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Monday, December 29, 2008

Bangladesh Democracy Restored :

Sheikh Hasina sworn in as Bangladesh's 12th PM
Dhaka, 6 January : Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of the nation's founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was sworn in as prime minister of Bangladesh for a second time on Tuesday following her landslide win in last month's general election. She become the Bangladesh's 12th prime minister. She was premier previously 1996-2001. Hasina, 61, took the oath of office from Bangladesh President Iajuddin Ahmed at the ceremony held in Bangabhavan, the presidential palace. The full list of ministers includes 23 cabinet members alongside Hasina, the rest ministers of state. The nine-party Grand Alliance led by her Awami League won 259 seats of the 299 that figured in Bangladesh's ninth general election. The Awami League (AL) alone won 230 seats.The poll left Hasina's main political rival Begum Khaleda Zia with only 29 seats and Zia's Islamist ally Jamaat-e-Islami with only 2.
Thirty-one ministers take oath along with Hasina
Dhaka, 6 January : Thirty-one ministers were sworn in at a packed Bangabhaban ceremony Tuesday evening, after Sheikh Hasina took oath as the Bangladesh's new prime minister.
They include 23 cabinet members alongside Hasina, and 8 state ministers.
The full list, alongside new Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, includes :
Ministers: Motia Chowdhury, Abul Maal Abdul Muhit, AK Khandaker, Syed Ashraful Islam, Abdul Latif Siddiqui, Raziuddin Razu, Advocate Sahara Khatun, Khandker Musharraf Hossain, Rezaul Karim Hira, Abul Kalam Azad, Dr AFM Ruhul Haq, Dr Afsarul Amin, Dr Abdur Razzaq, Enamul Haq Mostafa Shahid, Nurul Islam Nahid, Abdul Latif Biswash, Syed Abul Hossain, Faruq Khan, GM Quader, Ramesh Chandra Sen, Dilip Barua, Barrister Shafiq Ahmed, Dr Dipu Moni.
State Ministers: Advocate Mostafizar Rahman Fizar, Captain (retd) Tazul Islam, Tanjim Ahmed Sohel, Dr Hasan Mahmud, Munnuzan Sufian, Ahad Ali Sarker, Architect Yafes Osman, Dipankar Talukdar.
Culling of birds continues in West Bengal
Siluguri 6 January : Culling operations are continuing in bird flu affected Pubong village under Takdah block of Darjeeling Sadar sub-division and Matigaraha under Siliguri sub-division.
Talking to reporters, the District Magistrate of Darjeeling, Surendra Gupta, said samples of dead chicken are being sent to Bhopal for tests."Culling operation will be completed in the next five days," he added. The main epicenter of the flu has been fixed at Binay Krishna Pally off Siliguri. The latest outbreak of the virus in poultry is the fourth in West Bengal since 2007. Earlier, hundreds of thousands of birds had been culled in Assam and neighboring Meghalaya after bird flu was detected in November last year.

