Dhaka, 16 March : Top intelligence agencies, including those representing the western powers, now see a strong link among a series of significant developments in Dhaka prior to the unprecedented BDR mutiny at its Pilkhana headquarters on 25 February. The agencies suspect the whole episode was part of a Pakistani plot helped by Bangladeshi collaborators to fuel revolt in the armed forces for upstaging the Sheikh Hasina government.
It may be recalled that soon after coming to power this time, the Awami League-led alliance had decided to prosecute war criminals responsible for killing and torturing thousands of people during the country's liberation war, 38 years ago. A similar initiative was called off after the 1975 political changeover that followed the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Ispahani apparently made it clear that any attempt to reopen the cases would adversely affect the relations between the two countries. He called on Begum Khaleda Zia a day after his meeting with Hasina. It is learnt that Ispahani and a senior officer of the Pakistani mission in Dhaka had advised the BNP supremo to stay away from her cantonment residence on 25 and 26 February, which she did.
Coincidentally, Khaleda's electoral partners Jamaat-e-Islami leader Matiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid were also out of their homes on both days. Investigations by top agencies reveal that some ISI operatives posted at Pakistan's Dhaka high commission had met a few senior BNP and Jamaat leaders on 22 February, just three days before the BDR mutiny.
Govt-IPL hold meet, But no decision on dates yet
PTI, New Delhi, 16 March : The fate of the Indian Premier League season two still hangs in balance with the meeting between the Indian home ministry and the IPL authorities ending inconclusively at New Delhi on Monday.
A three-member team led by BCCI secretary N Srinivasan met special secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Raman Srivastava, on Monday to discuss the IPL matches’ issue and dates. The special secretary conveyed the ministry’s concerns and limitations and requested the working of a new schedule for IPL-II in consultation with states.
A tentative schedule was earlier expected to be released after the meeting today. The IPL 2 tournament is scheduled to begin from 20 April.
Remote Roangchhari den for armed Burma criminals
10 gangs engaged in extortion, abduction, arms and drug smuggling
< Banglar Chokh File Photo
Bandarban, 16 March : Criminal groups including intruders are using remote areas of Roangchhari upazila in the district as dens for conducting criminal activities like extortion, abduction for ransom and smuggling.
Security forces during the last three weeks recovered sophisticated firearms like grenade launchers, M-16 rifles, sub machine guns (SMG), light machine guns (LMG), Ak-47, SLR and huge ammunition from remote areas of Roangchhari and arrested four people.
“Armed members of different criminal groups from Myanmar enter the remote areas and force villagers to give them shelter, especially in jhum ghars (makeshift bamboo-made houses to supervise hill cultivation). They commit various crimes including abduction for ransom,” arrested Kew Mong of Aong Jaipara in Roangchhari upazila told the journalists.
At least ten criminal groups are active in areas around 173km-long Bangladesh-Myanmar border, a source said, adding that a few of them, directed by foreign militant groups, are engaged in arms trading and drug smuggling.
Reuters, Dhaka, 16 March : In an offshore field about 420 kilometres, French oil firm Total SA (TOTF.PA) has discovered natural gas .
The firm said that both oil and gas might be there and was satisfied with the data they acquired through seismic survey, the official said. The European oil giant Total spent nearly $20 million to conduct the three dimensional survey in those structures in the sea near the Myanmar border covering 18,367 square kilometres.
“If the acquired data matches the commercial viability, it will be one of the biggest natural gas discoveries (in the region) and if everything goes smoothly then production will be started by early 2012,” Muqtadir said.
Bangladesh with more than 13 tcf of gas reserves is currently producing about 1,800 mmcf of gas per day against the demand of more than 2,050 mmcf.
Underwater photographer rescued in Andamans
Port Blair, 15 March : A French underwater photographer has been rescued by the Indian Navy after he suffered from decompression while scuba diving off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The 61-year-old photographer, Patrick Noel, who was diving off Havelock Island suffered intense vertigo, nausea and vomiting on 10 March after surfacing," Navy spokesman Abhinav Barve said on Sunday.
Though in severe distress, Noel managed to swim to his yacht with the captain going for help to local fishermen who in turn informed the authorities. Following a request from the civil authorities, Navy personnel and doctors were despatched from the Naval Clearance Diving Unit (CDU) here, the spokesman said. Noel was taken to Port Blair where he was diagnosed with suffering from Caisson's disease or decompression. The doctors succeeded in saving his life with Oxygen Recompression Therapy, the spokesman said. He was later shifted to a naval hospital.
