Historic new agreement on mutual investment promotion and protection will give the most favoured nation (MFN) status to each country
Dhaka, 9 February : Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee landed in Dhaka Monday for a tightly scheduled daylong visit that includes signing of two trade deals and talks on "the entire gamut" of bilateral ties just a month into Sheikh Hasina's new administration.
Mukherjee's plane touched down around 10.30am. After a press briefing at the airport, he went straight to the Padma State Guest House for a meeting with foreign minister Dipu Moni that began at 11.30am.
"Allow me at the outset to convey warm greetings and congratulations to the people of Bangladesh for the successful conduct of a free, fair and peaceful election," Mukherjee told reporters at the airport.
"I hope to cover ... the entire gamut of our relations including security, connectivity, trade and investment and other important areas," he said of his visit. "We'll also be signing the agreements relating to bilateral trade and investment promotion to further strengthen the framework for investors of both countries."
The Indian foreign minister will sit with home minister Sahara Khatun before meeting prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the afternoon. Mukherjee is also expected to unveil the foundation plaque of a new theatre and music department at Dhaka Univesity's arts faculty.
Dhaka, 9 February : Veteran leader of the ruling Awami League Zillur Rahman is poised to be declared the next president of Bangladesh, with no other nomination paper being filed for the presidential poll scheduled 16 February.
The Bangladesh Election Commission, which received only one application for the post of president, on Monday validated his nomination for the election, scheduled on 16 February.
Rahman, who is in his early 80s and will replace incumbent Iajuddin Ahmed, is the deputy leader in the National Assembly, a position he will have to quit when he goes to Bangabhaban, the Presidential palace.
The election will be held nearly a year-and-a-half after the term of the current President expired. Ahmed was elected in September 2002 by the then ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
GJM leader chased out of Dooars
Roshan Giri's car pelted with stones ; House set ablaze in fresh violence
Binnaguri (Jalpaiguri), 9 February : The situation in the Dooars turned volatile again on Monday, after GJM leader Roshan Giri was chased out of Ethelbari in the evening.
Late on Monday, the homes of some Nepali-speaking persons were set ablaze at Nagrakata's Dayna tea estate. Unconfirmed sources said there were reports of gunshots being fired. In the morning, Giri had gone to the home of his party colleague, Akbar Lama, who had been killed during Saturday's clash at Ethelbari. The GJM leadership had earlier dubbed Lama a "martyr".
Soon after news of Giri's arrival at Ethelbari spread, hundreds of Adivasis gathered on the road to stop Giri and his team. Some men reportedly started pelting stones at Giri's vehicle. Sensing trouble, Giri and his colleague, Binay Tamang, fled to Chamurchi Forest Bustee, a Nepali-populated zone, where he reportedly took shelter in a Nepalese man's home. The mob, however, chased Giri and his companions, who finally escaped through Riyabari, Palashbari and Debpara tea gardens. Later in the evening, Giri returned to Gorubathan.
Police said the GJM leaders had violated prohibitory orders. "The OC of Birpara had repeatedly asked Giri and Tamang not to enter the troubled zones of Chamurchi and Banarhat, but they did not listen," said Anant Kumar, who replaced Manoj Kumar Verma as Jalpaiguri SP on Monday.
Last day of Kolkata book fair sees surge in footfall
Kolkata, 8 February : Sunday was the last day of the Kolkata Book Fair. The closing day of the 33rd edition of the fair brought with it a surge in footfall and a glittering ceremony to draw the curtains over the annual pilgrimage for West Bengal's booklovers.
Yet again, comparisons were made between the Milan Mela ground and the Maidan, the original home of the fair. Publishers and Booksellers Guild general secretary Tridib Chatterjee said the Milan Mela ground was second-best. "This venue cannot be compared to the Maidan. However, this is the second-most suitable venue after the Maidan," he said.
Chatterjee confirmed that publishers had done good business over the last 12 days. "Publishers have informed me that more than 80% of the number of books that used to be sold when the fair was held at the Maidan have been sold this year. This is very encouraging, considering the fair was not held last year," he said. The glittering closing ceremony saw a splendid performance by tabla player Bickram Ghosh and the Scottish band Red Hot Chilli Pipers, the "bagpipers who rock", on an open-air stage.
