Sunday, January 22, 2012

Incumbents may not be worried, people are

THE statement of the local government, rural development and cooperatives minister of the Awami League-Jatiya Party government, Syed Ashraful Islam, on Saturday that the state was not worried about the killing and torture of Bangladeshi nationals by the Indian Border Security Force along the Bangladesh-India border is deeply disturbing. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Sunday, Syed Ashraf, also the general secretary of the ruling Awami League, said the ‘state cannot put aside everything and only think about what is going on along the border’ because such killing and torture ‘are nothing new… were there in the past, are now, and will be in the future.’ Incidentally, on the same day, the Indian finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, during a programme at the Petrapol land port in West Bengal, where his Bangladesh counterpart, AMA Muhith, was present, said there was no point in blowing the torture of a Bangladeshi national by BSF member out of proportion. The apparent similarity between the views of Syed Ashraf and Pranab Mukherjee tends to lend credence to the allegations of the AL-led government pursuing a subservient India policy.

Of course, Syed Ashraf may have told the truth when he said torture and killing of Bangladeshi nationals by the BSF ‘are nothing new.’ According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, some 1,000 Bangladeshis have been killed by the BSF over the past decade. The question to ask is why then the AL-led government is so eager to build, and brag about, friendly relations with the establishment of a country that is decidedly unfriendly and demonstrably indifferent to the interest and concern of Bangladesh. The question to ask is why then the key functionaries of the government, the prime minister included, froth in the mouth about turning a corner in the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India. The question to ask is why then they religiously refer to the empty assurances of New Delhi that it would not do anything detrimental to the interest of Bangladesh, when that is what it has consistently been doing since Bangladesh’s independence.

Perhaps, Syed Ashraf and his government may have forgotten the fact that the people took up arms against a theoretically much superior Pakistan army 40 years back and secured independence so that no one could bully them, so that no one could kill their fellows at their whims and wishes, so that no one could dictate what the state should worry about. Hundreds of thousands of people laid down their lives for a state that they hoped would worry about each and every individual within its geographical territory, worry about their life and death. Hence, the LGRD minister’s statement is more than irresponsible; it has made the entire country ashamed. It is all the more shameful when a significant section of Indian society has criticised and condemned their government for failing to rein in the marauding BSF members.'

The statement is also indicative that the AL-led government may be at its wit’s end in handling the state’s foreign policy. Hence, it seems, the incumbents would do well to call a national convention, involving politicians, academics, journalists, experts, etc towards formulation of a national strategy on the country’s dealings with India. Syed Ashraf and his government may not be worried about the excesses and atrocities by the BSF; the people at large are, and very much so.

BNP gives ultimatum with ill motive: PM

The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, Sunday came down heavily on the leader of the opposition for giving ultimatum to the government one after another and said few days ago people had observed her motive of such provocation.

‘The BNP gives all ultimatums with ill motive as the party and its leader do not like to see people live in peace and they don’t believe in people’s power,’ she told a huge public meeting organised by Awami League’s Jaipurhat district unit at Circuit House ground in Jaipurhat in the afternoon.

‘I’m ready to make sacrifice like my father to establish the rights of people . . . I’m not greedy for power, my aim is to establish a Sonar Bangla as dreamt by the Father of the Nation and millions of martyrs of independence,’ she said.

The prime minister said BNP leaders had forgotten that they made the country a terrorists’ haven. Sons of the leader of the opposition were found guilty in the US federal court, bringing an embarrassment for the whole nation, she said.

She asserted that none would be allowed to play with the voting rights of people in future. ‘People are the owners of their voting power and none will be able to snatch their power,’ she added. Criticising the BNP leader for her demand for restoration of the caretaker government system, the prime minister said, ‘Once they could not even realise what is a caretaker government. But now, they’re shedding crocodile tears on the issue’.