Kolkata police arrest 4 wanted Bangladeshis
Kolkata, 5 January : West Bengal police arrested four Bangladeshi criminals, three of them convicted of killing former Bangladesh Awami League MP Ahasanullah Master in 2004. Nurul Islam Dipu, sentenced to death by a Bangladeshi court, and Wahidul Islam Tipu and Sahayed Ahmed Majnu, both given life sentences, were arrested on Sunday night in Garia locality of Kolkata. The Special Operations Group of West Bengal's Criminal Investigation Department arrested the three from a bus stand. The other arrestee is Zakir Hussain Rupak. He was sentenced to life for murdering former Titumir College Students Union vice president Ankhi in 1999. Dipu along with two others had fled to Belgium with a forged passport and made an abortive attempt for asylum. Later Dipu went to Nepal from Belgium with a forged Belgian passport. He crossed the border into India three months back. Dipu admitted to police that he is a leader of the Jatiya Party's student wing. They were collecting Hawala money in Kolkata's New Market area. Kolkata police said they held the arrestees under Section 14 of the Foreigners' Act. Police said they were waiting for an official response from Bangladesh and then Indian side will give a diplomatic response. Ahsanullah Master was murdered on 7 May, 2004 in Tongi.
Nandigram Assembly byelection peaceful
Nandigram, 5 January : In contrast to its turbulent political history over the past two years, the byelection to the Nandigram Assembly constituency in Purbo Medinipur district of West Bengal was by and large peaceful on Monday.
The State Election Commission had deployed eight companies of the Central Reserve Police Force and seven companies of the Border Security Force to avoid any untoward incident. Long queues were seen in front of booths since morning. Polling in some areas continued well after the stipulated hours. Despite alls, voter turnout was recorded at more than 80% in the 176 booths across Nandigram. "Barring some stray incidents, polling was largely peaceful," East Midnapore DM Chhoten Dhendhup Lama told Bengal News. Elaborate security arrangements were made at each booth, with security personnel frisking voters with metal detectors. Every booth had a video recording facility. The election, however, was not entirely without any complaints. "The electronic voting machines in some of the booths were malfunctioning while many of our supporters were threatened by CPM activists," Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee alleged.
Sujapur poll peaceful
Byelection to the Sujapur constituency in Malda district also passed off peacefully.
Bangladesh Football Federation honours '71 Football heroes
Dhaka, 4 January : The Bangladesh Football Federation on Sunday accorded a grand reception to the football heroes of the Swadhin Bangla Football Team, which drew the world's attention to the suffering of war torn Bangladesh during its Liberation War in 1971.
A stone, engraved with 36 names of the '71 football team, was also unveiled by national sports council chairman and army chief General Moeen U Ahmed, at the BFF premises in Arambagh.
The country's football governing body organised the reception in association with Citycell, to honour the members of the team who played exhibition matches in India to raise public awareness of the country's Liberation War.
7 die after drinking spurious liquor in Khidirpore
Kolkata, 4 January : Seven persons were killed and several others taken ill after drinking spurious liquor in Khidirpore area of Kolkata on Sunday. Three bodies, including that of a woman, were recovered from the Hooghly jute mill colony and Hyde road areas, while three persons others died at state-run SSKM and Sambhunath Pandit hospitals last night after drinking the liquor, the sources said. Seven persons, including three women, have been arrested so far.
However, angry locals raided the liquor dens and smashed bottles. They alleged that the police had turned a blind eye to those selling the spurious brew. The police said they were looking for others who may have been taken ill at their homes after drinking the liquor.
Tripura to install CCTVs to counter terror
Agartala, 4 January : Alarmed by the recent spurt of terror attacks across the country, the Tripura Government has evolved a new security strategy. From now on, all sub divisional headquarters would have Quick Reaction Team to face any eventuality arisen out of terror strike.
Besides, close circuit TVs will also be installed at sensitive, crowded and vulnerable localities, places and public places in Agartala to ensure round-the-clock surveillance. Officials here said, the new security arrangements were finalized in two top-level meetings.
Chief Minister accompanied by Tripura Chief Secretary Sashi Prakash and DGP Pranay Sahay had a security review meeting with Brigadier SB Asthana at 21 Assam Rifles Sector. Brig Asthana briefed the Chief Minister about the counter-insurgency operations undertaken by the Assam Rifles in Tripura.
BNP & Allies not taking oath Sunday
Dhaka, 4 January : MPs designate of the BNP and its allies will not take oath on Sunday, BNP office secretary Rizvi Ahmed said, hours before a scheduled afternoon swearing-in ceremony.
He had said on Saturday there had been no party decision on whether the newly elected 27 deputies would take oath. "We haven't had a decision as yet. The media will be informed as soon as we have it," office secretary Rizvi Ahmed told a regular briefing at the BNP chairperson's Gulshan office.
On Auto Rickshaw Ban :
Violence spurs government rethink
Kolkata, 4 January : The torching of buses and streetfights in Kolkata over the past two days have come in handy for the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government that was under increasing pressure from CITU leaders over the Autorickshaw ban. The government will move Kolkata High Court on Tuesday to seek more time to implement the order.
Early on Saturday, CITU leaders called on home secretary Ardhendu Sen and requested him to go slow on the crackdown. CPM’s labour arm is worried about the erosion in its ranks, with auto operators switching loyalties overnight to Trinamool Congress.
Yesterday around 11.30 am, the CM took stock of the law and order situation with the home secretary. By then, two buses had been burnt by mobs. The CM made up his mind. At 4.30 pm, during the anniversary programme of CPM mouthpiece Ganashakti, he announced: “The high court has passed the ban. But then, the livelihood of auto operators is at stake. We will appeal to the court to extend the deadline.”
Two senior Tripura leaders die of heart attacks
Agartala, 4 January : Two prominent Tripura leaders, former chief minister Sudhir Ranjan Majumder and veteran Communist leader Swaraijam Kamini Thakur Singh died early Sunday here following cardiac arrests. Former Tripura state Congress chief, Majumder, 74, is survived by his wife.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, union minister Prithiraj Chavan, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar among a host of leaders expressed deep shock over the demise of Majumder, who was the chief minister of this northeastern state during Congress-Tripura Upajati Juba Samity (TUJS) coalition government from 1988-1992.
The Tripura government declared a holiday Monday as a mark of respect to the departed leader. Veteran CPIM leader and former legislator Singh, 75, is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.
Tripura Chief Minister Sarkar and a large number of party leaders have condoled his death.
8,780 cast 'NO' vote in Barisal division
A total of 8,780 voters cast 'no' vote in 21 Seat of Barisal division
Barisal, 4 January : The 'NO' vote casters are politically conscious, said Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) district unit secretary A K Azad. Earlier, he called upon the voters to cast 'NO' vote to corrupt candidates, war criminals and those belonging to anti-liberation forces. They also took into account burning issues like corruption, terrorism as well as price-hike of essentials.
Before the election, Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and activists campaigned against the system of 'NO' vote, the CPB leader said. Jamaat men said to voters that because of this option, bad people would be elected in the long run.
Politicians as well as political parties should not ignore opinion of 'NO' vote casters, said Enayet Hossain Chowdhury, a leader of an election observer group.
The highest number of 1,496 'NO' votes were cast in Barisal-5 constituency while the lowest number of 283 votes were cast in Barisal-4 seat, official sources said.