CPM kickstarts LS election campaign at Brigade
Taking the battle to the Opposition, WB chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee made it clear that land acquired in Singur for the discarded Nano plant will not be returned. The announcement a day after Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee issued a seven-day deadline for the return of the land makes it clear that CPM will make land for industry' as much a poll issue as the Opposition, which wants to cash in on the anti-land acquisition sentiment to sail through in the polls. Addressing the rally Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also said "we will make Katwa Power Porject by any Cost".
Apart from CPIM leaders, the other Left-Front leaders addressed today's rally, attended by at least 10 lakh people.
10 dead as launch hits trawler in Titas river
Brahmanbaria, 8 February : At least 10 people were killed and three others injured after a launch rammed a trawler in the river Titas near Khazanagar area in Brahmanbaria district today, police said.
Nabinagar police chief Nehaj Uddin said the launch, ML Nusrat, was going to Bhairabnagar when the accident took place around 12 noon. Of the victims, five are women and five children.
Police retrieved the boat but crews of the launch fled. Locals said they saw many passengers swimming to reach shore. The injured people were admitted to Nabinagar Health Complex.
Plan to set up car unit at Singur with Chinese Co
Kolkata, 8 February : West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today held initial talks with representative of a Chinese automobile company to explore the possibility of setting up a car manufacturing facility at Singur.
The state government has been planning to set up an automobile manufacturing unit in collaboration with the Chinese company FAW, after Tatas left the state. FAW is one of the biggest manufacturers of truck in China. A senior official later said that it was decided that a team headed by the principal secretary of industry and commerce department would be going to China to finalise the deal with FAW about setting up an unit in Singur. “Whether it will be a manufacturing or assembling unit would be decided later,'' he said.
Student-Police clash leaves 50 injured in Khulna
UNB, Khulna, 8 February : At least 50 people were injured in a clash between police and students at Khulna Polytechnic College in city’s Khalishpur today.
Police fired 50 tear gas shells to disperse the students who went berserk protesting the new rule regarding the referred students. The failed and referred students are to re-appear in examinations in all subjects from this year. Earlier, they were to appear in examination in the subject only he got referred.
The angry students laid siege to the office of Principal Prof. Kumaresh Chandra Pramanik at about 10:30am and confined him in his office leaving it under lock and key. They also damaged the academic council bhaban.
West Bengal fishermen held for fishing at turtle site
IANS, Bhubaneswar, 8 February : At least 10 fishermen from West Bengal were arrested for fishing in the prohibited area of a turtle nesting site in Orissa's Kendrapada district, officials said Sunday.
Forest and coast guard personnel caught the fishermen when they were fishing within 20 km off the Gahirmatha sanctuary, some 174 km from here, Saturday evening, forest officer P.K. Behera told IANS.
The Gahirmatha sanctuary is one of the world's largest turtle nesting sites, where 700,000 to 800,000 endangered Olive Ridley turtles nest every winter. The two other turtle nesting sites in Orissa are the Devi river in Puri district and the Rushikulya river in Ganjam district.
The Orissa state government has banned all types of fishing within 20 km off the shore near the nesting site from 1November to 31 May to protect the turtles.
Ekushey Mela beings in Chittagong Saturday
Chittagong, 7 February : The 15-day Ekushey Mela begins at DC Hill in the port city on Saturday. Shipping minister Afsarul Amin is scheduled to launch the fair ahead of the International Mother Language Day on 21 February.
The fair will display books and other items, and hold discussion meetings, cultural functions, folk festivals, Rabindra-Nazrul festivals, and rhymes-poems festivals.
Abdus Salam, chairman of Ekushey Mela Parisad, briefed reporters about this in Chittagong Press Club. Many functions to honour language veterans have been arranged in the fair. Noted intellectuals from Dhaka and Chittagong and writers, politicians, freedom fighters and artistes will take part in the programmes.
