Xinhua, Dhaka, 4 March : Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday told parliament that her government would set up a nuclear power plant to meet the country’s growing energy demand.
“We are taking initiatives to set up a nuclear power plant at Rooppur site,” she said in response to a question from a parliament member. According to a proposal prepared by the government, a 600-MW nuclear power plant will be constructed at Rooppur located in the country’s western region.
The UN atomic watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has already approved a Technical Assistance Project for Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant to be initiated between 2009 and 2011. Currently, Bangladesh is facing power shortage of nearly 2,000 MW. Sheikh Hasina’s government has a plan to increase power generation from 3,500 MW to 7,000 MW in the next five years.
Asia’s first comprehensive Magic Mela started
Kolkata, 4 March: A Salt Lake based organisation has conjured up the first ever magic fair (4-8 March) in the city, started at Rabindra Sadan on Wednesday and promised to be a one stop destination for all things magical.
The fair will showcase conjuring tricks, ventriloquism, hand shadowgraph, a pavilion selling magic craft and lots more. The organisers; the Federation of Indian Magic Associates (FIMA) say this “was Asia’s first comprehensive exposition on magic”.
The five-day national event will include magic shows by 50 magicians from West Bengal and outside, between the ages of four and 60. Magicians Rajat, Gautam Guha, Samiran, Prabhat Kiran Chowdhury, Sanjoy Chatterjee and Uday Bhaskar will be part of the show.
All three kinds of magic, close-up, conjuring and impromptu will be performed in the “magic arena”. Magic workshops where enthusiasts can learn tricks of the trade and panel discussions are also on the cards. An enclosure is dedicated to PC Sarkar where many of his gadgets and personal belongings are displayed.
“Fima’s aim is to spread awareness among professional magicians about global trends in the field and promote magic among the general public,” said Tapan Karmakar, one of its directors.
BDR mutiny : Touhid, 4 others remanded for 7 days
Dhaka, 4 March : DAD Touhidul Alam, alleged leader of the 25-26 February BDR mutiny, and four other suspected mutineers, were remanded into CID custody for seven days by a Dhaka court Wednesday.
CID officials had already begun grilling the five since their arrest the day before.
"They have already faced primary questioning," CID official Abdul Qahhar Akhand had told reporters before the five were taken to court.
Rapid Action Battalion arrested the five on Tuesday, handing them over to the Criminal Investigation Department later that night.
"We have received a request from the government of Bangladesh for the FBI to help in forensic investigation into the mutiny," State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid told a press briefing in Washington on Tuesday. "And I believe the FBI has agreed to do that," he said.
US ambassador in Bangladesh James F Moriarty told reporters on Wednesday that he had notified Washington of the request.
Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina has sought forensic expertise from the US and UK in the aftermath of the 25-26 February armed uprising by BDR border guards.
Hossain said in the parliament that presently only the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India send nurses to Europe and America. The Minister said Bangladeshi workers have started going to Romania while export of manpower to Poland and Canada is under process.
Responding to a question from ruling Awami League MP Sukumar Ranjan Ghosh, the minister admitted that the export of Bangladeshi manpower to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Malaysia shrank while export to Iraq and Iran remained stalled.
Dhaka, 4 March : Shalahuddin Shoaib Choudhoury is under attack in Bangladesh for challenging radical Islam. He has been brutalized by authorities and hoodlums. To read more CLICK >
Bangladesh mutiny : India moves more troops to WB
Airlifted over a battalion 'Parachute Brigade' from Agra to Kalaikunda
New Delhi, 4 March : India has airlifted "elements'' of its para-brigade based in Agra to Kalaikunda in West Bengal to deal with any contingency which arises due to the internal turmoil in Bangladesh.
Sources said over a battalion strength (over 1,000 soldiers) of the 50 Independent Parachute Brigade was moved on Sunday from Agra to Kalaikunda, which has a large IAF base. "Depending on the situation, more could follow. With Bangladesh army progressively taking over from the paramilitary BDR in posts along the Indo-Bangladesh border, it's a precautionary move,'' said a source.
With India keen on securing Bangladesh's firm cooperation in rooting out anti-Indian terror and insurgent outfits operating from its soil, the armies from the two countries recently came together to hold their first-ever counter-terrorism exercise in February-March.
New Delhi wants Dhaka to act decisively against the over 100 suspected terror-training camps and hideouts of North-East insurgent outfits within its borders, apart from a hard crackdown on Harkat-ul-Jihad-Islami (HuJI), which has left its imprints in several terror attacks in India.
