting up the nuclear power plant, he later told The Daily Star, "Let us see who is coming with what proposals." A Bangladeshi delegation will soon visit Russia to see nuclear power plants there.

About the cost and fund of such plants in Bangladesh, Yafes said the MoU is a very preliminary step and more discussions are needed to resolve crucial issues like managing funds. He expressed hope that the fund for the proposed nuclear power plant would not be a big problem. Yafes said initially they would set up a 600-1000MW power plant at Rooppur to resolve the country's electricity crisis. The Rooppur Nuclear Power Project was conceived in the early 1960s and 260 acres of land was acquired for it. Spasskiy said neither technology nor financing would be a problem to set up nuclear power plants in Bangladesh. "Our technologies are the best in the world and we will offer a very competitive proposal to Bangladesh for installing plants," he told reporters.

"It is an important moment. We have signed the MoU which enables us to start working and practical cooperation on both sides about matter of interests and define the areas of cooperation," he said, adding that the governments of both the countries will now decide the matter. "The prospect of the cooperation is in the designing and afterwards in the building of the first ever energy nuclear reactor in your country. It will also imply a radical change to the situation of electricity in your country," Spasskiy said. Describing Bangladesh as "not only a longstanding friend but also a strategic partner", he said, "I hope both the countries will proceed to the signature of a final agreement as soon as possible."

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had approved the draft of the MoU last week. Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister Towfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Law Secretary Habibul Awal, senior officials of the science and ICT ministry and Russian Ambassador in Dhaka GP Trotsenko were present at the MoU signing ceremony. MM Meyer, director (fund) of Russia World, and N Averkiev, Department of International Cooperation of Rosatom were the two other members of the Russian experts team.

Should I be surprised?! This is BD, de javu all over again, back to normal. The bottomline regarding Razakars is this: No sensible GoBD that wants to last its full term would go and prick these guys. It is just not possible, they are just too powerful. If the razakars had to be punished, they would have been punished in the 1971-75 era when Mujib was at the helm. The fact that they were not is just an idea of what drives BD. The fact that BNP actually undid much of the isolation that Mujib tried pre-75 only shows the dichotomy between AL and BNP. All those who died because of the razakars died essentially for nothing. Their close family members can cry and be pained, but the stark reality is that "Sorry, not much else is going to be done." Many of the Hindus who died for just that reason alone paid the price for believing that they could sit in the jaws of a shark and take a free-ride. When the shark closes its mouth, you gonna perish, thats the truth.
War crime case against Ghulam Azam, others withdrawn

The civil suit seeking a court order declaring Jamaat-e-Islami's iconic leader Ghulam Azam and 35 others war criminals was withdrawn yesterday by the plaintiffs. In defence of the withdrawal of the suit, Dhaka District Chief Government Pleader (GP) Fakir Deluar Hossain said the civil court dealing with the suit has no jurisdiction to mete out exemplary punishments to the defendants, even if they were proven guilty. "The court could have only declared them war criminals on the basis of documents submitted by the plaintiffs," said Deluar, who on government directives pursued the private litigants to withdraw the case.

The petition submitted by the plaintiffs to the court seeking withdrawal of the case, said the government already initiated steps to try war criminals under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 by setting up special tribunals, and the plaintiffs considered the government efforts reasonable. According to the international crimes act, upon conviction of a war criminal, the tribunal is supposed to sentence the convicted to any punishment proportionate to the gravity of the crime as appears to the tribunal to be just and proper, including death. Talking to reporters, Deluar said the government high ups instructed him to take necessary steps for withdrawal of the case field by three lawyers on November 13 last year against Ghulam Azam and the 35 others, following the filing of which a Dhaka court on Monday summoned the defendants to appear before it, to explain why they should not be declared war criminals.

"The government might have faced difficulties to initiate trials of the 36 defendants on charges of war crimes if this case continued," Deluar said yesterday. State Minister for Law Advocate Qamrul Islam also expressed satisfaction over the withdrawal of the case. "I'm happy and thank the plaintiffs as they withdrew the case keeping their confidence in the government's move to hold trials of war criminals," he told reporters in his instant reaction. The state minister, who earlier on several occasions requested victims of 1971 not to file cases against war criminals since the government itself will be a party to holding the long due trials, also said yesterday that the public confusion about trials of war crimes will be ameliorated by the withdrawal of the suit.

He was referring to the public confusion created by filing of war crime cases by private citizens while the government is taking its time to do so, although it has been saying that it will try the war criminals and mete out exemplary punishment. Reiterating the government's strong position for holding war crime trials, the state minister said the trial process will start soon, and all war criminals will be brought to justice gradually. The state minister hoped that trials of top war criminals will be completed by December this year. He also expressed astonishment over how a civil court took the case into cognisance and issued summons on Ghulam Azam and the 35 others to appear before it.

On taking into cognisance the civil suit, filed by three lawyers -- Mohammad Liton Miah, Mohammad Safayat Hossain Sajib, and Rajeeb Ahmad -- Judge Iftekhar Ahmed of the 9th Assistant Judge's Court took the matter for trial and issued the summons on Monday. The court ordered the defendants to appear before it on July 20 to explain why they should not be declared war criminals for committing crimes against humanity during Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971. The 36 defendants included Jamaat's former ameer Ghulam Azam, its incumbent Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami, Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid, and the party's senior central leaders Abdus Subhan, AKM Yosuf, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, Abdul Quader Molla, Delwar Hossain Saydee, Mir Kasem Ali, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Barrister Korban Ali, and Advocate Ansar Ali, and BNP lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury. The civil court also asked the defendants to explain why they should not be declared disqualified from contesting in elections.

CID get 70 more days to finish Ctg arms haul enquiry

Chittagong, May 13 ( – The court has given the CID police another 70 days to investigate the 10-truck arms haul case in Chittagong. Chittagong metropolitan sessions judge Bhabani Prasad Singh granted the time after the senior police superintendent of Criminal Investigation Department Moniruzzaman Chowdhury, who is investigating the case, petitioned for three more months. "The time of investigation has been increased to July 22," metropolitan public prosecutor advocate Kamal Uddin told Wednesday was the last day to complete the investigation.

Another petition has been filed with at the court for cancelling bail of eight defendants. "The petition has been filed because the defendants should be quizzed for the investigation," Uddin said. The defendants are Haji Abdus Sobhan, Kabir Ahmed, Mohammad Rafiq, Munir Ahmed, Abdul Mannan, Abdul Malek, Monjurul Alam and Munir Ahmed, deceased. On Nov 19, 2007, then metropolitan public prosecutor Ahsanul Haque Hena petitioned the court for more investigation. Later CID assistant police superintendent Ismail Hossain was appointed new investigating in line with a court order.

But he could not move the investigation forward even after getting two time extensions. Then the state petitioned for changing IO on Jan 18, 2008. Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Limited officials for arms delivery and quay, coast guard, truck owner, police and intelligence agency NSI officials were quizzed after Moniruzzaman took over. Among them, four have been arrested afresh and seven gave confessional statement at court. Police seized ten trucks of arms at the CUFL jetty on the bank of Karnaphuli River on April 1, 2004. Two separate cases, arms and smuggling, were filed by officer-in-charge of Karnaphuli Police Station Ahadur Rahman the next day. The eight defendants were arrested at different times after that incident who later secured bail.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Vipul » 14 May 2009 06:31

Strategic importance of Bangladesh.

Military strength: To gain substantial military power to tie the entire Eastern Command of India in a long term war to cause erosion in its ability to fight a simultaneous war against Bangladesh, and China or the insurgents in North East region, and give Pakistan an opportunity to escalate the dispute over Kashmir into a major conflict on the Western side.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Rony » 14 May 2009 07:07

From the above link, In addition to what Vipul quoted

Strategic alliance: To form strategic alliance with China to obtain security guarantee in the event of a military conflict with India, and to obtain political guarantee that China will use her veto power to thwart Indian attempt to use the United Nations Security Council to legalize its actions with respect to disputes with Bangladesh. Bangladesh will also work with China on matters that affect Chinese security interests based on mutual cooperation, interest, and utmost respect for each others sovereignty.

Strategic chicken neck: To consider the 'chicken neck' as strategic asset and take political decision based on national consensus to not allow India to get transit rights on a bilateral basis through Bangladesh to transport goods, military or industrial, to its North East region. This will give Bangladesh a clear strategic advantage over India because the latter will be forced to rely on Bangladesh for the stability and economic development of its North East region.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 14 May 2009 07:14

^^^ The author of the above article owns this forum: Bangladesh Strategic & Development Forum. See his other articles here: ... 0000173793 ... -analysis/ ... water.html

From all indications, he is a BD version of the unmentionable forum, good to know that this viewpoint exists, bad to go hammer and tongs at it cos its a waste of time, energy and resources.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 15 May 2009 03:38

JMB's explosives expert Boma Mizan captured
Wife explodes bomb to escape arrest; finally surrenders to Rab with severe injuries after 4-hr midnight raid at a Mirpur house

After years in the hunt for him, the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) last night captured 'Boma Mizan', explosives expert of banned Islamist outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), at Taltola in the city's Mirpur area. His arrest was followed by a high drama that unfolded when a Rab team took him to his house at 61/3, Uttar Pirerbagh. As they got on the doorstep at around 10:30pm, Mizan gave his wife Sharmin some coded instructions, and immediately afterwards a bomb went off inside. Witnesses said the blast has blown off Sharmin's right wrist and wounded her two children--two-year-old son and a few months old girl. The boy sustained head injuries, while the baby girl's dress bore bloodstains. Rab rushed them all to a private clinic in Mirpur. After resisting arrest for around four hours, Mizan's wife gave in at 2:15am.

Around 100 law enforcers including some top-ranking Rab officers participated in the raid. They recovered a pistol, two bombs, two grenades, several rounds of ammunition, and bomb-making materials. Mizan came to Rab's attention after countrywide serial blasts on August 17, 2005. The intelligence unit of the elite crime busters gathered that he had long been working as explosives expert for JMB. Besides, JMB operatives rounded up during the last four years told interrogators that Mizan had been training the militants how to make bombs and improvised grenades.

Nishat Mohammad, owner of the four-story building, said he rented out the second floor to Mizan on April 1. The JMB man introduced himself as Imrul Kayes, and claimed he was a contractor. He also said he hailed from Jessore. 'Boma Mizan' was on the spot throughout the operation. There, he told The Daily Star correspondents, "I don't explode bombs; I rather train others how to make bombs and grenades." He also said he joined JMB as a full-timer in 2001 and had close relations with executed militant kingpins Shaekh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai. He also said he had visited a number of countries including Afghanistan. He however did not reply to query how they manage funds to run their organisation.

Back in 2003, he was arrested at Jhikargachha of Jessore, but released on bail after three months. Since then he had been on the run. With neatly trimmed beards and clad in pants and shirt, Mizan looked quite oblivious to what was happening around him. "I am on a path to justice and truth, you too should follow the lead," he told reporters at the scene. Meanwhile, a Rab official said Mizan told them he had met present JMB chief Moulana Saidur Rahman on several occasions. He however did not say anything about his whereabouts. Saidur took the outfit's helm after Abdur Rahman and five others were executed in 2006. Coming from Shekher Bhita of Jamalpur town, Mizan is son of late Shuja Mian. A Chittagong court tried him in absentia along with JMB Chittagong division chief Javed Iqbal and two other cadres last year. They were sentenced to 20 years' rigorous imprisonment each for bomb attack on a judge in 2005.

Woman blasts bomb in raid on JMB

Dhaka, May 15 (—A woman detonated a bomb at her house in the capital's north Pirerbagh on late Thursday night, setting in motion a tense four-hour drama that ended with her arrest early into Friday. It all began when RAB raided the house of an alleged Jam'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh operative at 10:30pm. Burqa-clad Sharmin Haque Lata, the wife of Jahidur Rahman alias 'Boma Mizan', the alleged operative of banned Islamist outfit, blasted the bomb when she sensed the presence of the security men. The bomb blew her right wrist off and injured their two children. One child is two years old and the other one is only two months. She was arrested with two unhurt children, all bloodied. correspondent saw from a nearby building the profusely bleeding, severed hand of the woman dangling. Assistant director general of RAB Rezanur Rahman Khan briefed reporters after the operation that they had picked up Mizan from Taltala. He told them during questioning that he had bomb and explosives on the second-floor apartment at 61/3 Pirerbagh at Shewrapara in Mirpur. When the elite force reached the apartment along with Mizan and knocked on the door, he talked with his wife in a sign language. "How are you? I am sick," Mizan was quoted by Khan as telling his wife. Moments later, she blasted the bomb, which made a hole in the door and sending the RAB men scurrying for cover.

They then asked Mizan's wife from loudspeaker not to blast anymore bomb and come out of the apartment. The woman, apparently in pain and crying, said that the bomb had gone off in her hand, and that she was too injured to get up and open the steel door. Finally, she came out with the children. She was sent to hospital. Police seized one live bomb, one pistol and two grenades from the apartment. Mizan was a senior member of JMB and an close aide to Shayakh Abdur Rahman, the head of outfit who was hanged in 2008, the RAB official said.

He was arrested in 2003 at Jhikargachha border in Jessore while carrying explosives in a motor cycle. Owner of the house, Nishat Mohammad, told that Mizan rented the two-room apartment on Apr 1 at Tk 3500 per month, and introduced himself as Imrul Kayes. Mizan had claimed that he was a hardware businessman and electrician from Jessore, while the police said Mizan was from Jamalpur.

Operation Cover-Up almost done
Army investigation restricted, many finds inconclusive
Sees BDR grievances main reason behind mutiny; refrains from probing external links satisfactorily

Mainly the pent-up grievances among the BDR rank and file over many issues, including Operation Dal Bhat, inside the BDR led to the Pilkhana carnage, according to sources. The carnage at BDR headquarters on February 25-26 left 74 people dead including 57 army officers. Sources involved in the army investigation said there were no conclusive findings of external parties plotting the carnage. Analysing the incident it was perceived that some external parties might have used the soldiers' grievances to serve their own interest. The 20-member army probe committee headed by Lt Gen Jahangir Alam Chowdhury submitted the report to army chief General Moeen U Ahmed Monday. The reports suggested that a more powerful probe body be formed to investigate the incident and the culprits be tried under army rules.

It said only 30-35 BDR jawans and clerks started the killings. Sources said since the probe was only a departmental investigation, its terms of reference were not like those of other probe bodies'. Due to this, the committee was unable to collect information and follow clues that might reveal involvement of civilians and political leaders in the carnage or verify information. Sources said the committee could not record statements of civilians particularly politicians even though some names had come up during investigation. It refrained from looking for details about some unanswered issues though it had some information and clues in this regard. The committee, however, gave its views and ideas on these unsolved issues in brief.

Giving an example the sources said the probe body mentioned that a section of politicians and civilians might have used the BDR jawans, who met them to discuss their demands, as means to take revenge on the army. They seemingly had a grudge on the army for assisting the caretaker government regime. The committee suggested that a more powerful enquiry committee be constituted to collect information in this regard. The sources also said the rebel BDR jawans met civilians and political leaders before and after the last national elections to discuss their demands. This was in violation of the provisions and rules and regulations of a disciplined force.

Sources said the probe body did not find any militant links to the carnage. They said while quizzing mutineers it did not seem to the investigators that jawans of any particular district, medium of education or who believe in a certain ideology played any significant role in the mutiny. The body, however, said most of the planners and killers were sepoys and clerks of comparatively younger. The probe committee believes several reasons were behind the BDR jawans' grievances that eventually led to the mutiny.

