162nd HL Newsletter Aug.-Sept. 2009

Hotline Newsletter

162nd Issue                                                                        Aug.-Sept., 2009


Whom or what is government afraid of?

  Before elections the Awami League had a platform of reform. It was vowed that all the wrong policies of the previous administration, especially the massive corruption that made Bangladesh the shame of the world, would be overturned overnight. We are used to high-sounding pre-election promises  and also quick amnesia after the elections. But what we are not used to is the continuous proclamation after the elections that the party in power is standing by its pre-election promises and striving to fulfill them. When it does not do so we have to ask ourselves: “Whom or what is government afraid of?”

|The BCL, the main student arm of the Awami League and the Jubo League have been throwing its weight around since the election. First of all was a concerted campaign to gain supremacy on college and university campuses, if necessary by banishing the residents of other parties from their halls, if necessary by force. Remonstrances from the reigning party followed, with the effect of a tap on the wrist.

The BCL and JL next turned to the lucrative activity of extortion of businessmen, and manipulation of tenders, especially on campuses, and again relying on force and vandalism when needed.

In addition, more recently, reports of rape and gang rape by BCL men have come to the fore, in which they have used party influence to escape capture. Not only did a BCL leader of Pirojpur admit raping a Class X student but a video of the event was circulated to the video shops. The BCL expelled him for life, but the fact remains that he still has not been captured when he easily could have been.

An even more heinous crime was the gang rape of a Class VII girl by 16 BCL men in Kalapur Upazila, Patuakhali District the night of Sept. 25. Two Awami League leaders claimed that the rapists were not AL activists but only “spoiled brats” and that they did not rape her but only tortured her. They forced the victim and her father to deny the rape and claim that it was only “torture.” They further forced the girl to bring a case against the journalists who gave “false information.” The same two had tried to hush the case by holding “arbitration.” The jury was local AL leaders and activists. They fined the offenders Tk 10,000 each and beat them. Why such a high payment if they thought there was no rape or attempted rape (which is also legal rape)? Until now there has been no legal action against the culprits, and the police have even refused to cooperate with an Ain O Shalish Kendra-led human rights team of investigators.

As incidents of student leaders multiplied, the protests against the reigning party increased to do something effective to control their minions.The party response was headlines: “AL seeks ways to keep party men in check,” “Hasina asks for stern action” and “Vows to spare none.”

The most horrible case is that of the extra-judicial killings. Ain O Salish Kendra claims that since 2004 some 1070 such killings have occurred. The standard report handed out by the police and special police (Rapid Action Battalion) is so full of logical inconsistencies, which actually militate against the police, that it is an insult to every intelligent reader. Ain O Salish Kendra filed a writ petition to the High Court for government to show cause why extra-judicial killings should not declared illegal. On June 20 the High Court issued a rule to government to explain within four weeks why such encounters should not be declared illegal and why departmental and punitive actions should not be taken against those responsible for such killings.

No answer was ever given but in a High Court hearing the counsel for the government stated that during its present regime there have been no such killings. Ain O Salish Kendra responded that there were more than 100. Their number is increasing rapidly day-day-day, as anyone can learn by reading the daily newspapers.

Ain O Salish Kendra on Oct. 6 condemned the remarks of Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan on BBC Sanglap (Dialogue), where he had said that criminals should be killed in crossfire and it is not possible to try them as per the existing laws. They asked: “How could a responsible minister make such comments in a public forum?” Government has always insisted that deaths from “crossfire” take place accidentally when law-enforcers open fire to save themselves. This,  in spite of the fact that the Awami League had pledged to take a strong stand against extra-judicial killings.

Some direct action from on high is called for. “Actions speak louder than words” and “A word to the wise is sufficient.” ###

Army pullout from CHT: Step towards implementation of CHT Accord

The first major pullout of the army from the CHT since 1997 – when the CHT Peace Accord was signed followed by limited withdrawal – began Aug. 7  with the dismantling of an army camp.