9 killed in Sirajganj road crashes this morning
Sirajganj, 4 March : Two separate highway accidents Wednesday morning left at least eight killed and 10 injured, police said.
In Kamarkhanda upazila of the district, Seven day-labourers met instant death and three others were injured when the driver of a salt-laden truck lost his control over the steering and toppled down on a cannel breaking the railing of Bagbati bridge No 9 in the morning.
Jamuna Bridge Western Police Station Sub-Inspector Atik told BSS that the seven day labourers died on the spot as they were trapped beneath the salt sacks and another on way to the hospital.
The truck, boarding the day-labourers hailed from Sherpur upazila of Bogra district on salt sacks, was en route to North Bengal from Chittagong.
In another accident at about 6:30am (BDST), an unknown bystander was crushed under the wheels of a BRTC bus while crossing the highway at Pachlia area in Ullahpara upazila.
Dhaka, 3 March : The alleged leader of the murderous 25-26 February BDR mutiny, Touhidul Alam, and four others were arrested Tuesday in the capital, RAB said.
It was a joint operation of the RAB intelligence wing and local RAB 2, based on information from another intelligence agency, RAB later said in a statement. They were arrested in a residential area near the Methorpatti (sweepers' colony) in Hajaribagh at 5:30pm (BDST), the statement said.
Touhidul Alam, a deputy assistant director, had led a rebel team in negotiations with the government during 33-hour mutiny ending Thursday evening. Two days later, the government sued him and five others, charging them with treason, murder, arson and looting.
At least 62 army officers were dead or missing in the mutiny, according to the army. Civilians and BDR men were also killed. Bangladesh prime minister Hasina told parliament Sunday that the BDR revolt was a "completely pre-planned massacre".
Kolkata, 3 March : WB's District magistrates have been asked not to visit Kolkata on official duty without the chief minister's permission as elections are near, according to a directive from chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti.
Chakrabarti has asked all senior officials not to summon DMs to Writers' Buildings and other secretariats for meetings as they would be busy with the Lok Sabha election for the next three months.
An official said the DMs can now only be approached through video conference.
Kolkata, Agartala, 3 March : The ruling Left Front in West Bengal renominated 15 of its 26 sitting MPs, with most of the others dropped because of delimitation of constituencies or changes in reservation status. WB LF announced the names of its candidates in all 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, bringing in 18 new faces, on Tuesday.
Of the 18 new faces, 13 belongs to CPI(M) and three to LF constituent, RSP, and two to another partner, Forward Bloc.
And in Tripura, LF renominated the two sitting Lok Sabha MPs to contest the 23 April parliamentary
“Khagen Das and Bajuban Reang, both CPI-M central committee members, would contest from the west Tripura and east Tripura (ST) Lok Sabha constituencies respectively,” said Bijon Dhar, CPI(M)state secretary.
Veteran tribal leader Bajuban Reang has contested the Lok Sabha elections from the east Tripura (reserved for tribals) seat nine times since 1980 and won on seven occasions.
They were protesting against the unfriendly policies of Andaman’s Fisheries’ department and alleged harassment by the Indian Coast Guard and navy to fisher-folks in the name of coastal security.
On Monday, agitated fishermen brought out a massive rally in protest and also submitted an 18-point charter of demands to the local administration.
”Administration has assured us that they will immediately address three of our demands and take action after discussion with other concerned departments,” Bhima Rao, a fisherman leader of islands told UNI today.
”The settlement was possible after intervention of the lone MP of island, Manoranjan Bhakta, who attended a meeting with the Development Commissioner of the A&N administration Tapan Mandal and a delegation with Andaman fishermen on Monday evening,” Bhima Rao added.
Agartala, 3 March : Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar today assured the state Assembly that the government would take up the matter related to rescheduling the dates of Lok Sabha poll in the state, as it clashed with some secondary level examinations.
Leader of the Opposition Ratan Lal Nath raised the issue in the House after Question Hour and mentioned that Election Commission of India (ECI) had announced 23 April for election to two Lok Sabha seats in the state, but the Joint Entrance Examinations were also scheduled on the same day.
”Tripura Joint Entrance Examination will be held on 22 and 23 April, Northeastern Regional Entrance for Science and Technology (NEREST) exam will be on 24 and 25 April and AIEEE exam will be on 26 April where more than 60 per cent secondary level students will participate,” Nath said.
