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BANGLADESH NEWSPAPERS

Sep 15, 2009

The Awami League (AL) may go for tougher programmes

The Awami League (AL) may go for tougher programmes, including street agitations, in a couple of weeks to force the government to withdraw all charges against Sheikh Hasina and lift the state of emergency.

The party will also speak out against holding upazila elections ahead of the general elections at its meetings with the Election Commission (EC) on September 4 and 9, party leaders said.

The programmes came up for discussion at the AL’s Central Working Committee meeting at its Dhanmondi office yesterday. The meeting, presided over by acting AL President Zillur Rahman, was adjourned till 11:00am today.

Sources said today’s meeting will review the latest political development and its fallout, not least the possible release of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman.

Acting AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam told reporters that the government should free all people arrested in the anti-corruption drive before releasing Tarique, who he said ran a parallel government during the BNP-Jamaat coalition government and became the “world champion in corruption”.

On Tarique’s bail in all the cases against him, Zillur Rahman said people would put him on trial.

He said the BNP was directly collaborating with the caretaker government.

“We’ll have to take a tough stance as without showing force the government seems reluctant to pay heed to our demands,” Organising Secretary Abdul Mannan told the meeting.

Party leaders said they will oppose some provisions of the Representation of the People’s Order (RPO), 2008 on political party registration at their meetings with the EC.

They said they will ask the commission not to ban front organisations and foreign chapters of political parties as well as not to include “no-vote” option on ballot papers.

The party will not get registered with the EC if the conditions are not addressed, they said.

AL leader Col (retd) Faruk Khan told The Daily Star that they would first try to reach a consensus with the government and the EC through discussions.

“If they do not meet our demands, then we shall have no alternative but to go for movements,” he said.

The AL may warn the government that it would stay away from any polls to ensure that the government withdraws all charges against Hasina.

Referring to “conspiracies” to foil timely general elections, Syed Ashraful Islam said if the parliamentary polls are not held in December, it might not be held even in the next five years.

“A man’s death in a gas-cylinder explosion of a mini van, after Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal activists set fire to it, and unrest in the garment sector are nothing but indications of a bid to foil the national elections.”

Terming the two incidents staged plays, Ashraful said the vested quarters who do not want democracy in the country are doing this.

He criticised the government for allowing BNP-Jamaat alliance leaders to hold a political meeting with Khaleda Zia inside the special jail and said it was part of a conspiracy to foil the general elections.

Bangladesh Newspaper Online - News Headlines of Bangladeshi Newpapers

BANGLADESH CRICKET NEWS -


Khaled Mahmud to be Bangladesh assistant coach
Khaled Mahmud has been appointed assistant coach for the national side, while bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake's contract was extended to March 2010


Next Asia Cup to be held in June 2010
The next edition of the Asia Cup will be held in June 2010, the Asian Cricket Council has announced


Old Trafford to host Bangladesh Test
Test match cricket will return to Old Trafford in 2010 after it was awarded one of the two Tests against Bangladesh, while Lord's will host three Tests in a season


Mortaza appointed captain for Zimbabwe series
Mashrafe Mortaza has been reinstated as captain for Bangladesh's ODI series against Zimbabwe at home, scheduled for October this year


Bangladesh agree to day-night Test in England
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has agreed to appear in the first ever day-night Test during the team's tour of England in May-June next year


Shakib to undergo physiotherapy
Shakib Al Hasan, recovering from a groin injury, will undergo physiotherapy in Australia and won't require a surgery as he aims to be fit for Bangladesh's home series against Zimbabwe in October


New Zealand to host Pakistan 'home' series
New Zealand will host six Tests in a summer for the first time after confirming Tests against Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia for 2009-10


Dhoni, Dilshan pick up maximum nominations
Based on the period between August 13, 2008 and August 24, 2009, the awards took into account performances by players and officials during the span


Bangladesh announce Zimbabwe schedule
The teams play their first three ODIs in Dhaka and the final two in Chittagong before Zimbabwe head back on November 6


Siddons diagnosed with skin cancer
Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, has been diagnosed with skin cancer and will undergo surgery in Australia


Shakib to undergo treatment in Australia
Stand-in Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan will travel to Australia next week for medical treatment on his groin


Bangladesh can't be taken lightly - Siddons
Jamie Siddons has said that though his team is still far from being considered a threat, it has managed to earn the respect of the top international sides


Dolar and Mushfiqur make it 4-1
An incisive opening spell from Dolar Mahmud rocked Zimbabwe, and though they recovered to post 210, it was easily chased down by Bangladesh thanks to Mushfiqur Rahim's 98


Dead rubber but live issues
Cricinfo previews the final ODI between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh


'This vindicates my belief in setting goals' - Tamim
Tamim Iqbal has termed his career-best 154 against Zimbabwe as a personal best and dedicated the innings to his father


Tamim gatecrashes Coventry's party
Charles Coventry made the joint highest individual score in an ODI but his effort was outweighed by a sparkling, cool-headed effort from Tamim Iqbal


Zimbabwe look to level series
Zimbabwe's comprehensive comeback win in the third ODI was the best thing that could have happened to the series


Zimbabwe keep series hopes flickering
Zimbabwe's batting has improved with each outing this series, and today they kept their hopes alive with a victory that brought Bangladesh's winning run to a screeching halt


Bangladesh aim to wrap up series
Bangladesh lead the five-match series 2-0 and Zimbabwe's efforts in both matches have been distinctly underwhelming


Shakib scripts convincing win
Shakib Al Hasan starred with a delightfully aggressive ton in Bangladesh's second straight win in the five-match series against Zimbabwe

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Staff Correspondent

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) assured Bangladesh of not retrenching Bangladeshi workers and sending them back, Commerce Minister Faruk Khan said yesterday after his visit to the gulf nation last week.

The workers who have completed their job contracts are returning from the UAE. So, there is nothing to worry, said Faruk who held official talks with UAE Foreign Trade Minister Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi in Abu Dhabi last week.

Meanwhile, a total of 102 Bangladeshi workers returned from abroad on special travel passes yesterday. Of them, 56 returned from the UAE while 35 from Malaysia, nine from Kuwait and two from Saudi Arabia.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Hasan Mahmud yesterday requested the UAE government to retain the Bangladeshi workers and extend their job contracts, says a foreign ministry press release.

