Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stop Tipaimukh Dam, demo before UN

The message was loud and clear."Stop Tipaimukh Dam" or "We shall boycott your goods."In a bitter cold winter onTuesday afternoon, hundreds of Bangladeshis from Three states (New York, NewJersey and Connecticut) at a human chain before the UN buildings protestedagainst the Indian Government's move to build Tipaimukh Dam which would destroy biodiversity, ruin livelihoods of people and cause economic disaster to Bangladesh.(The New Nation)

Participants joined thedemonstration with festoons, placards, banners and flags raised voice thatIndia broke its earlier promise that it would not take any steps regarding thedam that could harm Bangladesh. But despite protests from millions of people,the governmnent of neighboring India is taking up this disastrous projectviolating international law and bilateral agreements. The dam is going to causesevere natural and human catastrophe in Bangladesh, the demonstrators said.'Untiland unless our water rights are guaranteed, Bangladesh with the assistance ofother friendly countries must create pressure on India from the internationalcommunity to ensure its rightful water shares in common rivers.' To mountpressure the protesters said they are considering the option to boycott Indian goods at home and abroad.

IFC (International FarakkaCommittee, Inc New York) organised the program in cooperation withrepresentatives of different socio-cultural organisations of expatriate Bangladeshin the US.

In a press statement signed byits Chairman Atiqur Rahman Salu, urged the Bangladesh government to lodge acase with the International Court of Justice against the Indian government'smove.

'How long we should wait, whileour fundamental and basic rights are denied? We can no longer trust the government of India and are making ourpetition to the highest authority of the world, the United Nations, to enforceinternational laws and conventions,' he said in the statement.

Syed Tipu Sultan, secretarygeneral, IFC, Sirin Akhter, Principal Afser Uddin, Anjumanara Begum, AtaurRahman Ata, Abdur Rahim, Millat Uddin and Salina Ahshan among others, spoke onthe occasion.

Later, IFC leaders handed over amemorandum to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon.

Hazari cleared of all charges

The High Court on Thursday acquitted former Awami League MP Joynal Abedin Hazari of charges of illegal possession of arms in a case in which the controversial politician had been found guilty and jailed to seven years.

The bench of justices Rezaul Haque and Abu Zafor Siddique passed the order on Thursday by disposing Hazari's petition to scrap the case.

His lawyer M Saiful Alam told that through Thursday's acquittal ruling, Hazari has now been cleared of all punishments handed down by the trial court.

Later in a media statement, the counsel said a case was lodged with the Feni Sadar Police Station in connection with the recovery of seven ammunitions from Hazari's political office at Love Market in Feni municipal area on Aug 17, 2001.

The Speedy Trial Tribunal of Chittagong on Sep 28, 2003 sentenced the alleged godfather of an organised crime network in Feni to seven years in prison in the case.

Following Hazari's petition for cancellation of the case, the High Court on June 4, 2009 issued a rule on the government and asked it why he should not be exonerated from the prison sentence.

After a hearing on the rule, the High Court on Thursday delivered the verdict overturning Hazari's conviction and sentence by the Chittagong tribunal, Saiful Alam added.

Advocate Mohammad Waziullah and M Saiful Alam argued for Hazari at the hearing while deputy attorney general Zahirul Islam represented the state.

Saiful Alam said Hazari was accused in a total of 27 cases and sentenced in five. The High Court has acquitted him in all the five cases.

He said the former Feni MP secured bail in 21 cases from the trial court and currently, a murder case is pending with a Comilla court.

Allegations of massive corruption and terrorism were levelled against Hazari during the 1996-2001 tenure of the Awami League government. Hazari was said to have fled the country on Aug 16 when a non-party caretaker government took office in 2001.

The controversial AL leader returned to the country after long eight years in 2009 when AL again came into office for a second term.

Hazari surrendered to a Feni court on April 15, 2009 in a money laundering case and was immediately sent to Comilla jail. He was set free on Sep 2 the same year. 

Honour at Tripura 'inspires' PM

Awarded Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) at the ninth convocation of Tripura University, prime minister Sheikh Hasina has said the honour would inspire and encourage her further in dedicating her life to serve the people.

Indian vice president Mohammad Hamid Ansari handed over the honorary degree to Hasina at a function held in the university on Thursday.

The university conferred the honour on Hasina in recognition of her "statesmanship, visionary leadership and resolute commitment to peace and democracy". She is the first foreign leader to receive an honorary DLitt from the university, established in 1987.

Hasina said she had learned the importance of secularism and the need to include all people, irrespective of their race or religion, from her father.

"The beliefs of Bangabandhu remain deeply embedded in my mind, and in my government," she said.

Referring to the peace model she presented at the 66th session of the UN General Assembly, Hasina said actual development depends on some interdependent factors.

These factors, she said, are poverty alleviation and eliminating disparity, reducing deprivation, bringing excluded people into the mainstream, accelerating human resources development, and rooting out terrorism.


She expressed heartfelt gratitude to the people of Tripura for their wholehearted support to Bangladesh's fight for independence in 1971.

She said: "As we touched down at Agartala airport last evening, a flush of emotion overwhelmed me. I recalled the tremendous sacrifices you made during our struggle for independence.

"As our hapless people streamed across the border with only their lives, starving and lost, they were welcomed by you with open arms. We vividly remember those tragic days and the love and support our people received from you."

Referring to the close historical, cultural, linguistic and traditional affinity between the people of Bangladesh and Tripura, she said, "This is why our people migrated en masse for refuge to Tripura during the horrifying days of 1971."

