Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dhaka to give India telecom transit rights

Bangladesh has, in principle, agreed to provide India telecom transit through the state owned submarine cable operator. The decision was made after a high level delegation from India approached the Bangladesh government for providing telecom transit to the North Eastern countries through Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL), the custodian of the lone fiber optic cable SEA-ME-WE-4, senior officials of the ministry of Post and telecommunication (MoPT) told The Independent on Tuesday.

The transit would be provided through the surplus bandwidth as almost two thirds of the country's allocated bandwidth through the submarine cable SEA-ME-WE-4 remains unused, Haslul Mahmud Khan, joint secretary of the MoPT said.

Khan informed that last year, a high level delegation from Assam, led by a member of the state legislative assembly (MLA) visited Bangladesh and discussed with MoPT about providing telecom transit through the BSCCL.

BSCCL managing director (MD) Monwar Hossain said that currently the mobile and internet connectivity of northeastern states of India are laid through the 'chicken neck' (a narrow strip of corridor ) from Mumbai and Chennai (two entry points of SEA-ME-WE-4).

"As India can save a lot of money by laying the telecom connectivity between Agartala and Dhaka via Akhaura in Bangladesh and between Sabroom in south Tripura and Cox's Bazar in Chittagong where the SEA-ME-WE-4 enters Bangladesh", he said.

MD of BSCCL said that through this connectivity Bangladesh would be benefited as it will be able to make use of its unused bandwidth and earn a lot of money in foreign currency.

Meanwhile, according to a PTI report, RK Upadhayaya, managing director of Indian state owned telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) told reporters in Agartala on Monday that the company was planning to set up telecom connectivity through Bangladesh for North Eastern region of the country due to tough terrain and geographical isolation.

"Ministry has attached much importance to consolidating telecom network in NE region and we are interested in setting up an alternative route through Bangladesh due to tough terrain," BSNL Chairman and Managing Director R K Upadhayaya said.

Connectivity would be set up between Agartala and Dhaka via Akhaura in Bangladesh and between Sabroom in South Tripura and Cox's Bazar in Chittagong in Bangladesh to provide smooth telecom connectivity, he told reporters at Agartala.

Upadhyay was in Agartala to discuss with the Chief Minister, Manik Sarkar about the development plans in Tripura and the region. The government has planned to extend OFC to 25,000 panchayats across the country to provide broadband services, he said.


'Zia knew about Mujib's proclamation'

Even though BNP claims its founder Ziaur Rahman, then an army major, had proclaimed independence of Bangladesh, a confidential military document of Oli Ahmed, who was one of his close associates, has a different story to tell.

Oli's annual confidential report (ACR) prepared during his days in military in 1974 reads he had informed Zia about the proclamation of independence by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the night of Mar 25, 1971.

Oli's then brigade commander Mir Shawkat Ali in his ACR praised the young military officer and wrote that he had informed Zia first about Mujib's Mar 25 proclamation of independence amid great risks.

Oli Ahmed's ACR

On Aug 20, 1974, then deputy chief of Army Ziaur Rahman signed Oli's ACR, a copy of which is available with

Mir Shawkat and Oli both later joined BNP, a party formed by Zia after assuming power as chief martial law administrator. The trio had served in the East Bengal Regiment. Mir Shawkat and Oli were with Zia in the beginning of independence war in 1971.

However, Mir Shawkat was later alienated from BNP. He died last year.

While a minister in Khaleda Zia's cabinet Mir Shawkat once claimed Zia was the man who proclaimed independence. "Zia proclaimed independence on the night of Mar 25 standing on a drum," Mir Shawkat had said.

Oli Ahmed left BNP at the fag end of Khaleda Zia's tenure in 2006 and floated his own party, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). He then joined Awami League-led Grand Alliance alleging persecution by BNP. But he left the ruling alliance and joined the BNP-led alliance in 2011.

Oli's ACR was full of praises for his organisational abilities and his role in 1971. It reads he could be an asset for the army if he was guided properly.

On the back of a controversy by BNP over proclamation of Bangladesh's independence, the High Court in a verdict in 2009 said it was none other than Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who proclaimed it.

The court also banned volume III of "Bangladesher Swadhinota Juddher Dolilpatra" (Documents of Bangladesh's Independence War) as it mentioned that Ziaur Rahman had proclaimed independence.

Despite the court order BNP has been claiming that Zia had proclaimed independence.

On Mar 25, BNP's acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, "Zia led the nation to the war by proclaiming Bangladesh's independence."