BNP returns after walkout over BTV blackout in Bangladesh parliament
Dhaka, 2 March : Bangladesh Main opposition BNP came back to parliament an hour after walking out of the House Monday in protest at government controlled BTV not broadcasting opposition leader Khaleda Zia's speech to condole BDR bloodbath the day before. The opposition MPs returned at around 7pm.
"The speech of the opposition leader was not broadcast on BTV, but right after hers, the prime minister's speech was aired," opposition chief whip Joynal Abdin Farrouqe told deputy speaker Shawkat Ali on a point of order.
WB political parties unhappy over LS poll schedule
Kolkata, 2 March : With the Indian Election Commission announcing poll dates for the forthcoming General Elections in five phases from 16 April to 13 May, the political scene of the country has gone on live wire. But major political parties in West Bengal expressed dissatisfaction over the Lok Sabha poll schedule in the state declared by the Indian Election Commission Monday.
While ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said it preferred a one-day election, the opposition alleged that the three-phase routine would help the ruling Left Front cadres cast bogus votes.
West Bengal's main opposition party Trinamool Congress demanded that polls in southern Bengal be held ahead of north Begnal due to weather conditions. 'We want the south Bengal elections to be held in April and the north Bengal polls in May keeping in view the weather,' All India Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy told a press conference here.
Senior CPI-M leader and party's central committee member Shyamal Chakraborty said his party also wanted a single-phase Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal.
The Election Commission Monday declared that the Lok Sabha election in northern Bengal will be held 30 April and the polls in south Bengal will take place 7 and 13 May.
On Harun's Death Anniversary :
Khulna Journalists Demand Revive case, punish masterminds
Khulna, 2 February : Journalists here today demanded punishment to the 'masterminds and financiers' behind murder of local journalist Haroon-or-Rashid Khokon.
Today is the seventh death anniversary of the crime reporter of Dainik Purbanchal who was gunned down by criminals on 2 March, 2002 at Mujgunni in the city.
Khulna Press Club and Khulna Union of Journalists (KUJ) today separately observed the anniversary and raised the demand. In Harun's memory, the journalists laid wreaths at the victim's memorial at 10:00am, held discussion meeting at press club VIP lounge and milad mehfil at noon.
Speakers highlighted different aspects of Harun's career as journalist and praised his bold reports against terrorists and professional commitment.
Tripura girl Sourabhee Debbarma wins Indian Idol 4
Mumbai, 1 March : 23-year-old Tripura girl Sourabhee Debbarma made history by winning the Indian Idol 4 tonight. Sourabhee, who hails from Agartala, is the first girl to win the Indian Idol reality show.
Sourabhee beat fellow finalists Torsha Sarkar and Kapil Thapa to win the coveted crown. Kapil Thapa from Dehradun finished second, while Torsha Sarkar from Asansol (West Bengal) had to be content with the third position.
Sourabhee, who held an edge over her fellow contestants throughout the reality show, won a contract of Rs. 1 crore with Sony Music with this win.
Bangladesh 'takes back' Rohingyas
Subir Bhaumik, Kolkata, 1 March : Bangladesh has taken back 49 boatpeople allegedly pushed back into the high seas by Thai authorities and rescued by Indian coastguards two months ago. A senior Bangladeshi diplomat told the BBC that the Rohingyas were on their way to Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh.
Hundreds of these Rohingya migrants were rescued by Indian and Indonesian coastguards from the high seas. Bangladesh was given a list of 67 of these Rohingyas by Indian authorities. Dhaka said 49 were its citizens. "These are our nationals and we are taking them back. They have already been received at the border by our officials," said Monimul Haque, first secretary at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kolkata.
Torture : Haque flew to Port Blair in India's Andaman islands and took charge of the 49 Rohingyas last week. They were flown down to Kolkata on Saturday and sent across the border on Sunday through the Benapole check post on the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. Haque said that since most of them were from the Cox's Bazar area in southern Bangladesh, they would be sent there. Though the Thai authorities denied roughing up the Rohingyas, the migrants recounted tales of torture by Thai defence forces. "They would force us to remain in chest-deep water in an island we were confined to after arrest. If we moved our head, we would be severely beaten up," said Abu Mohammed, a young Rohingya. "Allah has been kind and merciful to keep us alive but many of our friends were not so lucky," he told the BBC. "The Thais stacked us like cattle on the boats after taking away the engines. We were then towed to the high sea and left to die. There were at least two fellows on top of me, the boats were so crowded," said Mohammed Atiq, another Rohingya.