The issue has to be placed in the right perspective, as it has far-reaching implications insofar as the future of the CHT and its people are concerned. The first point to be taken note of is that the pullout is in keeping with the accord. It is a solid step towards its implementation and is an indicator of the government’s trust in the abilities of the local administration and the people of the CHT to maintain peace and order. After all, deployment of the army for patrolling the areas, which were once the scene of a long-drawn, self-attritional insurgency, had to come to an end with the end of the insurgency itself. People of the CHT have begun their journey along the path to peaceful coexistence and it was necessary to go by the accord which laid the foundation of a fresh beginning. A government official has quite rightly expressed his optimism, which reflects the opinion of the majority, that law and order will not worsen after the army camps are dismantled.

The critics of the government move are apparently getting a partial picture of the situation. It is not a total withdrawal, that some quarters are apparently worried about, for a cantonment will remain in the CHT as any other part of the country.

The withdrawal of the camps is indeed a sign of the army’s success in its CHT mission. Their work in the CHT over the years has created a situation in which maintenance of law and order can be vested in the civil admin- istration which will, we believe, get full cooperation of the local people. The work done by the army has actually changed the lives of the CHT people in many ways. The army has set up schools, libraries and constructed roads and buildings as part of the plan to improve the overall infrastructure facilities in the hill districts.

The security concerns as expressed by those opposed to the pullout, if any, have to be addressed, but no less important is normalisation of life in the CHT and handing over matters pertaining to administration and enforcement of the law to civilian authorities.

(DS Editorial 11.08.09)

During a press briefing in Banderban HT on Aug. 31 the BDR Director said they will increase the number of personnel and of  border outposts in the CHT in September. The force will be renamed BGB (Border Guard  Bangladesh) and will have a new uniform.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said on Aug. 12 that government will carry out a survey in the hill districts by December to recover and protect the land of the indigenous people.  “If we want to protect the rights of the indigenous people in the real sense, we have to ensure that adivasi land cannot be trans-ferred or sold to non-adivasi people.”

The CHT Land Commission decided to begin the land survey from Oct. 15. It will begin with the lands of those who returned home from India as registered refugees.

14-year old girl raped

The parents of a rape victim in Faridpur Aug. 12 demanded justice after two men repeatedly raped their 14-year old daughter, recorded the incidents on a mobile phone and later uploaded the video footage on the internet. They sold CDs of the rape in the local market. According to the victim’s family, the teenager was assaulted on July 9, 2009 while on her way to school around 7 a.m. The frightened girl did not report the incident to anyone, but as the word spread of  the video footage and people were able to identify her, she told her parents what had happened. Her parents went for help to local influentials and Sadarpur police station. However, the police refused to register a case. They then filed a case with the Women and Children Repression Prevention Court in Faridpur. Kalam Khan, 30, son of Anowar Khan of Koilochuri village of Bhashanchar area in Sadarpur, and his associate Tushar Khan, 28, son of  Moazzem Khan of Nolertak of Char Bishnopur (who had married a girl by force when she had finished only part of her SSC examinations) allegedly raped the student of Class VI at a jute field at Heliport area in Char Vodrason. On the morning of July 9, 2009, Kalam lured the girl to the field where he raped her as his associate Tushar recorded the incident on his mobile phone. When he was done, Tushar raped the victim and this time Kalam recorded it on the same mobile phone. Two others were involved whom the girl said she could identify but not name.

The court has ordered a ban on sale of the CD and issued arrest warrants against the two men seen in the video footage. On the night of Aug. 11 the Char Vodrason police kept the victim’s father heartlessly the whole night in the station for questioning, even though he was not a witness..  A rickshaw-puller, he cannot work because of  threats to cut off his head. The family live on the handouts of neighbours. Several women’s organisations in Dhaka demanded the immediate arrest of the perpetrators of this heinous crime and their exem- plary punishment, but the culprits were still not taken into custody by the first week of October.

Vandalism for refused tolls

Local Jubo League activists on Aug. 12 vandalised a rehabil- itation centre for drug addicts and a construction firm office and looted cash and cell phones at Mohammadpur on refusal of paying a toll for the National Mourning Day program of the Awami League. At least 40 JL activists in two groups, armed with brickbats, bamboo sticks and iron rods damaged a Drug Rehabilitation centre and Salam Enterprises at  Dhaka Udayan on Aug. 5, looted Tk. 16,000 and two cell phones They also injured three employees.