After attending an international dialogue on migration in Geneva, Mahmud is now visiting the UAE where there around 9 lakh Bangladeshi workers, the second largest labour market after Saudi Arabia.

The government is making such efforts as Bangladeshi workers abroad are being axed following the global economic recession. Already, increased numbers of Bangladeshis have returned home from Malaysia, Singapore, UAE and Saudi Arabia that creates an uncertainty over overseas job market of Bangladesh.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Expatriates' Welfare Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain are also visiting Malaysia. Dipu Moni held talks with some high-ranking ministers of Malaysia, while Mosharraf is scheduled to meet its home and human resources minister to talk on the labour issue.

Dr Hasan Mahmud during his meeting with the UAE Labour Minister Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash discussed the ways to best address the challenges of the ongoing economic meltdown, including easing the procedure of changing residency visa and online access for visa verification to avoid visa forgery.

Bangladeshi workers are often deported from Dubai Airport because of visa forgery that causes losses to both the workers and the manpower business.

鉄uch visa forgery is possible because there is no scope to verify genuineness of the visas issued by the UAE. It can be verified through online system like other countries to check forgery,・said an official.

During the meeting, Saqr Ghobash said protection of workers must start from the country of origin as those workers should not arrive in the UAE saddled with debts, Gulf News from Dubai reported yesterday.

Dr Hasan Mahmud also met his counterpart Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash at UAE foreign affairs ministry and discussed the bilateral matters, including trade, investment and Bangladeshi labours working in the Gulf country.

The state minister requested for more UAE investment in Bangladesh in energy, refinery and other areas of infrastructure.

Dr Hasan Mahmud also attended the National Day reception hosted by the ambassador at Hotel Hilton as special guest and met the ministers, high dignitaries and a cross section of Bangladeshi people living in the UAE.

At a reception organised by Bangabandhu Parishad in the UAE, Mahmud urged the Bangladeshi community members to work for the country and help establish Bangladeshi expatriates in the UAE as a disciplined and law-abiding community.

Detained former prime minister Khaleda Zia


Detained former prime minister Khaleda Zia may be released any day, said communications adviser Ghulam Quader on Sunday.

Asked if the BNP chairperson would be released from special jail this week, Quader told reporters he was not in a position to specify the exact date and time.

“It’s certain that Khaleda Zia will be freed, but I can’t tell you exactly when it will happen,” the adviser said, adding that the legal procedure involved was taking time.

Asked to comment on Awami League’s criticism of the government over the release of BNP senior secretary general Tarique Rahman, Quader said: “Releasing someone from jail custody comes under the purview of the law courts. The government cannot detain or release anyone without the court’s accord.”

“The matter of granting bail to the detainee lies with the court and we all know that the judiciary has been working independently for quite some time now,” said the adviser.

The legal proceedings as regards any graft case are going on unhindered, he added.

Replying to a query, Quader said: “No, the government hasn’t retreated from its stance of combating and uprooting corruption.”

“The antigraft campaign is going on in full swing.”

On the government’s stance on political parties’ claim that the Election Commission was biased in attitude or action, the adviser said: “The Election Commission has been performing neutrally and has established its efficiency and efficacy beyond everybody’s doubts by successfully holding polls to four city corporations and nine municipalities.”

“The forthcoming Jatiya Sangsad elections will also be held under the stewardship of the present CEC.”

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Chief Justice MM Ruhul Amin administered


Veteran Awami League (AL) leader Zillur Rahman was sworn in as the country’s 19th president in a simple ceremony at Bangabhaban yesterday.

Chief Justice MM Ruhul Amin administered the oath of office and secrecy to Zillur at the Darbar Hall of the presidential palace in the evening. Zillur is the fifth president elected by the Jatiya Sangsad since the parliamentary system was restored in 1991.

The Election Commission (EC) Wednesday declared Zillur, an AL presidential nominee, elected president unopposed. Zillur was the deputy leader of the House.

Among those who witnessed the investiture were Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Speaker Abdul Hamid, Deputy Speaker Shawkat Ali, chief advisers to caretaker governments Fakhruddin Ahmed and Justice Latifur Rahman, Deputy Leader of the House Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, ministers, members of parliament, judges of the Supreme Court, and senior civil service and military officials.