Recitation artists Kazi Hasan Arif, Laila Afroz, Ahkam Ullah and Bilkis Rahman rendered poems at the opening ceremony. The 17-year long established fair will house 40 stalls this year.
Mamata gives 7 days to return Singur land
Singur, 7 February : Ahead of CPM's Brigade rally on Sunday, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee launched her Lok Sabha election campaign here on Saturday by throwing an ultimatum to the Left Front government to return the land to the farmers in a week's time.
"I give the government seven days to return the land to the farmers," said Mamata, from a small stage set up at Khaterchowk on Durgapur Expressway.
On Saturday, the Trinamool MP walked from Joymolla to Khaterchowk along the expressway. "After seven days, we can simply demolish the walls around the factory and return the land to the poor farmers. Police won't be able to do a thing," she said.
Dhaka slams Pak for linking B'desh to 26/11 attack
Dhaka, 7 February : Bangladesh has strongly condemned a Pakistani investigation agency's claim of a Bangladesh-based terror outfit's involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks.
"Militants and terrorists do not belong to any territory, country and nation. I am shocked at such a claim," The Daily Star on Saturday quoted home minister Sahara Khatun as saying. "We need your cooperation and suggestion. I can promise that I would try to root out terrorism, militancy and extortion even if I have to put my life on the line if you cooperate with us," she said at a college sports gathering.
According to media reports from Islamabad, the Federal Investigation Agency has, in its report on the 26-29 November, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, alleged that they were planned by the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJI).
Pakistan's claims have come even as India and Bangladesh prepare to discuss Dhaka's proposal for a regional task force on terrorism when Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee visits here next Monday.
Large part of Dooars on a knife-edge, 2 killed
Banerhat, Siliguri & Kolkata, 7 February : Riots broke out in the foothills of the Himalayas in North Bengal on Saturday morning, with large parts of the Dooars witnessing bloody street fights between the Nepali-speaking population and the Adivasis.
At the end of the day, two persons were dead one Nepali, the other Adivasi. The rift between the communities had been there for long and Saturday's clash made it worse.
Adivasis clashed with GJM supporters at Banerhat, Chamurchi, Birpara in Jalpaiguri, while Jana Jagaran Mancha members confronted GJM with tacit support from CPM on the outskirts of Siliguri town Debidanga and Milan More, near the government circuit house. The clash left hundreds injured 20 were admitted with critical injuries to hospitals spread over Jalpaiguri Sadar, Birpara and Banerhat.
Many were arrested during the day, state home secretary Ardhendu Sen said at Writers' Buildings. Section 144 has been imposed in nine police station areas.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will take out a black-flag rally in Darjeeling and the Dooars on Sunday in protest against the "police inaction". GJM's youth wing said it would not allow government officials, including the block development officer or even the district magistrate, to come to the Hills from Monday.
CPM-Trinamool supporters clash in Birbhum, 6 killed
Suri, 7 February : In a rerun of the Suchpur bloodbath in 2000, when 11 villagers were lynched, five persons were killed in Birbhum on Saturday morning after CPM and Trinamool Congress supporters clashed to gain control over Papuri village of Nanur, 5 km from Suchpur.
While two of the five were burnt to death, another person died on the way to hospital in Kolkata. Four houses were gutted during the clash.
Kaji Golam's killing indicates that outsiders had come from neighbouring villages and faced stiff resistance from locals who were on their way to the fields for work. Villagers said some villagers driven out of Papuri by Trinamool activists were desperate to stage a comeback and take control of the village before Lok Sabha elections. Trinamool men got a whiff of this and retaliated.
Trinamool supporter Mahadev Thander, who has been admitted to Bolpur hospital, said: "A group of 100 people came to our village and opened fire. We woke up, got together and charged at them." Charges and counter-charges are flying following Saturday morning's clash at Papuri village that left six persons dead.
Birbhum SP Lakshminarayan Meena refused to comment on the cause of the incident. "The reason behind the clash will be clear only after the investigation. The situation is tense but under control," Meena said. No one was arrested till Saturday evening.