Six months before they had come to the centre  to demand Tk. 50,000 and returned, expecting  to collect the money. No case was registered with the police over the vandalism

Politics vs education

The Rajshahi Education Board Chairman Dipadendranath Das left the city the night of Aug. 29 for Dhaka after his life was allegedly threatened by the city mayor, Khairuzzaman Liton. He had repeatedly asked over the phone that the chairman upgrade his daugter’s SSC results. The mayor accused him of not observing National Mourning Day.

Mayor’s rage over non-cheating

The Rajshahi Education Board Chairman – Dipakendranath Das – left town the night of Aug. 29 after threats on his life. Allegedly, the city Mayor Kahiruzzaman Liton had made the threat over the phone because the chairman refused to upgrade his daughter’s SSC results. The mayor for his part brought an allegation against Dipakendranath of not obsreving National Mourning Day in a befitting manner at the Rajahshi Education Board this year. The latter filed general diaries at two police stations, complaining that he was asked to leave Rajshahi forever.

BCL activists halt tendering

Local leaders and activists of  the SL Student League grabbed tender schedules from contrac- ors of the LGED office in Manikgang on Aug. 10. A representative of  Air Engineer- ing Service registered a First Information Report with the Police Station. He said they were confined in a room and the tender schedule snatched away from them. They were threatened with dire consequences if they went to the police or tried to drop any tender.

Recently BCL activists abducted and mercilessly beat a contractor from the Manikganj Municipality where he went to drop tender papers. DS 13.08.09

Dowry murder after wedding

A husband allegedly killed his wife for dowry just a day after their marriage in West Jabra village in Manikganj on Aug. 8. Runa’s family paid Tk 20,000 at the time of the wedding. The following day Hasan with his wife was supposed to visit Runa’s house as custom requires. But he refused to go until the rest of the dowry was paid. He said the next day that his wife committed suicide by hanging herself. But the OC of Ghior Police Station said that Hasan killed his wife for dowry. The body bore marks of torture.

Strange swindling

Monir Hossain Sikder, 35, married Salma Mustari Shumi in 2002 and then in January 2008 he married Salma off  to an expatriate Bangladeshi youth, Shilon Hossain Munshi, who lives in Greece. Shilon filed a case with Shahbagh Police Station Aug. 9, accusing both Monir and Salma of  of cheating him and misappro- priating around Tk 50 lakh from him in the process.

After living a conjugal life with Salma in a flat at Banglamotor in the city for two months he said: “After I completed all formalities to take Salma to Greece, she refused to go and admitted that she was actually married to someone else,” Shilon said.  Monir has been arrest but Salma was not as she was now in the ninth month of her pregnancy.

Shilon claimed that he had sent Salma Tk 20,000 per month for her study and living expenses. “During the wedding, I gave her a diamond ring worth Tk 85,000, three necklaces of 25 tolas of gold worth Tk 6.30 lakh and a gold ring worth Tk 12,000,” Shilon said. He said that all was a plot to cheat him. “As my would-be wife demanded, I sent her Tk 7 lakh more for other purposes. Just before we got married she proposed that I send her money to buy a flat in the city. I then sent her Tk 22 lakh to buy a flat at Banglamotor,” claimed Shilon, who hails from Gopalganj.   DS 10.08.09

Unplanned waste disposal

 A total of 3,656 tonnes of solid waste is generated every day; of which 2,208 tonnes are collected and dumped into the two dumping grounds of DCC – one at Matuail and the other at Aminbazar, said Tariq Bin Yousuf, project director of DCC Landfill Improvement Project. The remaining 1,448 tonnes are dumped into drains, rivers, canals, other water bodies, open spaces and low-lying areas, said another official, causing environmental pollution. Sweepers, in many cases, dump household waste into the rivers. It helps them save time and avoid going a long distance. Rampant dumping of solid waste into the rivers, canals and other water also reducing their navigability.