BDR's "Operation Dal Bhath" was identified as the most important cause of the mutiny. Besides, misconception about facilities of army officers, discontent over running BDR fair price outlets, delays in getting payments of dearness allowances for duty during the national elections and control of tenders inside BDR headquarters in Pilkhana were mentioned. The committee also said the rebels provoked other BDR jawans saying BDR chief Shakil Ahmed, his wife Naznin Shakil and Dhaka Sector Commander Col Mujibul Haque were involved in tender manipulation and irregularities in the admission of children to schools and the governance of the English medium school in Pilkhana.

The probe body also felt that BDR jawans showed the audacity to stage mutiny since the authorities concerned did not take punitive actions against those who staged mutiny in 1991 in accordance with the merit of their offences. Moreover, home and finance ministries' dilly-dallying in resolving BDR's problems and army officers preventing unethical activities of BDR jawans were mentioned as causes behind the mutiny. The committee also said that non-commissioned BDR officers created unrest among jawans by badmouthing army officers. Administrative difficulties were also created by unwanted interference of family members, friends and relatives of some senior army officers. These also upset BDR jawans.

Sources said the probe underlined four issues as failures of authorities concerned. It said BDR and intelligence agencies failed to inform the authorities concerned even though the BDR jawans had met political leaders and civilians on several occasions to discuss their demands. It said most of the members of Rifles Security Unit (RSU) were involved in the mutiny and no information about the situation prior to the mutiny was found at the unit. The sources said investigators believe it was a failure of all intelligence agencies since the prime minister visited Pilkhana in February and the plan for the mutiny was made before she went there.

The sources said the probe body also underlined indifference of BDR authorities as a failure. It said the authorities concerned were aware of the BDR grievances but chose to conceal the information fearing that once out in the open it would result in the cancellation of the prime minister's visit. The report suggested that trials of BDR jawans be held under army rules. According to the sources, Awami League ward-level leader Torab Ali, his son criminal Leather Liton and former BDR member Kanchan's son Zakir instigated the BDR jawans to the mutiny. It also said Liton may have provoked the jawans for his attempt to acquire BDR arms. It said checking phone records of Torab Ali, it is found that he made calls abroad many times during the mutiny.

The sources said political leaders were aware of the BDR grievances before hand but the committee could not find out whether they informed BDR authorities of the matter. About army deployment, the report said the army could not be deployed timely as it was not possible to conduct recon missions in the area due to time constraints and also because necessary military hardware were not ready. Besides, the 46 Brigade could not play its due role since negotiations were going on during the mutiny. The probe body also gave their observations about the role of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) in rescuing the hostage army officers. About the killings and lootings, the probe body said a band of 30 to 35 started the killings in Darbar Hall, DG Bhaban and different other places in Pilkhana.

The committee did not get the identity of the main planner or planners. It suspects that most of the mutineers knew that officers would be held hostage but very few knew that they would be killed. Meanwhile, as many as 331 more BDR jawans from BDR units in seven districts were arrested yesterday on sedition charges in connection with the Pilkhana carnage case. Of them, 100 were rounded up in Chittagong, 49 in Khulna, 43 in Jessore, 42 in Kushtia, 12 in Chuadanga, 62 in Satkhira and 23 in Brahmanbaria, our correspondents reported. After the arrestees were produced before courts in their respective districts, they were sent to jail yesterday. A joint team of police and Rab arrested the suspected mutineers after the police filed sedition cases against them. Earlier, over 450 BDR jawans were arrested, since May 10, on sedition charges from different sectors, battalion headquarters and camps across the country.

I had posted long back JN Dixit's take on this bs April 1974 "tripartite" agreement...
Atrocities in '71 ---- Forget past, Pakistan urges Bangladesh

Pakistan has urged Bangladesh to let bygones be bygones with regard to atrocities committed by the Pakistani army in 1971. Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit at his weekly briefing yesterday said Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni had asked Pakistan to apologize for the war crimes. Quoting the spokesman, the Dawn, a Pak national daily, said Pakistan believes the matter was settled under the April 1974 tripartite agreement between Pakistan, India and Bangladesh in which Pakistan condemned and regretted any atrocities committed. In 2002, the then president of Pakistan had also regretted any wrongs committed in 1971, the spokesman added. He said Pakistan gives great importance to good relations with Bangladesh, and it is better for both countries to move forward instead of being frozen in the past.

Ex-NSI boss Sahab taken back to Ctg

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) brought former director of National Security Intelligence (NSI) Sahab Uddin back to Chittagong after his six-day remand ended yesterday. The NSI former director (security) was taken for grilling at Task Force for Interrogation (TFI) cell in Dhaka last Saturday. He was brought to Chittagong Thursday evening and is likely to be produced before a magistrate for recording his confessional statement under section 164, said sources in CID.

During the remand Sahab Uddin reportedly confessed to his involvement in arranging transport for the ten truckloads of firearms and ammunition hauled at Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Ltd (CUFL) jetty on April 02, 2004. He had also mentioned a few NSI high officials and others involved in the illegal consignment, said the sources. The former NSI director was arrested at a residence in the capital's Green Road in the early hours of May 3 following the confessional statement of arrested NSI field officer Akbar Hossain Khan on May 2, 2009.

FM goes to Myanmar Thursday to ease border tension

Foreign minister Dipu Moni leaves on Thursday for Myanmar to ask her counterpart not to mobilise troops along the border to implement a recent decision to fence the frontier, a top foreign ministry official says. Myanmar on Mar 15 brought fencing equipment and put troops on standby along Bangladesh border to raise barbed-wire fence just across Naaf river in Cox's Bazar district without informing Dhaka. Foreign secretary Md Touhid Hossain said on Wednesday the foreign minister will discuss with Myanmar officials all bilateral issues such as maritime disputes and construction of the proposed cross-country highway to boost up trade.

The foreign minister and her three aides will have talks with her Myanmar counterpart and other government officials on May 16 and 17 in Naypyidaw, the former Burma's new capital. This will be Dipu Moni's first visit to a reclusive country since she took office on Jan. 6 this year. Hossain said Dipu Moni would also raise the issue of implementing Bangladesh-Myanmar hydro-electric project in Myanmar to ensure cooperation in the energy sector. The two neighbours have been in discussion for implementing three hydro-electricity power projects with capacity of 1000 mega watts in Rakhain state for over 30 years.

"There are reports of problems over the border management. We will insist Myanmar not mobilise troops along the border to maintain peaceful atmosphere there," Hossain told Bangladesh mainly through media came to know about Myanmar's fencing activities, prompting Dhaka to keep its border troops on high alert. Myanmar has been trying to fence from Maungdaw township to Paletwa township, one home ministry official told

"Of course, we will discuss disputes over maritime boundary delimitation in the Bay," the foreign secretary said. He said the two technical teams had been holding talks to settle down disputes over claim and counter-claim of waters in the Bay of Bengal. Myanmar in Dec 16 submitted a report to the United Nations claiming huge areas of Bangladesh's waters in the Bay of Bengal. The foreign secretary said they were at the final stages of preparing a protest letter over Myanmar's claim. Myanmar had sent navy ships to the disputed waters to assist South Korean construction giant Hyundai to set up rigs there despite Bangladesh's strong protest. The diplomatic standoff came to an end after Hyundai wound up its operation at Bangladesh's request.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 16 May 2009 02:28

JMB's mini bomb-making factory busted in city

The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) yesterday morning busted a 'mini-munitions factory' of banned Islamist outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) at the city's East Monipur in Mirpur, and recovered a huge cache of bombs and bomb-making materials. They carried out the raid following up information obtained from detained JMB explosives expert 'Boma Mizan' and his wife Sharmin. Mizan was captured from Taltola on Thursday evening, and a few hours afterwards his wife was picked up from their rented house at Pirerbagh in Mirpur. Sharmin, who tried to blow herself up when a Rab team went to arrest her, is now undergoing treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). She lost one of her wrists in the blast that also wounded their two-year-old boy Saifullah Sukaine Naim and a little over two-month-old daughter Masroba Jannat Tora. The kids too have been admitted to DMCH.

Rab officials said they recovered 11 bombs, a pistol, and a huge stash of chemical residues, plastic explosives, grenade casings, fuses and detonators from the East Monipur flat that was also rented by Mizan. The seized materials could be used to make at least 1,000 bombs, they observed. Rab intelligence Director Major Azim Ahmed, who led the drives yesterday and the day before, said, “In fact, the flat was housing a mini-munitions factory. The chemicals and other materials recovered from there could even be used to improvise land and anti-personnel mines."

Muyeen, a youth who had been living in the house, managed to flee, sensing the Rab swoop that began at around 7:45am and continued till 2:30pm. Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner AKM Shahidul Haque, Rab Additional Director General Col Reza Noor Rahman Khan and some other high officials of the police and the elite crime-busting unit have visited the scene. Chand Miah, owner of the Monipur flat, said Mizan introduced himself as a private firm employee, and said that he hailed from Barisal. Miah rented out the flat to him on December 1 last year for Tk 5,000 a month.

Caretaker of the building Emdadul Huq said, "Mizan, together with his wife, son and younger brother Chhotu, lived in the house till April 1. He moved his family from here on the pretext of sending them to village home so they did not have to suffer from water crisis. Only Chhotu stayed, and his brother would visit him from time to time,” he continued. "Mizan appeared to be a punctual office-goer. He would go out by 8:00am and return by 5:00pm every day." Razia Begum, who lives next door, said, "We often saw Mizan and the youth, but never a woman." Talking to The Daily Star at DMCH, Sharmin said she knew all along that her husband was involved in JMB, and that the outfit was paying for the running of their family.

She said her husband taught her how to charge grenades and shoot a pistol. Asked about the bombs, hand-made grenades and the pistol recovered from their Pirerbagh house, she said Mizan brought those there some 15 days ago. Replying to another query, she said she exploded the bomb in an attempt to commit suicide. An understanding to that end was reached between the husband and wife long before their capture. Mizan came to the law enforcers' notice sometime after the nationwide serial blasts on August 17, 2005. He joined the militant group in 2001 and soon developed close relations with executed militant kingpins Shaekh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai. In 2003, he was arrested at Jhikargachha of Jessore, but came out on bail after three months. Since then he had been on the run. A Chittagong court sentenced him to 20 years' rigorous imprisonment for the bomb attack on a judge in 2005. He was tried in absentia.

Tk 157cr Gas Plant ---- SGFL board scraps 3rd re-tender process

Sylhet Gas Field Ltd (SGFL) board headed by the Petrobangla chairman-in-charge has cancelled the third re-tender process for purchase of a Tk 157 crore gas processing plant citing "unavoidable circumstances”. The SGFL itself is left baffled as nothing officially explains the “unavoidable circumstances”. Sources however said it is a bidding criterion modified in March that prevented some inexperienced Chinese companies from participating in the bid. Earlier last week, Gas Transmission Company Ltd (GTCL) board headed by the same person had cancelled a $150 million bid for installing three gas compressors in the country's major gas transmission line to improve its flow, pressure and quantity.

A powerful ruling party man unofficially representing some interested Chinese companies played a key role in cancelling the SGFL re-tender process on Monday using influence on some high officials concerned. The same person is simultaneously pushing Power Development Board (PDB) to favour certain Chinese companies in various power project deals. The SGFL plant would produce daily 16 barrels of natural gas liquid (NGL) and about nine barrels of associated condensate using 45 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) gas. NGL will then be used in an existing fractionation plant to manufacture Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), motor spirit and diesel. LPG is widely used in the country for cooking and other domestic purposes.

The SGFL has been floating tender for Kailastila Molecular Sieve Turbo Expander (MSTE) Processing Plant since April 2005. But the tender was repeatedly cancelled under undue influence of various lobbies that failed to bag the deal or to have favourable terms. Earlier in February, the SGFL board--then headed by another Petrobangla chairman-- had cancelled the third tender for installation the highly technical gas processing plant. The board had asked the SGFL authorities to set a stringent criterion to ensure that the contract goes only to genuine competent bidder. Under this criterion, the bidder must have minimum five years' experience in supply, design, engineering aspects, procurement and commissioning of this particular type of at least one natural gas MSTE plant having a minimum capacity of 45 mmcfd, or Natural Gas Molecular Sieve Dehydration Plant through an international competitive bidding (ICB) outside the bidder's home country. This should eliminate the entry of less competent bidders for this high- tech job, sources said.

But the SGFL refrained from modifying its tender criterion accordingly. Then in March, the GTCL bowed down to energy ministry's strong reminder to incorporate the change. After this a couple of Chinese companies, which were trying hard to bag the deal in the past, automatically dropped out of the race. In the second re-tender in September 21 last year, Chinese companies like China Tianchen Engineering Corp and Hanian Hairan Hi-Tech Energy Co participated alongside better experienced Hyundai Engineering of Korea, PT Istana of Indonesia and Kudoz Consulting of the Netherlands. But the third re-tender floated on February 19 attracted a different set of bidders. Eight bidders including Chinese Shengli Engineering & Consulting Co, Shanghai Engineering, Korea Hyundai and Daewoo and Indonesian PT Istana purchased bid documents.

The SGFL held the pre-bid meeting on March 30, and tender dropping date was set on April 27. But this time limit was extended by one month under pressure from the vested interest lobby. On May 11, following a board meeting chaired by the Petrobangla chairman-in-charge, the SGFL notified that the bidding process has been cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances. “These actions are certainly not in the interest of the nation. The country's gas system is suffering tremendously due to past inactions and corruption. We are seeing a repetition of the bad practices of the past government,” said an official. The first tender for this fractionation plant was floated in May 2005 but it fell flat. The re-tender for it in January 2006 drew offers from Sinopec, Thermo Designs and Astra-Evangelista. The project consultant had disqualified both Astra-Evangelista and Sinopec as non-responsive and recommended Thermo Designs of Canada.

The project consultant had identified 50 major deviations in Sinopec's offer and categorically said this company technically does not qualify for such a complex project. Oddly enough, the SGFL awarded the project contract involving Tk 113 crore to Sinopec, represented by Sahco International, in December 2007. But the deal ultimately fell flat as the company demanded an increase of project cost and a host of other legal benefits. Smelling foul play in the bidder selection process, the SGFL board cancelled the third tender in which some incompetent companies were being entertained.

Ctg Arms Haul ---- Both govt, foreign hands involved ---- Says ex-NSI man in confession

Former director of National Security Intelligence (NSI) Sahab Uddin in a confessional statement yesterday implicated a number of high officials of the NSI and the government and some foreigners in the sensational Chittagong arms haul case, sources said. However, no details could be known since the investigators of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and others concerned remained tight-lipped. Sahab Uddin made the confessional statement before Metropolitan Magistrate Mohammad Abu Hannan. He took two and a half hours from 3:30pm to complete his 16-page statement.

Sources said Sahab Uddin confessed to his involvement in arranging transport and equipment for the 10 truckloads of firearms and ammunition hauled at Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Ltd Company (CUFL) jetty in the early hours of April 2, 2004. He named a few former high officials of NSI and the then men in government as well as some foreigners, sources said. The former NSI director was produced before the court for recording his confessional statement yesterday afternoon after his six-day remand ended Thursday. He had been placed on remand for three days on May 4 as well. He was arrested at a house on Green Road in the capital on May 3. His arrest was made after arrested NSI Field Officer Akbar Hossain Khan in a confessional statement on May 2 evening mentioned that Sahab had links to the sensational case.

Farakka Day today

The Historic “Farakka Long March Day” will be observed today with holding various programmes by different organisations. On May 16 in 1976, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani led a massive long march from Rajshahi towards India's Farakka barrage, demanding demolition of the barrage constructed by the Indian government to divert flow of Ganges water inside its territory. Thousands of people participated in the long march and staged demonstration protesting construction of the barrage. National Awami Party (Nap) will organise a discussion at the National Press Club at 10:30am today.