Sep 14, 2009

Daily Star

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Feb 17, 2009

Cabinet okays 10 ordinances

Cabinet okays 10 ordinances
for passage into laws
Staff Correspondent
The cabinet on Monday approved 10 bills for passage of as many ordinances, promulgated during the immediate past interim government, into laws violating set principles and also two High Court verdicts.
The 10 ordinances, approved by the cabinet for passage as laws, include some ordinances which do not conform to the ratification principles.
The meeting of the cabinet, held at the cabinet division conference room at the secretariat, approved Bangladesh University of Professionals Bill, Begum Rokeya University Rangpur Bill, Trade Mark Bill, Financial Loan Court (amendment) Bill, Money Laundering Prevention Bill, Election Commission Secretariat Bill and Voters’ List Bill.
The cabinet approved in principle Law and Order Infringing Offences (Speedy Trial) (amendment) Bill and Bangladesh Tourism Bill and asked the home ministry for further examination of the speedy trial bill.
In 2002, the then opposition Awami League vehemently opposed the passage of the Speedy Trial Act in 2002.
The cabinet also approved four bills for making into laws four ordinances promulgated during the interim regime regarding supplementary budgets for 2006-07 and 2007-08 and national budgets for 2007-08 and 2008-09 fiscal years.
The expert committee formed to scrutinise the ordinances promulgated in the past two years submitted its report on January 25, recommending that 30 ordinances should be approved, 39 should be dropped and 53 others should be left for the parliament to decide.
The expert committee made the recommendations according to the principles that only the ordinances promulgated in accordance with Article 58D of the constitution should be enacted as laws.
According to the article, the president during a caretaker government cannot promulgate any ordinance that is not directly related to elections or is not essential to run the day-to-day affairs of the government.
The High Court has so far delivered two verdicts and ruled that the interim government has no powers to promulgate any ordinance that does not fulfil the conditions.
The High Court bench of Justice ABM Khairul Haque and Justice M Abu Tariq, in accordance with this principle, cancelled the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Ordinance on July 13, 2008 and the Contempt of Court Ordinance on July 24, 2008.
The parliamentary special committee, which was assigned to scrutinise the ordinances, on Sunday finalised its report recommending 54 ordinances out of a total 122 for passage as laws.
The cabinet approved ratification of the Bangladesh University of Professionals Ordinance 2008 which made provisions for the establishment of a university for the defence service officials. Different quarters have already demanded cancellation of the ordinance. The expert committee also recommended scrapping of the ordinance.
The cabinet approved ratification of the Money Laundering Prevention Ordinance although prime minister Sheikh Hasina questioned what was the use of a law against money laundering as a large amount of money was allegedly siphoned off during the BNP-led alliance government when the Money Laundering Prevention Act was in force.
The cabinet, however, brought changes in the name of the Rangpur University. The interim government promulgated the Rangpur University Ordinance and the cabinet finally passed it as Begum Rokeya University Rangpur Bill. According to the changes made in the ordinance by the cabinet, the president would be the chancellor of the university instead of the prime minister.
The cabinet also made changes in the Bangladesh Tourism Ordinance making provisions for inclusion of a noted personality and a local personality in the local committees on tourism development.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
People involved in preparing ‘false’ voters’ roll should be
punished: Hasina
Staff Correspondent
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Monday told the cabinet that the people responsible for preparing a ‘false’ voters’ roll with nearly two crore fake voters at the fag end of the tenure of the BNP-led alliance government should be brought to justice.
‘Persons who were involved in making a fake voters list before the cancelled January 22, 2007 elections should be punished to prevent such attempts to hold farcical polls in future…,’ Hasina, also the ruling Awami League president, was quoted by her press secretary Abul Kalam Azad as saying.
Azad was briefing newsmen at the Press Information Department after the meeting of the cabinet held at the cabinet division at the secretariat.
The prime minister made the observation when the cabinet approved the Electoral Roll Bill along with nine other bills for passage of ordinances, promulgated during the immediate past interim government, into laws.
Hasina, who presided over the four-and-a-half-hour meeting, also asked the Bangladesh Bank Governor how corers of taka were smuggled out of the country when a Money Laundering Prevention Act was in force, meeting sources said.
Bangladesh Bank governor Salehuddin Ahmed told the meeting that they had specific information about money siphoned off to Malaysia and the United Kingdom, Azad said.
While approving the Law and Order Infringing Offences (Speedy Trial) (Amendment) Bill, the prime minister asked the home ministry to be cautious so that none was harassed by the law, a source who attended the meeting told New Age.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
35 students injured in BCL
infighting at JU
JU Correspondent
Gunfights between two factions of the Awami League-backed Bangladesh Chhatra League at Jahangirnagar University over establishing supremacy left at least 35 activists injured on Monday, with only two days left for the month-long suspension on the activities of the unit.
After the clash, the Chhatra League central committee suspended again all activities of the university unit for another month, Mahfuzul Hayder Chowdhury Roton, the general secretary of the central committee, told New Age.
The feuding groups exchanged around 20 rounds of gunshots during the clashes.
Of the injured, three leaders Sagar, Shobhan and Shubho were sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital with bullet injuries and their conditions deteriorated.
The violence sparked off at around 11:00am when activists of the rebel faction, led by Ayan-Azibur, with the backup of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal activists, attacked Nayan, Shajib, Rubel and Zihan, loyal to the president and general secretary-led faction, at various places on the campus with iron rods, sticks and brickbats.
As the news spread, more than a hundred activists of the president-secretary-led faction from Mir Mosharraf Hossain Hall, Al Beruni Hall, Salam Barkat Hall and AFM Kamal Uddin Hall rushed to Bangabandhu Hall and Bhasani Hall, controlled by the rebel faction, attacked activists of the rebel faction with firearms, sticks and machetes.
Both the groups chased each other and police went on a futile effort to disperse them firing teargas shells.
At around 1:00pm, the university proctor, Nasir Uddin, along with other assistant proctors, went to the spot and tried to mediate between the groups. As the proctor assured the president-secretary-led faction of punishing the attackers, they went back to their halls.
Immediately after the assurance, some unknown people damaged the houses of the proctor and the university teachers’ association general secretary, Shamsul Alam Selim.
The activists loyal to Azibur-Ayan faction reorganised at around 3:00pm and attacked the other group. Both the groups traded gunshots and at least three activists sustained bullet injuries.
After the second spell of gunfight, activists belonging to the president-secretary-led faction cordoned off the members of the proctorial body and a former vice-chancellor in front of Kamal Uddin Hall and demanded their immediate resignation. They were freed after half an hour.
Sohel Parvez, the president of university unit Chhatra League, claimed the rebel faction had attacked them in a planned way. ‘They have the administration with them.’ He also denied any involvement in damaging the teachers’ residences.
The provosts and deans sat in a meeting in the evening and decided to deploy riot police at the residential halls and extend cooperation to the law enforcers.
The university teachers’ association, in another meeting, demanded punishment of the attackers on teachers and threatened to go for tougher movement if the authorities ignored the issue.
Earlier on January 18, the Chhatra League central committee suspended all the activities of the university unit following a clash between the two factions.


