Dhaka, 31January : The Bangladesh government has ordered the authorities at airports and at check-posts on the border with India to bar "war criminals", who are alleged to have collaborated with the Pakistani regime during the 1971 freedom movement, from travelling abroad.
The move came two days after parliament passed a unanimous resolution asking the government to take immediate measures to conduct trials for "war crimes". "All relevant information about the war criminals have already been sent to the agencies concerned asking them to guard all points so that the war criminals cannot flee the country," home minister Sahara Khatun told reporters on Saturday.
The principal targets of the trial are top leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), the country's largest Islamist party, which was defeated in last month's election along with its ally BNP. The War Crimes Facts Finding Committee, a research organisation, on 3 April, 2008, unveiled a list of 1,597 war criminals responsible for genocide, rape and other atrocities during the Liberation War.
Of those on the list, 369 are members of the Pakistani military, 1,150 are their local collaborators, including members of Razakar and Al Badr (forces formed to aid the occupation army) and Peace Committee, and 78 are Biharis, the non-Bengali migrants from India.
Bijay Singh and his four associates were arrested from a Durgapur fuel pump around 12.30pm yesterday, Burdwan police chief R. Rajsekharan said. “Today, we picked up seven others from an abandoned Eastern Coalfields (ECL) staff quarter near Kulti (close to Asansol) where Singh stayed.”
Singh and Co have apparently admitted being involved in the abduction of local businessmen Naresh Maundia, Sanjay Bagaria and Mukherjee. All three had been freed after large amounts were paid as ransom, the police said.
A probe is on to find out how Singh, who had escaped from a Bihar jail in 2004 and allegedly masterminded at least 18 murders and kidnappings in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, put up at the ECL quarters.
Mahasweta Devi meets Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Dhaka, 31 January : Bengal's leading writers and social activists Mahasweta Devi, met Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina at her Sudha Sadan home.
Mahasweta Devi, visiting Dhaka in connection with Chobi Mela-V, "Asia's largest photography festival", formally opened the show featuring works of artists from 33 countries at the National Museum Yesterday.
The festival also features a video conference between Mahasweta and two other outstanding individuals, Noam Chomsky and Stuart Hall, who will provide their take on 'Freedom' the theme of this year's Mela.
Agartala, 31 January : The Tripura unit of CPI(M) has geared up for the victory of two Left Front candidates in the coming general elections, party sources said on Saturday.The decision to galvanise all party units was taken at a meeting of the party's state committee on Thursday.
The sources said, all units of the party would launch a month-long campaign from 7 February to press for demands like more employment generations in central government schemes to face the economic recession and to declare more schemes to give incentives to labourers in the unorganised sector,
There are two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura which CPI(M) won in the last elections.
Sources on condition of anonymity said, both CPI(M) MPs Khagen Das from West Tripura constituency and Bajuban Reang from East Tripura constituency would contest this time also.
Chobi Mela - 'V' launches "Freedom" festival
Dhaka, 30 January : Chobi Mela-V, "Asia's largest photography festival", exhibiting works of artists from 33 countries, was launched at the Bangladesh National Museum Today.
Shahidul Alam, director of the fair, says the world mostly sees photographs of Bangladesh related to poverty, floods or cyclones. "Our aim was to move away from this tradition and show the world photographs of every type of joy and sorrow."
The Chobi Mela, first launched in 1993, will run from 30 January to 20 February this year and its aim is to attract visitors from all walks of life. "Over sixty exhibitions, thirty five participating nations, well over a thousand images, and over fifty visiting artists from Asia alone, are impressive statistics, but the emphasis on figures is misleading," say the festivals' organisers.
The works of top class photographers from Bangladesh and around the world will be shown at 63 exhibitions in 11 venues around the capital, including prominent galleries and open spaces like Karwan Bazar.
The festival also features a video conference between three outstanding individuals, Mahasweta Devi, Noam Chomsky and Stuart Hall, as they provide their take on 'Freedom' the theme of this year's Mela.