'Punish temple attackers in Ctg'

Over five hundred Hindu devotees yesterday formed a human chain in front of Chittagong Press Club protesting attack on a temple at Nandankanan in the port city on Thursday. At a rally during the programme arranged by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), speakers demanded punishment of the attackers on Sri Sri Gouro Nitai Asram, an orphanage run by Sri Sri Radha Madhava Mandir at Nandankanan in the city. After entering the temple at around 4:00pm on Thursday, a gang vandalised furniture and a statue and beat up devotees, injuring of them, sources said.

A section of people are trying to take control of the temple and the orphanage conducted by members of ISKCON, said Dibya Nimai Das Brahmachari, general secretary of Chittagong chapter of ISKCON. Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad divisional Organising Secretary advocate Chandan Talukder, Parishad city unit General Secretary Gonesh Dey, former General Secretary Ashis Bhattacharya and ISKCON Chittagong unit President Lilaraj Gouro Das Brahmachari addressed the raly, among others. Kotwali Police Station Officer-in-Charge Mohiuddin Mahmud said the incident was sequel to an internal feud between two groups in the organisation.

Op Ed: The looming water crisis

WATER is fundamental to the survival of human beings but, every summer, Bangladesh discovers that life with water shortages is increasingly becoming commonplace. This year it has become the country's most serious crisis, more than dal-bhat. From being a necessity, water has now become a luxury. With pipes running dry, our urban centres are turning to tankers provided by Wasa, which cannot cope with the demand. Villagers continue their old practice of digging deeper and deeper for decreasing groundwater. The tragedy is that Bangladesh has enough water for its 150 million people, but has not made enough effort to make it available to them.

The reasons for the water crisis are the rate at which its population is increasing and the myopic planning, muddled policies and misguided perceptions. As towns sprouted, no thought was given to the emerging mismatch between demand and supply. Because of this Dhaka, situated on the river Buriganga, has to think of piping in water from the river Jamuna. Ground water was pushed as a solution, while storage and distribution projects were neglected. Industrialisation saw no checks on pollution of water resources. Industries are not obliged to re-use water, and continue to be the biggest polluters along with pesticide and fertiliser-ridden discharge from fields.

As Bangladesh became urbanised, traditional systems of managing water resources were thrown by the wayside. Today, the very development, growth and security it sought to build while neglecting the ecological side effects are under threat. Most shockingly, even as the country continues to face severe crisis of water in both agriculture and household use, no projects for utilisation of water from river basins have been undertaken till now. Bangladesh has an annual surface flow of about 1073 million acre feet (MAF), of which about 870 MAF are received from India as inflow and 203 MAF as rainfall. This is enough to cover the entire country to a depth of 9.14m. Another statistics says that about 132 MAF of rainfall are lost in evaporation and the rest flows to the Bay of Bengal. This underscores the fact that investment in storage and distribution needs a boost to halt ground water depletion.

There is also the need for technology to increase efficiency. It is time Bangladesh shifted from the concept of yield per hectare to yield per cubic metre of water. While water- scarce regions all over the world adopt micro- and drip irrigation, micro irrigation accounts for zero percent in Bangladesh as against 49 percent in Israel. Farmers in Meghalaya have devised a drip irrigation method by stringing together split bamboo sticks that carry water over hundreds of metres to betel and black pepper orchards. At the macro level, the government needs to redefine the need-availability paradigm. Demand management now means "redesigning and restructuring demand" to suit need and availability. We have to think about which type of crops we should grow where after assessing the availability of water.

While industrialists here are rich enough to support a several crore taka bottled water industry and consumers can also afford the high price, no effort either by the government or private entrepreneurs has been made so far to conserve surface water. Uttara lake in Dhaka, a water body almost 5 km long and 200 m wide, could have been a pure surface water source along with Gulshan-Banani-Baridhara lake. The enormity of the crisis dictates urgency -- in thought and action. The water crisis is the single biggest crisis facing Bangladesh today, and the stress is showing. Reports on TV and in newspapers reveal the horrendous water problem in Dhaka city. It is most disquieting to see that some areas are going without water supply for days. In such an appalling situation, Dhaka Wasa has the capacity of supplying 194 crore litres per day against the demand for 205 crore litres, as revealed by their sources. It is most unlikely that with just a shortfall of 11 crore litres there could be such a crisis.

Dhaka's ground water aquifers were emptied so drastically that harmful deposits and toxic substances rushed in, posing threat to human health. These aquifers take decades to recharge, while population growth is exponential. With pipes drying up, the search for water is frenzied. With Buriganga water polluted beyond redemption, Dhaka Wasa can now supply only one crore thirty lakh litres with 45 pumps now being used to lift water from underground. With more tankers muscling their way into Dhaka city, the situation is set to deteriorate. The situation is no better in rural Bangladesh. Despite the spread of bore wells, the number of "no source" villages has burgeoned because of contamination, drying up of sources and system breakdowns. Water van is the most visible evidence of the country's thirst even in villages. Rural Bangladesh, yet to be acquainted with water-tap, is worse off as groundwater levels have plunged in almost all the districts.

The demand for water -- for drinking, irrigating fields, industries -- is skyrocketing. Unhappily, instead of focusing on long-term solutions, every government has found it easier to allow exploitation of groundwater. True, the country's food security was propelled by the "tubewell revolution," but it led to long-term damage as the pump culture has wrought havoc on the hydrological cycle.

How did we get here? Since the 1990s, the governments have focused only on demand --getting pipe lines to more and more places -- but the crux of the problem, supply, has not been addressed. Most cities and towns are not based on river-banks, and rapid pace of urbanisation has led to the drying up of traditional water sources like tanks and lakes. Dependence increases as surface water sources are sullied by sewage and industrial pollution. The past governments were largely to blame for their failure to assess the gravity of the situation and curb siphoning of groundwater. And the present Al-led government that came to power with some firm pledges must not indulge in lip-service but get into action.

In view of the lingering crisis that seems to be increasing by the day, the government needs to introduce measure like drip- and micro irrigation systems, ensure roof-water harvesting in cities and towns, arrest leakage from pipeline networks -- which accounts for huge wastage -- and must design a demand to match the availability of water. This essentially means that policies should be tailored to curtail demand in agriculture and domestic sectors.

Dhaka insists on Pakistan apology

Bangladesh has reiterated that Pakistan must apologise for the genocide it had committed during the country's independence war in 1971. Foreign secretary Md Touhid Hossain has reasserted Dhaka's position on Islamabad's apology issue a day after a Pakistan foreign ministry official urged Dhaka to "let bygones be bygones". "We have not changed our position on this issue.
Our foreign minister has made it clear to the Pakistan high commissioner when he came to see her (on Tuesday)," the foreign secretary told on Friday night. "They can say anything from their point of view," he said.

Foreign minister Dipu Moni told high commissioner Alamgir Bashar Khan Babar on Tuesday that his country must resolve the issue of apologising for the killings of 3 million people in Bangladesh. A foreign ministry official said Dipu Moni, now in Myanmar, would brief the media on the issue and her Myanmar visit on May 18. Pakistan's leading newspaper Dawn quoted foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Basit as saying that the apology issue was settled under the April 1974 tripartite agreement involving Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Basit said Pakistan had condemned and apologised for wrongdoings of its army in Bangladesh.

The envoy said the foreign secretaries would take up the issues at the next meeting, the date of which was yet to be fixed. The ruling Awami League, which led the war, has been demanding apology for the killing of three million Bangladeshis and rape of 300,000 women by the Pakistan army during the bloody nine-month war. Pakistan does not recognise the killing of three million Bangladeshis, though. Its former president Gen Parvez Musharraf during his trip to Dhaka in July 2002 apologised to Bangladesh for "developments in 1971".

India won't build Tipaimukh embankment without talks'

India will not build Tipaimukh embankment without sitting with Bangladesh, the water resources minister said on Friday. India has already proposed a meeting and the matter will be discussed prioritising national interests, Ramesh Chandra Sen added. "We are convinced about that. The rumour of construction of embankment there is not true," the minister said while inspecting river protection measures in the Beribandh area with the officials of Bangladesh Water Development Board. Primary and permanent steps will be taken to prevent the Meghna from eating into banks in Chandpur, he said about the river erosion there. "The situation would not have been so dire if the work of river protection was done in the last seven years as it had been during the previous rule of Awami League," he said. He inspected the situation in Chandpur Sadar and Himechar and urged the local people to have patience.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Gerard » 16 May 2009 18:11

Another BDR soldier dies, reportedly of liver cirrhosis
He was admitted to the BDR Hospital when his condition deteriorated at about 9:15pm on Thursday and breathed his last at about 1:30pm on Friday, said the authorities.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby sum » 16 May 2009 22:27


Soon, they will need a entire register to keep track of the number of BDR seemingly dying like flies due to Heart attack/liver/pancreas/gall bladder/<Add part> diseases!!!!

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 17 May 2009 11:29

Sum, first it was RAB cross-fires. Now all this soldiers dying is a euphemism for investigative deaths. Most people know it, expect it, and think that justice is done in a slow-moving situation by such acts. Checks and balances, BD style.

Some movement in the Chittagong arms smuggling case, finally, skulls from the cupboard are falling. The ulfa is going to talk peace now. At least for this I am happy that the AGP has not had much say at the centre. Some positives of elections --- all the rabble-rousers from TN, WB, Assam etc have been shown their place.
2 ex-NSI chiefs being produced in Ctg court

Two former chiefs of National Security Intelligence (NSI), arrested yesterday for their alleged links to the 10 truckloads of weapons seized in Chittagong five years ago, are being produced today in a Chittagong court, reports ATN Bangla. Criminal Investigation Department (CID) picked up Major Gen (retd) Rezaqul Haider Chowdhury and Brig Gen (retd) M Abdur Rahim from their residences in the capital early hours yesterday. After primary interrogation at the CID office in Dhaka, the ex-NSI chiefs were taken to Chittagong last night. Less than 12 hours before the arrests, ex-NSI director Mohammad Sahab Uddin gave a confessional statement to a Chittagong court.

As soon as he finished making the statement at 6:00pm Friday, CID launched a massive search for those he named. Rahim was director general of NSI and Rezaqul director (counter-intelligence bureau) of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence when the police and the coastguard seized the arms at the jetty of Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Ltd (CUFL) on April 2, 2004. Rezaqul later succeeded Rahim as the NSI boss and continued until his removal from the post after January 11 changeover in 2007. Soon, he was forced into retirement from the army as well.

Our Chittagong office adds: In a 16-page confessional statement, ex-NSI director Sahab Uddin said Brig Gen Rahim was monitoring things regarding transport of the arms. Before arrival of the consignment, Rahim, Rezaqul and a few other government officials met at a Dhanmondi residence to discuss how to ensure its safe passage. Paresh Barua, chief of ULFA's operational wing, and two nationals of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were in attendance. Barua disguised himself as one Ahmed, said sources quoting Sahab Uddin's statement.

The deadly shipment came from China and was bound for ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom)--an insurgent group in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Sahab Uddin was arrested in Dhaka on May 3 after NSI field officer Akbar Hossain Khan in a statement confessed that he hired seven trucks and a crane for offloading and transporting the weapons on instructions from the former NSI director (security).

Sahab Uddin was arrested in Dhaka on May 3 after NSI field officer Akbar Hossain Khan in a statement confessed that he hired seven trucks and a crane for offloading and transporting the weapons on instructions from the former NSI director (security). Sources said NSI and DGFI officials' involvement came up also in the March 2 confessional statement of Hafizur Rahman, a prime accused in the two cases filed with the Karnaphuli Police Station after the arms haul. After quizzing several of those accused, the investigators got convinced that it was indeed Akbar who arranged for vehicles to carry the arms cache from the CUFL jetty.

CID arrested him on April 19 and took him on a two-day remand after Habibur Rahman and Taslim Mallick--owner and manager of Greenways Transport in the port city--identified him as the one who hired the trucks from them for “carrying salt to Sylhet from Patiya”. Akbar was first quizzed in a two-day remand on April 20-21 at CID divisional headquarters in Chittagong and later in a seven-day remand beginning on April 27 at Taskforce Intelligence cell in Dhaka. Meanwhile, sources said CID has launched a hunt for Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation's (BCIC) former chairman Brig Gen (retd) Imamuzzaman and former NSI director Fuad Hossain.

The ex-BCIC chairman's name cropped up in the confessional statement of former CUFL managing director Mohsin Talukder. Of the 43 accused in the arms haul cases, only two--Hafizur Rahman and Din Mohammad-- were behind bars, 33 on bail and eight on the run before a Chittagong court on February 12 last year ordered further investigation. ASP Ismail Hossain Khan of Gazipur CID, the fourth IO of the cases, was tasked with conducting investigation afresh, but failed to submit report by the scheduled date of January 18. He was replaced by ASP Moniruzzaman of Chittagong CID.

CID took charge of the probe on April 26, 2004 after the first IO, Ahadur Rahman, the then officer-in-charge (OC) of Karnaphuli Police Station, was dropped for a flawed and controversial investigation. Kabir Uddin Ahmed, ASP of Chittagong CID, was the second IO and ASP Nawsher Ali of CID Sylhet Zone the third IO of the twin cases.

JMB has at least 50 bomb experts now ---- All of them learnt the ropes from 'Boma Mizan'

Law enforcers suspect there are at least 50 operatives in the militant Islamist organisation Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) who can make bombs, and almost all of them were trained by now detained Jahid Hossain Sumon alias 'Boma Mizan'. 'Boma Mizan', key-explosives expert of the banned outfit, has already admitted to Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) that his prime job was to train the operatives in making bombs and grenades.

"We don't have the actual number of JMB members trained in explosives but information given by JMB members arrested on different occasions suggest the number is not less than 50," a top Rab official told The Daily Star yesterday. "JMB has books for its members with bomb-making process described in those," he said. Seeking anonymity, he said almost all of the JMB men arrested with bombs and explosive substances admitted to investigators that they were trained by 'Boma Mizan.'

Mizan joined the JMB in 2000 and since then his main job was to make bombs and grenades, and train activists in the use of explosives. He is also an expert in small arms like pistol and revolver, the Rab official mentioned. He has confessed to the crime busting force that he had eight pistols in his possession, of which two were seized by Rab during its raid on two JMB dens at Uttar Pireerbagh and Monipur of Mirpur in the capital on Friday and the day before. He also told Rab during primary interrogation that he had given six pistols to JMB members.

"We're expecting vital information from Mizan as he has been placed on a seven-day remand yesterday (Saturday)," said the Rab official. A Dhaka court granted the seven-day remand when Mirpur police produced him before it praying for a 10-day remand for interrogation in connection with the recovery of arms, explosives and explosive substances from two houses that Mizan hired. A team of Rab intelligence unit led by Lt Moyeen, which had spotted and captured Mizan from Taltola on Thursday evening, later raided his house at Uttar Pireerbagh, and arrested his wife. Sensing Rab presence, she had blasted a bomb injuring herself and her two children.

Four Rab officials including Maj Momtajur Rahman, Maj Azam and Lt Mohiuddin entered Mizan's house around 2:00am on Friday to arrest his wife Sharmin. Rab also seized two grenades, two bombs and a pistol. Acting on information from Mizan, Rab busted a den at East Monipur, used for training in explosives. The elite force recovered 35 kinds of bomb-making materials, detonators and grenade cages from the house. Some books on jihad were also seized.

Earlier on Friday night, three cases were filed with Mirpur Police Station in connection with the recovery of arms and explosives, and attack on Rab members on Friday and Thursday. Meanwhile, Mizan's injured wife Sharmin and her two children were shifted to Orthopaedic Hospital in the city from Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) yesterday.