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Involvement of MPs in local
govt work denounced
Khadimul Islam
Academics, local government experts, local tiers’ representatives and students censured the demand of the treasury bench’s lawmakers for ensuring their involvement in development activities of the local government bodies.
They told New Age that the lawmakers’ control and interference will make the local government bodies weak and ineffective.
‘If the MPs remain involved in the work of local bodies, particularly development work, the local tiers of the government will not be strengthened. The work of both the MPs and members of local government bodies will be hampered,’ said Professor Muzaffar Ahmad, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Transparency International Bangladesh.
Treasury bench lawmakers on Sunday opposed ratification of the Local Government (Upazila Parishad) (Amendment) Ordinance 2008, which was promulgated by the Fakhruddin-led interim government to prevent the MPs from controlling the Upazila Parishads’ development works.
The Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Syed Ashraful Islam, told the Parliament that the government plans to amend the Upazila Parishad Act 1998 which was repealed by the interim government, and added that the Act will be amended to ensure the lawmakers’ involvement in development activities in the upazilas.
During the question-answer session of the day, AL lawmaker Shahiduzzaman Sarkar asked the LGRD minister whether the government would make block allocations of development funds to lawmakers for carrying out development work in their constituencies, prompting treasury bench lawmakers to welcome the question by thumping their desks.
When asked to comment on the government’s plan to ensure the MPs’ involvement in local development activities, Salah Uddin M Aminuzzaman, who teaches Public Administration in the Dhaka University, said, ‘It is unwarranted.’
He said that according to the Constitution there is no scope for lawmakers to be involved with the local government bodies’ tasks.
‘If the government goes ahead with such a plan, the institutional weakness of the local government bodies will be increased,’ said Aminuzzaman.
Abdur Rashid Lebu, chairman-elect of Sadar upazila in Tangail, observed that local development activities will be hampered if lawmakers interfere in their work.
‘The MPs will discharge their duties like enacting laws and formulating policies, and the local government representatives will deal with local issues and development. It will be better for both the sides to stick to their designated tasks,’ said Rashid.
Kamrunnahar Hai, a vice-chairman-elect of Mongla upazila, found no problem in the involvement of lawmakers in development activities of local government bodies. ‘The MPs are also elected by the people of the constituencies, so they have some responsibility to do development work for the people. We will work all together for the betterment of the localities.’
Mukhlesur Rahman, a Dhaka University student, said it is disgraceful that our MPs are more concerned about involving themselves with the local bodies’ tasks instead of their main work of formulating the country’s policy and taking decisions on vital national issues.


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Khaleda slams ruling party’s ‘injustice’
Bdnews24.com . Dhaka
The leader of the opposition in parliament, Khaleda Zia, has accused ruling party of failing to show broadmindedness despite its huge majority in parliament.
‘We want to cooperate with the government by joining the current session of parliament. But the ruling party is barring us from contributing by snatching our seats,’ the BNP chief said on Monday.
‘They want to continue with a one-sided parliament,’ said Khaleda in a meeting with a 52-member delegation of Rajshahi University teachers at her Gulshan office.
The former prime minister heard opinions of the teachers, led by former RU vice-chancellor M Abdul Hamid, on the country’s political situation, parliament and law and order.
Terming teachers the ‘conscience of the nation’, Khaleda said, ‘I hope you will continue your
contribution to the country, as you have in the past.’
She once again alleged widespread rigging in the December 29 general elections.
‘We (BNP) wanted to move forward from the crisis that had been prevailing in the past two years and that was why we participated in the election,’ she said.
‘But the activities of the previous caretaker government and now the Awami League government have given rise to frustration among the people,’ she said.
She alleged that ruling party supporters were continuing to attack BNP leaders and supporters across the country.
‘They’ve killed more than 50 of our leaders and supporters,’ Khaleda said.
She urged all nationalist forces to be united to protect the country’s independence and sovereignty.
‘There has been a conspiracy against our independence. We all will have to remain on guard,’ said the former prime minister.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shops flout evening ban while
SSC examinees suffer
Staff Correspondent
Most of the Dhaka city shops are violating the government ban on daily business after 8:00pm, adding to load shedding while the SSC examinees are being the worst sufferers owing to power outages during the evening hours.
Most of the big shops and shopping malls in the Dhanmondi, Mohammadpur, Mirpur, Maghbazar, Khilgaon and Shantinagar areas were found closing their daily business from 8:30pm to 10:00pm because of slack monitoring by the authorities.
Most of the city areas face around 1-2 hours’ load shedding during the evening peak hours, and had the shops been closed after 8:00pm, the load shedding would be a bit less as the city shops consume around 200-400MW of electricity.
The SSC examinees are facing difficulties in making preparation for their examinations during the evening hours because of the power outages.
The section 114 (3) of the Labour Act 2006 enacted during the BNP-Jamaat government says that all shops will close their daily business by 8:00pm. Some shops, including grocers, food shops and drug stores, however, were kept out of the purview of the ban.
The then government could not enforce the section as the shop-owners threatened to go for movement if the section was put into effect.
The interim-government first enforced the section during summer in 2007 to save around 200MW of electricity for reducing load shedding and suspended the section during Ramadan for Eid shopping.
The government specified that small shops selling rice, lentils, vegetable, fruit, meat, fish, bread, dairy products, pastry, sweetmeat, medicine and treatment-related materials, burial materials, betel leaf, bidi, cigarette, ice and newspaper can remain open after 8:00pm.
The other shops that were exempted from the ban include hotels, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, filling stations (on condition of using minimum electricity), vehicle service centres not meant for repair works, salons and barbers.
The labour act section was again enforced in January 2008. But towards the end of the interim-government rule, most of the shops started to continue their business after 8:00pm because of slack monitoring.
Officials of the Dhaka Electric Supply Company and the Dhaka Power Distribution Company admitted that the shops are being kept open after 8:00pm for lack of monitoring.
‘We have not gone for drive against the errant shops as the demand of electricity was low in winter and there was no load shedding. However, we have started monitoring the situation for the past one week because of the increased demand for power as the weather is getting warm,’ said a DESCO official.
He said the DESCO teams had started visiting different areas and were asking shops to close business after 8:00pm. ‘On the first day, the team will just warn them not to run their business after 8:00pm. But if the warning goes in vain, their power connections will be snapped on the second day,’ he said.
Power secretary Nasiruddin Ahmed told New Age on Monday that they would first motivate shop owners so that they close down their shops after 8:00pm and did not get panicked.
Sources in the power division said they would motivate the people through both the print and the electronic media.