Noel, who had arrived from Phuket in Thailand in a yatch registered there, was scuba-diving to write about marine life around the islands.
Dhaka, 15 March : A two-day language festival began at Shawkat Osman auditorium of the Central Public Library in Dhaka on Sunday.
Language movement hero Abdul Matin inaugurated the festival organised by Amra Bayanno Foundation. ‘It is very pleasing to see the young people organising such festival after almost five decades of language movement,’ Matin told the inaugural ceremony. ‘These activities by young people made me hopeful that our language would reach the highest point of pride,’ he said.
Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of Sujon, who chaired the function called for voluntary work from every literate person to eliminate illiteracy from the country.
Bengal Park succeeds in breeding rare Salamanders
Darjeeling, 15 March : Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, nestled in the foothills of West Bengal, has achieved rare distinction of breeding Salamanders, an endemic and one of the oldest amphibian creatures in the world.
Also known as Crocodile Newt, a sole representative of the order Caudata among the amphibian fauna of the Indian subcontinent, the species is a living fossil and is found at altitudes of 1500m - 2250m in cold climates of the Eastern Himalayan region.
"We have successfully bred them from six in numbers to 15 in the display enclosure which is a rare achievement. Now we plan to go for full-fledged breeding for Salamanders as decided by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA)," told AK Jha, director of the Park. The tiny amphibians usually breed in summer and over the cold winter months from October to March hibernate under leaf litter, decaying logs and in mud burrows beneath forests.
Constant human interference has threatened their habitat so much so that they now figure in the Red Data Book of IUCN and included in schedule No. I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 in the country.
Concerned at decline in its population, the PNHZ zoo officials, however took initiative to breed them in two natural water bodies within the Zoo premises and then later tried to breed them in a display enclosure too.
The Park has to its credit for successful breeding-in-captivity programmes for endangered animals namely snow leopard, the red panda and the Tibetan wolf.
Jessore, 15 March : A Jessore court Sunday took into cognisance a case on charges of war crimes against Jatiya Party presidium member, who was elected MP from Jessore-6 on Jama'at-e-Islami ticket in 1991.
Former MP 'Maulana' Sakhawat Hossain of Hijaldanga of Keshabpur Upazila, alleged Razakar commander of the Upazila Master Amin Uddin and Sheikh Abdul Gani of Saatbarhia. Razakar was a paramilitary force which collaborated with Pakistan army during independence war in 1971.
Thereafter, another five fishing vessels from Sri Lanka namely ‘Win Marine 04’, ‘St. Anthony 03’, ‘Minaru Putha’, ‘Sanjana Putha 01’ and ‘Upamali 01’ with a total of 27 crew members were apprehended by the Indian authorities on 12 March and were also brought to the Andaman and Nicobar islands Today.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands authorities have informed that as the fishermen were apprehended for entering and fishing in Indian waters, they would be produced before the courts for action.
Mamata launches poll campaign from Nandigram
Dedicate TMC's poll LS manifesto to the martyrs of Nandigram
Nandigram, 14 March : Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee chose Nandigram, where 14 persons were killed in police firing on this day in 2007, to launch her party's campaign for the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal.
"The entire world has come to know how atrocious and autocratic the CPM is and how the marxists deprive the rights of poor farmers and workers to appease the rich," Mamata Banerjee told a rally in Nandigram, today.
Recalling the days of violence, Mamata said "people who resisted in parting with their land faced the wrath of the police and the marxists who did not hesitate to shoot them down, assault them, rape women and inflict atrocities." The stiff resistance of the people to the setting up of a chemical hub at Nandigram had forced the state government to shelve it and later shift it to Nayachar island.
Mamata also introduced party nominees, Subhendu Adhikary (Tamluk), his father Sisir Adhikary (Contai) and Seuli Saha (Bishnupur).
3 killed as Kolkata-bound bus crashes in Magura
Magura, 14 March : At least three people were killed and 20 injured as a Kolkata-bound bus crashed in Magura on Saturday, said police.
The diseased were identified as Komola Ghosh (55) and her son Prashanta Ghosh, of Dhaka and Abu Taher (55) of Chittagong. Of the injured, four are Indian citizens.
The Sohagh Paribahan, coming from Dhaka, lost control and veered into a roadside ditch, said Magura Sadar Police Station SI Khabir Hossain. The injured were taken to local hospitals, he said.