Good chance to settle disputes ---- Experts see good omen for Dhaka

Foreign policy experts yesterday said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) victory in the Indian elections offers a fresh opportunity for Bangladesh to resolve the unsettled issues with its powerful neighbour. Farooq Sobhan, former foreign secretary and president of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, said the polls result could be a positive outcome for Bangladesh as it will give India a stable government and help maintain continuity in Indo-Bangla relations.

Sobhan said he expects the UPA victory to add momentum to the relations between the two neighbouring countries as the Congress would like to see progress in Indo-Bangla relations. He said the UPA's victory gives an opportunity for the two governments to take advantage of old ties and goodwill to improve regional and bilateral economic cooperation. Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, former foreign secretary and foreign affairs adviser to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, said the new blood in Congress leadership could provide a fresh approach to settle unresolved issues between Bangladesh and India.

Asked about the significance of UPA's victory for Bangladesh, he said, "It would largely depend on the new generation and whether they can have a positive approach to other South Asian nations and Bangladesh.” Shamsher outlined the unresolved issues of water-sharing, maritime boundary, gunfight between BDR and BSF and trade deficit that require a fresh approach and renewed commitment from the Indian government. "This is a time for new outlook. This opportunity should be utilised to resolve these issues," he said.

Shamsher said a stable government without any pressure from alliance partners would allow the Congress to make bold decisions on free-market economic policies and foreign investment that could benefit Bangladesh. However, he said the Awami League government has to be attuned to public reactions to the deals done with India. The next months would reveal the nature of the new relationship between the two governments, he added. Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of international relations department at Dhaka University, said the UPA's victory will give Bangladesh a chance to discuss unsettled issues like demarcation of maritime boundary, Tipaimukh Dam project, border fencing and regional cooperation with India.

"This is the first time India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have become close allies of the USA. So, there is likely to be stability in the region," said Imtiaz. He said the UPA's victory is a good sign for regional cooperation on counter-terrorism as the UPA government had shown a positive approach in this regard since the Mumbai attacks last November. Imtiaz also hoped that Trinamool Congress would increase its secular image despite having past links with the BJP.

Former foreign secretary CM Shafi Sami said the Congress leadership would help strengthen the ties between Bangladesh and India to utilise their economic potentials properly, particularly for the people of the adjoining areas of the two countries. "Both the countries can hopefully make concrete decisions over the unsettled issues between them," he said. Historically, Awami League always had good relations with India and it will be strengthened in the future, said Shafi Sami, also former adviser to a caretaker government.

He, however, said both the countries should consider the issues on economic merits and there should not be any undue intervention. Political scientist Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said the Congress party's victory in Indian polls is surely a very positive sign for stability in South Asia because of the party's secular political philosophy. On regional front, its prime goal should be fighting terrorism. India can take a lead role in multilateral framework in fighting militancy, he said. The relations between Bangladesh and India are supposed to be strengthened further because of the non-communal stance of the leaderships of both the countries, Emajuddin, former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, told The Daily Star.

There is every possibility that the unsettled issues between the two neighbouring nations will be settled but Bangladesh has to insist on those, he said. Former ambassador Muhammad Zamir said the UPA's victory will be positive for Bangladesh but the country's policy makers have to push for reaching acceptable solutions to the unresolved issues between the two countries.

Tipaimukh Dam ---- Bangladesh to protest Indian move: Muhith

Bangladesh would raise protest officially against construction of the Tipaimukh dam soon after new government in India assumed office as the project might cause a catastrophic ecological impact on the country's northeastern region. Two senior cabinet ministers, who hail from the region (Sylhet), spoke about their plan to resist the construction of the dam at the Annual General Meeting of Jalalabad Association at Bangladesh Shishu Academy auditorium yesterday. “The dam will desert the greater Sylhet region,” Finance Minister AMA Muhith told the meeting. He said the Tipaimukh dam would dry up the rivers Surma, Kushiara and Meghna as well as the haors.

“It's the responsibility of every citizen to resist construction of the dam,” he said, adding that a plus point is that the Indian people in the surrounding areas of the project like Karimganj and Monipur are also against the project. Muhith said the problem of the project is that India will withdraw waters from international river Barak for irrigation purpose, which will desert the land in Bangladesh's northeastern region. “We cannot allow this disaster to take place.” He said there would have no problem with the project if it is restricted only for power generation and flood control.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, he said the Indian side has invited Bangladesh to visit the project area and Bangladesh would send a delegation after the new government in India assumed the office to see their plan and understand the possible impact. “We'll solve the problem through bilateral discussion,” he said. Addressing the function, Social Welfare Minister Enamul Huq Mostafa Shaheed said the government will protest the Indian move officially. “We'll have to resist construction of the dam at any cost,” he said.

Unite against India's river-linking plan ---- Speakers urge political parties

Speakers at a rally yesterday called on all political parties to take a common stand against the river-linking project of India, saying that such a project would lead to serious environmental disaster in Bangladesh. If implemented, the project will destroy the country's ecology and hasten the desertification process, which has already started following unilateral withdrawal of Ganges waters by India at Farakka, they said. Bangladesh chapter of the International Farakka Committee organised the rally at Charabari in Tangail to mark the 33rd anniversary of Farakka Long March led by veteran politician Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani in 1976.

Environmentalist Prof Jasim Uddin Ahmad, president of IFC and former vice-chancellor of Jahangirnagar University, presided over the rally. The speaker said India is either withdrawing or obstructing flow of almost all the rivers, including Padma, Meghna, Jamuna, Brahmaputra, Tista and Surma, by constructing dam or spars at the upstream, creating water crisis in dry season and floods in the monsoon. All political parties should unite to protest against withdrawal of water at Farakka, river linking project and the construction of Tinpaimukh dam, they said.

They also said India is flouting the Helsinki Convention and urged the donors such as World Bank and Asian Development Bank not to fund any project on common rivers, which will obstruct the water flow. Scientist Dr SI Khan and Nazma Begum, senior vice-presidents of IFC, secretary Syed Irfanul Bari, Bangladesh chapter president of IFC Bulbul Khan Mahbub, Bhasani's daughter Mahmuda Khatun Bhasani, Prof Shafiur Rahman, Obaidur Rahman, Khandakar Nazim Uddin and Mahmudul Haque Shanu spoke at the rally. Earlier, a token 'long march' was held from Charabari Bazar to the rally venue at SDS Ghat.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Raj Malhotra » 17 May 2009 13:57

There does not seem to be any reports of any major crackdown on Anti-India terrorist groups!

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby AmitR » 17 May 2009 21:40

Rahul M wrote:oh dear, I used to live there couple of years back ! that whole place is in fact becoming a hotbed of criminals, musclemen and illegal immigrants from BD.

You have a nice choice of location I must say.
Birds of a feather flock together :twisted:

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 19 May 2009 18:08

'Ex-NSI chiefs parrying questions'

The two former chiefs of National Security Intelligence are parrying the questions tactfully during questioning by the Criminal Investigation Department investigators in connection with the sensational Chittagong 10-truck arms haul case, officials said. A team of investigators led by investigation officer Moniruzzaman Chowdhury, senior assistant police superintendent, questioned them for the second day at the port city's Dampara CID office since Monday morning. The special superintendent of Chittagong CID Md Muslim told that retired major general Rezzaqul Haider and retired brigadier general Abdul Rahim did not disclose any information, said an official, who preferred to be unnamed because he was not authorised to brief the media.

Another CID official refusing to be named said that the two former NSI chiefs were parrying many questions. The investigation official told the state lawyer and metropolitan public prosecutor Kamal Uddin that they were facing some problems to question them as they were former high-profile officials. The court granted three days to grill them on Sunday. Former NSI director Sahab Uddin in his confessional statement said the former NSI chiefs were involved in the smuggling of 10 truck-loads of arms and ammunition in Chittagong Sahab Uddin also said that an foreign intelligence agency was involved in offloading the arms and ammunitions while an UAE-based firm in supplying the arms.

State lawyer Kamal Uddin told that the NSI chiefs were avoiding the information elicited from Sahab Uddin during their statement recorded before the metropolitan magistrate. But he expected that crucial information would come out if they were put under extensive interrogation. The consignment of deadly arms and ammunition was hauled at Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Limited jetty on the midnight of Apr 1, 2004. Abdur Rahim was serving as the chief of NSI while Rezzaqul Haidar as the director of Counter Intelligence Bureau of DGFI during the arms haul.

2,979 BDR men held so far

Around 2,979 Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) jawans were arrested at the capital and across the country, after the February mutiny. At least 1,398 BDR members were arrested at the capital while 1,581 more were held from 29 district of the country, chief of the coordination committee Lt Col (retd) Faruk Khan told reporters after the 5th meeting of the committee at BDR Pilkhana headquarters. Of them, 580 border guards were placed on remands for different terms and 85 confessed their involvements with the February mutiny before separate courts while around 500 confessed their involvements before police. Total 3,200 BDR members have faced quizzing in connection with the Pilkhana carnage and mutiny case.

Now only 25 BDR fugitives

The Bangladesh Rifles Tuesday published a list of 25 border guards who remained fugitive so far since the Feb 25-26 Peelkhana carnage. "The total number of fugitive BDR members came down to 25 till May 17," BDR public relations officer Md Nurul Huda told The number had been much higher, he said, but many were either arrested or surrendered on their own. Huda said the list had been sent to police stations, airports and frontier areas.

Committee suggests logo, uniform, name for BDR

The committee formed to report on Bangladesh Rifles overhaul has suggested a new name and a new logo for the border guards. The committee in its partial report submitted today also suggested new uniform, Commerce Minister Faruk Khan told after a meeting of the committee in the BDR headquarters. The committee was formed following the mutiny by BDR soldiers in Pilkhana, Dhaka on February 25. Faruk said the BDR jawans who revolted after February 25 would not come under the general amnesty declared by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The prime minister declared amnesty on February 25 and the BDR jawans revolted country wide after the declaration of the amnesty. BDR Director General (DG) Maj Gen Md Mainul Islam told reporters that the BDR men who revolted after February 25 across the country committed more grave crimes.

Rohingya rebels trained JMB men ---- Investigators glean it from Boma Mizan; Huji too received training from the RSO

Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) had close links with Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), an insurgent group in the Arakan state of Myanmar, JMB's explosives expert 'Boma' Mizan revealed in interrogations. Sources close to Rab interrogators said Mizan and some other JMB operatives received training from RSO arms experts in a camp near Myanmar border in 2002. Now executed JMB chief Shaekh Abdur Rahman sent them for the training. In exchange for the firearms lessons, JMB trained Rohingyas to improvise and set off bombs. Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami (Huji) Bangladesh, another outlawed Islamist outfit, too had strong connections with RSO.

Officials from the police, Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and some intelligence agencies have been quizzing Mizan, who was captured by Rab on May 14, and is now on a seven-day remand. The sources said JMB military wing's former chief Ataur Rahman Sunny and activist Galib are among those trained by the Rohingyan arms experts. Sunny was executed in March 2007 along with five other militant kingpins including his brother Abdur Rahman and JMB operations commander Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai. Galib is behind bars.

"Mizan said the training by RSO was conducted somewhere in Chittagong hill tracts and lasted 10 days. He has yet to give further details," an investigator told The Daily Star in return for anonymity. Mizan and the others, who took training from RSO, later trained JMB operatives across the country, said the investigator. Shaekh Abdur Rahman himself used to be in charge of liaison with RSO. He would also maintain ties with Huji. Lately, some individuals claiming to be former Huji men told this correspondent that in the late 80s and 90s many of their fellow operatives took arms training from Rohingya rebels.

They said the RSO men trained the Huji operatives in greater Chittagong, particularly in deep forest of the hill districts. RSO had some make-shift camps for their shelter and training. A good number of RSO-trained Huji cadres, they added, went to Myanmar to fight for the Rohingyas, ethnic Muslims of northern Arakan. Sources said Huji took RSO help also in securing weapons and funds. The Rohingyan group had extensive supplies of arms, and for funds it would count on a number of Muslim-majority countries especially those in the Middle East. Meanwhile, an investigator said Mizan had received explosives training from JMB bomb expert Shakil alias Mollah Omar, and in turn taught around 25 JMB operatives how to make and detonate bombs. Omar got killed in a shootout with Rab and three of his family members in explosions meant to resist the raid on their hideout in Comilla town on March 13, 2006. He was trained by Shaekh Rahman, who had received training in explosives from militant organisations in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

'Returning to Myanmar only solution to Rohingya refugee problem'

Returning to Mynmar is the permanent solution to the problem over Rohingya refugees, the food minister said on Sunday. "All domestic and foreign organisations will have to work with this aim," Abdur Razzak said at a meeting with Dr Stefan Frowein, ambassador of the European Commission, at his office. They discussed current activities and disaster management for 24,000 Rohingyas living in Bangladesh. The ambassador briefed the minister on the observations of the ambassadors of European Commission after their visit to Cox's Bazaar. Some European NGOs are providing healthcare and skills development services with the assistance of the European Union, he said. The minister said though problems were arising because of the refugees, Bangladesh was helping them on humanitarian grounds. He pledged the government's support to the international organisations and NGOs working for the refugees.

Tipaimukh dam won't harm Bangladesh: Indian envoy

Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty today said India would construct Tipaimukh dam to produce electricity, which would not cause any harm to Bangladesh. After calling on Shipping Minister Dr Afsarul Amin at his ministry, the Indian envoy told reporters that they would not construct the dam for the use of irrigation. Talking to reporters at his ministry, Water Resources Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen today echoed the views of the Indian high commissioner. “If the dam is constructed for other purpose, the country would be harmed,” said the minister adding, “If it happens, we would protest it".

Heavy Rain, Water From Across Border ---- Someshwary turns furious, devours houses, croplands

Erosion by hilly river Someshwary in bordering Durgapur upazila under the district has taken a serious turn due to heavy rain and rolling down of water from the upstream in India. During the last few days, the river has devoured at least 200 dwelling houses and about 500 acres of cultivated land. Around 800 people, rendered homeless by the erosion, have taken refuge in the nearby flood shelters or other villages. During a visit to the areas, this correspondent saw devouring of a vast tract of land of Dakumara, Ranikong and Shibganj villages in Durgapur upazila by the Someshwary. Local people tried to resist erosion by dumping sandbags, bamboos and timbers but strong current of the river foiled their attempt.

Serious erosion by the river in the rainy season has become a yearly affair. In last three years, the river has devoured most areas of Khamarkhali Bazar and Shibganj Bazar. Over four hundred families used to live at village Dakumara four years ago. But the river Someshwary engulfed 500 acres of land leaving 250 families landless and homeless. In last three years three kilometres of the five-kilometre Shibganj-Ranikong road in Durgapur upazila, the only link road between Durgapur upazila headquarters and bordering villages of Durgapur, went into the Someshwary river. Local people told this correspondent that they repeatedly urged the authorities concerned to construct a four-kilometre protection embankment from Gaokandia to Ranikong along the Someshwary River but to no effect.

When contacted, Mohammad Didarul Alam, executive engineer of Bangladesh Water Development Board, Netrakona, said, “A Tk 62 lakh project for construction of 160-metre protection embankment on the Someshwary River has started at Shibganj and it will complete next year. The four-kilometre protection embankment will have to be made in stages.” Locals, however, said construction work of the 160-metre embankment stopped shortly after its start. Besides, the said protection embankment will have very little to do to prevent floods from around four kilometre areas along the river, they said. They have urged the authorities concerned to take necessary action immediately.