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MACHINE-READABLE PASSPORTS, VISAS
Govt takes fresh move
Asif Showkat
The government has initiated a fresh move to introduce machine-readable passports and visas as the international deadline restricting travel without them expires at the end of March 2010, said the planning ministry’s officials on Monday.
‘The project proposal for introduction of the much-discussed machine-readable passports and visas is likely to be placed at the ECNEC’s meeting on Tuesday,’ said Md Idris Ali Dewan, member of the Socio-Economic infrastructure Division of the ministry.
This is for the first time that a proposal for introducing machine-readable passports and visas is being sent to the Executive Committee on National Economic Council for its approval, the official added.
‘People will not be able to go abroad without machine-readable passports and visas after April 1, 2010 as the deadline of the International Civil Aviation Organisation in this regard will expire then,’ he said.
During the five-year project (2009-2014) the government will issue 1.74 crore ordinary passports and 0.10 crore special machine-readable passports, according to the proposed project.
The project, sent by the home affairs ministry to the planning ministry for scrutiny, will cost Tk 350 crore.
‘No donor’s assistance will be accepted to implement the project,’ said another official of the planning ministry.
According to the proposed project, the Immigration and Passport Directorate will earn Tk 920 crore from issuing the machine-readable passports and visas during the 5-year period.
The government will spend Tk 268.52 crore in the 2009-10 fiscal year, Tk 35.66 crore in 2010-11, Tk 35.34 crore in 2011-2012, Tk 25.39 crore in 2012-2013 and Tk 24.99 crore in 2013-2014, according to the project proposal.
The BNP-Jamaat government planned a huge project to introduce machine-readable passports, visas and national identity cards at an estimated cost of Tk 1,546 crore.
The project was set to be implemented by the home affairs ministry, but was abandoned in late 2006 following controversy over appointment of consultant and tender evaluation.


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Chavez wins bid to scrap
Venezuela term limits
Agence France-Presse . Caracas
The president, Hugo Chavez, and his supporters celebrated victory Monday after Venezuelans voted to scrap term limits on elected posts, paving the way for him to seek re-election in 2012 and beyond.
Chavez, a flamboyant and tireless campaigner said he intended to stand for a third term in 2012.
‘The doors of the future are wide open,’ Chavez boomed from the balcony of his Miraflores palace to cheering supporters as fireworks lit up the sky.
‘In 2012 there will be presidential elections for the 2013-2019 period and, unless God has planned something else, unless the people have planned something else, this soldier is now a pre-candidate for the Republic’s presidency,’ the former paratrooper said.
The leftist leader — popular with the country’s poor for his oil-funded health care and education programmes, and blamed by a vocal opposition for rising crime, corruption and inflation — recently celebrated 10 years in power.
Chavez won a larger victory Sunday than polls had predicted, with 54.36 per cent of preliminary results compared with 45.63 per cent for the opposition, according to the National Electoral Council. More than 11 million people out of some 17 million eligible voters took part, said Tibisay Lucena, the council’s president.
Officials congratulated Venezuelans for voting calmly, while the opposition criticised Chavez’s massive state-sponsored campaign.
‘This was the campaign with most abuses of public resources that we have ever seen,’ said Carlos Vecchio, a member of an opposition grouping.
‘We surpassed five million votes,’ another opposition leader, Omar Barboza, pointed out proudly.
Critics charge that Chavez has too much power, with influence over the courts, lawmakers and the election council.
From Buenos Aires to Havana and beyond, many watched the vote on the future of the fierce anti-liberal US foe and Latin American leftist champion.
Chavez said he received his first congratulations from his mentor, former Cuban president Fidel Castro.
‘This victory is also yours, Fidel, of the Cuban people and of the people of Latin America,’ responded Chavez.
The victory strengthens Chavez’s mandate and could prompt him to expand his socialist drive, which has included nationalisations and greater state control over the economy in recent years.
But it also comes amid warnings that his social programmes could be hard hit by tumbling oil prices.
Venezuelans voted on an amendment to five articles of the constitution that would grant the president, mayors, local councillors, lawmakers and governors unlimited bids for re-election.


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Novice MPs to be trained on parliamentary affairs
Nazrul Islam
The novice lawmakers, who comprise more than half of the 300-strong Jatiya Sangsad, will undergo a four-day training programme to apprise them of parliamentary rules and do’s and don’ts and help them to be effective and productive parliamentarians, officials said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also the Leader of the House, is expected to inaugurate the programme at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel on February 22.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Khaleda Zia, is also expected to deliver a speech at one of the training sessions to be held at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre. This training programme is being organised by the US-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
Parliamentary experts from home and abroad, veteran Bangladeshi parliamentarians and ministers will participate in the training sessions of the newly elected lawmakers, said Saiful Karim, a senior adviser of the NDI in Dhaka.
‘The novice lawmakers will be familiarised with the parliamentary norms, rules and practices that exist throughout the globe at the orientation programme,’ he told New Age.
The ninth Parliament, which came into being through the landmark December 29 elections that ended the two-year rule of a military-backed government, now has 171 novice lawmakers out of a total of 293. By-elections to seven other seats vacated by the major leaders who won in more than one constituency will take place on March 30.
Parliamentary rules, practices, conventions, constitutional and institutional matters, and parliamentary ethics and behaviour will be features of the discussions during the training course.
Two Western diplomats — James F Moriarty, the US ambassador, and Stephen Evans, the British high commissioner — will address the orientation course and the members of the diplomatic corps will also participate in the sessions.
The programme will focus on how the new lawmakers should face the challenges, particularly in solving the problems in their constituencies, implement the election pledges of their parties and maintain a judicious balance while working on matters of national importance.
The relations with the people and the media, functions of the parliamentary committees, process of legislation and the issues related to the parliament’s oversight role will also be discussed.
Each of the lawmakers will be given a certificate on the conclusion of the training course on February 25.
Officials of the Parliament secretariat said that the speaker of the Indian Lok Sahba, Somnath Chattopaddhay, and former speaker of Northern Ireland’s Parliament, Lord Alderdice, are expected to take part as resource persons during the training and orientation programme.
Lord Alderdice is the life member of the British House of Lords. He played a key role in signing the landmark Good Friday agreement for peace between the British government and Ireland in 1998.
Moreover, a member of the British House of Commons and a German parliamentarian have also been invited to the programme.
Financed by the United States Agency for International Development, the programme will also be assisted by the BRAC Institute for Governance Studies, World Bank Institute, Bangladesh Alliance for Women Leadership, International Republican Institute, Canadian International Development Agency and Promoting Governance, Accountability, Transparency and Integrity.
When asked how much money would be spent for the training programme, the NDI official declined to disclose the amount.
A special orientation programme will be chalked out for the women lawmakers in the reserved seats in March this year. The proposed one-day programme will also be attended by women lawmakers from different parts of the world. It will aim at the formation of a women’s caucus and discuss strategic issues for creating women leaders.
The programme will be organised in collaboration with Bangladesh Alliance for Women Leadership, a non-governmental organisation.