The Rohingyas are originally from Burma but after fleeing that country to escape persecution, they have mostly settled down in southern Bangladesh.
"This is a completely planned massacre" : Hasina
Dhaka, 1 March : Bangladesh Prime minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday said in parliament that her 50-day-old government focused more on saving thousands of innocent civilian lives while dealing with the 25-26 February mutiny, which she said was "completely pre-planned massacre". "I decided to talk myself ... I'd talk with anyone, I thought, to save lives, to save the families, to save the soldiers," she said, replying to charges that she made a tactical mistake by not using force.
In her first public remarks since the speech Thursday, she said she did not "waste a single moment" before taking steps and recalled that the rebels were "threatening to shoot anyone" in case of a move to use force. "You must surrender, release the hostages, release the officers," Hasina quoted herself as telling the 14 BDR men she had negotiations with on Wednesday just hours into the crisis. "That's why these families survived ... these little children survived. "What else could we have done?" She said: "This is unprecedented that we have been able to end such a mutiny and the hostage crisis at such a short time."
"This was completely pre-planned murder," she said. "I won't say anything now, since the investigation is on," the prime minister said as she referred to those "who organised cars, boats to help them flee".
Siliguri, 1 March : Health authorities in West Bengal today said they are working in tandem with civic authorities to spread awareness about clean husbandry practices to counter bird flu. Over 5,000 birds have been culled here so far after cases of H5N1 strain of bird flu sent to a testing lab in Bhopal turned out positive.
The authorities said they have not been able to spread 100 percent awareness among the people inspite of best efforts. "We are trying to spread awareness, but from our experiences in the field, we find that the owners of hens are not ready to take part as their sentimentality is attached to it. The culling team had to forcefully take the hens. We are taking the help of civic agencies, and they are cooperating," said Kastury Sengupta, the acting sub divisional officer of Siliguri.
The officials have also put a ban on the buying and selling of hens or other poultry products within a span of three kilometers.
Embankment collapse floods Satkhira villages
Satkhira, 1 March : Over 3000 people were marooned as six villages in Gabura union under Shyamnagar upazila adjacent to the Sundarbans were flooded following collapse of a damaged embankment at Khalsebunia point on Kabodak River early yesterday.
Following collapse of the 350 feet embankment, the sluice gate was also washed away due to heavy pressure of water from the river during the high tide. Over 500 bighas of crops were also inundated in the area and over 120 shrimp enclosures were washed away as water entered in the shrimp enclosures collapsing the sluice gate, said locals. The affected villages are Chakbara, Khalsebunia, Gabura, Madhya Khalsebunia and two other adjoining villages in Gabura union.
The marooned people are preparing to take shelter on the nearby high lands. Local people were working there to reconstruct the collapsed embankment but the embankments collapsed by heavy pressure due to violent tide.
Trinamool defeats CPM in Bishnupur (W) byelection
Madan Mitra's win strengthen the clamour for an opposition alliance
Kolkata, 1 March : West Bengal's main opposition Trinamool Congress on Sunday wrested the Bishnupur (West) assembly seat from the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) with a huge margin in a byelection, giving a fresh jolt to the ruling Left Front.
Trinamool Congress candidate Madan Mitra trounced CPM's Iskandar Hossain by 30,395 votes in the bypoll held on 26 Februaru. Mitra secured 85,335 votes while Hossain bagged 54,940. This is the last trial of strength between the ruling communists and the opposition before the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
With the Congress withdrawing its candidate in favour of the Trinamool, the verdict is also likely to strengthen the clamour for an alliance in the state between the two opposition parties for the coming elections. The election result, interestingly, comes on a day Congress general secretary in charge of the state Keshav Rao is in Kolkata to discuss modalities of a possible tie-up with the Trinamool with his party leaders.
BDR jawans continue reporting
Dhaka, 1 March : The BDR jawans who fled the BDR headquarters during or after the mutiny continued to report to the BDR headquarters in the capital today. Following a home ministry instruction issued Saturday asking the BDR members who are absent from their workplaces without leave or permission following the mutiny to rejoin within 24 hours, the BDR jawans started reporting to the BDR headquarters from yesterday afternoon.
The home ministry, in a press note, also said lawful actions will be taken against those who fail to report or rejoin their respective workplaces within the time limit. The deadline ends today. The BDR personnel, most of them accompanied by their family members, were seen gathering in front of the BDR headquarters since early this morning.