Fenchuganj Power Plant ---- Govt seeks China help to get Harbin going ---- The Chinese company sitting idle for 18 months as tax dispute with PDB unsettled

As the last resort for a friendly solution, Bangladesh government has sought intervention of the Chinese government to make a Chinese company, Harbin, complete and handover the 90 megawatt three-unit Fenchuganj Power Project that has been remaining idle for more than 18 months following a dispute over payment of taxes, said a top PDB source. In accordance with the government rule, the Power Development Board (PDB) last year deducted 4.5 million US dollars as payment of taxes to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) from the 83 million dollar power project.

Harbin claimed the contract was tax-free. Clause 55.01 (b) of the contract signed in September 2005 says, "The contractor shall pay all income tax, super tax, corporate tax, VAT, and all other taxes of similar nature on income earned in Bangladesh arising out of both foreign and local currency portions of the contract price, which shall be deducted at the source as per the existing rule of the government." NBR scrutinised Harbin's claim and decided that it has no validity.

"NBR clearly told Harbin that it would have to pay the taxes," said the top PDB source adding, "The government is convinced that PDB's deduction of tax was rightfully done, and Harbin cannot give us any excuse." Harbin in September-October last year tested two units of the plant and generated up to 70 mw of power. It has been following a go-slow policy since 2007 soon after PDB informed the company that taxes would be deducted from the payables to the company. It however now has the third unit installed too, but has been refraining from launching the power plant, while hammering on its demand for tax exemption.

Frustrated by Harbin's non-cooperation, PDB issued several notices primarily warning it of cancellation of the contract for its failures, and setting the primary ground for contract termination. The power ministry meanwhile sought legal opinions and sat with Harbin over the issue. "We hope we will not have to cancel the contract and the Chinese government would help us resolve the matter amicably," said the source adding, "The foreign ministry formally wrote to the Chinese embassy to intervene." Using the influence of now-defunct alternative centre of political power, Hawa Bhaban, during the four-party alliance rule, Harbin won PDB's contracts for Tongi 80 MW peaking power project, Fenchuganj 90 MW project, and Chandpur 150 MW power project, while controversies surrounded the process of awarding the projects to the Chinese company.

The Tongi plant came into operation in 2005, but tripped more than 100 times in its two years of guaranteed operation. The Chandpur project was cancelled last year when Harbin demanded 10 percent increase in the project budget, which the government declined. Regarding the Tongi project, it was later found that while Harbin won the project by quoting low prices, after getting the award the company took a few extra million dollars from PDB by drawing up an additional budget. Tender were invited for the Fenchuganj scheme five times, each of which were cancelled under pressure from vested interest lobby that failed to bag the deal.

During the fourth bid, a Japanese company Sumitomo offered to do the job with the lowest cost of 85 million dollars, but that was cancelled without any good reason. Through the fifth tender invitation Harbin was awarded the job in 2005. On top of that Harbin was given a 10 percent down payment in violation of government rules. However, Harbin's problems emerged soon after the 1/11 change in the country's political scenario in 2007. The local agent of Harbin along with some others filed an extortion case against Giasuddin Al Mamun, a friend of BNP Senior Secretary General Tarique Rahman who is also a son of former prime minister Khaleda Zia, saying they took Tk 5 crore for awarding the Tongi power project to Harbin during the four-party alliance rule.

Meanwhile, the caretaker government that came to power through the regime change, probed into the Chandpur power project, against which also there had been allegations of foul play by another competing Chinese bidder, and which were found to be true by a committee of the planning ministry. Amid such a complex scenario, Harbin made its claim of tax-free power projects, saying no power project contractor had ever paid such taxes. PDB however already paid more than 60 million dollars to Harbin for the three units of 90 mw Fenchuganj plant.

Run Up To Budget ---- No reason to devaluate taka: Experts

In the last two years the taka has become one of the strongest currencies in South Asia, mainly riding on the falling demand for the currency and lower import prices. But exporters are concerned with the local currency's valuation although the country is benefiting from the lower import costs. They say when the taka rises against the dollar, Bangladesh's exports become more expensive than their competitors such as India, Vietnam and Pakistan. But experts are of different views with the exporters.

“Export value is not going down for a strong local currency,” said Shahjahan Bhuiyan, managing director of United Commercial Bank. Bhuiyan has vast experience in dealing with foreign exchange market in his 30 years in the banking sector. He said a significant decline in prices of commodities has caused for a surplus of dollar in the local market. According to central bank data, the taka has moved from Tk 72 in March 2006 to Tk 68.92 in January 2009 against the US dollar. Bangladesh adopted a floating exchange rate on May 31, 2003 to avoid the overvaluation of the domestic currency. Such overvaluation, besides making export less competitive in the international market, hurts the domestic economy by stimulating imports and making it harder for domestic goods to compete with the imported ones. As a result, growth of domestic output and employment may slow down.

Indian rupee was devalued by nearly 25 percent to 50 for one US dollar last year. Same thing happened with the Pakistani and Sri Lankan currencies. Vietnam, one of the major competitors for Bangladesh's garments exports, also depreciated its currency. Within this critical situation and the impacts of the ongoing global recession, the government is going to place the budget for fiscal 2009-10 early next month. The government wants to see the prices of goods under control and on the other hand it wants to earn more from exports to offset pressure on balance of payments. Exporters said they are in dilemma -- importers are quoting lower price and on the other hand their competitors are getting edge over Bangladesh for devaluation of their currencies.

“Buyers offer 15 to 20 percent less price and if we don't accept, they will switch to other countries,” said Anwar Ul Alam Chowdhury, former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). The exchange rates between two currencies specify how much one currency is worth in terms of other. It is the value of a foreign nation's currency with that of the home nation's one. For example, an exchange rate of 68 Bangladeshi taka (BDT) to the United States dollar ($) means that 68 BDT is worth the same of $1. The foreign exchange is one of the largest markets in the world. By some estimates, about $3.2 trillion worth of currency changes hands everyday.

Bangladeshi currency has been a free-floating one since 2003. The market forces of supply and demand determine its exchange rate. Economic variables, such as economic growth, inflation and productivity are the major drivers of currency movements in the country. “Local currency remains steady because of macroeconomic stability,” said Helal Ahmed Chowdhury, managing director of Pubali Bank, the largest private commercial bank in the country. He sees no reason of BDT's devaluation against the dollar because the inflation is contained fully. Despite a relatively poor demand for currency in the local market, the foreign exchange market could have been volatile without the central bank's intervention, bankers said.

“So far in this fiscal year the Bangladesh Bank has bought about $500 million from the forex market to make the market stable,” said Ziaul Hassan Siddiqui, deputy governor of BB. He said if the BB had not bought the dollar, its price could have gone down significantly and the export earning as well. BB also sells the dollar in case of necessity, he said, adding that these tools are used to influence the supply side. The deputy governor also denied that exporters are getting less because of a strong local currency saying that their (exporters) cost of imported inputs has come down. He also termed the BB's intervention consistent with the principle of floating exchange rate regime. A BB analysis conducted to see the impact of the floating exchange rate regime shows that the average GDP growth rate has been significantly higher in the floating exchange rate regime than that in previous regimes.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 21 May 2009 08:53

Folks, please actively follow the Chittagong arms drop case. Its turning very mysteriously. Is the foreign country China (from where the arms consignment came in) or Pakistan (which has reasons to prop the ulfa) or UK/US (which are finding a conduit in ulfa to create more mayhem a la the Purulia arms drop)?
Ctg Arms Haul ---- Ex-NSI chiefs tell of foreign links

Interrogators have gleaned important information about the smuggling of 10 trucks of arms and ammunition and foreign links to the incident from the two arrested former National Security Intelligence (NSI) chiefs, the prosecution yesterday told the court. But the former NSI directors general--Maj Gen (retd) Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury and Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim--tactfully avoided information about their involvement in the incident, the prosecution lawyer said while placing his prayer for taking the two on further remand.

The court of Chittagong Metropolitan Magistrate Osman Gani granted six days' remand for each for further interrogation at the Taskforce for Interrogation (TFI) cell in Dhaka. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had prayed for 10-days' remand for each. After the hearing on remand prayer both Rezzaqul and Rahim were sent to Chittagong jail. The two are likely to be sent to Dhaka for interrogation today, said CID Chittagong divisional Special Superintendent of Police Mohammad Muslim. The former NSI chiefs were produced before the court around 2:55pm.

Defence lawyers prayed to the court for meeting the two accused at the dock for some time and the court permitted them, which also gave journalists scopes to talk to the two former intelligence bosses. "Sahab Uddin [former NSI director of security] has made the confessional statement implicating me in the case to save himself," claimed Abdur Rahim, replying to a query. "If he has any proof or evidence that I gave him instructions regarding transportation of the seized consignment, then let him show it," he said.

Asked about his involvement in the case, Rezzaqul Haider said he did not even know Sahab Uddin who was an officer of a different intelligence agency. Rezzaqul was director (counter intelligence bureau) of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence when the 10 truckloads of firearms and ammunition were hauled at the jetty of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Company Ltd in the early hours of April 02, 2004. Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) advocate Ashoke Das moved the remand prayer on behalf of investigation officer of the case CID Senior ASP Muniruzzaman Chowdhury. In the prayer, the APP mentioned that it is evident to the investigators that the former NSI chiefs misused their office and state machinery to help transportation of the huge cache of firearms and ammunition through Bangladesh's sovereign land.

It is needed to take them on fresh remand for further interrogation at TFI cell to reveal the mystery and find out the culprits involved in the greater interest of the country, he added. Opposing the prayer, defence lawyers argued that Sahab Uddin made an "imaginary" confessional statement to save himself implicating their clients. Rahim's lawyer advocate Khorshed Alam Chowdhury said the injury Rahim received on his right eye on the last day of the three-day remand is a "mark of torture". He also mentioned that his client was suffering from different diseases. He said if the remand at TFI cell is meant for only questioning, not torture, then it could be conducted at the jail gate.

The defence lawyers prayed for cancellation of the remand and bail for their clients. After hearing both the sides the court rejected the bail petitions and granted six days' remand for each accused. The court also ordered investigators to maintain great care while interrogating the detainees, particularly Rahim, considering their health conditions. During the hearing the prosecution and defence lawyers engaged in a heated exchange, which continued for some 10 minutes before the court stopped them.

Start talks with India to stop Tipaimukh dam, govt told

The government has been urged by Islamist and Left parties to immediately engage in dialogue with India to halt the construction of Tipaimukh dam. Opposition Jamaat-e-Islami suggested that the government formed an all-party panel to sit in talks with India. Tipaimukh is located 500 metres downstream from the confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers and lies on the south-western corner of Manipur state in India. "The destruction will be as grave as that of a nuclear bomb explosion in Bangladesh if dam is erected at Tipaimukh, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Matiur Rahman Nizami said on Wednesday. This dam will render one-one third of our country desert," he said at a rally in Dhaka.

He pointed out that the northern region of Bangladesh has been devoid of vegetation and the flora and fauna afterindia built Farakka dam. "India made many promises to Bangladesh before Farakka dam was erected. But those were not later kept. India has to be forced to stop erecting the dam at Tipaimukh," he said. Two left parties also protested the remarks of Indian high commissioner on Tuesday that the Tipaimukh hydropower project over the cross-boundary river Barak would not harm Bangladesh.

"The high commissioner's statement does not hold ground amid common perception and expert opinions," Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal convenor Khalequzzaman said in a statement on Wednesday. He said if the Tipaimukh dam is built, the water flow in Bangladesh's Surma-Kushiara will lessen in the winter and the agriculture will face serious catastrophe. Khalequzzaman urged the government to protest the issue immediately and if necessary, take it to the international forum. A separate statement, signed by the president of Bangladesher Biplobi Communist Party Khandker Ali Abbas, said the proposed Tipaimukh dam was going to be another Farakka.

The high commissioner, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, had said the Tipaimukh project was not like the Farakka irrigation project. A little amount of water will be diverted to produce hydroelectricity and the water will be released soon. Bangladesh should not be wary of the project, he had said. Bilateral discussions have long been on-going on the project and the Indian government has invited Bangladesh to see the dam site and its design. Environmentalists fear the dam will dry up the Meghna river in the greater Sylhet region. India in 2003 initiated the move to construct the dam over the cross-boundary river, which enters into Bangladesh through Sylhet region before meeting the Meghna. It started the construction later last year without consulting Bangladesh.

Bangladesh gets 7 to 8 percent of its total water from the Barak in India's northeastern states. Millions of people are dependent on hundreds of water bodies, fed by the Barak, in the Sylhet region for fishing and agricultural activities. Environmentalists in Bangladesh have held many talks on the adverse impact of the proposed dam. They say the dam would dry up the river and the water bodies in the downstream, leaving millions jobless and upsetting the ecological balance.

Tipaimukh dam won't harm: India

The Indian high commissioner has admitted for the first time that a dam will be built on the proposed Tipaimukh hydropower project over the cross-boundary river Barak but said it will not harm Bangladesh. The Tipaimukh hydropower project was not like the Farakka irrigation project. A little amount of water will be diverted to produce hydroelectricity and the water will be released soon, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty said on Tuesday. Bangladesh should not be wary of the project, he told reporters after meeting with shipping minister Afsarul Amin at the Secretariat. He said bilateral discussions have long been on-going on the project. Indian government has invited Bangladesh to see the dam site and its design, Chakravarty said.

Environmentalists fear the dam will dry up the Meghna river in the greater Sylhet region. Indian foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon had invited Bangladesh to send the delegations at a recent visit. Asked if India would share the power produced from the proposed project, the high commissioner said it was a possibility. But, he added, India had no power-sharing mechanism with Bangladesh. It has power grids with Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, the envoy added. Amin, the shipping minister said, "If there is an attempt to stop the waters, then we would look into the matter. But, Bangladesh will not be harmed with the project."

Water resources minister Ramesh Chandra Sen, when contacted, said, "We know that India will build a hydropower plant on Tipaimukh. Bangladesh knows nothing about any dam there." If any dam is built there, Bangladesh will be harmed and, in that case, will protest, Sen said. He said the foreign ministry will decide about sending a delegation to see the project.

Odd BDR deaths to be probed ---- Committee to report govt in 15 days

The government yesterday formed a three-member probe committee to investigate the suicides and unnatural deaths of BDR jawans in custody after the mutiny at the Pilkhana BDR headquarters. The committee headed by Deputy Secretary (Police) of the home ministry Zakir Hossain has been asked to submit its report to the government within 15 days, reports private satellite TV station Channel i. The two committee members are Assistant Superintendent of Police Mahfuzur Rahman al Mamun and Maj Arifuzzaman. The government in a circular asked the committee to determine the number, name, designation, and address of the BDR jawans who died after the mutiny.

It has been asked to prepare a list of the deceased BDR jawans, find out the causes of their suicides or unnatural deaths and make recommendations for preventing such suicides and unnatural deaths in future. The home ministry sent a letter to the health ministry for inclusion of a physician in the committee. Meanwhile, the national committee probing the massacre at the BDR headquarters is likely to submit its report to the government today. Although the report was completed several days back, the committee took a few more days to submit it as some works including binding copies of the report were not finished.

Meanwhile, a Dhaka court yesterday placed 67 suspected BDR rebels on remand for five days each for interrogation in the Pilkhana mutiny case. Five other suspected mutineers made statements to magistrates in Dhaka courts confessing to their involvement in the massacre during February 25-26. Meantime, a joint team of police and Rab arrested 140 BDR jawans from different battalions in Sylhet in connection with three sedition cases filed by police for staging mutiny on February 26. Public Prosecutor Misbah Uddin Siraj told The Daily Star that the trial of the cases would begin on May 26 at the Sylhet District and Sessions Judge's Court.

