Kolkata, 11 April : Folk music, for all its rich tradition, is lost to the urbane audience but it is not dead or even dying. It lives in harsh and painful circumstances and thrives on pain, in the throes of loss, in the spirituality arising out of acceptance.
On Saturday evening, singer and researcher Maushumi Bhowmik offered glimpses into this spiritual music in an intimate performance-presentation on the music of divided Bengal at Studio 21. Moving With Music : A Journey Through the Folk Repertoire of Bengal also featured dotara player & singer Satyaki Banerjee, now a regular with Chennai-based world folk outfit Oikyotaan, and sound engineer and researcher Sukanta Mazumdar.
Maushumi talked of her meetings with theatre legend Khaled Choudhury, talking to him about the implications of the Partition and the importance of the music, the udbaastu gaan that he carried in his soul post-political divisions. “He talked of a certain fruit that he had tasted decades ago, as a child, and the way he spoke about it, it was apparent that he still carries that taste on his tongue. Sur- melody - and stories are like taste, like smell: you carry your land’s own all through life,” explained Maushumi.
At the same time, she spoke of Helal, a Cockney-speaking third-generation Bangladeshi immigrant youth from east London who knows but another language: Sylheti. “When he sings, you can feel the ghorer taan,” said Maushumi, as Helal’s rendition of Karim Shah’s Bande maya lagaise played on.
East London merged into Faridpur as Maushumi spoke of the Oxford School of Sufism, basically a pool club where Bengali youths shoot pool, play folk music on the jukebox and have even set up a mini-mountain of burning candles in a corner, quite like a dargah.
Like the London sojourns, there have been journeys across Bangladesh, in search of the blind singer Ibrahim, from Bhasaanchar, Faridpur; in search of Hamidbhai, whose entire family joins in to sing like a ritual; in search of the ageing singer-songwriter Hejira Bibi, whose last recorded song perhaps is her rendition of Praner Murshid go, that she sang for Maushumi and her associates.
Dhaka, 10 April : Meril-Prothom Alo Awards-2008 were distributed among Bangladesh TV and film starts and singers yesterday to honour and inspire the young talents for playing their role in the fields of music, film-making and TV production.
The Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre turned into a union of cultural personalities yesterday evening as the Prothom Alo and Square Toiletries staged the programme to honour the stars. The nominations for the popular awards were open to public voting. Matiur Rahman, editor of the 'Prothom Alo', handed a crest over to Baby, while Anjan Chowdhury, managing director of Square Toiletries, adorned him with a shawl.
Noted cameraman and film director Baby Islam received the lifetime achievement award for his outstanding contribution to the film production. Renowned folk singer Mostafa Zaman Abbasi handed a cheque for Tk one lakh over to the veteran cameraman.
။ Different category and Results :
။ Best dancer : Sharmila Bandopadhaya ။ Best actor (film) : Raisul Islam Asad ။ Best actress : Bidya Sinha Saha Meem ။ Best film director : Murad Parvez ။ Best movie : Aakash Chhoa Bhalobasa ။ Best singer award : Deepta ။ Best actor (TV) : Mosharraf Karim ။ Best actress (TV) : Munira Mithu ။ Best playwrights : Nurul Alam Atiq and Ranjan Rabbani ။ Best director : Amitav Reza ။ Best singer : Habib Wahid and Krishnakoli ။ Best band : Rock band Aurthohin.
Curfew along Lalgarh border, tension on the rise
Bankura, West Midnapore, 10 April : Tension has again mounted in the area surrounding Lalgarh since Friday afternoon as a former CPM local committee member was murdered in Belpahari and the district administration imposed curfew at Bejdanga and four more neighbouring villages in the Lalgarh-Sarenga border since morning.
Asim Mondol, a former CPM local committee member, was murdered at Bhulabheda of Belpahari in West Midnapore.
Call to enforce ban on Poly Bags
Dhaka University, 10 April : Speakers at a human chain programme today demanded strict application of the law banning the use of polythene bags, and urged the government to arrange alternative bags for the consumers.
Though the use of polythene bags has been banned, the businessmen and customers are using them without any fear as there has been no application of the law, they added. The programme was organised by the committee to resist polythene and plastic bags of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) at Shahbagh intersection in the city in the morning. The speakers said due to indiscriminate use of polythene, the rivers surrounding Dhaka city are losing their navigability and the city dwellers are facing waterlogging problem during the rainy season.