Sources said around 8000 sweepers work for DCC. Ten percent of them work in different departments of DCC while about 30 percent don’t work at all but draw their salaries. At least 30 drivers are involved in trade unionism. They also draw their salaries at the end of the month without doing anything, they said. Truck and container-carrier drivers who carry garbage to the dumping grounds perform one-third or two-thirds of their duties. The authorities are helpless, as the unions of both sweepers and drivers are very powerful, sources said. DS 14.08.09

Toxic medicine still at work

More than two weeks after Rid Pharmaceutical was sealed off on July 22, one more child died of renal failure in Rangpur Aug. 7, nine days after consumption of  its toxic paracetamol syrup, raising the death toll to 26. An official probe on July 29 found the presence of toxic compound in Rid’s syrup but the Drug Administration (DA) is allegedly buying time in prosecuting the company. “It is an urgent need to appoint lawyers to this drug regulatory body,” said the director.

The authorities said some 45 cases have been filed with the Drug Court over the last two years and 221 cases with the Magistrate Court. But no cases have been disposed of till date. Deputy Director of the administration AA Salim Barami told The Daily Star that the DA is

supposed to monitor around 246 licensed allopathic drug companies besides hundreds of unani, ayurvedic and homeopathic ones. The last recruitment took place in 1996 and every year a total of 12 employees go on retirement.

Soon after submission of the probe

committee report, Health Minister

AFM Ruhal Haque told reporters that the government would take legal

action against the company immediately but no action has yet been taken against it. Currently drug-related offences are tried under the Drug Act 1940 and 1982 Drug Control Ordinance that cover issues like fake licence, adulteration, and spurious, unregistered and low quality drugs. (DS 08.08.09) A Dhaka court on Aug. 11 issued arrest warrants against the managing director of Rid Pharma Ltd, its two directors and two pharmacists after the government filed a case accusing them of manufacturing drugs that lacked the specified standards.

On Sept. 30 bail was granted to the owner by a district court but the other four accused in the cased are still abconding. To date, 28 children had died of the toxic medicine manufactured by Rid Pharma.

Coal mine study trashed

The techno-economic feasibility study for Khalashpir coal mine project by Hosaf Consortium has finally been trashed by a foreign consultant questioning the study’s scientific basis, methodology and raising a host of other questions, sources said.

A British consultant (IMCL) in the first-of-its-kind review of a coal mine feasibility study notes that there are fundamental geological issues regarding the Khalashpir deposit which the company must address before framing realistic and financially viable mining business plans.

The consultant found that Hosaf had done inadequate geological work and had deployed no accredited geologist for the job. Its study offered no detailed outline for environment or resettlement issues, and all these things should be done again before submitting such a study report. [Why was Hosaf’s plan commissioned if he lacked the qualifications?]

Forgery by Koko’s lawyers?

The High Court (HC) on Aug. 10 asked Arafat Rahman Koko, younger son of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, and his two lawyers to explain within three weeks why an enquiry into forgery allegations against them should not be instigated. The government earlier alleged that Koko and his counsels barrister Mahbub Uddin Khokon and Taherul Islam Tawhid submitted a forged letter of authority while filing a writ petition with the HC challenging the proceedings of a money laundering case against Koko. Government alleges that Koko’s lawyer’s aubmitrted a forged letter of authority while filing a writ petition on his behalf. The case against him was brought in March but his lawyers had taken his signaure Jan. 27 in Bangkok, which they used for filing the writ petition in March, because he was still in Bangkok. [It is clearly not a forgery, according to any reliable English dictionary. Is it a legal irregularity or is it political harassment. That is the question.]

House help tortured for years

Police rescued a 12-year old domestic help from the house of a physician, Dr Anowar Hossain,at 1/B, Surma Building, inside the hospital complex of the Central Police Hospital at Rajarbagh on Aug. 14, after it was learnt that she was regularly being assaulted in the house. Paltan thana police have put the girl under shelter at a city victim support centre. Officer-in-Charge of Paltan Model Police Station,Md Mujibar Rahman told The Daily Star, “We found bruises all over her body, evidently from physical beatings. She appeared a very shy girl, and extremely stressed out by the situation and was not able to answer all our questions. The girl, however, said that her employers – both husband and wife – keep her more or less confined in the house. She was brought to work for tthem six years ago and since then has not been allowed to go to her village home. They beat her regularly, even for small mistakes in her work.

