Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bangladeshi dies of 'BSF torture'

A Bangladeshi cattle trader was allegedly tortured to death by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) near the Birampur border of the district early Friday. 

Phulbari-40 Battalion of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) confirmed the death yesterday morning. 

The deceased was identified as Saiful Islam, 25, son of Nabiul Mondal, of Chaturpur village in Birampur upazila. 

Saiful along with some other cattle traders crossed the Birampur border Thursday night, local people said. BSF men of Bhimpur camp caught him while others managed to escape. 

Quoting the cattle traders, who could return to Bangladesh, Nazrul Islam, elder brother of Saiful, said BSF men had tortured his brother with sharp weapons.
Villagers informed him of the killing, Nazrul added. 

The victim's family members informed local BGB of the matter Friday noon. 

In connection with the incident, BGB, Phulbari-40 Battalion held a flag meeting with BSF of Bhimpur camp Friday afternoon when BGB claimed the body, sources said. But BSF denied the incident of torture and killing.
BSF later informed Rajab Ali, company commander of BGB, Bhaigarh camp of Birampur, that they had recovered a body from Lalpur, about 2km inside India from Bangladesh border. 

Another flag meeting was held yesterday afternoon when SK Singh, company commander of BSF, Bhimpur camp said that on information BSF had gone to the spot, and following the recovery of the body they had sent it to Hili hospital for an autopsy. 

Yesterday at about 7:10pm, BSF handed over the body to BGB. 

Maj Tareque Iftekhar, acting commanding officer of Phulbari 40 Battalion confirmed the incident saying, "We have strongly protested the killing". 

In a similar incident on December 17 last year, BSF gunned down two Bangladeshi cattle traders on Daudpur border of the upazila. 

Malaysia to build the bridge

A senior Malaysia official said on Saturday Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur are all set to sign an agreement on Feb 21 to construct the Padma Bridge by a consortium of Malaysian companies.

"We did a due diligence for the past one month and finally, with the consent of prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, we told the Bangladesh government we are ready to build the bridge," said Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who met the Bangladesh prime minister in Dhaka on Tuesday.

"Bangladesh has seen our success in building bridges such as the first and second Penang Bridge. (Bangladeshi) prime minister Sheikh Hasina requested us to look at the proposed bridge," Samy Vellu, Malaysia's special envoy to India and South Asia, told official Bernama news agency.

He said the deal would put together a consortium of Malaysian construction companies to take up the RM 6.6 billion job.

Samy Vellu said several big names in the Malaysian construction industry as well as those that are known as government-linked companies (GLC) are expected to join the consortium. Their work, he said, would be monitored by the Prime Minister's Department through his office.

"The contractor has brought in a financier from Dubai. Serious negotiations are currently going on between them. The Malaysian and Bangladeshi governments have no say in identifying and deciding on the financier.

"This bridge will be a very important project for Malaysia as it will prove to the world that this country (Malaysia) has the ability to do anything on earth, especially in the infrastructure segment."

He said that a detailed timeline would be decided once the government-to-government agreement was sealed on Feb 21.

Bangladesh's biggest infrastructure project ran into trouble after one of the key lenders, The World Bank, raised questions about the bidding process for consultant supervisors.

The government rejected the Bank allegations, dared the Washington-based lender to prove the charges and threatened to find other sources to fund the ambitious project. 

Contents of Internet to be under scanner

Authorities have begun preliminary work on monitoring the content of blogs and social networking sites to track down and bring to task the perpetrators of cyber crimes under the 2001 Bangladesh Telecommuni-cations Act.(The Independent)

Giashuddin Ahmed, the vice-chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommuni-cations Regulatory Commission (BTRC), confirmed the new forward momentum on developing monitoring policies after Thursday’s maiden meeting of a 14-person panel to thwart cyber threats. The panel, named the Bangladesh Computer Security Incidents Response Team, was formed by the BTRC in response to an abortive military coup aimed at overthrowing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government in December.

The team will not only monitor contents of blogs and social media networks for potential threats, it will also oversee research on improving internet security systems and will advise law enforcement agencies in tracking potential offenders.

Under the Telecommunications Act, sending or publishing obscene messages, or harassment via phone or internet, telephone hacking, issuance of threat, publication of content that goes against the social values or incites hatred or attacks national unity and solidarity, are all among punishable cyber crimes.

Offenders, if proved guilty, will face a maximum punishment of five years' imprisonment and a maximum fine of Tk 300 crore.

More than a decade after the Telecommunications Act was ratified none of Bangladesh’s estimated six million internet users has been punished under it.

“We're trying to bring discipline to the sector, and that'll take time,” explained Ahmed. As of now, the team has yet to decide whether monitoring should be carried out on a random basis or through a systematic dredging of web content.

At Thursday’s meeting the panel, comprising of senior officials of the BTRC, representatives from internet service providers, mobile phone and cable operators, and others, was instructed to develop a concrete methodological proposal by Feb. 12.

The Bangladesh Internet Service Providers Association welcomed the government’s regulatory move, pointing out that the country has 85.45 million mobile phone users in addition to its estimated six million internet subscribers, making it one of the fastest growing internet using countries in the world.

Internet users are less enthusiastic, expressing concerns that innocent people may well be victimised by the policies and that government measures are too easily abused as a mechanism for infringing individual rights to privacy.

Neaz Rahman, an urban planner and project manager for the UN in Dhaka, however fears that the panel will become a tool for monitoring anti-government, rather than anti-state or actually criminal, activity.

A Dhaka resident, Mustafiz Alam, questioned the formation of the panel, without any representation for lay internet users, who would be more likely to raise questions about their own rights to privacy and free expression.