Indian FM Pranab Mukherjee set to visit Bangladesh in the mid-January
Dhaka, 4 January : Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled to visit Bangladesh in the middle of January, foreign affairs adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury confirmed on Sunday.
Pranab Mukherjee will be visiting Bangladesh in the middle of January. The itinerary of the Indian foreign minister's visit, however, will be drawn by the next government," said Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury.
Foreign ministry officials said, during his visit the senior Indian minister will officially convey his government's greetings to the Awami League president Sheikh Hasina and her nascent government.
BJP demands formation of NE Security Council
Agartala, 3 January : The BJP demanded formation of a North East Security Council to address problems of infiltration and insurgency in the Northeastern States. “The problems of infiltration and insurgency could be dealt with properly with the formation of a security council for the North East in line with the National Security Council,” organising secretary of BJP’s North East wing P Chandra Sekhar Rao, said.
“If we can win in the next general elections, it would be our priority to form a North East Security Council,” he told reporters here.
The border with Myanmar should be sealed immediately to stop smuggling of drugs, narcotics, arms and ammunition, he said.
West Bengal reports fresh bird flu outbreak
Siliguri & Kolkata, 3 January : WB Health and veterinary workers culled poultry in densely populated West Bengal on Saturday after a fresh outbreak of H5N1 bird flu, officials said.
The latest outbreak of the virus in poultry is the fourth in the state since 2007. West Bengal officials said they had begun culling about 60,000 poultry after the fourth outbreak was confirmed on Saturday near Siliguri, bordering Bangladesh.
Culling operations in West Bengal to contain the third outbreak had ended barely a fortnight ago. According to the World Health Organisation, H5N1 bird flu has infected more than 390 people in 15 countries and killed at least 247 of them since the virus resurfaced in Asia in 2003.

MPs of grand alliance sworn in, allies next
Dhaka, 3 January : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and nearly 200 other Awami League nominees Saturday took oath as MPs in a brief ceremony watched by millions of people in Bangladesh and abroad.
The state-run BTV broadcast the ceremony, officiated by outgoing Speaker M Jamiruddin Sircar. The newly elected Awami League MPs with all the men attired in traditional Mujib coats waited patiently for the arrival of the Speaker.
Hasina, flanked by SSF officers, was the last to arrive among the new MPs. A smiling Speaker, known and criticised for his past anti AL diatribes, greeted the new MPs, congratulated them and wished success to the 9th parliament.
The AL won 230 seats; including Hasina's three; making 228 AL MPs. Who took required seatings in the 180 capacity oath room to be sworn in. The rest will take oath later as some of the MPs failed to make it to the capital at a such short notice.
Another round of oath taking is scheduled for Sunday afternoon when opposition MPs led by Khaleda Zia, will sign up.