The previous week the doctor forcefully dipped her face in hot water for some mistake she made while working, and also they did not give her any food to eat for an entire day, the girl told the police. Dr Anowar refused to comment on allegations that he had sexually assaulted the minor girl. However, he said that no one could do anything to him as he has ‘ample influence over all police and journalists’.

Meanwhile, sources at the police hospital said that there are various allegations against this doctor, all of which are under the investigation of the Police Intelligence Oversee (PIO) and Security Cell of the police department. The physician is alleged to have stolen medicine and also meat, fish and other food items allocated for the patients in the hospital.

The victim’s maternal grandfather Siddique, who came to the city after learning of the situation, said, “I am a poor man, I don’t have the money needed to get a lawyer to run a case for my unfortunate granddaughter.”

A general diary was filed by the Paltan Police on August 11 in this regard.

Husband kills wife

A housewife succumbed to her head injuries several hours after her husband pushed her over following a quarrel over lunch at their house at Section-11 of Mirpur in the city yesterday. The victim, Fahinoor Begum, 28, passed out after having her head hit against a bedstand around 2:00 p.m. She was soon rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where she died around 10:00 a.m. The police arrested her husband Jahangir Hossain from the hospital.  Jahangir was quarrelling with his wife, as she delayed preparing the lunch. The police said Jahangir and other people brought his wife to the hospital for treatment. DS 15.8.09

Madrasa shut over militancy

Al Markajul Islami As-Salafi Madrasa at Nawdapara in the city was closed sine die by its authorities yesterday due to attempts of  implanting extremism in students by Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (Ahab), a militant outfit led by Asadullah Al Galib. Galib, arrested in 2005 on charges of militancy and now free on bail, has been sheltering outsiders, many of whom are students of Rajshahi University and Rajshahi College, in madrasa dormitories for the last few months, said the Principal of the madrasa Abdus Samad Salafi.

These outsiders with assistance from some pro-Galib teachers used to assault students, sometimes the teachers who were not in Galib’s favour, said Salafi, adding that they were also engaged in indoctrinating the students to defy madrasa rules and join Ahab. “Concerned about these men, we made the decision to close the madrasa indef- initely,” said Salafi, former Nayeb-e-Amir who resigned from Ahab along with some 48 others in April for the outfit’s anti-state activities.

Sources said just before the closure, the Ahab adherents prevented the students from attending a discussion on the life of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and a special prayer on the occasion of the national mourning day. Around noon, when the madrasa authorities were about to start the programme, Abdur Razzak Bin Yusuf, a madrasa teacher, kept the students from joining the function. The students said Razzak told them not to attend the function because Galib does not like Bangabandhu. The madrasa premises is the property of Touhid Trust, an NGO from where Galib was ousted for financial anomalies, said Salafi, adding, Galib has been occupying a building on the campus that was meant for a medical centre.

Stastistics on JMB

Sources say the law-enforcement and intelligence personnel arrested 555 JMB leaders since the August 17 blasts. Of them, 80 were arrested this year. Among the arrested JMB men, 46 are policymakers, 103 full-time members, 10 part-time members, 17 suicide squad members and 379 are lower level leaders and activists. The sources say RAB and police detained around 1,500 people, suspecting them as JMB men. But after verification, only 555 of them were learned to have had links with JMB. Among the arrestees, six top brass leaders – Abdur Rahman, Bangla Bhai, Abdul Auwal, Ataur Rahman Sunny, Khalid Saifullah and Iftekhar Hussain Al Mamun – were executed.

Lease of 8,000 acres hill land cancelled

Leases of 8,175 acres of land in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), given years back for horticulture and rubber plantation, have been cancelled for violation of lease agreements. Official sources said leases of 15,000 acres more await immediate cancellation. The leases of CHT land cancelled until Aug. 16 include 7,450 acres in Bandarban, 425 acres in Khagrachhari and 300 acres in Rangamati. The lessees include influential people like ex-adviser to the caretaker government Major General (retd) MA Matin, former ministers and civil and military bureaucrats. They enjoyed the possession of these plots of 25 acres each for more than a decade but did not develop horticulture nor rubber gardens as per the agreements.