Sources said the chairman of the 11-member probe committee would submit the report to the home minister. The last one-month deadline for submitting the report expired on May 11. Earlier, the deadline had been extended several times. The committee headed by former bureaucrat Anisuzzaman Khan is comprised of serving bureaucrats and high-ranking officers from the army, navy and air force. Our court correspondent reports: The Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's court granted five days' remand for each of the 67 BDR jawans after the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police prayed for seven days' remand for each.

A total of 660 people have been interrogated so far on remand in connection with the incident while 95 people have made confessional statements under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Our staff correspondent in Sylhet adds: The Sylhet Chief Judicial Magistrate sent the arrested 140 BDR jawans to prison after they were produced before it yesterday. The arrests were made after a Sylhet court issued warrant against 142 BDR jawans following filing of three sedition cases against them. A total of 1,721 BDR jawans have been arrested so far in 29 districts outside Dhaka.

49 Rohingya intruders held at Teknaf

Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) jawans yesterday arrested 49 Rohingya intruders at Teknaf bus terminal and surrounding areas of the upazila during an eight-hour drive. Crossing the river Naf, the arrested Rohingyas entered Teknaf from Arakan province of Myanmar a few days ago. Operations Officer of Teknaf 42 Rifles Battalion Major Helal Muhammad Khan said the Rohingyas were arrested during the drive from 9:00am to 5:00pm at the bus terminal and adjacent areas. The drive to nab Rohingyas would continue, he added. Major Helal said the arrested Rohingyas would be pushed back to Myanmar in the evening. In last seven days, 83 more Rohingyas were arrested while intruding into Bangladesh through different points of the upazila. Later they were pushed back to Myanmar.

CHT accord implementation body recast ---- First JS body meet outside Dhaka

Deputy Leader of the House Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury has been made chairperson of the National Committee for Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord. State Minister for CHT Affairs Dipankar Talukder disclosed it at a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on CHT affairs in Bandarban yesterday. It was the first time parliamentary standing committee meeting was held outside the parliament house. He said that the CHT Land Commission will be reformed soon. “We want to appoint an energetic person for the post of chairman as the land commission is the most important institution in CHT aspect,” he said.

The state minister said it is very difficult for an old person to maintain the huge responsibility as land commission chairman. A justice retires from service at the age of over 67 years and the land commission will perform better if its chairman has been appointed from other services, he added. “In the mean time we talked to two persons for the post of chairman of the commission and they agreed to join," Dipankar said. A proposal has been submitted by the state minister for CHT affairs before the standing committee meeting to take decision to appoint any retired government official from any other service as the chairman of land commission.

ABM Fazle Karim Chowdhury MP, Jyotindra Lal Tripura MP, Abdur Rahman Bodi MP and secretary and officials of the ministry concerned and other departments attended the meeting presided over by Promod Mankin MP, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on CHT Affairs Ministry. Prof Thanjama Lusai, chairman of Bandarban Hill District Council, was present at the meeting as a guest.

PCP Marks 20th Anniversary ---- Call to implement CHT peace accord fully

Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) chief Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Shantu Larma yesterday called for full implementation of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Agreement, which was signed in 1997. Eleven years have elapsed after the signing of the peace deal, but only one-third of the agreement has been implemented so far, he said at a rally on the ground of Rajbari Gymnasium in the town. Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP), student wing of PCJSS, organised the rally on the occasion of its 20th founding anniversary.

Shantu, who is also the chairman of CHT Regional Council, said the previous Awami League government signed the agreement. So, the present AL government can't avoid its responsibility to implement the agreement fully. He also alleged that a vested quarter is hatching a conspiracy to eliminate indigenous people and destroy the politics of PCJSS. During the state of emergency, false cases were filed against many PCJSS leaders and they were put into jail, the PCJSS chief said. He also urged the government to ban all activities of the anti-peace accord organisation, United People's Democratic Front (UPDF).

Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon MP said ethnic people are still being tortured and suppressed in the region as the peace accord could not be implemented fully. He also demanded constitutional recognition of the indigenous people. Demanding trial of all massacres in CHT, Communist Party President Manjurul Ahsan Khan said the lands as well as properties which were grabbed by Bangalee settlers must be returned to the indigenous people. Presidium member of Gono Forum Pankaj Bhattcharya also spoke at the rally presided over by Udayan Tripura, president of PCP. Earlier, leaders and workers of PCP took out a huge procession from the premises of Rajbari Gymnasium on the occasion.

Fare war on Dhaka-Kolkata air route

A fare war has now surfaced on the Dhaka-Kolkata route, as Indian carriers recently slashed fares drastically to secure a slice of the market, airline officials said yesterday. In the last couple of days, three Indian carriers operating from Bangladesh reduced their fares for flights between Dhaka-Kolkata. Air India Express was the first to cut fare, followed by Jet Airways and the newest entrant Kingfisher Airlines. Local carriers--Biman Bangladesh Airlines, GMG and United Airways -- are yet to respond to the price cuts by the Indian carriers and some said they are first observing the situation.

“We cut our fares to allure more travellers to our flights on the route. Our Dhaka-Delhi route has a 90 percent rate of occupancy, but it is quite low for our Dhaka-Kolkata route. I hope we will be able to attract more travellers after the reduction in fares,” said Sudhakar Rao, general manager of Jet Airways in Bangladesh. The Jet Airways official termed the latest fare promotional and said it would continue from May 18 to June 30. The fare war began as Liquor baron Vijay Mallya led private airline Kingfisher Airlines to debut on the Dhaka-Kolkata route on May 15. It is the sixth airline to secure a slice of the air-travel market, which is blessed mainly by Bangladeshi medical treatment seekers, tourists and business people.

Industry insiders said air-travel on the Dhaka-Kolkata route is limited, with about 200 air-travellers commuting a day. Jet Airways now offers Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka flights at a total of Tk 5,700, down from Tk 11,900 from last week. Indian budget carrier Air India Express also brought down fares from Tk 9,635 for return flights to about Tk 6,149. Officials of the carrier in Dhaka however said the airline slashed fares to attract travellers during the recession, which cast a shadow on air travel. On May 20, Kingfisher Airlines, operating a 66-seater ATR aircraft on the route, started charging Tk 5,730 for the Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka route, as a promotional step.

Launching operations on May 15 from Dhaka, the carrier offered Tk 10,518 on return flights on the Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka route, a reservations official said. Dhaka is the third global destinations for the airline. However, none of the three local carriers-Biman, GMG and United-are yet to cut fares. Rather, local carriers have kept their fares as low as Tk 10,000 for return flights between Dhaka and Kolkata. “We don't want to engage in the price war. Let them do what they prefer,” said Sadad Rahman, vice president in charge of marketing for private carrier GMG Airlines.

President eyes hydropower of Bhutan

President Zillur Rahman yesterday said Bhutan could export hydropower to Bangladesh to help mitigate the current power crisis as the Himalayan kingdom holds a huge potential for producing about 30,000 megawatt hydroelectricity. The president made the remarks when the newly appointed Bhutanese Ambassador to Bangladesh, Dasho Bap Kesang, presented his credentials to him at Bangabhaban. Terming the existing relations between Bangladesh and Bhutan excellent, Zillur said, "Bangladesh considers Bhutan as one of its closest friends." Referring to the existing trade volume between the two countries, he observed it is yet to reach a satisfactory level.

"Bhutan could import world class Bangladeshi products like pharmaceuticals and ceramics to increase the trade volume," Zillur said. The president underscored the need for exchange of visits at various levels as well as people-to-people contact between the two countries to explore new areas of cooperation. Ambassador Dasho showed his keen interest in importing more RMG and pharmaceutical products. He also thanked Bangladesh government for providing medical scholarships for Bhutanese students and requested the president to consider increasing the number of scholarships in engineering disciplines. Secretary of the President's Office Mohammad Shafiul Alam, Military Secretary to the President Maj Gen Md Ehtesham Ul Haque and Press Secretary Abdul Awal Howlader were present during the meeting.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby arun » 22 May 2009 11:28

Bangladesh has belatedly realised that their insistence that the Asian Highway directly connect Myanmar to Bangladesh via Cox Bazar - Teknaf, in the process bypassing India’s North East, will simply instead result in the Asian Highway bypassing Bangladesh altogether :rotfl: .

Bangaldesh has stepped off its hobby horse and fallen in line with the routing via Tamabil which both enters and exits Bangladesh from India.

So much for Bangaldesh’s pipedreams that India will permit them to be the self appointed thekadar of India’s eastward lines of communication:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Asian Highway Network : Alternative route bid abandoned

Govt decides to get connected as per original UN-Escap plan

Staff Correspondent

Abandoning the country's previously proposed routes, the government decided to connect Bangladesh to the Asian Highway Network (AHN) accepting routes proposed by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-Escap). ………………

The proposed routes are Benapole-Jessore-Kanchpur-Dhaka-Sylhet-Tamabil (AH1), Banglabandha-Hatikamrul-Dhaka-Kanchpur-Sylhet-Tamabil (AH2) and Dhaka-Kanchpur-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar-Teknaf-Myanmar border (AH-41). The third route is a sub-regional one. ………………..

The main reason behind Dhaka's reluctance to join the Asian Highway club is its reservations about giving transit to India.

Bangladesh had said the first two routes proposed by the UN-Escap enter Bangladesh from India and exits to India. Bangladesh has been pressing for Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar-Teknaf route. A number of moves in this regard proved futile as Dhaka failed to convince UN-Escap. …………….

Daily Star

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 22 May 2009 13:08

Ctg Arms Haul ---- Rahim brought to Dhaka for further quizzing at TFI

Law enforcement agencies yesterday brought former National Security Intelligence (NSI) director general Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim to Dhaka for quizzing him at the taskforce for interrogation (TFI) cell in connection with the sensational Chittagong arms haul case. Meanwhile, intelligence personnel raided the Banani home of Abdur Rahim to seize "valuable documents" of the Chittagong arms haul yesterday evening, UNB reports. Intelligence sources said they conducted the raid along with Abdur Rahim. However, it could not be confirmed whether any papers were seized.

Rahim was brought out of Chittagong jail around 10:00am and sent to Dhaka directly by road under police escort, said sources in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is investigating the case. Maj Gen (retd) Rezzaqul Haider, the other detained ex-NSI chief accused in the case, will be taken to TFI cell in Dhaka later, said CID Chittagong divisional Special Superintendent of Police Mohammad Muslim. Both the former NSI bosses were placed on a 6-day fresh remand each on Wednesday. Sources said during the interrogation at TFI cell the investigators would focus on extracting information regarding the origin, destination, buyers and financers of the 10 truckloads of arms and ammunition hauled at the jetty of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Company Ltd (CUFL) in the early hours of April 2, 2004.

They said after the latest arrest of four NSI men including the two former chiefs and CUFL managing director and general manager (admin) the number of accused in the case rose to 51, including one deceased. Investigators have so far interrogated 43 of them. Apart from the two ex-NSI chiefs and one former director, others are accused of helping transportation of the illegal consignment. So, they did not have any knowledge about the suppliers and buyers of the arms and ammunition. But, being the then NSI chief, Rahim would surely be able to give details on everything and identify everyone involved in the smuggling, sources said.

Rahim and Rezzaqul were arrested on May 16 at their residences in Dhaka following the confessional statement of former NSI director (security) Wing Commander (retd) Sahab Uddin made before a Chittagong court on May 15. In his statement, Sahab implicated the former NSI chiefs. The two were produced before a Chittagong court and taken on a three-day remand each on May 17. During interrogation on remand, they gave important information regarding the smuggling. Especially Rahim admitted to holding a meeting with officials of a foreign agency and ARY, a Dubai-based business group allegedly financing insurgent and terrorist groups. But, they tactfully avoided information about their involvement in the incident.

BDR mutiny for 'Dal Bhat'
No militant, political, foreign links found in national probe; 309-page report submitted

The national probe committee on BDR mutiny did not find any militant, political or foreign links to the carnage at Pilkhana headquarters. "BDR jawans committed the murders on their own. Our investigation did not find any involvement of outsiders--political leaders, militants or foreign forces," a member of the government probe body told The Daily Star yesterday evening, requesting not to be named. According to the inquiry report submitted to Home Minister Sahara Khatun yesterday, the BDR rank and file already had grievances pent up for years. Their resentment over 'Operation Dal-Bhat' made matters even worse, and it all boiled over into an orgy of killing on February 25-26.

It also says the mutiny was continuation of the revolts in 1973 and 1991 over leadership in the border force, added the probe body member. Some sources close to the committee said several jawans had claimed the mutiny was part of their movement against “discriminations by the army officers deputed to BDR”. They would call it “a mission to oust the foreign birds from BDR”. The killings were not part of their original plans. Still, they took place as some of the mutineers went beyond the control of the leaders, the sources continued. In its report, the committee recommends that those responsible be tried under the military act for speedy trial. It also suggests that BDR personnel should not be engaged in programmes like 'Operation Dal-Bhat', which was introduced to contain price hike of essentials during the caretaker government rule.

It advises further inquiry into the claims of foreign links. Earlier at around 4:00pm, the 12-member inquiry committee headed by former secretary Anisuzzaman Khan turned in the 309-page report at the home minister's office in the secretariat. State Minister for Home Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj, Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder, and members of the probe committee were present. "We have prepared the report on the basis of facts and realities. There is nothing speculative," Anisuzzaman told reporters afterwards. Asked what the main reason behind the bloodbath was, he said, “Mutiny.”

Declining to elaborate, he said they were assigned to probe the incident and now it is the government's duty to evaluate the findings. Sahara Khatun said the government would soon publish the report. "We are committed to making the findings public," she said seeking the media's help to ensure the culprits are brought to book. Pressed further, she said, “We have yet to read it. We will let you know the findings soon." Sahara said she hopes the report would come in handy for the agency tasked with investigating the case in connection with the carnage that left 74 people including 57 army officers dead.

The committee was formed on February 26 to be headed by the home minister. But in response to criticism over her inclusion, it was reconstituted on March 2 with the retired civil servant at the helm. Its members include former and serving bureaucrats and high-ranking officers from the armed forces. The committee began work the day after its reconstitution. It had several extensions before its time limit for submitting report expired on May 11. The deadline, which was to end on March 9, was extended by seven workdays first. Then on March 23, the committee got another four days. And finally on March 30, it was granted 30 more workdays in the interests of a proper investigation. Besides making the recommendations, the committee outlined probable reasons for the mutiny and steps to prevent repeat in future. Earlier, Commerce Minister Faruk Khan had said the banned Islamist outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) had a hand in the Pilkhana massacre.

Meanwhile, a Dhaka court yesterday placed Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Syed Towhidul Alam on a seven-day remand in an arms case filed with Sabujbagh Police Station. The case was filed last month after a revolver and some ammunition were recovered from BDR jawan Raju who told the law enforcers that DAD Towhid had given him the arms and ammo. Earlier, Towhid was remanded for 15 days at different times in the mutiny case. As per the law, an accused cannot be taken on remand for over 15 days in a single case.

In another development, three BDR jawans yesterday made statements confessing their role in the carnage. A correspondent from Jessore adds: The Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court here yesterday sent 43 BDR men to jail. The border guards were arrested on May 15 at Jhumjhumpur BDR camp and 22 rifles battalion headquarters on sedition charges.

Re-inventing friendship with India ---- Md. Ali Akbar

WITH the stunning electoral victory, India's secularist Congress-led UPA is back in power. We may see it as an opportunity to pursue our interests with the incumbent Indian government in continuation, and are upbeat on the prospect of realising the same. We should do our part to woo our next door neighbour into doing what it ought to. We must do unto India what we want to have her do unto us. We should address the factors that have, putatively, irritated India. It is most ironical to not yet have in place a relation of mutual trust between our two states, despite the fact that India, like a friend in need, stood by us during our war of independence in 1971.