Tripura launches "Kathak Yatra" to revive Indian classical dance form
ANI, Agartala, 14 March : Tripura is making an endeavor to revive Indian classical dance through various festivals in a big way. Recently, a three-day classical dance festival "Kathak Yatra" was organised at Nazrul Kalakhetra in Agartala. It witnessed enthusiast participation of local artistes from the region. ‘Kathak Yatra’ turned out to be a great entertainment and visual treat for classical dance lovers in the State. It featured Kathak artists from the region and across the country who depicted gods in various dancing postures while performing the characters of mythological stories.
The festival provided a platform to the aspiring artistes to showcase their talent.
Baby born to endangered Jarawas
Port Blair, 13 March : Much to the cheer of the Jarawas, an endangered aboriginal primitive tribe of Andaman and Nicobar Islands numbering only 345, a baby was born to them at Tirur in South Andamans.
Deputy Director of Health, Dr R C Kar told agencies today that a medical team, which visited the Jarawa reserve area recently, found a 25-year-old woman, Enopole, had given birth. The mother was admitted to the G B Pant Hospital here and sent back after recovery.
Seven killed in "Basundhara City" mall blaze
Dhaka, 14 March : Seven people were killed on Friday afternoon when a massive fire engulfed in Basundhara City, the country's largest high-rise shopping complex, officials said.
The fire broke out at about 1.30 pm on the 17th floor of the 19-storey Bashundhara City complex that houses a shopping mall and corporate offices in Dhaka. The blaze first engulfed the top three floors of the building and then spread downward to the 12th floor. Seven people were killed and over a dozen injured in the incident.
An advisor of the Bashundhara Group, which owns the high-rise building, said at least one billion taka (about $14 million) worth of property has been lost in the blaze. He said the top four floors of the building were completely destroyed in the fire. The fire was put out after hours of frantic efforts by firefighters who lacked proper equipments, said Abu Nayeem Shahidullah, director general of fire service and civil defence.
Bangladesh's Prime minister Sheikh Hasina had asked the security agencies, including the armed forces and emergency services, to join in the rescue operation. Meanwhile, an inquiry committee has been set up by the government to probe into the incident.
Kolkata, 13 March : The BJP today fielded a candidate against Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, an erstwhile ally in the past Lok Sabha election in West Bengal. State BJP Mahila Morcha president Jyotsna Banerjee has been pitted against the TC chief in the prestigious Kolkata South constituency.
13 March: Subir Bhaumik said in his column this week, "after Trinamul-Congress "Mahajot" My own assessment, though it is a bit early is that the Trinamul Congress will win 9 to ten seats and the Congress will win 3 to 4. They would have done better but because the Trinamul’s gains in rural Bengal will be far offset by their losses in urban Bengal. In the towns and cities – and even in the mofussil – the general perception of the middle class Bengali is that Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s government is trying to industrialise and create and Mamata Banerji is playing spoilsport. So these people who normally have voted against the Left will vote Left this time. They will vote for Brand Buddha."
In picture a CPI(M) banner in favour of MP Laxman Seth telling something on it. Photo was teken at Haldia Township today by Bengal Newz photographer Raghu Nandan Mallik.
Satkhira, 14 March : A Royal Bengal tiger killed a golpata, (nipa palm) collector in Kachhikata canal area in the Sundarbans yesterday morning.
The tiger swooped on Yunus Ali (27) son of Shawkat Ali Gazi of village Kalikapur under Kaliganj upazila, while he was collecting nipa palm. Yunus went to the forest along with six others to collect nipa palm. The body was recovered from deep forest.
Rajshahi University closed, 1 killed in clashes
A fierce gunbattle reported, Journalists forced out of the campus
< TV grab photo Rajshahi, 13 March : The Rajshahi University was closed indefinitely after the general secretary of the university unit of Jama'at-e-Islami's student front Islami Chhatra Shibir was killed and scores were injured in clashes with pro-Awami League Bangladesh Chhatra League on the campus Friday.
Assistant proctor Moshtaq Ahmed told reporters, the authorities decided to shut down the public university and asked male students to vacate dormitories by 5pm (BDST). The university will provide buses to help the students leave the campus, Ahmed added. Hundreds of pro-Jama'at student activists were in control of the Rajshahi University campus in the noon after two days of tension and clashes with rivals including ruling AL supporters.