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Speaker turns down 50 BNP notices
Staff Correspondent
Jatiya Sangsad speaker Abdul Hamid on Monday rejected all 50 notices submitted in parliament by the opposition lawmakers seeking discussion on issues of ‘public importance’ by adjourning the day’s business.
‘The ministries concerned will take appropriate measures to address some of the matters while solution to a few other issues are possible within the existing laws,’ said the speaker cancelling the notices.
He also said that some of the notices ‘lack evidence’ and seemed to be ‘based on assumption’.
Lawmakers belonging to the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party submitted the notices. Jafrul Islam Chowdhury, AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon, ANM Shamsul Islam, Hafizur Rahman, Harunur Rashid and Golam Mostafa were among those who submitted the notices.
The issues they raised in their notices included dropping out of 500,000 students from schools, withdrawal of the special security force from the opposition leader’s security, slide in the remittance inflow, reported intrusion of Indian ships in Bangladesh’s territorial waters, deterioration of law and order, post-election violence, rise in the incidents of extortion, crisis of textbooks, the government’s alleged move to sign Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States and transit agreements with India, trade imbalance with India and traffic congestion in the capital.
The opposition lawmakers have been staying away from parliament since January 29 over a seating arrangement row.
The session resumed in the afternoon with speaker Abdul Hamid in the chair. He disposed of the notices on adjournment motion after the regular question-answer session. He also disposed of three call attention notices by ruling party lawmakers Nurul Islam Sujon of Panchagar 2, Mostaq Ahmed Ruhi from Netrakona 1 and Imaj Uddin Pramanik of Naogaon 4.
As many as eight lawmakers took part in the general discussion on thanks motion on the presidential address. The immediate-past president Iajuddin Ahmed delivered his conventional speech on January 25, the first sitting of the ninth parliament.
On February 2, the speaker turned down 21 other notices demanding discussion by adjourning the business of the day on similar grounds.
Former speaker Jamir Uddin Sircar had also cancelled several thousand adjournment motions placed by the then opposition lawmakers in the eighth parliament.


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TRIAL OF WAR CRIMINALS
Dhaka should not seek Pak coop
right now: special envoy
Staff Correspondent
Islamabad felt that Dhaka should not ‘at this moment’ seek its cooperation for holding the trial of the war criminals as the countries had other issues to concentrate on to further improve the bilateral ties.
This was stated by the visiting envoy, Mirza Zia Ispahani, the special envoy of the Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, after his meeting with the foreign minister, Dipu Moni at the latter’s office Monday evening.
Ispahani arrived in the capital Monday afternoon on a five-day tour to convey the good wishes to the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina on behalf of the Pakistani president.
Responding to a query about what would be Pakistan’s response in cooperating with Bangladesh to hold the trial of the war criminals of 1971, he said, ‘I think it [the issue] should not go now at this moment as we have so many other issues to concentrate on to strengthen the ties with Bangladesh.’
He declined to make any comment on whether the Awami League government would go ahead with one of its major election pledges to hold the trial of the war criminals.
In reply to a question whether the issue was raised in the discussion, the former Pakistan ambassador in Switzerland and Italy replied in the negative.
The government, however, had sought assistance from other external partners including the United States and the United Nations over the issue.
Dwelling on the subject of the proposed anti-terror and anti-militant regional task force, the envoy said that the planned regional framework was a new and good idea.
Ispahani said, ‘We have discussed the issue. Right now it is just an idea. We have to discuss the subject with the concerned persons now.’
On the issue of apologizing for the atrocities perpetrated by the Pakistani troops during the war of independence, he said that former Pakistani president General Parvez Musharraf had apologized for that and visited the war memorial during his Dhaka visit and former Pakistani prime minister had also done the same.
The special envoy of the Pakistani president told reporters that his visit was aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries as both Bangladesh and Pakistan had newly elected governments.
Among others, the Pakistani high commissioner in Dhaka, Alamagir Babar was present during the meeting.
Earlier in the day additional foreign secretary, M A K Mahmood and director general of the South Asia wing of the ministry, Mohammad Imran received the Pakistani president’s envoy at the Zia International Airport.


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Pakistan signs sharia deal with militants
Agence France-Presse . Peshawar
Pakistan on Monday signed a deal with Islamic hardliners recognising the rule of sharia law in the northwest Swat valley in a bid to end violence in the troubled region.
The agreement came as a suspected US missile strike destroyed an Afghan Taliban camp, killing 26 people in the tribal area of Kurram, security officials said.
The sharia deal, widely seen as a government concession to militants, followed talks between ministers in the troubled North West Frontier Province and a local militant leader, Soofi Mohammad, on formalising the implementation of Islamic law.
The agreement will cover Pakistan’s Malakand area, one of the districts of NWFP, which includes the Swat valley and is home to around three million of the estimated 20 million people who live in the northwest province.
‘All laws against sharia will be abolished and sharia will be enforced under this justice system,’ provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters in the regional capital Peshawar.
‘The implementation of this agreement will be done with the establishment of peace in the region when the writ of the government is restored,’ said a copy of the deal, signed by ministers and Maulana Mohammad Alam, Soofi’s deputy.
The Islamists vowed to disarm once Islamic justice was established.
‘We are satisfied. When sharia is implemented practically, people will lay down their arms,’ said Mohammad Iqbal Khan, a senior follower of Mohammad.
‘We will soon convene a meeting of our shura (consultative council) after which Soofi Mohammad will visit Swat and convince the Taliban there to disarm,’ Khan added.
Until two years ago, Swat was a jewel in the crown of Pakistani tourism, frequented by foreign and local holidaymakers.
But the region descended into chaos after radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah embarked on a violent campaign to enforce Taliban-style sharia law, prompting tens of thousands to flee and suffocating day-to-day life.
Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said Sunday that a 10-day ceasefire, announced as a ‘goodwill gesture,’ could become permanent if a deal were signed on Monday.
Pakistan, under massive Western pressure to clamp down on extremists, has deployed its poorly equipped military to try to flush out the militants and wrest back control of Swat.
But despite the military campaign, the government believes negotiations are the best hope of restoring peace, although past deals have collapsed. An agreement signed with pro-Taliban militants in Swat last May unravelled rapidly.
The lawless tribal areas in northwest Pakistan have been wracked by violence since hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaeda rebels sought refuge in the region after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled the Taliban regime in late 2001.