President of the unit Shamsul Alam Dudu presided over the meeting. Party advisory council member Abdul Jalil, former minister Mohammad Nasim, joint secretary Mahbul Ul Alam Hanif, Abdullah Abu Sayeed Swapan, Shahin Monwara Haque, MP, spoke, among others, on the occasion.  Minister for fisheries and animal resources Abdul Latif Biswas, state minister for liberation war affairs ABM Tajul Islam, state minister for science and technology Yeafez Osman, state minister for law Quamrul Islam, state minister for youth and sports Ahad Ali Sarkar, Fazley Rabbi, MP, Abdul Mannan, MP, and Khaled Mahmud Chowdhury, MP, were present.

Hasina, also the president of the Awami League, said her government was working for socio-economic development of the people. ‘People get something when they vote for boat (election symbol of the Awami League),’ she said.

During the Awami League tenure in 1996-2001, she said the government chalked up a plan to fulfil the basic demands of people. But, the next BNP-Jamaat government halted many programmes depriving people of getting access to food, shelter, health and education.

‘In the past, the Awami League was always beside people, and in future, we will also remain beside them,’ she said adding that in the last three years the government spent most of its time and resources to recover the loss and damage caused by misrule of BNP-Jamaat alliance and global economic recession.

She said her government worked with highest sincerity which helped keep our economy stable and expand our social safety net in the last three years. The next two years would be the period of development, she added.

The prime minister said her government had taken all measures to enhance the purchasing power of people and keep the prices of essentials within their buying capacity. Reserve of foreign exchange has been raised to $10 billion in last three years from $6 billion, she said.

Referring to her party’s defeat in all constituencies in Jaipurhat in the last general election, the prime minister said, ‘Despite that we have undertaken massive development programme for the district’.

Five food warehouses were constructed in Jaipurhat in the last three years and six more are now under construction, she said.

During BNP-Jamaat regime, Hasina said Jaipurhat was the sanctuary of militants. But, now people of the district can live in peace as the militants were uprooted by our government’.

The prime minister urged the leader of the opposition to refrain from its movement aimed to save the war criminals. ‘When the countrymen are united for their trial, the leader of the opposition is waging movement for their protection,’ she regretted.

Earlier, the prime minister laid the foundation stones of Youth Training Centre, Muktijoddha Complex and Vocational Training Centre in Jaipurhat.

Two senior army officers quizzed

The investigators on Sundayquizzed two senior army officials including former General Officer Commanding(GOC) of Comilla Army Cantonment Major General Quamruzzaman about hisinvolvement in the foiled coup attempt.

Besides, Muhammmad Tareq,Brigadier General, 71 Infantry Division, Savar Cantonment also faced intensivequery of the Court of Inquiry (CoI) for the same reason.

A high powered six-member team ofinvestigators grilled both army officers in the interrogation cell at the DhakaCantonment yesterday evening which continued for several hours, a source closeto the Army Headquarters told The New Nation yesterday withoutelaborating.  

They were questioned followingthe recovery of a laptop of Col (retd) Ehsan Yusuf and cell phone trackingrecord of absconding major Syed Ziaul Hoque, the source added.

Major General Quamruzzaman whowas head of cantonment in the eastern city of Comilla earlier had been recalledto the logistics area in Dhaka Cantonment, soon after the plot of coupunearthed.

Army spokesman Brigadier GeneralMasud Razzaq earlier claimed that the failed coup plot had been fomented byBangladeshi expatriates in touch with "religiously fanatic armyofficers".

Razzaq also said an abscondingmajor (Zia) circulated emails to different serving officers detailing a plan tooverthrow the government on January 9-10.

The outlawed Islamist groupHizbut Tahrir, banned in Bangladesh in 2009 helped to circulate the messages.

The plot involved up to 16Islamist officers, both active and retired, the army spokes also claimed.

The BNP statement

The following statement was read out at a BNP press briefing on the recent incidents in the army:


Dear journalist friends,

Assalamu Alaikum

A press briefing on Thursday spoke of a failed military coup. After knowing of the matter, like the people of the country the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is also deeply concerned. Through you we want to inform all about our concern and the party's reaction. First of all, we thank Almighty Allah. By his infinite grace no bloodshed and clash occurred. The civil administration and constitutional system have continued. Memories of bloody military coups and chaos in the past make us sad. 

