Friday, May 25, 2012

Bangladesh Railway : Bribery, anomalies rule recruitment

Yusuf Ali Mridha, the suspended general manager (East) of Bangladesh Railway, had recruited more than 600 railway employees on back dates in just two months before an amount of Tk 70 lakh was seized from a microbus of the former railway minister's aide Omar Faruq Talukder.

Railway officials said Mridha had expedited the appointment process with direct support from Faruq, the sacked assistant personal secretary of the then railway minister Suranjit Sengupta. 

Many job seekers have alleged that they had paid money to get jobs in the railway's east zone.

The public administration ministry in August 2010 approved the recruitment of 7,275 railway staff within a year. It later extended the deadline by six months to February 11 this year, as the railway managed to recruit only several hundred staff in the one-year time frame, said the officials.

A total of 1,611 railway employees -- 1,128 in the east zone and 483 in the west zone -- were recruited between August 2010 and February this year. Of them, 624 were appointed in the east zone after the expiry of the February 11 deadline, according to a source in the railway's establishment department.

“One-third of the total recruitment was made after the expiry of the February 11 deadline, and before the seizure of Tk 70 lakh on April 9,” said a senior railway official, asking not to be named. 

Recruitment data are usually sent to the railway headquarters every month, but the establishment department did not get any recruitment data of the railway's east zone from January last year to February this year. 

“Mridha, who became general manager (east) in January 2011, did not send the recruitment data on due date, as he tried to keep it secret,” said the source.

Mridha and Faruq might have taken bribes from applicants in advance, but failed to give them jobs within the February 11 deadline, it said. 

“They had to use back dates on documents to legalise appointments.” Many in the railway are aware of this malpractice, the source said.

There have been allegations of widespread irregularities in recruitment in the railway's east zone. Many job seekers alleged that they had to pay Tk 3 lakh to Tk 5 lakh for each post of Class III and IV employees.
Railway Director General Abu Taher said none could make recruitments on back dates. “This is illegal. Punitive action will be taken if anyone is found involved in such irregularities,” he told The Daily Star.

A departmental probe headed by the railway director general last month found no involvement of Suranjit in the Tk 70 lakh scandal. In its report on May 13, the probe body said the seized money belonged to Faruq.
The probe body prepared the report based on statements of Faruq, Mridha, Enamul and some BGB personnel.

Suranjit stepped down as railway minister on April 16 following the seizure of Tk 70 lakh from the microbus of his APS Omar Faruq. Many in the railway claimed the amount of money stashed in the vehicle amounted to several crores. 

On the night of April 9, Faruq's microbus driver Ali Azam drove the vehicle carrying Faruq and railway officials Mridha and Enamul Huq to the BGB headquarters in the capital. The driver loudly told the guards that there was illegal money in the microbus.

The BGB personnel searched the vehicle and found Tk 70 lakh, reportedly collected from job seekers, stashed in the vehicle. They detained the four but released them the next day after verifying their identities.
Faruq was sacked; and Mridha and railway divisional security commandant Enamul Huq were suspended following the incident.


A total of 443 people were recruited in the railway's west zone in a year from August 2010 to August last year. The general manager (west zone) sent the recruitment data to the railway headquarters every month in line with the rules. 

No recruitment was made in the west zone during the extended period of six months, said sources in the railway.

The general managers of the east and west zones enjoy absolute authority to recruit staff in the railway.


Police for mandatory national identity card (NIC) for cyber cafe users

The Police have proposed amendments to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, 2006, keeping provision for mandatory use of national identity card (NIC) and registration of user's name and address for using cyber cafe to check growing incidence of cyber crimes.(The Independent)

Under the Police Reform Programme (PRP), Bangladesh police have urged the government to bring some amendments to the Act to bring all Internet providers -- cyber cafes and mobile phone companies - under the law, a cyber crime expert affiliated with PRP said.

After amendments to the Act the use of national identity card will be made mandatory for the cyber cafe users, he said adding that registration of the names and addresses of the users will also be mandatory for using cyber cafe,, as criminals usually use cyber cafes for committing such crimes, he said.

The Internet providers will have to close all the pornographic websites by using a centrally monitored server after the amendments, he said. Anyone failing to operate business abiding the law would face exemplary punishment, he added. Justifying the amendments he said the governments in Europe and the USA bring amendments to the information technology related Acts in every three months with the changed trend of such crimes.

In this regard Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed said, "A process is underway to amend the ICT Act-2006 to make the law effective in preventing the growing trend of cyber crimes."

Asked about the mobile phone crimes, the cyber crime expert said that police could easily identify the mobile used in crimes by its IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number and according to law import of mobile phones without IMEI number is prohibited.

Cyber crimes are increasing every day and such crimes have no boundary as one can hack website of a country. a criminal residing in London can withdraw money from a bank account in Bangladesh using modern technology.

"Cyber crime is not an issue that will go away, it will continue and, with new technologies emerging, it will remain a constant challenge for both the internal and international law enforcing agencies," high officials of the police said.

A cyber crime squad was set up in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in 2008 but even after four years of its formation it is failing to work smoothly due to lack of trained officials, necessary equipment and logistic support, they said.

International economic security will be vulnerable and online hacking will also increase, if we fail to introduce the mechanism of busting the digital crimes", they said

"There are some information more valuable than money and are to be protected. It is possible to nip a high-tech crime, if we get to know it before it is committed. It is impossible to fight against firearms with bows and arrows, they added.

UK asks Bangladesh for neutral probe into incidents of disappearance

The UK has called on Bangladesh to conduct an “impartial and transparent” investigation into the disappearance of Ilias Ali. Ali went missing in April while returning to his residence.

The UK has pressed Bangladesh for impartial and transparent investigations into the disappearance of M. Ilias Ali, a leader of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and others.

"We are concerned about the disappearance of Ilias Ali. Our high commissioner to Bangladesh and ambassadors of eight other European countries called on the Bangladesh authorities on May 9 and urged them to conduct thorough investigations into disappearances, including that of Ilias," British Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Lord Howell told the House of Lords Monday.

The Minister of State was answering a question put forward by Labor Peer Lord Harris who asked what diplomatic representations were being made about the disappearance and alleged kidnapping of Ilias and other opposition politicians.

Ali, a former lawmaker and BNP organizing secretary of Sylhet Division, went missing along with his driver while returning to his Banani residence in the early hours of April 18.

Lord Howell also said, "We support Bangladesh in its efforts to stabilize its politics, to move towards the best kind of elections at the next appropriate time and to develop and lift its people out of poverty and the appalling environmental challenges that they also face."

He further said in meetings with the officials of the Prime Minister's Office and the foreign ministry, they had urged the Bangladesh government to do everything they could to trace Ilias and investigate the matter.

However, Britain feels the drive to end this "dark atmosphere" over Bangladeshi politics must come from within.

There are allegations, too, that the crime buster Rapid Action Battalion is involved.
Lord Howell also informed the House of Lords that the EU heads of mission during visit to Bangladesh in February stated its concerns very clearly.

Besides, UK's senior ministers, including the foreign secretary, have been in direct personal contact with senior officials, including the foreign minister, of Bangladesh.

"It is a concern for the UK because it is an important nation and destination of one of DFID's largest programs, with $1.57 billion due to go to support Bangladesh development over the next four years. It is a nation that the UK wants to see stable and prosperous and to build on its economic achievements, which are beginning to show dividends," said Lord Howell.