The speakers said alternative bags should be made available to consumers and steps should be taken to raise awareness about bad effects of the use of polythene bags. ။ Photo : STAR
National professor Kabir Chowdhury led committee tasked with formulating a national education policy has started work, Faruq Khan said at a reunion of former students of a high school in Kashiani Upazila in the district. IT education will be introduced at primary level from 2021 to fulfil the ruling Awami League's election pledges.
"A digital Bangladesh will be establish by expanding IT sector and developing power sector," he added.
Quake damages Sonar Kella at Jaisalmer, 6 hurt
Jaisalmer, 10 April : A moderate earthquake, measuring 5.3 on Richter scale, jolted western parts of the state including Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jodhpur on Thursday morning sources said. One of the most enduringly popular Bengali film 'Shonar Kella' by femous Bengali writer and director Satyajit Ray was filmed here. Jaisalmer is also a very famous tourist spot for bengali.
According to reports, the intensity of the quake was such that nearly 3,000 houses developed cracks while walls and roofs of 12 houses collapsed. Nearly 50 schoolchildren had a narrow escape when stones fell on them in a school located inside the 850-year-old Jaisalmer Fort. In fact, 5,000 people living in the old fort had a tough time as it trembled and huge cracks appearing on its boundary walls.
The latest quake was due to Jaisalmer-Bakhani Fault, a 1,000-kilometre long fault stretching upto Afghanistan.
North-East's biggest steel plant begins production
Agartala, 10 April : The biggest gas-based steel plant in northeast India started commercial production in Tripura Friday.
The Noida-based Dharampal Premchand Ltd (DPL), manufacturers of the 'Baba' brand of tobacco products, has diversified into steel production to set up the Rs.250-crore steel plant at Bodhjungnagar, 12 km north of Tripura's capital Agartala. 'The plant will generate employment for some 1,300 people,' R.K. Kakrania, director of DPL, told reporters. The project would also help tap the unexplored business potential of the northeastern region and adjacent countries, he added.
Noted film director Shakti Samanta passes away
Mumbai, 9 April : In a career spanning over four decades, Shakti Samanta delivered a huge hamper of Bollywood superhits. But the 83-year-old producer-director, who passed away on Thursday at his Santa Cruz residence in Mumbai, will perhaps be remembered as the man who created the Rajesh Khanna phenomenon.
It was Samanta’s ‘Aradhana’ (1969) that turned Khanna into a superstar and also relaunched Kishore Kumar’s singing career. The Burdwan-born director began with the flop social ‘Bahu’ (1955) but soon hit the bull’s eye with crime thrillers such as ‘Howrah Bridge’ (1958) and ‘China Town’ (1962). With ‘Howrah Bridge’,
he also launched his own banner, Shakti Films. In the Seventies, he reinvented himself with the romantic socials that Khanna excelled in. Music was the highlight of most Samanta movies. Be it OP Nayyar (‘Kashmir Ki Kali, ‘Saawan Ki Ghata’) or SD Burman (‘Aradhana’, ‘Anuraag’) or his son, RD Burman, (‘Kati Patang’, ‘Amar Prem’, ‘Ajnabee’ and many more), they always reserved some of their finest compositions for him. Samanta, who was educated in Dehradun and Calcutta, also introduced Sharmila Tagore to Bollywood in ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’ (1964). Which is why perhaps she also wore the famous blue swimsuit in the Shammi Kapoor hit, ‘An Evening in Paris’ (1967). But it was only after he hooked up with Khanna that Samanta touched the stars. After ‘Aradhana’, the pair delivered two more smash hits, ‘Kati Patang’ (1970) and ‘Amar Prem’ (1971). But thereafter the pair’s box-office magic was gone. ‘Ajnabee’ (1974), ‘Mehbooba’ (1976), ‘Anurodh’ (1977), ‘Awaaz’ (1984) and ‘Alag Alag’ (1985) — all collapsed at the cash counters. Interestingly, with other stars such as Uttam Kumar (‘Amanush’, 1975) and Amitabh Bachchan (‘Barsaat ki Ek Raat’, 1981), Samanta continued to hit the bull’s eye.
Samanta also served as the president of the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association for five years and chairman of the Censor Board.
Bangladesh to form tribunal to try 1971 war crimes
Appointment of 'War Crime' investigators in 3 days
Dhaka, 9 April : Bangladesh government on Thursday decided to appoint an investigation agency in three days and prosecutors in 15 days to probe the genocide committed by collaborators of the Pakistan Army during the War of Liberation.