As the parliamentary standing committee on CHT Affairs Ministry holds its meeting in Rangamati Aug. 18 to discuss issues like the leases, the JS body member Bir Bahadur, MP, told The Daily Star that those who had leased out acres of CHT land to a handful of powerful people in violation of rules would not be spared. The lawmaker also said that the government would take steps to redistribute the recovered land among landless people in the three hill districts. The meeting of the JS body would discuss drawing up a policy outline for such land allocation in favour of landless people.

There are official records of 1,697 plots being under leaseholders, but a source said fresh records of a few hundred more lease plots came out during the recent move of lease cancellation, bringing the number of plots to 1,871.

Army pullout for peace in CHT

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the government has decided to pull out army camps from the hill districts as a peaceful situation now prevails in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region. She made the remark when a delegation of the International Commission on Chittagong Hill Tracts, led by Lord Avenbury, called on the prime minister at her official residence “Jamuna” on Aug. 18. The commission hailed the government move to fully implement the CHT peace accord, saying that the progress in the process of implementing the deal is “significant.”

Hindus attacked for land

A criminal gang of about 30 attacked three Hindu families of Dighalkandi in Sahapara Village, Puthia Upazila, Rajshahi on Aug. 31, injuring 12 people. They looted five houses and shops and used abusive language against the people for voting for the Awami League. The Union President said that criminals have long been trying to drive them from their lands in order to seize them. Many other families are affected in the same way and little is being done to protect their land rights.

Upazila councils not working

The upazila councils have been sitting idle for seven months because government is still allowing MPs and the civil administration to carry out council jobs. This is contrary to the Constitution and to the ruling party’s pledge to build up a strong local goverment system.  05.09.09

Orhanage case goes on trial

A Dhaka court on Sept. 8 accepted graft charges against former prime minister Khaleda Zia, her son Tarique Rahman and four others and set Oct. 25 for the next hearing of the case.

Rajuk to take action re parking

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police have identified 344 buildings with no parking space or which are misusing parking space. Their survey was part of a plan to reduce city traffic jams. They have asked Rajuk  to  take immediate action against 198 of these buildings, which are located on busy city roads and whose owners occupy thee road for car parking while they make use of their own parking space for other purposes. The other 146 buildings do not have parking facilities in the plans, as required, that they submitted to Rajuk. DS 20.09.09

Illegal timber seized in CHT

Forest officials seized  112 planks of illegally procured teak from a bus of Hill King Transport in Khagrachari about to deport for Dhaka with no passengers. The driver and conductor were “able to abscond.” The Ranger in charge said that a syndicate is involved in illegal logging and that some politically influential people of the reigning party were behind it. Some district political leaders began lobbying for the release of the wood and bus.

Protest for death of tribal woman

Leaders of tribal organisations in Khagrachari held a protest rally Sept. 9 in front of the Press Club. They demanded that immediate steps be taken to arrest the murderers of Panay Mala Tripura who was killed on Sept. 3 in Craijongpara, Mohalcchari Upazila. Speakers alleged that there was a planned plot to kill her and snatch her land. They also claimed that a sub-inspector was giving shelter to the accused in exchange for a bribe. They asked for arrest of the killers of Panay Mala and that her land and property be immediately  handed over to her heir. They also demanded that the family security be ensured.

DS 10.09.09

Bill seeks law against torture

A bill was placed in Parliament on Sept. 10 proposing tough law against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment at the hands of law-enforcement agencies or government officials. The bill called for stringent punishment, including life sentence and suspension from service during the investigation, even if the offender is a member of a regular law-enforcement agency, the armed forces or a Govt. employee. Accused will not be able to justify themselves by citing exceptional circumstances, including a state of war, internal political instability or an order of a superior officer or public authority. It was a private member’s bill, Saber Hossain, who made the bill conform with the UN convention against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, signed by Bangladesh.

Forest staff suspended in plundering

Four forest staff were suspended for negligence of duty for aiding the plunderers of some 30,000 tamarisk trees on the Teknaf beach of Cox’s Bazar early in September. The four left Teknaf on Sept. 19. The previous week several newspapers had reported that several local backers of the reigning party and its youth front had plundered these trees between Sept. 5-10, while the forest officials acted as silent spectators. Seven persons have been arrested for the plunder of the trees.