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Govt sticks to GDP growth at 6.5pc despite negative WB forecast
Inflation revised at 7pc from earlier 9pc
Staff Correspondent
The government has decided to stick to the initial projection of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 6.5 per cent in the current fiscal, despite negative forecast by a lending agency.
The decision for sticking to the initial projection, set by the immediate-past interim government, was taken at a recent meeting of the national coordination council on macro-economy and fiscal measures, finance ministry officials said on Monday.
The meeting also decided to lower the annual inflation rate to seven per cent from the earlier projection of nine per cent for the 2008-09(July08-June09).
World Bank, one of the country’s main lending agencies, forecast in last November that the Bangladesh’s economy would grow between 4.8 per cent and 5.4 per cent due to global economic downturn.
The coordination council meeting, headed by finance adviser AMA Muhith, however, found that the country’s economy would not face any major adverse impact from the worst global recession in the current fiscal, added the officials.
The officials said the country’s exports grew by 17 per cent in the first seven-month of the fiscal, despite negative speculations and the remittance flow was maintaining nearly 30 per cent growth during the same period.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) research director Zaid Bakth said the growth projection still remained a bit optimistic.
Low public investment, revenue shortfall and lower than expected private sector investment are among the negative indicators of the economy, which might face adverse impact from the global meltdown, he said.
Bakth said a conservative GDP growth estimate of six per cent looks attainable.
Bangladesh Bank also projected six per cent plus growth in the current fiscal.
Bakth, however, said there was no major natural calamity in the current fiscal, which was very positive as the country still depended on agriculture sector largely for its economic growth.
About the WB growth projection, he said its forecast on the country’s garment sector for quota-free period proved to be wrong.
The WB and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were also sceptical about 6.2 per cent growth the country achieved last fiscal, despite two rounds of floods and a devastating cyclone in July-November period of 2007.
Apart from natural calamities, record price-hike of commodities, including fuel oil in the international market, pushed the country’s import cost higher putting additional pressure on the country’s balance of payment.
But powered by a bumper boro harvest last year and robust growth of export and remittance, the country overcame the losses caused by floods and the cyclone Sidr.


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BANGLADESH-MYANMAR TRADE
Border market and banking
transactions to be discussed
Khawaza Main Uddin
Dhaka is sending a technical team to Yongon next week to work out the modalities of banking transactions and of making the planned ‘border market’ operational to increase trade between Bangladesh and Myanmar, a pariah state with huge business potential.
According to trade diplomats, the two sides will try to make direct banking arrangements —mechanisms for opening letters of credit — for expanding bilateral trade which is, they think, nominal compared to the comparative advantages of both the neighbouring countries.
‘Both the countries have ample scope to increase trade and ensure mutual benefit. But lack of mechanisms such as smooth banking transactions and the communications problem hampers cooperation in trade,’ said one of them. Myanmar is considered to be Bangladesh’s gateway to Southeast Asia.
The Bangladesh delegation will comprise four members of a working group headed by a deputy governor of the Bangladesh Bank, Ziaul Hassan Siddiqui. The group was formed by the government recently to make recommendations for increasing bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Other members of the team are Mohammad Shafiqul Islam, a consultant of the commerce ministry, Mohammad Atiqur Rahman, managing director of the state-owned Sonali Bank, and Syed Mahmudul Huq, president of the Bangladesh-Myanmar Business Promotion Council.
The team has been assigned to prepare an in-depth report on how to set up a border market, as proposed earlier, and to resume cooperation between the two countries which have failed to come closer in the past three decades or so.
A similar border market of Bangladesh and India is also being talked about as part of the effort to enhance border trade between the two countries. Such a market may be covered by the proposed bilateral Free Trade Agreement, said officials of the commerce and foreign ministries.
Apart from problems in money transaction, carrying goods and commodities to and from Myanmar is hampered by serious constraints, the business promotion council told a recent meeting of the working group. The council will help the delegation to make their visit a success by providing the necessary inputs.
The members of the delegation will visit the border market which is already operational between Myanmar and Thailand in addition to holding their planned talks with Myanmar officials.
The official two-way trade, mainly in the form of border trade, between Bangladesh and Myanmar stands at around $60 million annually in value, with balance of payments tilted in favour of Myanmar. However, the extent of informal trade or smuggling is yet to be measured properly.


