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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Opposition parties 36 hours 'Hartal' hits Bangladesh, Many hurt

Anis Ahmed, Ruma Paul, Reuters, Dhaka, 12 June : A general strike called by opposition parties on Sunday over election procedures disrupted transport and businesses across Bangladesh and sparked clashes with security forces.
Opposition leaders said over 100 of their followers were injured in clashes with law enforcers, and around 150 others, including two former ministers, were detained. Most businesses in the capital Dhaka were shuttered at the beginning of the 36-hour stoppage and public transport was virtually at a standstill, though trains continued to run.
Armed police and members of the elite Rapid Action Battalion fanned out in Dhaka and in the port city of Chittagong, guarding key government buildings. Clashes broke out between police and activists at nearly a dozen places including Dhaka and Chittagong. In coastal Bhola district, activists attacked several buses operating in defiance of the strike.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia said police broke up attempts to stage demonstrations and many of its leaders were rounded up and detained. "It seems like we are in a forbidden city," BNP secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told party workers.
Politics in impoverished Bangladesh has been dominated for decades by often violent rivalry between Khaleda Zia and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Sheikh Hasina took office in early 2009 and general elections are due in 2013 as the government grapples with discontent over high prices, high unemployment and inadequate public services.
The BNP called Sunday's strike, the second in a week, to denounce a government proposal to rescind constitutional provisions under which government is temporarily handed to a non-party administration before an election.
Under the system, in place since 1996, the ruling party hands power to a non-party caretaker authority which must oversee an election within three months. Power is then handed back to the newly-elected government. But in 2007, an army-backed interim government held on to power for two years before holding an election.
Sheikh Hasina has called for the abolition of the system since the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional last month. But the court also said the system could remain in place for two more elections to avoid the political turmoil and violence associated with campaigns that prompted its introduction in the first place.
The BNP and allies want the caretaker system to stay unchanged to guard against what it says would be an attempt by the prime minister's Awami League party to steal the election. The Awami League dismisses the opposition charges.
Analysts said the conflicting stance of Hasina and Khaleda over the issue could lead the country back to turmoil and disrupt an uneasy political lull existing for years. Photos : Pavel Rahaman, Munir uz Zaman

Singur, Nandigram proved costly but Left still relevant: CPM
IANS, Hyderabad, 12 June : The CPI(M) Sunday admitted that mistakes on Singur and Nandigram led to its 'big' defeat in the West Bengal assembly polls but did not agree that the Left has become irrelevant politically.
The central committee of the party, which concluded its two-day meeting here, reviewed the election results in West Bengal and Kerala. CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters Sunday evening that the prolonged rule of the Left Front for 34 years in West Bengal led to accumulation of some negative factors
'Notwithstanding the big achievements of the Left Front governments over the last three decades, there were shortcomings and weaknesses in some of the policies and measures adopted for the welfare of the people. The mistakes with regard to Singur and Nandigram proved costly,' said a statement issued by the party.
The review also identified the organisational defects and shortcomings which have alienated various sections of the people.
The central committee did not agree that the electoral defeat in West Bengal has rendered the CPI(M) and the Left politically irrelevant.
'There has been unity from extreme right to extreme left forged under the TMC (Trinamool Congress) combine. It also had its impact on our performance,' asserted Karat. He pointed out that since May 2009 till assembly elections, 388 Left Front and CPI(M) activists were killed, a large number of them by Maoists. Photo : PTI

Congress launches campaign, takes on Ramdev, Anna,BJP
Kolkata, 12 June : Senior Congress leader and Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today hit out at Anna Hazare and Ramdev over the civil society's anti-corruption movement, accusing them of undermining democratic institutions and did not spare the BJP either.
Mukherjee while announcing Congress' plans to launch a nationwide anti-corruption campaign took on BJP saying it was backing Hazare and Ramdev to gain support of people after its debacle in the recent Assembly polls and accused the party of providing "logistical support" to their agitations and resorting to "unconstitutional practice".
"The Constitution has given the power to legislate only to Parliament and the state Assemblies. If 5,000 or 6,000 people dictate from outside what the Parliament ought to do, this will weaken democracy," he told a press conference. The campaign is seen as a bid by Congress to counter the movement by Hazare and Ramdev. Photo : PTI

Fake currency of Rs four lakh seized at Malda Rail station
Malda, 12 June : Fake currency with face value of Rs four lakh was seized tonight from Malda Town railway station, GRP sources said.
GRP personnel noticed a youth moving suspiciously on platform no. five at about 9pm and chased him. The youth left his bag and fled. The bag was found to be containing fake currency with face value of Rs four lakh. All the notes were in the denomination of Rs 500, the sources said.