The government has decided to appoint an investigation agency and appoint prosecutors to investigate into the crimes like genocides, arsons and rapes committed by Bengali-speaking collaborators of Pakistani troops during the 1971 war, said law minister Shafique Ahmed after an inter-ministerial meeting.
"We have launched the trial process taking the decision to form the tribunals and make the appointment . . . the appointments will be done shortly," Ahmed said after the meeting at the home ministry chaired by home minister Sahara Khatun.
The development came days after the United Nations offered its support for the trial of 'crimes against humanity' as sought earlier by the new government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with UNDP country representative in Dhaka saying the UN would offer all assistance to ensure the trials met international standards.
The London-based global rights watchdog Amnesty International appreciated the UN offer and named four of its war crime experts to assist the government in carrying out the trial.
Jaswant Singh files nomination for Darjeeling LS seat
Siliguri, 9 April : BJP's high-profile candidate and former Indian external affairs minister Jaswant Singh on Thursday submitted his nomination papers for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat. Singh has been backed by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha fighting for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Singh, who was accompanied by GJM president Bimal Gurung, Singh's wife, submitted his nomination papers at the office of the Sub-Divisional Officer, Darjeeling, B K Biswas. Thousands of GJM workers and supporters with party flags and festoons cheered Singh shouting slogans in his favour.
The veteran BJP leader was earlier offered a rousing welcome by the hill people under the GJM banner when he reached the hills on 7 April. During his two-day stay, the BJP leader had several rounds of talks with political parties in the Darjeeling hills and minority communities to ensure that the 5.5 lakh voters in the hills remain undivided.
When contacted, a company spokesperson said 'response is progressively increasing everyday', but declined to divulge details. In a statement the company said it has joined hands with 18 banks and financial institutions to help customers with the booking process and to provide retail finance facilities. The booking amount ranges between Rs 2,850 and Rs 4,110 among different banks.
WBIDC shifts project to protect ECL coal reserves
The project, being developed by a special purpose company, Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited (BAPL), in joint venture with West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), comprises an airport, an industrial zone, including an IT park, and a township in the Durgapur-Asansol region of Burdwan district.
'The government has agreed to reduce the impact of ECL's leasehold area from 2.63 sq km to 0.71 sq km which will protect a considerable portion of the coal reserve,' Partha Sarathi Bhattacharyya, chairman of the country's biggest coal miner Coal India Limited (CIL), told reporters after meeting state industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen.
Those who collaborated with the Pakistan government during the freedom struggle are referred to as “war criminals” in Bangladesh. Dhaka wants information and evidence from the US, whose Richard Nixon administration supported Islamabad, to firm up cases against militiamen who are alleged to have killed thousands of unarmed civilians and engaged in rape, loot and arson.
The requests were being made under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973, said government officials associated with the trial for which the process formally begins Thursday.
Kolkata, 9 April : A section of the city intelligentsia, which turned away from CPM, post Singur and Nandigram, released a manifesto on Thursday demanding steps to ensure the election results reflect the aspirations of the people. They also want to stay away from the poll process, but want people to cast their votes without fear. The manifesto was signed by the likes of Mahasweta Devi, Bibhas Chakraborty, Suvaprasanna, Saonli Mitra, Sujato Bhadra, Kaushik Sen and Bratya Basu, among several others.
Educationist Tarun Sanyal explained the reasons behind releasing the manifesto by the intellectuals. "We are not campaigning for any party. We feel the situation in West Bengal is such that we cannot remain quiet," Sanyal said.
"Change is required for the sake of democracy. This has to be achieved through the election process. If one party remains in power in the Centre or state for decades, it is not healthy for democracy ...If people want change, they will have to find out ways to bring it about," the manifesto reads.
Subir Bhaumik, BBC News, Kolkata, 8 April : The left is expected to lose many seats in its West Bengal heartland. With a fortnight left to the start of India's parliamentary elections, the country's left-wing parties are trying hard to push a "Third Front" in opposition to the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led coalitions.
The left has tied up with strong lower-caste parties in a number of states and with some regional parties like the ruling BJD, a former BJP ally, in the eastern state of Orissa. But the left's success in stitching together this apparently unwieldy coalition depends greatly on its own performance in its strongest bastion, the state of West Bengal, where a left-wing coalition has now ruled for more than three decades.