Auto rickshaw operators set Buses ablaze
Forced Auto and Taxi operators to join the 12-hour strike
Kolkata, 3 January : Two buses were set ablaze Saturday by protesting Trinamool Congress-backed Auto-Rickshaw operators protesting a court ban on ageing public
transport vehicles in the city and to demand the release of 18 arrested protesters.
Commuters were greatly inconvenienced as very few Autos and taxis plied on the road in response to the Trinamool Congress-sponsored 12-hour strike. The agitators turned violent and stoned and set fire to a West Bengal Transport Corporation bus in Park Circus in south Kolkata. No one was injured. Another state-run bus was set ablaze in the same area. The protesters stoned three other buses, smashing the glass panes. They also forced auto and taxi operators who had brought out their vehicles to join the strike.
At several points, agitators carrying bricks and canes stopped Autos and Taxis and forced the passengers to alight. The auto operators took out several small and medium sized rallies throughout Kolkata.
Mamata ends overnight dharna near CM's residence
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who was on a sit-in Friday night near the residence of West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, withdrew from the spot in 4.00 AM, this morning and left for Nandigram.
The CNG Auto saga :
On Friday, auto drivers had set afire a bus and staged angry protests in various parts of the city against the ban that has been ordered by the Kolkata High Court.
The Kolkata High Court issued an order July last year to ban commercial vehicles registered before 1 January, 1993, from Kolkata and its outskirts.
The court directed that all Auto, irrespective of their date of registration, will have to convert to either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The order was to be implemented by 31 December, 2008, in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area, which includes parts of north and south 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly.
It is estimated that around 80,000 auto-rickshaws, 24,000 taxis and over 8,000 buses and mini-buses would be affected by the implementation of the court order.
Dhaka Metropolitan's succes touched Steel Town
Durgapur gets its first CNG Autos
Durgapur, 2 January : Even as controversy rages in Kolkata over two-stroke autorickshaws, the first batch of CNG Autos went on the road on the first day of the new year in Durgapur Corporation area.
Twenty-seven green autorickshaws in seven routs were launched from the first CNG fuelling station of IOC in Durgapur by Durgapur MLA Biprendu (Bhajon) Chakraborty. Durgapur SDO Ritendra Naryan Basu Roy Choudhury told Bengal News that though there have been no restrictions on the plying of two-stroke autos, like Kolkata. But we have still taken the initiative to run green Auto in the town. There'll be 80+ such autos running in Durgapur soon.
A kg of CNG costs Rs 30, while petrol costs Rs 51 per litre. CNG also has an edge in mileage 35 km per kg to petrol's 28 km per litre. The Great Eastern Energy Corporation has been extracting coal bed methane gas in Raniganj coalfield area a first such project in India and is converting it to CNG.
Tripura sounds red alert in Indo-Bangladesh border
Agartala, 2 January : Tripura government has sounded an alert throughout the state and security was beefed up along the 856 km long Indo-Bangladesh border following the serial blasts in Guwahati yesterday.
The security situation in the state was reviewed by the Director General of Police (DGP), Pranay Sahaya last night and paramilitary forces were ordered to enhance vigilance in the entry points of the state and check vehicles entering the state capital from different parts of the state, police said.
Strength of security has also been enhanced in vital installations like, civil secretariat and Raj Bhavan.
AL and Allies take oath on Saturday
Dhaka, 2 January : The newly-elected Bangladeshi lawmakers are scheduled to be formally sworn in on Saturday and Sunday, said the secretary at the parliament secretariat on Friday.
"The gazette of the ninth parliamentary elections results has reached the JS secretariat," Ashfaque Hamid, secretary, Jatiya Sangsad Secretariat, told Bengal News on Friday noon by telephone. "Those who will form the next government will take the oath at 3pm on Saturday and the rest polls winners from other parties will be sworn in Sunday at the same time."
Awami League and its allies won an overwhelming majority in 29 December's Bangladesh general elecions and will form government.