The incident of the killing of 57 smart and meritorious army officers in the Peelkhana tragedy during the tenure of this government remains a scar on our memory. The BNP has the glorious history of being the architect of establishing multiparty democracy on the ashes of one-party Baksalite autocracy. The BNP struggled uncompromisingly against military autocracy and re-established parliamentary democracy. 

As the biggest patriotic democratic political institution, the BNP always believes in constitutional politics. We deeply believe in the principle of changing governments through free, fair, neutral and competitive elections. We also believe in forming governments based on people's power and support. We believe that the armed forces as a symbol of national independence and sovereignty will remain the people's institution. They will ensure independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and overall national security.

We don't want to see the armed forces involved in any distrust, clash and disunity. We don't want a brother's hand to get stained with the blood of another brother. We don't want to hear the wails of a mother losing her son, of a widow after losing her husband and a son after losing his father.

Our fervent call goes out to all members at all levels of the patriotic armed forces: maintain unity, solidarity and discipline at any cost; remain alert and conscious; avoid adventurism in the face any provocation. We have now reached a turning point in national history. Everybody will have to remain alert so that enemy spies cannot infiltrate our ranks and create subversion. You cannot step into any trap.

Dear representatives of the print and electronic media, 

The present government has been trying to fish in troubled waters by using a sensitive incident. As part of an ill attempt to make the armed forces controversial, they have directed a pointing of the finger at the opposition while describing the incident. 

We notice with sorrow that in a description of the incident at Thursday's press conference, some comments were made which could be seen as at an attempt to add a political colour to the incident. Despite the clear explanation given by the BNP, a fresh attempt to misinterpret a part of Begum Khaleda Zia's speech at a Chittagong rally on December 9 has saddened us. Some comments uttered in the same breath are consistent with the ruling party's political propaganda. As a responsible political party, the BNP wished to refrain from making any comment on a sensitive incident under investigation. But, unfortunately, it became necessary to respond to the untrue, confusing, irresponsible, provocative and aggressive unilateral comments made by the prime minister herself, the ministers, ruling party men and Indian media against the BNP.

Dear journalists,

The incident described at Thursday's press conference took place quite a few days ago. Before the investigation has been completed the people have been fed with some incomplete information. Various kinds of confusion have already been created among the people as they have seen the Indian media and the ruling party speak in the same vein. At a time when video footage of the torture of Bangladeshis by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) at the border has caused indignation here, ruling party men have made the share market a looting ground; and the government, plunging into a grave crisis due to its economic bankruptcy, has been trying to divert public attention by publicizing an incomplete version of an incident which took place in December last year.

At a time when people are gasping under the burden of spiralling prices of essentials, disappearances, killings and abductions have become daily incidents. Failing to resolve these crises the government has been trying to mislead and confuse people.

When the demand for Jatiya Sangsad elections under a caretaker government has become a national demand, and Begum Khaleda Zia has announced s “March towards Dhaka” programme to realize the demand, aggressive propaganda has been unleashed against the opposition. Questions have been raised among citizens and in the international community about the trustworthiness of the publicity as the propaganda has been based on incomplete information about an incident which is under investigation.

We call for an unearthing of the whole truth behind the incident through proper investigation and letting the people know the truth. We urge the government to refrain from its tendency to use the national armed forces, which symbolizes national aspirations, for mean political ends. The armed forces were subjected to neglect and made weak through the formation of the Rakkhi Bahini after liberation. Following the introduction of the one party Baksal system the members of the armed forces were compelled to join it. Secret wings of other political parties were also being built up within the national armed forces. As a result, due to partisan and ideological conflict and outside instigation many incidents of clashes and bloodshed took place within the armed forces.

Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman, at risk to his life and depending on invincible boldness, took courageous steps to restore discipline, unity, professionalism and chain of command in the armed forces and strengthened it.

The armed forces, which carry the mantle of our glorious liberation war, are a pride for us all and are a symbol of national unity. It is a matter of sorrow that narrow partisan interests at times have given birth to various types of provocation and indiscipline in this force.