Given her historical tie with us, it is only natural to expect India to be way more responsive to our problems than we saw she has been. Let us scratch our heads over what held her back. It is more than time we resort to everything it takes to remove all suspicion creeping into our bilateral relation, if only for our larger national interest. Of course, India should do the same. One, however, has to trace down the less-than-optimal, mutually beneficial Indo-Bangladesh relation to our disquieting past. With the unfortunate, bloody change-over in 1975, it was sought to turn back the wheel of our secular, democratic march forward, and to bring about a paradigm shift in our political existence and relation with India.

Those well conversant with the topsy-turvy forced by the powers that be at that time would affirm that actions were taken that might have estranged India. There was re-emergence of religion-based politics that was banned after our independence. Thanks to the then government's patronisation of Islamic fundamentalism, the secularist politics was mauled/battered, and thrown by the wayside. In an unimaginable turn of events, the nation was split into two by floating/invoking "Bangladeshi nationalism" as opposed to "Bengali nationalism" that was indeed the mantra of our independent nationhood. In the changed ambience, the defeated anti-liberation elements reorganised and entrenched themselves in Bangladesh.

In fact, the neo-nationalism had its sustenance feeding on covert malice to India. As it transpired from the evolving aspect of neo-nationalism, the ruling clique was all set to whip up anti-India sentiments. It was, increasingly, manifest that the ultra-rightist forces defeated in 1971 could not forget the ignominy of defeat. In their frantic bid for revenge, they, albeit from behind the scenes, contributed to straining our relation with India. And, tit-for-tat, the issues of Farakka and the CHT insurgency arose.

Farakka gave birth to the troubling Ganges water sharing dispute, which remained unresolved until a land-mark accord was signed between 1996 AL government and India. Similarly, the long drawn-out CHT insurgency, in spite of claiming many lives, was kept burning until it was settled by the last AL government through a historical peace accord with the PCJS. The 1996-2001 AL government was acclaimed for the bold steps to have the two intractable looking issues resolved, by taking India on board. Much the same way, we have to now again win the trust of India.

Particularly, the ongoing 4-phase re-enquiry into the buried case of 10 truck load-of-arms-and-ammo haul in Chittagong is expected to open up a Pandora's Box, as it is suspected that the consignment of arms was to be routed through Bangladesh to Ulfa (United Liberation Front of Assam). It is alleged that some individuals in the then government diverted the case by causing a flawed investigation report to be submitted by the concerned enquiry officers. Now, with some top ex-NSI officers taken into custody, it is widely apprehended that some top brass in the then regime might come under scrutiny, based on information elicited. It seems unlikely that the alleged intelligence functionaries would have dared to risk their necks without high level government backing.

It is argued that the huge cargo of seized arms and ammo was not consigned for any terror outfit within Bangladesh, as we are not aware of any terror group that may have either expertise or extensive network to consume/use such a large quantum of sophisticated, lethal arms. We must do the needful to establish strong understanding. If the arms mystery is unraveled, and its behind-the-scene backers unmasked, it would serve as a concrete evidence of our good will and help win back India's confidence to help resolve our outstanding issues.

Md. Ali Akbar is a Deputy Secretary to the Government.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Gerard » 24 May 2009 18:04

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby RajeshA » 25 May 2009 14:19

Dhaka to sign Asian Highway deal by Ehsanul Haque Jasim: The New Nation

According to the source, Bangladesh is all set to connect itself with the proposed Asian Highway and the government wants to settle the issue before the upcoming meeting on the Asian Highway Network in Bangkok on September this year.

Once Bangladesh would be connected with the route, the communications of India with its northeastern regions would be easy. They would communicate with these regions using the route, which is to be constructed on Bangladesh.

The Asian Highway route, also known as the Great Asian Highway, is a cooperative project among countries from Bulgaria in Europe to Bangkok in Southeast Asia. It was initiated by the United Nations in 1959 with the aim of promoting the development of international road transport in the region.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Gerard » 01 Jun 2009 01:58

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Gerard » 01 Jun 2009 16:43

Chinese woo business in Bangladesh
"Too much rice. It makes them sleepy," she complained while directing a severe look at her Bangladeshi waiter.
"It takes three Bangladeshis to do the work of one Chinese," she proclaimed, at which point the poor waiter hurriedly jumped to his feet to refill my water glass.
the Chinese like to build big things that people can see and use.

They also like schemes which find favour with local politicians.

At the moment they are sorting out accommodation for members of the Bangladeshi parliament. If an MP needs a second home in Dhaka, away from his constituency, the Chinese can help with the cost.

It seems that expense receipts can be submitted to Beijing with little chance of a scandal in the press.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 01 Jun 2009 21:01

Over 150 Daud operatives already in Bangladesh --- Their payment comes thru' a money exchange firm, Daud Merchant tells The Daily Star; he manages a passport in exchange for Tk 50,000

Detectives suspect that more than 150 highly paid agents have been working in the country for international mafia don Daud Ibrahim and that his second-in-command "Chhota" Shakil has been dealing with their payments. The Daily Star had an exclusive interview of Chhota Shakil's close aide, detained Abdur Rauf Daud Merchant, in the custody of Detective Branch of police. During the interview he said he managed a Bangladeshi passport with fake documents for Tk 50,000 through a broker. Daud Merchant said Chhota Shakil, who is now staying in Dubai, sent him to Bangladesh and that Shakil sends money to all his Bangladesh agents through a money exchange firm.

A senior DB official said, "We are confident that Daud [Ibrahim] has more than 150 agents in Bangladesh who are paid monthly by Chhota Shakil." Earlier on May 27, DB officials arrested Chhota Shakil's close aides, Indian nationals Daud Merchant and Zahid Sheikh, along with their Bangladeshi host Kamal from Brahmanbaria. The DB is interrogating them on an eight-day remand from Saturday. DB sources said fugitives in India, both Merchant and Zahid managed Bangladeshi passports and fake nationality certificates. Zahid also managed a national identity card. On their Bangladeshi passports, Merchant adopted the name Abdur Rahman and Zahid took the name Arif Sheikh.

Talking to The Daily Star, DB Deputy Commissioner Monirul Islam said, "So far as we know, Daud Ibrahim and Chhota Shakil have some agents in the country and we are trying to trace and arrest them. "During interrogation Merchant, Zahid and Kamal admitted that Chhota Shakil may have many other people staying in Bangladesh," he said. "We will also investigate how Merchant and Zahid managed the fake passports and certificates," he added. According to DB officials, Brahmanbaria Municipality Mayor Hafizur Rahman Mollah issued the nationality certificate and a birth registration certificate to Merchant.

Councillor Mohammad Faruk Miah of the municipality certified that he has known Merchant for the last 10 years. When contacted over phone, Brahmanbaria Municipality Mayor Hafizur Rahman said, "I signed the certificate after the councillor and a doctor certified him [Merchant]." While admitting the mistake, he raised the question how could they dodge the police. Talking to The Daily Star, Merchant said, "It is not impossible that Daud Ibrahim and Chhota Shakil have agents in the country. But I do not know anybody." Merchant denied all allegations of setting up a network and other plans. "I have come here only to hide and I have been trying to start a business," he said.

"I have managed a passport, fake nationality certificate and other papers as documents so that I can obtain a trade licence for importing motorbike from Mumbai," said Merchant, adding, "I have never met and talked to Daud Ibrahim. But I had regular contact with Chhota Shakil. It is not known to me whether Daud Ibrahim and Chhota Shakil have visited Bangladesh." Merchant, 39, has mother, a brother, wife, a 14-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter in Mumbai. Asked why he killed Gulshan Kumar, he denied killing him and said a person named Anil Sharma killed Gulshan Kumar and that he was implicated in the case with false charges. DB sources said they identified Zahid and Merchant by tracking their mobile phones and arrested them by trapping them through Zahid's detained girl friend.

Construction of Tipaimukh Dam --- Dhaka to protest if harmful: Ramesh

Bangladesh will protest the construction of Tipaimukh Dam if it portends to cause any harm to the country, Water Resources Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen said yesterday. "If they [India] construct dam causing harm to Bangladesh, we will protest it and if necessary we will build resistance against the move. We will encourage India to construct the dam if Bangladesh's interests are not harmed," he said. The minister was talking to reporters after an inter-ministerial meeting at the food and disaster management ministry conference room. "We want there is no possibility of harmful things for Bangladesh due to construction of Tipaimukh dam," he said adding, "India has assured Bangladesh in this regard positively."

The minister said a team comprised of experts and journalists would visit the Tipaimukh dam site soon. "But before that we will sit together with all political parties and take decision on the matter," said Ramesh. He said once the committee is formed comprising lawmakers of all political parties, it will visit the spot of the proposed dam and submit its reports after coming back to Bangladesh. Asked when the committee would be formed, the minister replied 'very soon'. He said, "We want that Bangladesh-India bilateral relationship would be developed more."

Asked how the country would be benefited from construction of the dam, Ramesh said they could not say it until they visit the spot. He however said, "Any kinds of dam causes loss." About the main opposition BNP's protest against the move to construct the dam, the minister said then Water Resources Minister Hafiz Uddin Ahmed did not protest the move, which was started in 2002 when the BNP-Jamaat coalition was in power.

War Crime Trial --- Dipu Moni seeks records from UK {That begs the question, how come UK has the records from 1970 days?!}

As part of her effort to garner international support for the trial of war criminals Foreign Minister Dipu Moni yesterday met British Minister of International Defence and Security Baroness Ann Taylor Bolton in Singapore. “Dipu Moni informed the British minister about her government's endeavour to try war criminals of Bangladesh and sought relevant old records available in the UK for transparent and fair trials,” a foreign ministry release said. The foreign minister went to Singapore on Friday to attend a security summit, Shangri-La Dialogue, and met several world leaders. She also met US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates who assured her of providing co-operation in defence sector.

The foreign minister met her Sri Lankan counterpart Rohitha Bogollagama and sought cooperation from her in trying war criminals. The Sri Lankan foreign minister said that Bangladesh has every right to do so. Dipu Moni also talked to Singapore Foreign Minister George Yong-Boon Yeo. She, in the process of discourse, urged the Singaporean educational institutions to give recognition to Bangladeshi degrees so Bangladeshi students can pursue higher education in Singapore.

She also proposed her counterpart to ease the process of obtaining visa for the Bangladeshis especially for patients and students. Prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, foreign ministers, defence ministers and chiefs of armed forces of different countries are attending the summit. Dipu Moni delivered the keynote paper on 'Contribution to Peace Support Operations', saying that ensuring peace and security at home and abroad is a constitutional obligation of Bangladesh and in this respect Bangladesh is an active partner of the UN.

Liakat to be grilled again in Ctg arms case

A former deputy director of National Security Intelligence, retired major Liakat Hossain, will go before the Task Force for Interrogation in Dhaka for further grilling in the notorious 10-truck arms case, a CID official said Sunday. Muhammad Muslim, special superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department's Chittagong zone, said Liakat will be produced before Chittagong magistrate's court for further remand to extract more information on the 2004 seizure of 10 truckloads of arms in the port city. Liakat was cautious about giving information during his four-day remand that ended on Sunday, said Muslim.

He said Liakat gave some important information, but did not disclose enough for the sake of investigation. Liakat was arrested at his Dhanmondi residence on Monday following the statement of a former NSI director, retired wing commander Shahabuddin, arrested previously. NSI former director general Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim, Shahabuddin and former NSI field officer Akbar Hossain Khan, all held in the case, have all given statements in court following interrogation by the TFI.

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Re: Bangladesh News and Discussion

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 02 Jun 2009 08:57

Time for some own string of pearls maneuver
Turn Ctg, Mongla into regional ports ---- Suggests WB

The World Bank (WB) has suggested shaping up of Chittagong and Mongla seaports as regional ports for smooth regional connectivity, which it thinks will spur the country's economic uplift. Regional Director of the WB Dr Sadiq Ahmed came up with the proposition during talks with Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain at his office yesterday. "Neighbouring countries would be able to transport their goods through the ports if multipurpose uses of both the ports can be ensured,” Sadiq said. Assuring financial support for development of Bangladesh, the multilateral funding agency's executive said Bangladesh would benefit economically if regional connectivity can be ensured.

Sadiq said the WB would come forward with more support in internal and communications infrastructures development and establishing regional connectivity. "Linking the region would be a matter of simple job if entire communications development with railway connectivity is seen in Bangladesh," he added. The communications minister informed the WB regional director that the government would open Padma Bridge for traffic within 2013 through ensuring railway track from the very beginning. He said approximately 820 million US dollars would be needed for setting up rails on the Dhaka-Fatullah-Mawa-Bhanga-Bhatiapara-Jessore route, and he sought WB support for implementing the project.

“Railway connectivity between Chittagong and Mongla ports is also an imperative now,” the minister added. Secretary of Roads and Railway Department ASM Ali Kabir, Additional Secretary Alam Mehdi, Director General of Bangladesh Railways Md Belayet Hossain and Chief Engineer of the Directorate of Roads and Highways Munshi Mostafizur Rahman were also present at the meeting.

Thai FM pushes for road through Myanmar

Foreign Minister of Thailand Kasit Priomya yesterday said Bangladesh-Myanmar road is "more viable" route of the proposed Asian Highways for connecting Thailand with western countries. He said his country was ready to work with Bangladesh on repatriation of Rohingya refugees, a common problem for two countries, back to Myanmar. Priomya, who came to Dhaka yesterday on a two-day official visit, said political change in the military-ruled Myanmar was "very much needed" for regional stability. While talking to reporters at a joint-press briefing at the foreign ministry, he said Bangladesh and Thailand could easily be connected by road via Myanmar, subject to the approval of the three governments.

He said an option was there to stretch a road from India through a part of Bangladesh and then back into India ending in southern China via Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. "But the option for a road from Chittagong to Myanmar and Thailand looks quite viable in terms of the international thought," he added. The minister said changes in Myanmar would resolve the issues of internally displaced Myanmarese along the Bangladesh-Myanmar and Myanmar-Thailand borders. "So changes in Myanmar are very much needed. It is not only a necessity for the security of Myanmar but also for all the neighbouring countries including Bangladesh and Thailand," Priomya said.

Speaking at the briefing, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said Thailand agreed to give on-arrival visas to Bangladeshi diplomats and government officials. She hoped the on-arrival visas would be available for all Bangladeshis in future. She said Bangkok extended support to Dhaka's initiative to set up the headquarters of Bimstec in the Bangladesh capital. Dipu Moni and Kasit Priomya led their respective sides to the official talks at the foreign ministry. Top officials from the ministries concerned attended the meeting. The issues that featured in the meeting include infrastructure development in Bangladesh, cooperation in energy sector, Bangladesh's inclusion in the Asian Highways, Bangladesh-Thailand road link through Myanmar, maritime port linkage between Bangladesh and Thailand, trade imbalance between the two countries, tourism and cultural exchange.

She said the Thai authorities have assured Bangladesh of employing Bangladeshi skilled labour and other professionals. "The Thai foreign minister sought cooperation in education sector, especially in the teaching profession. Thailand has demands for English teachers in different universities." The two sides discussed cooperation in combating piracy and trafficking of small arms and drugs. They also discussed cooperation in defence and intelligence information sharing. Bangladesh and Thailand have a huge trade gap in favour of Thailand and both the countries agreed to remove the imbalance.

Bangladesh prefers increased export of its goods to Thailand and invited more investment. Bangladesh imports goods worth $500 million while exports goods worth only $24 million. Dipu Moni said Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals have a good prospect in Thailand since the country needs more medicine. On his arrival, Priomya held a meeting with Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain at the secretariat. The Thai minister is scheduled to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He will visit a Buddhist temple at Kamalapur to distribute rice at an orphanage before departing today.