“Shootouts” all over the place

Despite its firm declaration that suspicious deaths by “crossfire” or “shootout” in the middle of the night would be terminated because of the bad image it gives the country, the Awami League has done nothing to stop the incidents

or to investigate them or to restrain and punish the culprits. Many instances are found every week in the newspapers. Seventeen deaths in 14 days from  crossfire incidents similar to those reported below were reported from Kushtia Dt. alone (DS 10.09.09)

On Sept. 23 RAB-2 shot three “alleged robbers” – Shakil (21), Rana (27) and Faruque (23) in the hands and legs on Humayan Road, Mohammadpur. Rab rushed to the spot at 12;30 a.m. on a tipoff. A gang of 10-12 “suddenly swooped on them with sharp weapons” and Rab fired back. All but the three injured “managed to escape.”

On Sept. 25 two outlaws were killed in “shootouts” – Aroz Ali  (36) and Edu Mondal (40), both members of the outlawed East Bengal Communist Party.  Aroz was accused in seven cases, three of them for murder. He died by gunfire between his gang and Kushtia Sadar police in Mollateghori, Kushtia Town.

Edu was killed in Mirpur Upazila when police on a tipoff surrounded his gang who were meeting at 3 a.m. The criminals “sensed their presence” and opened fire on them forcing police to fire back. Edu was accused in four cases, including two for murder.

On Sept. 26 three more – Johnny (32), Mohon Malitha (45) and Rashiur Rahman Shanu – were killed in shootouts, while three police were “bullet-hit.” Police chased a car around 3 a.m. in Mirpur which tried to escape and fired on them. Three were killed and Al-Amin, another gang member, was arrested.

On Sept. 30 a “criminal,” a top leader of Panna Bahini – Ashu Ghosh (35) was killed in a shootout with RAB-12 at Fazullahpur, Bhemera Upazila, Kushtia. On a tipoff Rab raided a garden where crtminals were meeting at 3 a.m. “Sensing the presence of Rab,” the criminals fired first but presumably hit no one.  Asha was killed in crossfire  but his companions “managed to flee the scene.” He was accused in 13 cases, including nine for murder.

[Several disturbing questions are raised by these many incidents. First, in a very short time police are able to identify all the dead, their age, their affiiations and the exact number of cases they are charged with and where. A human rights NGO which attempted to check up on many such charges were never able to verify them. Second, in the rare instances when police are bullet-hit they are never exhibited to the public nor have journalists ever been able to interview them. The rare prisoners who are taken are likewise never exhibited to the press or public. Other important questions have been raised several times in Hotline before, e.g., why do the incidents always happen in the dead of night and how are captive prisoners able to escape the custody of police and run precisely and selectively right into the path of crossfire?]

Another rape on video

A BCL leader of Pirojpur District’s student front, Ahsan Kabir Mamun, admitted raping a Class X girl of Karimunessa Girl’s High School a week before Ramadan began. He claimed that Munir Hossain had recorded the rape “secretly” and sold it in v video stores to tarnish his image. Munir said that he was acting on Mamun’s own instructions. He claimed the girl was his close relative and that the two families would arrange a wedding. But the victim’s family said that they would go for legal action.

On Sept. 28 the police raided video stores in Pirojpur and arrested three on the charge of tgrading in |CDs having footage of the rape. The culprit went into hiding and the BCL on Sept. 30 espelled him for life;.

10 BCL men rape girl

Ten activists of the Bangladesh Chahatra League allegedly gang-raped a teenage girl the night of Sept. 25. Sixteen youths kidnapped the girl, a Class VII student from Pakhimara, Kalapara Upazila when she was returning home in a rickshaw with her cousin. The gang beat up her cousin and took the girl to a garden when ten raped her. Two were caught on the spot by police but released after police took the girl to her father.

Two days later local Awami League leaders arranged a farcical arbitration at the school auditorium. They fined each of the 16 Tk 10,000 and proclaimed that they would receive 100 lashes. They compelled the father of the girl not to go for legal action and took his signature on three blank papers to prevent further action. A poor farmer, he does not dare to file a case.