Parliament begins debate on revised budget for fiscal '10-11
UNB, Sangsad Bhaban, 12 June : Bangladesh Parliament today (Sunday) began general debate on the revised budget of Tk 1,30,019 crore for fiscal 2010-11 which will end on 30 June.
However, the debate was virtually a one-way show without the absence of opposition from the House.

Trinamool Congress not to "ally' with Congress in Tripura
Agartala, 12 June : Trinamool Congress will not form any alliance with the main opposition Congress in Tripura to fight against the Left Front government, party leaders said in Agartala on Sunday.
"Congress has no reliability in Tripura. People also have no confidence with the party. Their internal feud is never-ending," Tripura Trinamool leader Manik Deb told reporters in Agartala.
'During the previous elections, Congress told the people that they are comning to power, but they failed miserably. Trinamool Congress on its own strength will come to power in the 2013 assembly polls,' Manik Deb also said. According to Deb, many Congress leaders, former ministers and legistors are willing to join the Trinamool after the West Bengal poll verdict.
"We would accept those Congress leaders into Trinamool Congress who has clean image and are dedicated to work for the people," party leader Arun Chandra Bhowmik said. Over 1,000 Congress and other party members have joined Trinamool Congress in Tripura after the West Bengal assembly election results in May, he added.
The Congress has, however, rejected the Trinamool accusation. "It would help the ruling Left Front if the opposition parties do not form any alliance or do not fight unitedly against the Left parties," Congress spokesman Tapas Dey told reporters. "Congress is the main political force in Tripura. How can the smaller parties ignore the Congress," Dey also asked.
Congress Sunday organised a day-long sit-in across Tripura to protest the alleged 'misrule of the Left Front government.' File Photo
Four pilgrims from West Bengal killed in Uttaranchal state
PTI, Dehra Dun, 12 June : Four pilgrims from West Bengal undertaking Chardham yatra were killed and three others injured when a tree fell on their mini-bus at Raiwala area near here in Uttaranchal today, police said.
The incident occurred this morning when the tree was uprooted during a squall and fell on the vehicle which was on way to Garhwal region, they said. All the four died on the spot and included two brothers - Dipesh Samanta (37), Dipendu Samanta (42) and Dipendu's wife Pampa (38) and Pradip Manna (40), police said. They were all residents of Singur area of Hooghly district in West Bengal, they said adding that the injured have been admitted to a nearby hospital.

1-H Rhino killed by poachers in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Guwahati, 12 June : Suspected poachers shot dead a one-horned male rhino in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam, officials said.
The rhino was shot at from a .303 pistol by a gang of poachers at around 2.30am and they escaped with the prized horn of the endangered species, they said. This is the first instance of poaching in the Park, located about 52 km from Guwahati, which boasts of the highest density of rhinos in the world.
Vote Sundarbans, urges B'desh Environment, Forests Min
UNB, Dhaka, 12 June : Bangladesh State Minister for Environment and Forests Dr Hasan Mahmud on Sunday urged the countrymen to vote Sundarbans into one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the world.
He made the call at a press conference at his Secretariat office in the morning after a meeting with Seven Wonders Foundation director Jean Paul de la Fuente.
Dr Mahmud said the Sundarbans is taking 2-5 places in the list of the World`s Natural Seven Wonders and we have no alternative to up publicity in favour of Sundarbans in order to provide vote for the largest mangrove forest in the region.
He informed that the voting period in electing natural 7 wonders will be concluded in November. ``I am requesting all to vote Sundarbans through SMS or internet within November``.
Dr Mahmud also informed that Bangladesh and India has been continuing publicity respectively to elect the Sundarbans as a 7 wonders and India will arrange a mega cultural program involving Indian top celebrities in this regards.