"A fierce gunbattle is on," a campus insider told UNB in the morning. Journalists, including the UNB correspondent, covering the violence were forced out of the campus. Over a hundred ICS activists were sued Thursday after nearly 500 of them, carrying firearms, entered the campus Wednesday, seeking to flush out rivals, the UNB correspondent, among the witnesses, said.
Clashes spread to the Station Bazaar area also, where police and RAB were rushed. The Dhaka-Rajshahi highway has remained closed since the clashes erupted Friday morning, police said.
Two bison crushed under trains
Jalpaiguri, 12 March : Two bison were run over by two speeding trains at the Chapramari wildlife sanctuary early on Thursday morning. The carcasses, that were hurled several yards away from the tracks, have been sent for post-mortem. Forest officials blamed the railways for violating the speed limit that has been set for trains running through North Bengal sanctuaries. An FIR has been lodged against the railway authorities with Nagrakata police.
At around 3 am, the first bison was hit by a Guwahati-bound train. Within a couple of hours, another had been run over by a New Jalpaiguri-bound train. "Despite repeated reminders and accidents, the railways never bother to stick to the speed limit. In this case, too, both trains were running faster than the permissible speed limit. We have lodged an FIR and complained to the North-East Frontier Railway authorities," said Silvant Patel, chief conservator of forests, wild life, north Bengal.
Bangladesh lifts YouTube ban imposed after mutiny
Dhaka,12 March : Bangladesh Govt has lifted a ban on the video-sharing site YouTube that was imposed because of a recording of a tense meeting between the prime minister and army officials after a bloody mutiny by border guards, an official said Thursday.
Zia Ahmed, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, said the ban was lifted Tuesday because tensions had been "diluted" since last month's mutiny left more than 70 people, mostly army officers, dead.
Senior army officers were furious at Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for negotiating with the mutineers instead of ordering a quick army attack during the Feb. 25-26 revolt, at the Dhaka headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles, a paramilitary border patrol force commanded by army officers. Ahmed earlier said the government decided to block YouTube because the clip threatened national unity and integrity.
Finally "Mahajot" announced,14 seats for Cong in WB
PTI, New Delhi, 12 March : Congress announced a seat sharing pact with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) under which it would contest 14 out of the 42 seats in West Bengal.
"We have entered into a seat sharing pact with the TMC with the objective of ending the over thirty years of misrule of the CPI(M), which has shattered the economy of West Bengal. We will contest 14 seats in the state," AICC in-charge of West Bengal K Keshav Rao said while making the announcement.
Congress would contest Darjeeling, Raiganj, Malda, North Malda, Jangipur, Behrampur, Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Burdwan-Durgapur, Bolepur, Purulia, Arambagh, Jhargram and Bankura seats.
JMB linked to BDR massacre : Minister Faruk Khan
Dhaka, 12 March : Bangladesh Commerce minister Faruq Khan says Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is linked to the BDR massacre of the 25-26 February that left at least 59 army officers killed. "Not all BDR men were involved (in the mutiny) ...and some JMB links have been found," he told reporters Thursday, emerging from a conference he launched and addressed.
Faruq, a former lieutenant colonel, was named Wednesday as head of a committee coordinating various inquiries into the carnage. The minister told the conference audience that the BDR headquarters incident was a "deep-rooted conspiracy". "It's a conspiracy against Bangladesh, its people and its moving forward."
It was an AGM of International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB), held at Sheraton Hotel, which also heard from state minister for foreign affairs Hasan Mahmud, USAID official Todd Sorenson and IBFB president Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury.
Bangladesh Govt cancels Independence Day parade
Dhaka, 12 March : The Bangladesh government has decided to cancel the Independence Day parade scheduled for 26 March in the wake of the BDR mutiny, minister Syed Ashraful Islam said on Thursday.
The minister made the announcement after a cabinet committee meeting on law and order at the home ministry.
Home minister Sahara Khatun chaired the meeting, attended by several ministers and senior military officers.
ECI to engage 10 Election observers in Tripura
Official sources here today said the ECI had convened the first meeting with the observers in Delhi on 15 March to brief them on their responsibilities in the run-up to the general elections. Meanwhile, the ECI was submitted names of 31 IAS officers from Manipur-Tripura cadre, who would be deployed for election work in other states and they would be appointed soon to supervise the entire election process, the election officials here said.
They also informed that Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sanjib Ranjan would hold an all-party meeting this week to formalise the election machinery for conducting peaceful polls in the state.
About 21 lakh voters would exercise their franchise through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in 3,008 polling booths in Tripura while about 20,000 officials and polling personnel would be engaged for the elections.