Serial blasts in Assam on New Year ; 5 dead
PTI, Guwahati, 1January : At least five people have been killed and 31 injured in three low-intensity bomb blasts which went off at Birubari, Bhootnath and
Bhangagarh areas of Guwahati in Assam, just ahead of Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram's visit.
Assam DGP has said the ULFA is behind the blasts. About 12 people were injured in a suspected cycle bomb blast in Bhootnath area. This blast occurred on the route the Home Minister would have taken.
Three people were injured following a blast in a dustbin in Birubari. The blast at Bhangagarh took place in front of Big Bazar outlet.
Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said three persons were killed in the blasts. Assam DGP G M Srivastava said the blasts were triggered "very definitely" by banned ULFA militants.

West Bengal Governor's secy on his way out
Kolkata, 1 January : WB Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi's secretary KS Rajendra Kumar is on his way out. The final order will be signed on Thursday, when he is expected to assume the charge of forest secretary. Kumar is being promoted to the rank of additional chief secretary.

Officials said most probably, another officer will be appointed as Governor's secretary as it is not possible to hold that post and take additional charge of forest secretary. The development is significant as the controversy over Gandhi's press secretary is still lingering.
The controversy started three months ago when Gandhi's press secretary Dhruba Basu was transferred from Raj Bhavan and Apurba Chatterjee, chief of bureau of state information and cultural affairs department, chosen in his position. However, Gandhi added that he would like Dhruba Basu to continue as press secretary.

Sheikh Hasina to form govt by next week
Dhaka, 31 December : Sheikh Hasina, whose Awami League-led grand alliance has romped home by a landslide in the Bangladesh general elections, today hoped to form the government by next week. She hopes that her cabinet will take oath by the first week of January, the AL chief said.
Hasina was talking to journalists after calling on President Iajuddin Ahmed at Bangabhavan here. Hasina's Awami League-led grand alliance bagged three-fourth majority -- 262 seats with AL getting 230 alone -- in the 300-member Parliament while Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led four-party grouping received only 32 in its worst poll performance

Hasina's 1st post-victory Press Conference :
Bangladesh won’t be terror haven
Dhaka, 31 December : Sheikh Hasina has marked her landslide victory by reassuring India and her arch rival, asserting that Bangladesh’s soil would not be allowed to be
used by terrorists and offering to share power with Khaleda Zia. “The Bangladeshi soil will never be used to carry out any terrorist act against our neighbours,” Hasina said in her first post-victory media conference.
Her remarks came in response to a question about New Delhi’s assertions in the past that the Bangladeshi territory was being used for carrying out terrorist attacks on India. “When we were in power, we took a strong position on this (terrorism) and we will do that in the future. I have always maintained that we want peaceful relations with our neighbours,” Hasina said. Also said that she was ready to offer senior parliamentary posts to Khaleda and her party, although the Opposition leader had earlier rejected the results of the election.
Proposing the formation of a South Asian task force to fight terrorism in the region, Hasina said: “I want continued improved relations with neighbours. “It is crucial to combat terrorism and (carry out) development of the region. The (proposed) task force could end the mutual blamegaming (on terrorism issue) between the countries in our region,” she said.

A smiling and confident-sounding Hasina had urged Khaleda to accept the results, adding she wanted her government to work with all sides to establish a new political culture in Bangladesh.
“As winners, we have to deal with everything with a sense of forgiveness and accommodation instead of vengeance, to take the country forward,” said the bespectacled Hasina. “(Khaleda) should accept the people’s verdict. I am ready to work with everyone,” Hasina said.
She said she was prepared to offer Opposition members parliamentary and ministerial posts if they were willing to cooperate with the government.

Bangladesh Upazila Parishad Vote :
8133 candidates will run Polls to 481 Upazila Parishad
Dhaka, 31 December : A total of 8,133 candidates will run the elections to 481 Upazila Parishad on 22 January, a senior assistant secretary to the Bangladesh Election Commission said.

Among them, 12 candidates – two chairmen, three vice chairmen and seven female vice chairmen – have won uncontested, Mohammad Abdul Baten told reporters on Wednesday, the last day for withdrawal of nomination. He said a total of 637 people who had filed for chairmanship, 491 for vice chairmanship and 211 for female vice chairmanship withdrew.
On 13 December, the last day for submission of nomination papers, a total of 9,976 people filed papers for the post of chairman, vice-chairman and female vice-chairman. Of them, a total of 4,222 for chairmanship, 3543 for vice chairmanship and 2211 for reserved female vice chairmanship will contest in the election.
Nomination papers were scrutinised from 17 December to 19. On 23 December, the EC cancelled a total of 504 nominations after hearing appeals.