In 1975 a faction of Baksal led by Awami League leader Khandker Mustaque Ahmad revolted and captured state power. After that a group of ambitious army officers breaking the chain of command arrested the then chief of army Ziaur Rahman and tried to capture state power. The Awami League supported the bid. It also opposed the investigation and trial process to maintain army discipline.

The party also gave open support to the then army chief Ershad when he captured power by usurping the elected government in 1982 and also to the failed coup attempt by General Nasim in 1996. The Awami League also supported the veiled coup of army chief General Moeenuddin in 2007 when the party described it as a “result of their movement.” In this way the Awami League again and again encouraged a violation of army discipline, fanned division in the armed forces in their narrow party interests. It harmed the armed forces and weakened its professionalism.

Members of the armed forces fell victim to killings at Peelkhana after the Awami League came to power. Now we hear about a coup plot in the army. We hope that the army does not fall victim to any big blueprint and conspiracy.

Dear journalist friends,

We know the armed forces cannot give any statement outside the sitting government's guidance. So the statement given at Thursday's press briefing reflected ruling party thought. You have seen that the media published news of several senior army officers being attached to the Log Area. But the press conference was told that some mid ranking officers had been involved in the coup plot. In the information given it has not been disclosed who the court of enquiry consisted of. Except for information about some contacts no elaborate description of the coup bid was given. We hope that everything will be unearthed through proper investigation and made public. We will also hope that all concerned will be careful about trustworthiness and that institutional neutrality is not compromised by making political statements while presenting a serious and sensitive subject.

At this juncture of the nation and the country we call for strong national unity. There may be differences of opinion among us on various issues but in the case of national interest and security all must remain united irrespective of party affiliation or difference of opinion. We urge the government to refrain from the dangerous game of misusing the armed forces for political ends and in the party interest. Any propaganda that may harm the reputation of the forces, which have achieved significant success in the international arena as peace keepers, should also be avoided. The Indian media have already started motivated propaganda about the published news. We all should show restraint, responsibility and far-sightedness in the national interest.

To conclude, we make a fervent call ---no disunity and division, unity and disciple are the demand of the hour. A blame game will not bring any success for any of us. It will rather lead to a deterioration in the situation.
Thank you all.

Allah Hafez, Bangladesh Zindabad.

Source :

Hizb-ut shows its eerie presence

Fifteen months after it was banned, the Islamist outfit Hizb-ut-Tahrir is once again in the spotlight after the army pointed to its involvement in the recent foiled plot to topple the government.

The banned organisation on January 8 circulated provocative leaflets based on fugitive Maj Syed Ziaul Haq's internet message throughout the country, the army said at a press conference on January 19.

The Bangladesh chapter of Hizb-ut-Tahrir was banned on October 22, 2010 for its anti-state subversive activities.

However, instead of ceasing its activities, the outfit tried to bring out processions and hold rallies on several occasions in and outside the capital and advertised several of its publications.

It circulated the internet message of Maj Ziaul, who met a serving officer on December 22 last year and instigated him to engage in activities subversive of the state and democracy.

The banned outfit also circulated a provocative leaflet in Bangla and English in December asking army officers to remove Sheikh Hasina from power and "establish Khilafat".

The army at its press conference said a few arrested and suspected officers involved in the foiled plot were linked with the outlawed outfit.

"If you review the mode of activities of militant organisations, their indoctrination system, ideology and how they work, you will know that two to three officers who admitted their links with Hizb-ut-Tahrir relate to the patterns [mentioned above]," said Brig Gen Mashud Razzaq while responding to journalists' queries.
"Besides, information given on email has been mentioned in Hizb-ut-Tahrir leaflets," he added.

He, however, said the links could be confirmed once investigations had been completed.

Against the backdrop of the latest developments, the law enforcement agencies have strengthened their efforts to trap Hizb-ut-Tahrir activists in the country.

A number of activists have already been arrested in the act of distributing posters, leaflets and other publications.

The outfit, however, continues promoting its activities, thus defying the government ban and challenging the law enforcers. Its members are continuously posting Tahrir posters on walls, bringing out processions, distributing leaflets and carrying out motivational activities across the country.