Rakibul, an AL leader, claimed that the youths did not rape the girl but only tried to. [Legally, attempted rape is rape.] He denied they were BCL activists but called them “spoiled brats.” He stated that the police would not file any case nor take any “legal steps if any complaint is lodged.” (DS 30.09.09) The family  of the gang-rape victim had to go into hiding on Sept. 29, as the police remained inactive due to threat of reprisal from the perpetrators and their political supporters. The OC of Kalipara P.S. claimed that the girl had sumittted a written statement to the police on Sept. 30 saying that she had not been raped.

The same two AL leaders who freed the 16 at the arbitrary arbitration appeared at the sides of the poor girl victim on Sept. 30 at a press conference as she denied the rape and said she was “only” tortured. She also brought a case against local journalists for giving false information. [Why did the arbitrators impose such a stiff punishment on the 16 gang members if the girl were not seriously damaged (as in rape)?]

Probe body on BDR deaths

The home ministry committee appointed to look into the great many unnatural deaths of BDRs in custody after their mutiny Feb. 25-26 failed to submit its report due to Sept. 16 and asked for a fifth extension on Sept. 30.

Likewise, the investigation officer  of cases filed in connection with the mutiny and murders at BDR headquarters did not submit his probe report to the Chief Magistrate’s court on the due date Sept. 30. He did not inform the court of the reasons for his failure.

Autopsies of two BDRs  by the New Market Police showed that they had been killed. The families had brought allegations of murder (DS 28.09.09) Police filed two murder cases on Oct. 2 in connection with their deaths, but against unidentified persons. [These are only two of the many highly suspicious deaths among the 46 deaths reported.]

BDR mutiny trial set

The Bangladesh Rifles will try some 4,000 soldiers on a charge of mutiny in late November or early December. A 3-member court will sit in Dhaka and 40 other sites to conduct the trial. Earlier, the Supreme Court, with the advice of many “friends of the court,” ruled that the trial could not take place based on Army rules.

Dhaka “goes for broke”

The State Minister for Environment and Forest, Hasan Mahmud, placed a demand for $5 billion in compensation during a high-profile meeting of the UN environmental affairs, presided over by the Secretary General Ban ki-Moon on Sept. 23. Bangla- desh, as a nation not responsible for world problems, seeks the money from developed countries for the damages incurred due to climate change “caused by global warming.” On an urgent basis it has asked for only $500 million.

PDB tender now online

The Power Development Board is getting around the coercion in tendering by floating its tender notice for eight rental power projects, totalling  530MW capacity, on its website. The power secretary inaugurated the use of online tender on Sept. 9 at the PDB office. PDB hopes to award the five-year contracts by Nov. 19. It is parf of the commitment to make a Digital Bangladesh.

Dr. Barakat sets ideal goal

Economist Dr. Abul Barakat, the new Chairman of Janata Bank from Sept. 18, has set an ideal example of austerity ad simplicity at the top level of management. He informed the management he doesn’t need a vehicle, nor exclusive use of the bank elevator, nor a throne-like chair for board meetings.

BDR mutiny trial set

The Bangladesh Rifles will try some 4,000 soldiers on a charge of mutiny in late November or early December. A 3-member court will sit in Dhaka and 40 other sites to conduct the trial. Earlier, the Supreme Court, with the advice of many “friends of the court,” ruled that the trial could not take place based on Army rules.DS 25.09.09

JMB camp found in CHT

The RAB raided a JMB training facility in Matiranga under Khagrachari Dt.  and arrested Saifullah, second-in-command of the Chittagong Division JMB. Police seized several explosives and materials for making them. On Sept. 27 they arrested four more JMB cadres in Shantipur (Matiranga), Gazipur and Comilla.

Port graft denied

Former caretaker-government adviser Maj;. Gen. (retd.) MA Matin on Sept. 30 refuted the allegations of irregularities in awarding container handling jobs at Chittagong Port and raising retirement age of shipping pilots. “Nothing was done at the part with a bad intention,” he told reporters. He claimed that the tender was awarded to the lowest bidder – Ishak Brothers – according to the rules. He said that all can now witness the indispensible reforms carried out for the development of the the port for the past two years.

The investigating team is supposed to present its report in 15 days. It can extend the investigation time for 15 more days if necessary. DS 10.10.09

Published by Rosaline Costa, Hotline (HRs) Bangladsh

Box-5, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh


Web: www.hotlinebd.org

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