Chittagong to come under cellphone coverage
Dhaka, 31 December : The Bangladesh government has decided to bring the entire Chittagong Hill Tract region under cellphone coverage."The government has taken the decision

with an aim to improve the living standard of the hill people," BTRC chairman Monjurul Alam told reporters.
The government has decided to expand mobile phone networks in all three Chittagong districts; Khagracchari, Bandarban and Rangamati, says the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. "We hope, with the spread of the networks in the Chittagong districts, people here will see changes in their socio-economic life," he added.
On 15 May, last year, the caretaker government okayed cell phone networks in municipality areas of the Chittagong districts. Following the decision, mobile phone companies have already set up their networks in municipal areas, but two upazilas in Rangamati districts; Barkal and Baghaichhari - will come under the coverage in the next phase.

West Bengal to form marine intelligence network soon
Kolkata, 31 December : As part of security, the West Bengal government has decided to form a marine intelligence network in three coastal districts of East Midnapore, South and North 24-parganas.
Eight police stations and 317 outposts would be set up where intelligence officers would be posted in the three coastal districts, WB Home Secretary Asok Mohan Chakraborty said. "The marine intelligence network will enhance security of the three coastal districts," he said.
On smart cards for fishermen, he said it would be done at the central-level very soon. Fishermen had earlier been issued identity cards.
Khaleda Zia rejects Bangladesh vote result
Dhaka, 31 December : Former Bangladesh premier and BNP chief Khaleda Zia rejected the result of Bangladesh's general election, saying the poll won by a landslide by her arch-rival Sheikh Hasina-led grand alliance had been "stage-managed".

"This farcical election is unacceptable to BNP," Zia said just after midnight and claimed that she had evidence of rampant vote-rigging and that the high figures given by the Election Commission for voter turnout were false. "At first, I want to thank the Chief Election Commissioner for stage-managing the parliamentary election," she said sarcastically. Asked if her Bangladesh Nationalist Party rejects the results, Zia, who emerged from a five-hour meeting of her party's national standing committee, replied: "You know what unacceptable means."
Independent poll watchdogs and foreign observers widely certified the polls to be fair and credible but Zia said: "everyone has witnessed how the blueprint has been implemented." Zia's rejection threatens to throw Bangladesh into fresh political uncertainty after two years of emergency rule by an interim government backed by the military.
Digital Bangla call fetched youth votes
Dhaka, 31 December : The Awami League once had socialist economic policies but Hasina, 61, has moved it towards backing private sector expansion. This time around, her call to build a digital Bangladesh and focus on development helped her attract the younger generation.

Analysts said first-time voters, who form nearly one-third of the electorate, had overwhelmingly backed her, rejecting Zia's more religious platform. Monday's voting was also the most peaceful in decades ; a stark contrast to the failed elections of 2007, which dissolved into street riots and prompted emergency rule. ''This has been a very free and fair election,'' Election commission secretary Humayun Kabir told reporters at his office in the capital of Dhaka. The commission had some 20,000 observers monitoring the vote.
Deadlock ends at Mejia power plant
Mejia, 30 December : The deadlock over fly ash transportation from DVC's 1320-MW Mejia thermal power plant has finally ended. As the villagers of Lotiabuni withdrew their

two-month-long agitation, trucks rolled out from the plant on Tuesday evening with the fly ash.
The agitation was withdrawn after Bankura DM Sundar Majumdar assured the villagers that WB pollution control board officials would measure the level of pollution and the administration would look into their demand for rehabilitation. The villagers have handed him a 14-point charter of demands, which includes issues like erecting streetlights, hiring dumpers from them, providing free health check-ups, free medicines, ambulances etc.
The DM has called a meeting on 12 January. Villagers have threatened that if their demands are not considered by then, the agitation would be started again from 13 January. The fly ash will be transferred to abandoned ECL mines at Nimcha near Asansol in tarpaulin-covered dumpers.

Gorkhaland stalemate in Delhi
PTI, New Delhi, 30 December : The second round of the tripartite meeting over the Gorkhaland issue remained inconclusive with the Centre and the state government on Monday remaining non-committal on the separate statehood for Gorkhas.
Officials in the Indian home ministry hinted that acceding to the demand might not be possible, adding the government would try to convince the Gorkhas at the next meeting about accepting "more powers for Darjeeling Hills under special status".
All the parties, including Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) agreed to another round of talks over the issue soon. General secretary of the GJM Roshan Giri, however, told Bengal News over Phone after the meeting that "the Gorkhas would not accept anything less than statehood".