Zahid Sheikh held first in 2004, got bail

Detained Indian underworld gangster Zahid Sheikh, a close aide of Indian-born crime boss Daud Ibrahim, along with his Indian accomplice Raju were earlier arrested at Dhaka in March 2004 by Mohammadpur police. Mysteriously, they were released on bails soon after being produced before a Dhaka court. Sources from Detective Branch (DB) said Zahid had admitted his escape from India after killing three people in Mumbai eight years ago. Zahid, however, claimed that he and his associates killed three Shib Sena members in Mumbai for tortures on Muslims, DB officials said.

DB officials also said Zahid had been roving India and Bangladesh -- often without passport -- and maintaining Daud Ibrahim's network in the region under Chhota Shakil's direction. DB sources said both Zahid and Raju were arrested under section-54 of Criminal Procedure Code on charges of their suspicious movement and activities. "With such criminal record his bail from the court of law then is still a riddle.” Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner AKM Shahidul Haque told The Daily Star adding, “Another mystery is that how he managed to avoid arrest during his presence in the country.”

Asked, the DMP Commissioner said another arrested Indian criminal Abdur Rouf alias Daud Merchant came to Bangladesh under Zahid's supervision. Daud Merchant, a convict awarded lifetime for killing music baron Gulshan Kumer, had been trying to set up a network jointly with Zahid Sheikh. "We are investigating into what Zahid had been doing and looking for the people he had been maintaining contacts with," Commissioner Shahid said adding, "We are also trying to unearth the reason behind Daud Merchant's intrusion in the country." A DB source said Zahid disclosed names of some individuals in Dhaka and the detectives are trying to nab them. Both Daud Merchant and Zahid were arrested at Brahmanbaria on 27 May last along with their Bangladeshi host Kamal.

Ctg Arms Haul ---- Liakat taken on fresh remand

A Dhaka court yesterday placed detained former National Security Intelligence (NSI) deputy director Maj (retd) Liakat Hossain on a fresh six-day remand at Task Force for Interrogation (TFI) cell in the Chittagong arms haul case. Public Prosecutor (PP) advocate Kamal Uddin moved a fresh ten-day remand prayer on behalf of CID senior ASP of Chittagong Md Muniruzzaman Chowdhury, the investigation officer of the case. The PP argued that the former NSI deputy director knew how the ex-NSI chief Brigadier General (retd) Abdur Rahim and ex-NSI director (security) Sahab Uddin were involved in the case and about the meetings and conversations between the then NSI high-ups and officials of foreign agencies.

Opposing the remand prayer defence lawyer advocate Abul Hasan claimed that Liakat had been attached to the foreign ministry on February 22, 2004 and was not in NSI during the seizure of the illegal arms and ammunition. He also produced some documents proclaiming Liakat ill and sought bail in the case. Hearing both the sides the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Md Mahbubur Rahman rejected the bail prayer and sanctioned a six-day fresh remand against Liakat. The same court also rejected an appeal by Sahab Uddin's lawyer for a copy of Sahab's confessional statement on May 15.

28 arrested for trying to cross Satkhira border

Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) yesterday arrested 28 people after the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) handed them over to BDR from near Mamdu river at Koikhali village in Shyamnagar upazila. All the arrestees are survivors of Cyclone Aila and had travelled to India through the Koikhali border by crossing the river Mamdu, which borders between the two countries. Sources said that the arrested claimed that they hadn't received any help since the cyclone hit the south-western regions on May 25.

All the arrestees, including 11 children, hail from Chormukha village under Koira upazila in Khulna. BSF caught the group when they reached Shamshernagar, a bordering village under Hasnabad police station in India. BDR later handed them over to Shyamnagar thana police who sent them to court. Talking to The Daily Star, Shubodh Mondol and Brozen Mondol, two of the arrested, said, “We have been starving for food and drinking water for the last five days. Acute hunger compelled us to cross into India in search of food.”

Tipaimukh Dam --- Hafiz says he protested India's move

BNP Vice President and former minister Hafiz Uddin Ahmad yesterday said he had lodged strong protests against the construction of Tipaimukh dam, but Indian side did not pay any heed to those protests. Protesting the remark of Water Resources Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen which was published in The Daily Star of June 1, Hafiz said the remark is politically motivated and baseless. “I had registered strong protest regarding the proposed dam at the meetings of Joint Rivers Commission in 2003 and 2005,” Hafiz said, adding that Khaleda's government also lodged protest against the project in April and May 1992 as well as in March 1995.

The former water resources minister said he hoped Ramesh would rise above party consideration and take bold steps regarding Tipaimukh dam appreciating the sentiments of the countrymen. :P While talking to reporters at his office on Sunday, present Water Resources Minister Ramesh said the then minister Hafiz did not protest the move which started in 2002 when the BNP-Jamaat coalition was in power.

Bangladesh's untapped coal potential

THE Bangladesh Ministry of Power and Energy recently asserted that the country must more than double delivered power within the next five years (from around 4,000 MW to 9,000 MW per day). With the installation and operation of four new coal-fired power stations, it is claimed that the current daily gap between generation and demand would be reduced to 1,500 MW. According to Bangladesh's National Energy Policy 2004 (quoted in The Independent, May 9) total coal reserves are 2,527 million tonnes, contained in four fields: Barapukuria with around 300 million tonnes; Phulbari with 400 million tonnes; Jamalganj containing 1,000 million tons, and 450 million tonnes at Khalaspir. Of these resources, 492 million tonnes are estimated to be recoverable by mining.

However, the key questions are: how much of this coal, and of what quality, is actually usable; and when would it realistically be available to generate electricity? This is something that the proposed joint feasibility study between government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will hopefully address. But it's not yet known how long it will take to complete this study. Nor can we anticipate any conclusions it might make concerning the economic, social and environmental costs contingent on hugely increasing Bangladesh's dependency on coal over the coming years. The mining recovery estimate seems highly optimistic. Mark Muller, as an experienced mining geophysicist, recently carried out an independent technical review of Bangladesh's coal reserves. Based on existing surveys, he concluded that they amount to between 3,200 and 4,700 million tonnes, using the most optimistic figures found.

These reserves appear sufficient to close the gap markedly between current power generation and predicted requirements. However, coal-seam depth, thickness and separation are the primary geological factors that determine the appropriate extraction method. Many seams will not, in fact, be amenable to extraction at all using currently available mining methods. Bangladesh's only operating coalmine, at Barapukuria, has so far delivered less than 3 million tonnes. This is despite the 1992 projection that it would be able to produce 60 million tonnes. Six years later, in 1998, and following severe flooding, that target was cut in half to 30 million tonnes.

As is well known, the mine's impacts at the surface have been devastating. Land subsidence of between 0.6-0.9 m has been reported over an area of approximately 1.2 square kilometres; the water-table has dropped, leaving commonly-used reservoirs dry in 15 villages; and at least 81 houses have developed cracks. Untreated water (acknowledged by the mining company to contain phosphorous, arsenic and magnesium) is passing through canals in farming areas. The Phulbari open-cast project is beset by heated debate over its likely impacts on local communities, its dependence on a foreign company, and by major doubts about its economic viability, particularly if the mine isn't to rely on exporting most of the coal it produces. Last year, Roger Moody performed an in-depth critique of these aspects of the proposed Phulbari mine.

This leaves the hardly-investigated Khalaspir field, and Jamalganj, cited by the ministry as potentially the largest source of coal, comprising more than a third of the country's "cache." However, our research -- now backed by an article in the May 21 issue of Energy and Power -- strongly suggests that the majority of the Jamalganj resource is too deep to be mined: 96% of it is deeper than 700 m. Moreover, given the lead-time required to bring any of these three deposits into commercial operation and start producing electricity from power plants, the claim that coal could reduce Bangladesh's shortfall by around 3,500 MW within the next five years seems terribly over-optimistic.

This is not to say that coal should be abandoned altogether. On the contrary, our research has identified two potential sources of coal-generated energy that have four significant virtues. They are comparatively cheap, can deliver power to nearby power stations, are relatively clean in terms of pollution emissions; and they don't necessitate the disturbances of land and people that are associated with conventional mining. These technologies -- Coal Bed Methane (CBM) and Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) -- have already proved viable in several countries, including the USA, Canada, China, Australia, South Africa and Uzbekistan, with pilot projects now underway in the UK, Spain and Belgium.

We don't claim that CBM and UCG will solve all Bangladesh's energy problems; nor that they are "trouble free." They can have adverse impacts on land and water, interrupt agriculture, and be unsightly. There's also little doubt that they deliver less energy than the coal seams from which they derive, if those deposits are efficiently mined. Yet the energy return from UCG can be as high as 75% of that delivered directly by coal. Coal-seams not accessible by mining are well within reach of both CBM and UCG, and can add significantly to the recoverable resource. (Again, this conclusion is supported by the May 21 issue of Energy and Power). Their surface impact, and that on hydrology, is significantly lower than with mining. Loss of valuable agricultural land is greatly reduced. The need for solid waste-rock and coal-ash management on the surface is entirely removed. There is no subsidence risk at all for CBM, and little for deep-seam UCG (although the UCG subsidence risk for shallow seams needs to be carefully managed).

In addition, a CBM project could deliver electrical power output in half the time required for mining -- as little as five years from starting a feasibility drilling program and study. Apart from two studies -- one carried out by M.B. Imam, M. Rahman, and S.H. Akhter in 2002 at Jamalganj; and the other at Barapukuria by M.R. Islam and D. Hayashi in 2008 -- no concerted investigation has yet been undertaken into the potential of these two technologies for Bangladesh. Nor -- despite the Asian Development Bank recently listing CBM as a "clean development" mechanism -- are these methods currently being considered as part of the country's future "energy mix."

In conclusion, we want to emphasise that, even where Bangladesh's coal reserves appear to be mineable, there are compelling reasons why the alternatives should now be urgently investigated. This should be done before hasty and irrevocable decisions are taken which expose citizens to further disasters like Barapukuria.

Mark Muller's study, entitled “How coal may produce energy without being mined” is available at:

Roger Moody's critique of the Phulbari project is at: ... 112009.pdf

And finally, for some comic relief.....
Our relations with China: Unexplored potential

EXTERNAL aid forms about 50% of ADP of Bangladesh, constituting more than 2% of GDP, leading to strong presence of donors in the country. A significant portion of the aid goes to the health, education, infrastructure, and social sectors. We need further and diversified support that will accelerate growth, since about half the population is still stricken by poverty, with nearly one-third underemployed. If we do need further help, then from whom should we seek it? In our own region, we have a miracle story about a country with a long history and tradition, facing many of the same problems which we are facing now, if not more: poverty, surplus labour, over- population, backward agriculture, lack of food security, natural disasters, weak industrial base etc. The miracle lies in the fact that in just over 2 decades not only were these problems mitigated, but the country also became one of the largest and most robust and resilient economies in the world. It is the People's Republic of China that we are talking about, the third largest economy after US and Japan, with a nominal GDP of $4.3 trillion (2008) when measured in exchange-rate terms.

China has been the fastest-growing nation for the past quarter of a century with an average annual GDP growth rate above 10%. Major reforms which began in the 1980s enabled hundreds of millions to be lifted out of poverty, which went down from 53% in 1981 to 2.5% in 2005, nearly 20-fold decrease, an achievement unmatched in poverty alleviation. Infant mortality rate fell by 39.5% between 1990 and 2005, and maternal mortality by 41.1%. Access to telephone rose by 94-fold, to 57.1%. At the same time, China invested heavily on developing its human capital, an integral part of a modern economy. The student population in higher learning has doubled in a very short period and is one of the largest in the world.

China is a close ally of Bangladesh, offering infrastructural support, technical assistance, financial aid, military assistance and other forms of aid. In 2005, China emerged as the number one import source for Bangladesh, overtaking India for the first time. By 2008, China-Bangladesh trade volume reached over $4.68 billion. On the diplomatic front, 2005 was declared a "China- Bangladesh Friendship Year," marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations. {Why did diplomatic relations between BD and china get established only in 1975? Why after the assassination of Sh. Mujib? What was the US' -- read as HK's -- and Bhutto's role in this shift?}

A firm believer in the one China policy, Bangladesh can gain much from this relationship. Since China rose rapidly from a situation not much different from our current predicament, it is of paramount importance that we effectively learn from the Chinese experience of reform and economic development. :P In agriculture, there is much room to collaborate, considering that China is highly acclaimed for its ability to feed its growing population despite limited natural resources. {Here is the three-step DIY approach to feeding a-la the chinese way: Catch something that flies or walks or moves, put it in the soup, and nourish and relax :P. Vely vely intelesting onlee...}

Given China's strong agricultural research base, Bangladesh can benefit by developing a mechanism whereby we can tap into their research programs to transfer relevant learning to Bangladesh. China can also help develop our human resource by offering increased technical support {to make third-rate quality CFL's or melamine-laden milk powder, no wonder}. It has numerous high powered, strong, and active policy research institutions that help the government in key decision making. Such institutions can help Bangladesh develop its capacity to effectively formulate, evaluate, and monitor policies. This will help us deal effectively with exogenous shocks like natural calamities or financial crisis.

Historically, Bangladesh has not performed well in trade negotiations -- either multilateral or bilateral. The Chinese have proved themselves to be some of the smartest trade negotiators, who have successfully worked out trade deals that have propelled domestic production and benefited overseas consumers. Particularly, Chinese experience in effectively negotiating FTAs with countries like Australia and New Zealand can provide helpful insights to our policymakers as the South Asian regional trade still has much to achieve when compared to other trade regimes.

Re-branding is another area where Bangladesh can learn from China. For example, China has been quite often cited as one of the major polluters of the environment. China has re-branded itself as an environmentally proactive nation by enlisting with the Kyoto Protocol. {You sure :P?!} By adopting the Kyoto Protocol, China has developed the image of an environment-friendly economy, which in turn has increased acceptability of products exported from China. Similar lessons from China can be taken on re-positioning with respect to the RMG sector. While Bangladesh mostly continues to cater to low-end products in the international market, China has increasingly shifted towards catering to high-end products, enjoying increased profitability. Our RMG entrepreneurs, instead of asking for cash subsidy while underpaying the workers, can learn much by analysing the value additive strategies of RMG sector entrepreneurs of China.

China has successfully implemented a well thought out strategy of making large investments in its public infrastructure, which has led to greater output, more private investments, and higher employment. In view of the recent emphasis of the Bangladesh government on using public-private partnership to spur economic growth, the role of the Chinese public sector in this regard can provide useful leads. The Chinese economy also has substantially benefited by the manufacturing sector, which is backed up by an endogenous culture that supports reverse engineering -- thereby making China the largest exporter of electronic appliances.

While there is a tendency to emulate the Western models of economic development, countries like China and South Korea provide better examples to learn from. Because of greater commonality in the social, economic, and cultural arenas, {with a Christianizing South Korea and a nominally communist, neo-capitalist kleptocracy?! The only commonality I can see is the spate of military rule in both places, anyway no amount of cold water can dispel wet dreams of the hardest nature.} chances are better that learning from such experience of industrial growth and economic development would not only be more relevant but also more rewarding for Bangladesh. Cooperation with China needs to be exploited further to the mutual advantage of both the countries. {and naturally, to the detriment of India --- let me complete the statement for SM Khasru. In short, let us prostitute ourselves to the nearest anti-Indian bidder, just like our brothers and former countrymen did and still do.}

Syed Munir Khasru is a Laal-professor at the Institute of BENIS Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka.

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