Going by current trends, that will not be an easy task. READ MORE
Security beefed up in Purulia district
PTI, Purulia, 8 April : Security measures in Maoist infested Purulia district was beefed up on Wednesday in view of polling on 30 April. In a joint press conference in Purulia, District Magistrate Santanu Bose and Superintendent of Police Rajesh Yadav said 500 persons were arrested so far. Eleven check posts within 380 km radius between Purulia and Bokaro and Ramgarh in Jharkhand will be sealed ten days before the polls.
Police are keeping close watch on the safety and security of villagers in 430 earmarked localities. A helicopter has been kept ready for use in naxal infested areas of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore. High officials are keeping close watch on the movement of maoists.
Earlier, Debasis Sen state’s Chief Electoral Officer visited the Maoist infested areas of Jangalmahal and alerted all concerned about security measures.
CBI appoints new officer to probe Nobel theft case
Bolpur, 8 April : CBI has appointed a new officer as investigating officer (IO) in the Nobel theft case. On Wednesday, Puspal Pauil, the CBI inspector, accompanied by another officer, introduced himself as the new IO in a Bolpur court and asked for more time to submit the progress report on the Nobel theft investigation. The additional chief judicial magistrate of Bolpur, H Bhutia, ordered that the probe report be submitted on 12 May.
A big heist occurred at Rabindra Bhawan in Santiniketan in March 2004. CBI took over the probe from CID after a few days. Quite mysteriously, CBI declared the Nobel investigation closed in September 2007. "Though we went all out to crack the case, no fruitful result was achieved. This sudden closure of investigation helped the university authorities get the insurance claim," the CBI's Kolkata office told Rajat Kanti Roy, the Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor.
But on 18 September, 2008, CBI again wanted to reopen the Nobel theft probe, which was declared closed last September following some developments in Bangladesh.
Tripura to use helicopter during Lok Sabha election
Agartala, 8 April : The Ministry of Defence has allotted two helicopters to Tripura for five days during general election to be held on 23 April for security surveillance, election officials said here today. Additional Chief Election Officer Dilip Acharjee told mediapersons that with the instruction from Election Commission of India (ECI), the Centre had assured Tripura to provide the aircraft considering the security issue.
”Both the choppers will be made available on 20 April for five days in the state and these will be used for air surveillance on the day of the poll and continue to be used until all the EVMs enter into the strong room,” Acharjee said. Though the helicopters would be provided by the Defence Ministry, the entire expenditure Rs 50,000 per hour if used and Rs 36,000 per day if not used has to be borne by the state government.
Bangladesh to announce 1971 Liberation War probe
Mark Dummett, BBC News, Dhaka, 8 April : Bangladesh is set to announce plans to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes during the country's war of independence nearly 40 years ago. The government says those suspected of collaborating with the Pakistani army in the killing and rape of thousands of civilians will be put on trial. The party which fought for independence in 1971, the Awami League, has recently been returned to power.
The plan is opposed by one of the main opposition parties, Jamaat-e-Islami. Its leaders are among those accused of alleged war crimes. The government says the setting up of a prosecution team is the start of the process that will eventually lead to the trial of hundreds of people for war crimes, crimes against humanity and maybe even genocide. It says these crimes were committed in 1971 by the Pakistan army and their locally raised militia, when they embarked on a campaign to hold on to what was then the country's eastern province by terrorising its civilian population. The plan failed, but not before countless killings and rapes.
Bangladesh says three million people died, though some historians dispute this figure saying it does not take into account people who fled the conflict into India and then did not return afterwards. It has now become a major political issue, because the party which fought for independence, the Awami League recently returned to power with a huge majority.
One of its main opponents, Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest religious party, also opposed the creation of Bangladesh. Jamaat's leaders are among those accused of carrying out war crimes.
Two Deer skins seized in Sunderbans, two held
Kultali, 8 April : Two weeks after a tiger skin was seized from poachers at Purba Gurguria in Kultali, two deer skins were recovered from a haystack and two persons arrested at the same village early on Wednesday. With this, the suspicion that an active poaching racket is working in the Sunderbans has been confirmed beyond doubt and it already seems to have taken a heavy toll. The forest department has handed over the probe to the CID.
The poachers Osman Molla and Abu Hassan Molla had stashed away the skins, one of them partially damaged, in their backyard along with a 30-foot-long metal deer trap. They were produced in the Alipore court later on Wednesday.