Jamaat suffers grievous defeat by awakened Bengalis
Dhaka, 30 December : The fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, which had opposed the 1971 war and sided with Pakistani troops, has suffered a drubbing in the Bangladesh elections.

The party, an ally of Khaleda Zia's BNP, won only two seats in the 300-member Bangladesh parliament compared to 20 in the last elections, held in 2001. Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and secretary-general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid conceded defeat.
“The anti-liberation forces have been defeated once again, this time through people’s verdict,” the Daily Star newspaper said. “While it is a sweet revenge for Bangladeshis against the war criminals, the verdict will make stronger the demand for their trial.”Most political analysts attributed Jamaat’s debacle to a campaign for the trial of the 1971 war criminals, launched by the Sector Commanders’ Forum, an organisation of war veterans.
The campaign, which intensified as the country celebrated the 37th anniversary of its liberation on 16 December, particularly influenced young voters. First-time voters made up 31 % of the electorate.
Nizami and Mojahid led the Al-Badr forces that are widely believed to have abducted and killed frontline intellectuals in an effort to cripple the emerging nation just two days before their defeat on 16 December, 1971.

Demands for the trial of war criminals resurfaced in the past year after Mojahid denied his party’s role in 1971 and said “anti-Liberation forces never existed”. Another Jamaat leader sparked outrage when he called the Liberation War a “civil war”.
Bengal News team reporting regularly follwed by Bangladesh's intellectuals, youths, students campaigns and the Sector Commander's campaign across the country asking people to boycott the “anti-Liberation” forces. The message was spread over cellphones and the Internet

West Bengal CM seeks report on straying tigers
Kolkata, 30 December : The WB state government is concerned about the frequent straying of tigers of the Sunderbans into the adjoining villages. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee sought a report on this trend from the forest department on Monday.
Chairing a meeting of the Sunderban Development Board, he has asked experts to probe the incidents of straying and also asked the director of the Sunderban Biosphere Reserve to submit a report on them immediately. Those attending the meeting said experts should also check whether the behavioural pattern of tigers in the Sunderbans was changing. He also wanted to know if the food chain of the tigers has been depleted and if there are deer and boars in adequate numbers in the wild. The chief minister even asked the experts to find out if global warming had anything to do with the straying of tigers.
Some senior forest officials, however, said the number of tigers straying from the forest has not increased much. It's just that the incidents are highlighted more often. "The tigers that have strayed in the past decade were all tranquillized and sent back to the forest," an official said, adding the tigers usually stray in October and November, not so much for food but due to a reduced forest area from 9,600 sqkm to 4,200 sqkm.
Officials claimed that the food chain has not been disturbed as there are boars, deer, water monitors and even fish for the tigers to prey upon.
Results announced in 299 constituencies of 299 :
Grand alliance - 262 , Four-party alliance - 32 & Others - 5
A historic landslide for Hasina
Jamat's grievous defeat by awakened Bengalis
Dhaka, 30 December : In a landslide reminiscent of the historic 1970 victory that led to the war and birth of Bangladesh, the Awami League on Monday sealed a remarkable majority that would give the party the power to rewrite the constitution and bring about promised reforms.

With all the 299 seats called, the party that led the country's independence war won a staggering 230 seats. Arch rivals BNP were reduced to a paltry 29. Its allies—BJP 1 and Jamaat-e-Islami 2—won another three. The AL's grand alliance partner Jatiya Party bagged an impressive 27 seats. Other AL allies secured another five, taking the grand total for the grand alliance to 262.
A second Sheikh Hasina-led government in seven and a half years became a certainty as the AL-led alliance secured more than 152 in results available from just 171 seats at around 1am Tuesday morning; exactly nine hours after voting closed.
A number of heavyweights lost their long-held seats, with such stalwarts as former finance minister M Saifur Rahman, Khandaker Delwar Hossain, Jamaat's Motiur Rahman Nizami, JP's Roushan Ershad, BNP's Moudud Ahmed and Speaker Jamiruddin Sircar leading the list.
Rashed Khan Menon of Workers Party who also ran with boat made it from a Dhaka-8 seat. Wheather Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mojaheed came third in Faridpur-3 after AL and a rogue BNP independent.

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