Dhaka, 30 January : www.shishuprokash.com, the website of Shishu Prokash, a news agency consisting child journalists, was launched during the 1st Child Journalist Convention 2009 at the Bangladesh Shishu Academy auditorium today.
Mass-Line Media Centre (MMC) with the help of United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) organised the convention. MMC have trained up 1,235 child journalists since 2005 under its Children's Express project. A total of 1,024 child rights based bimonthly reports by these child journalists were published in Shishu Prokash since its inception. All those reports were published in the local newspapers and 512 reports were published in the national newspapers. A total of 1200 reports of these child journalists were also published in several local and national dailies. These journalists work for ensuring child rights and they work in a group of ten (five boys and five girls) with one team leader in each district. All the 640 journalists and their 64 team leaders were present at the convention.
BJP may snap ties with Trinamool in West Bengal
Kolkata, 30 January : In a clear indication that BJP will contest the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal without an alliance with Mamata Banerjee, central leadership has asked the state unit to look for a "strong candidate" to be fielded against the Trinamool leader in the Kolkata South seat. This means that the BJP's 10-year alliance with Trinamool is about to end.
BJP will also put up a strong candidate against Union minister and Congress state unit chief Pranab Mukherjee in the Jangipur constituency, which earlier was contested by TMC as part of the seat sharing arrangement with the saffron party.
The party will also field candidates for all the 42 Lok Sabha seats from the state, unlike the past 10 years of alliance with TMC when BJP got the smaller share of seats.
Bangladesh JS passes resolution on war crimes trials
Dhaka, 29 January : Bangladesh Parliament on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution on the "immediate" trial of war criminals. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina urged the speaker to adopt the resolution as the property of the House.
"I categorically say we must try war criminals. It is our election pledge," said the PM. Speaker Abdul Hamid placed the resolution, proposed by Mahmud-us-Samad MP for Sylhet-3, into vote.
All the ruling party lawmakers shouted "YES" in favour of the resolution. It was passed in the absence of the main opposition party BNP and its allies, against whom there are allegations of war crimes. The opposition MPs boycotted the House on the day over a dispute on seating arrangements.
"The proposal on the trial of war criminals has been accepted unanimously by the House," Hamid announced.
Moderate earthquake hits Andaman islands
PTI, New Delhi, 29 January : A moderate earthquake struck northern parts of Andaman islands early on Thursday morning, the Met department said.
The tremor measuring 5.4 on the Richter Scale was felt at 02:00 hrs (IST) at latitude 13.7 degree North and longitude 92.9 degree East, the Met department said.
There were no immediate reports of any damage or casualties and no tsunami warning was immediately issued.
Jamaat leader slams South Asian taskforce effort
Dhaka, 29 January : Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami has criticised the Hasina government's efforts to form a South Asian taskforce to combat terrorism.
Domestic law enforcing agencies; RAB, police, BDR as well as Bangladesh army were enough to expunge terrorism, he said. "If we let foreign forces into our country then that would be inviting more trouble," said Nizami at a two-day meeting of the party's Majlish-i-Shura, its top policy-making body.
"Corridors are being given to India in the name of transit, but we must keep in mind matters of independence and sovereignty," said the Jamaat amir.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declares war on terror
"Whenever action is taken against militants, it is described as an attack on Islam. But it is not right. The militants have no religion and operate beyond boundaries. Tough actions must be taken against militants as they act against humanity and religion." : Hasina
Dhaka, 28 January : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said her government would not hesitate to take the stringent measures to curb militancy in the country.
"I have already directed all ministries and the authorities concerned to find out the militants' patrons, financers and sources of illegal arms and ammunitions to root out militancy," Hasina, also the leader of the House, said in her first question-answer session in the ninth parliament.
Terming militancy a major problem in the country, the premier said she has already asked the authorities concerned to take necessary steps to form 'South Asian Anti-terrorism Taskforce' in line with her party's election manifesto for curbing cross-border terrorism.
It will help track down militants and bring them to justice. It will also strengthen cooperation between the police forces and courts of the South Asian nations.
Interesting thing is that Bengal News presently conducting weekly poll on ".....do you think Bangladesh's newly elected Hasina regim will act against militants ?" like questions.