Hasina also recalled that the state was flooded with refugees that were more than its own population in 1971.

Presided over by chancellor of the university Prof Amiya Kumar Bagchi, the function was addressed, among others, by Bangladesh's foreign minister Dipu Moni, governor of Tripura Dr D Y Patil, chief minister of Tripura Manik Sarkar, Indian minister for HRD and science and ICT Kapil Sibal, and vice-chancellor of Tripura University Prof Arunoday Saha.

Earlier, Hasina unveiled the statue of Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore on the university campus, which was used as a refugee camp during Bangladesh's Liberation War. 

AL demands 'strong' EC

Ruling Awami League urged the president Thursday to form an independent and powerful Election Commission which will be able to hold elections in a free and fair manner.

On a query about the BNP’s demand for restoration of the caretaker government, Ashraf said neither the president nor the AL raised the issue during the day’s talk as the issue was not on the agenda of the dialogue.

The BNP, which sat with the president the previous day, had urged Zillur Rahman to take the initiative to restore the caretaker government system before the reconstitution of an Election Commission.

Ashraf was speaking at a press briefing at AL Dhanmondi office convened to share what they had discussed during the talks that continued for nearly one hour beginning at 11:00am.

Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, party's senior presidium members, led a 15-member AL delegation to the talks held at Bangabhaban, the president’s official residence.

“The party delegation has no other option to discussing the Election Commission reconstitution issue with the president during the dialogue,” AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam said emerging from the talks.

The invitation letter which the president had sent them had only one agenda: the discussion of reconstitution of the EC, Ashraful said, adding: “So we had no other issues to discuss with him."

Senior Awami League leaders Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Abdul Jalil, Suranjit Sengupta, advocate Yusuf Hussain Humayun, Begum Matia Chowdhury, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, advocate Sahara Kharun, Kazi Zafarullah, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Obaidul Quader, Syed Ashraful Islam, Mohammad Nasim and Hasan Mahmud were also on the delegation.

The government in June last year scrapped the caretaker system through the fifteenth amendment to the constitution, allowing parliamentary polls to be held under political government. The main opposition party opposed the amendment and now maintains it will not go to polls unless these are held under a non-party caretaker government.

Against this backdrop, the president on December 22, 2011 started the talks with the political parties to discuss formation of the new Election Commission. The tenure of the current commission expires on February 14 this year.

So far, 22 political parties including the main opposition BNP joined the talks. Of them, at least 13 parties recommended reinstatement of the caretaker system to hold the next election.

The BNP, which sat with the president on Wednesday, urged Zillur Rahman to take the initiative to restore the caretaker government system before the formation of a new Election Commission.

However, seven political parties, most of whom are partners of the Awami League-led ruling alliance, spoke against the system. They instead stressed the need for strengthening the election commission.

BCL drives out protesters from Jagannath campus

Bangladesh Chhatra League activists reportedly drove out protestors from Jagannath University campus after they misbehaved with the chairman of a department on Thursday.

The BCL men also attacked the demonstrating students, leaving at least seven of them injured. 

Defying the university authorities' ban, the agitating students brought out a procession on the campus around 9:30am demanding withdrawal of a 'development fee' charged with first year admission fees.

The demonstrators were also resisting the students who were going to attend classes. 

At one stage, the students locked into a quarrel with Dr Anwara Begum, chairman of the political science department, and hurled abusive words at her when she asked them to stop at around 10:30am.

In half an hour, a BCL group of the university unit rushed to the spot and attacked the demonstrators, injuring seven students.

Later, they drove out the students and took control of the campus.

Vice-Chancellor Dr Mejbah Uddin Ahmed in the afternoon said the authorities were holding a meeting to take a decision in this regard.

Khurshid Hossain, deputy commissioner of Lalbagh division, told The Daily Star that they did not take any action against the students since no complaint was filed in the afternoon.

Jamaat men clash with cops in city

3 arrested, 3 police injured.


Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir clashed with police at Paltan area Thursday afternoon protesting the detention of former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam. 

According to primary information received from Paltan Police Station, at least three policemen were injured. Nothing could be known about the injury of the protesters.

“After the incident, we picked up three of them (protesters) in Motijheel for attacking police and vandalising our vehicle,” Ashrafuzzaman, assistant commissioner of Detective Branch of police, told The Daily Star. 

The protesters brought out a procession in Paltan area around 5:00pm. As police intercepted it, they threw brickbats on the law enforcers and torched a police van.

Police lobbed tear gas and charged baton to disperse the protesters.

Ghulam Azam was sent to jail Wednesday on charges of committing crimes against humanity and peace, genocide and war crimes during Bangladesh’s Liberation War 40 years ago.

The International Crimes Tribunal, rejecting his petition for bail, ordered sending Azam, who stands accused on 62 specific charges, to Dhaka Central Jail.

After the court order Wednesday, members of Jamaat and ICS brought out processions in the capital's Motijheel, Purana Paltan and Ramna areas. Police foiled their demonstrations and detained 17 of them.
Pro-Jamaat lawyers demonstrated on the Supreme Court premises after the tribunal passed the order while Shibir activists brought out processions in different parts of Chittagong city the same day.

According to history, Jamaat under Ghulam Azam's leadership opposed the country's independence during the Liberation War and cooperated with the Pakistani occupation army in committing heinous crimes.

Although Ghulam Azam stepped down from the highest post [ameer] of his party over a decade ago, his followers still consider him as the supreme spiritual leader.