Posters at different strategic points across the country contain calls to support the outfit to topple the government and implement its proposed Islamic government.

Talking to The Daily Star, several top-ranked officials of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and Detective Branch of police expressed their inability to combat the outfit's activities. They have stressed the need for a separate tribunal to check unabated militancy.

They said they had already launched a crackdown on Tahrir, pointing out that the arrest of five activists in Uttara was a part of the ongoing crackdown.

Lt Col Ziaul Ahsan, director of the Intelligence Wing of Rab, told The Daily Star, "It is tough to stop Tahrir men as they get all kinds of support from the organisation if they are arrested. Families of the detained activists also get financial support. As a result, they don't bother much about the arrest."

Since the ban, some 500 Hizb-ut men have been arrested, but most of them are now out on bail.

In such circumstances, Lt Col Ziaul Ahsan opined, a specific and separate tribunal should be in effect to fight the militants.

"Specials courts through a specific tribunal system should be set up at all district headquarters by enacting a new law for the trial of the militants," he observed. 

"As Tahrir has strong financial support, members from JMB, Hizb-ut-Tawhid, Allah'r Dal and other militant organisations are also joining it," added Lt Col Ziaul. "Some teachers of several universities, English medium schools and madrasas, doctors and businessmen have been identified as new leaders in the banned organisation."

Monirul Islam, deputy commissioner of DB (South), said the law enforcers had arrested a large number of people in connection with Tahrir, but most of them resumed their activities after they came out of prison on bail.

He said students coming from solvent and educated families were being exploited and getting involved in Hizb-ut because of motivation based on wrong explanations of Islam and least care from their parents.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir is an international Islamist political party founded in Jerusalem in 1953. It commenced its activities in Bangladesh in 2000.

ICT rejects pleas of Sayedee, Quader Mollah

The International Crimes Tribunal on Sunday rejected two petitions filed by Jamaat-e-Islami leaders Delawar Hossain Sayedee and Abdul Quader Mollah seeking investigation reports on their alleged crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.

The three-judge tribunal headed by its chairman Justice Nizamul Huq passed the order after holding a hearing on the petitions.

Following the order, the prosecution does not need to supply the copies of investigation report to the defence.
The duo, now in jail, submitted the two separate petitions last week to the tribunal, which has already accepted the formal charges against them for their involvement with the crimes against humanity.

In the petitions, the duo said the investigation reports were not with the copies of the formal charges and other documents they received from the prosecution.

Without the reports, they cannot properly defend themselves and will be deprived of justice, they said.
Deposition and cross-examination of prosecution witnesses are going on against Sayedee while hearing on charge framing against Quader Mollah is scheduled for January 29.

After hearing the petitions, the tribunal, on January 15 and 19, fixed January 22 (today) to pass the orders.

Mossad should kill Obama: US paper

An American Jewish newspaper has boldly suggested that 'Mossad agents' assassinate US President Barack Obama, claiming that he is 'unfriendly' toward Israel. 

In an article published in the January 13 edition of the daily, the Atlanta Jewish Times, Andrew Adler, who owns the paper, asked the readers to imagine they are the prime minister of Israel.

“Give the go-ahead for US- based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States' policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies,” Adler said in the article which was recently brought to notice.

He also said that Israel's prime minister should “order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel's existence.”

“Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don't you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel's most inner circles?” he said.

Earlier in December, US Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney blamed Obama for not demonstrating enough support for the traditional US ally, Israel.

The US president has, however, claimed that his administration has contributed the most generous cash handouts to the Israeli regime in history in the face of dire economic conditions.

“I'm proud that even in these difficult times we've fought for and secured the most funding for Israel in history,” Obama said during the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism at National Harbor, in Maryland last December.

In an attempt to calm the controversy brought about by his article, Adler has said he didn't mean for his idea to be taken seriously and that he was just trying to get his readers to 'react.'

The Atlanta Jewish Times reportedly has a circulation of several thousand copies a week, as well as between 3,000 and 4,000 subscribers.