Today replying to a query from a lawmaker, the Hasina said she would not hesitate to take actions against any bank or other institutions involved in funding militants.
Tiger kills man in both side of Sundarbans
Canning & Satkhira, 28 January : A tiger sneaked up from behind, grabbed by the neck a fishermen pushing his boat out of the shallows and swam for about 15 feet to the bank last night. It could not, however, drag the fisherman into the forest as half a dozen others who were with Khudiram Haldar, 42, chased it through waist-deep water with bamboo sticks.
When the fishermen reached the Canning Subdivisional Hospital five hours later, Khudiram was declared dead.
This is the second tiger victim in West Bengal's Sunderban, 28 days of 2009.
In an another incident, a Royal Bengal tiger killed a man in Khukumari area of the Bangladesh's Sundarbans today. The victim is Khokon Sana, 35, son of Abdul Bari Sana of village Kashimari in Shyamnagar upazila. Khokon went to the Sundarbans to collect reeds (goalpata) on 27 January. While collecting leaves in Khukumari area, a tiger swooped on him and dragged him into deep forest. Later, locals recovered the body from deep forest.
“Just when we were wondering if we should tranquillise the animal, it walked back into the forest,” said divisional forest officer Ujjwal Ghosh.
In the afternoon, forest officials brought Jenny, their pet elephant. Chased away once, it did not want to return.
Some crowd management, however, did the trick. As foresters forced onlookers to vacate a corridor leading to the sanctuary and cordoned off the area, the animal found space to retreat. “The bison saw the road was clear and ran towards the opening,” the divisional forest officer said.
Alexandar MacCall Smith, renowned Scottish author marked the beginning of 33rd Book Fair by ringing the gong. It will continue till 8 February and is expected to host 732 stalls including those that will be set up by the Little Magazines.
Noted Bengali litterateur, Prafulla Roy was honoured with the lifetime achievement award.
Mahestala, 27 January : Eight persons died in Mahestala on Tuesday, allegedly after consuming spurious liquor.
West Bengal state finance and excise minister Asim Dasgupta, however, said only two persons had died and denied that hooch was the cause.
Following “unconfirmed” reports attributing the deaths to hooch, the minister said he had asked the excise department to conduct a probe and submit a report, possibly by Wednesday.
The deaths sparked protests, with a mob pulling down several illicit liquor dens and setting some ablaze. Local CPM MLA Mursalin Mollah said all five died after consuming spurious liquor.
Dhaka Jagannath University closed following clashes
Dhaka, 27 January : Jagannath University closed its doors sine die on Tuesday after clashes between police and students that left at least 50 people injured.
"The first year admissions process and administrative activities will continue normally," vice chancellor Prof Abu Hossain Siddique told reporters, emerging from a syndicate meeting at around 6pm.
The university syndicate came to the decision in an hour-long meeting chaired by the VC, following the clashes that erupted as JagU students protested at the "illegal occupation" of 12 halls outside the campus by local leaders and businessmen.
The VC said he had sought the government's intervention to recover the grabbed halls owned by the university. Witnesses said the clashes at the university, situated in Old Dhaka, ignited around 10am when a group of Chhatra League students broke out in demonstrations to demand the recovery of the halls.
The police baton charged and threw teargas to disperse them. The Awami League-backed students retaliated by hurling brickbats.
VC Siddique told reporters after chairing the syndicate meet: "The university authorities will bear the cost of treating the hurt students, and also help to release arrested students."
PM Hasina seeks UN assistance to try war criminals
Dhaka, 27 January : Bangladesh Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has sought assistance from the United Nations in holding trial of war criminals, the PM's office said on Tuesday.
"Prosecuting the war criminals has become a national demand and we have included the issue in our election manifesto," said the prime minister in a meeting with UNDP's resident representative Renata Lok Dessalien at PM's office on Tuesday.
Dessalien said the Bangladesh government should study how other countries across the world handled the issue of war criminals so that Bangladesh can avoid unfortunate experiences.
The two-time PM also sought UNDP's assistance in imparting training to new MPs for making the parliamentary system more effective.