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156 people convicted of
graft so far: ACC
Md Moneruzzaman
One hundred and fifty-six people, including 70 politicians, have so far been convicted of corruption by the special judges’ courts set up all over the country by the military-controlled interim government, said an official of the Anti-Corruption Commission on Monday.
‘One hundreds and five people were sentenced by the special judges’ courts set up in the Jatiya Sangsad Complex and 51 by the courts outside the capital,’ the ACC’s spokesman, Hanif Iqbal, told reporters at a briefing.
The ACC on October 20, 2008 submitted a list of convicts to the interim government, informing it that 114 people including 70 politicians were convicted in graft cases under the Emergency Powers Rules 2007.
Of the 70 convicted politicians, 41 are from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, 25 from the Awami League, three from the Jatiya Party led by Anwar Hossain Manju and one from the Islami Oikya Jote.
According to Hanif, the ACC and the police have lodged 1,216 cases so far.
Eight hundred and thirty-six of the filed cases are now under investigation and the charge-sheets in 151 cases now await the ACC’s approval, said Hanif, adding that the High Court has, so far, stayed the proceedings of 344 cases including 151 which were under trial.
Trials of 370 cases have continued, including 19 cases against 18 politicians. The politicians are former ministers Mohammad Nasim, Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, Ziaul Haque Zia and Ahsanul Haque Milon, former lawmakers Kamal Ahmed Majumder, Mosaddek Ali Falu, Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu, MA Hashem, Giasuddin and Nadim Mostafa.
The convicted BNP politicians are former ministers M Morshed Khan, Najmul Huda, Shahjahan Siraj, Aminul Haque, Amanullah Aman, Mir Mohammad Nasiruddin Ahmed, Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku, Salahuddin Ahmed and Shahajahan Omar; the former lawmakers are Mosaddek Ali Falu, Ziaul Haque Zia, Monjurul Ahsan Munshi, Ali Asgar Lobi, Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan, Rashiduzzaman Millat, Naser Rahman, Md Shahjahan Chowdhury, Helaluzzaman Talukder Lalu, Hafiz Ibrahim, Shahrin Islam Tuhin, Sigma Huda, Aman’s wife Sabera Aman, Nasir’s son Mir Helaluddin Ahmed, Morshed Khan’s son Faisal Morshed Khan, Siraj’s wife Rabeya Haider, his son Rajib Siraj, Lalu’s wife Shamsunnahar Zaman, Omar’s wife Mehjabeen Farzana, Hafiz’s wife Mahfuza Sultana, Zia’s wife Nasima Haque, his son Mushfiqul Haque Zia, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s political secretary Haris Chowdhury; businessman Giasuddin Al Mamun, his wife Shahina Yasmin, Doctors Association of Bangladesh’s secretary-general AZM Zahid Hossain, his wife Rifat Hossain, former BRTC chairman Taimur Alam Khandker, BTTB’s CBA leader Firoz Miah, Sonali Bank’s CBA leader BM Bakir, his wife Najma Hossain and ward commissioner Mohamamd Chowdhury Alam.
The convicted politicians from Awami League are former ministers Mohammad Nasim, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir and Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, former chief whip Abdul Hasnat Abdullah, former lawmakers Kazi Jafarullah, Joynal Abedin Hazari, Sheikh Helal Uddin, HBM Iqbal, SM Mostafa Rashidi Suja, Haji Selim, Makbul Hossain, Shamim Osman, Awami Swechchhasebak League’s general secretary Pankaj Devnath, Munshiganj Awami League’s president Mohammad Mohiuddin, former minister Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury’s son Shahdab Akbar Chowdhury Labu, Nasim’s wife Laila Arzumand Banu, Pankaj’s wife Monika Devnath, Helal’s wife Rupa Chowdhury, Iqbal’s wife Momtaz Begum, Suja’s wife Khodeja Rashidi, Maya’s son Sajidul Haque Chowdhury Dipu, Selim’s wife Gulshan Ara Begum, Makbul’s wife Golam Fatema Tahera Khanam, his son Masudur Rahman and Masud’s wife Salma Rahman.


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Biggest ever US ‘fraud’ in Iraq
Reuters/Bdnews24.com . New York
US authorities have expanded investigations to include the alleged role of senior military officers in a long-running probe of the misuse of $125 billion during the American-led effort to rebuild Iraq immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein, according to media reports.
Investigations suggest missing funds may exceed $50 billion, making it an even bigger ‘fraud’ than Bernard Madoff’s now-infamous Ponzi scheme.
‘I believe the real looting of Iraq after the invasion was by US officials and contractors, and not by people from the slums of Baghdad,’ one US businessman, active in Iraq since 2003, has been quoted as saying.
Citing senior government officials with whom it conducted interviews, as well as court documents, The New York Times reported this week that investigators had subpoenaed the personal bank records of a colonel, now retired, in charge of reconstruction contracts in Iraq in 2003-04.
Investigators were also examining the activities of an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was a senior contracting officer in Baghdad in 2004, the Times said citing two federal officials involved in the inquiry.
Both men, who worked in a civilian contracting office, said they had nothing to hide from investigators, and the newspaper said it was still unclear what evidence there might be against them. But officials told the Times several criminal cases in recent years pointed to widespread corruption within the operation run by the men being investigated.
Part of the inquiry focuses on information given to them by Dale Stoffel, a US arms dealer and contractor who was shot dead on a road north of Baghdad in 2004, the Times said.
Before he died, Stoffel ‘drew a portrait worthy of a pulp crime novel,’ the Times reporters wrote, citing two senior federal officials: ‘Tens of thousands of dollars stuffed into pizza boxes and delivered surreptitiously to the American contracting offices in Baghdad, and payoffs made in paper sacks that were scattered in ‘dead drops’ around the Green Zone.’
Stoffel provided information about the offices where the two officers worked and was deemed sufficiently credible that he received immunity in exchange for information, according to government documents obtained by the Times as well as interviews with Stoffel’s attorney.
The investigation is also meant to ascertain whether there were connections between mid-level officials who have already been prosecuted and higher-level officials, the Times said.


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Deposition taking begins in
EC’s case against Biswas
Our Correspondent . Sirajganj
Sirajganj judicial magistrate’s court on Monday began recording depositions from the witnesses in the case filed against state minister Abdul Latif Biswas and others on charge of violating electoral rules in the upazila polls on January 22.
Judicial magistrate Sirajuddin Iqbal recorded depositions of the Sirajganj election officer-1, Nitish Chandra Dey, and the Belkuchi upazila election officer, Md Mossaraf Hossain.
The court set February 19 and 22 for recording depositions of seven other witnesses, court sources said.
The other witnesses are – Sirajganj deputy commissioner Md Humayun Kabir, police super Md Alamgir Kabir, additional deputy commissioner (general) Md Abdul Qaiyum, Belkuchi UNO and assistant returning officer Md Nasir Uddin, presiding officer Abul Hossain, and assistant presiding officer Masud Karim of Sohagpur Nutanpara primary school polling centre and Belkuchi police officer-in-charge Md Arman Hossain.
The other accused in this case are – the AL candidate for upazila chairman, Md Fazul Haque Sarker, candidate for the vice-chairman, Gazi Abdul Hamid Akand, Bhangabari UP chairman, Abdul Matin Pramanik and APS of the minister, Md Hilton Rahman.
Earlier on February 5, Sirajganj election officer-1 on behalf of the EC filed the case against the fisheries and livestock minister, Abdul Latif Biswas, his daughter Soma Biswas and four other ruling Awami League leaders for interfering with polling and violating the electoral code in Belkuchi upazila elections on January 22. EC suspended the polls on the same day.


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One killed in Bagerhat
Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Bagerhat
One labourer was killed and another went missing when a salt-laden trawler collided head on with another cargo in Buriganga canal under Mongla upazila in Bagerhat in the early Monday.
Police sources said four workers were also injured as the Khulna-bound trawler with 6,000 tonnes of salt sank after hitting the cargo. Nine out of 11 labourers of the trawlers managed to swam ashore.


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Govt recalls 4 diplomats
Raheed Ejaz
The government on Sunday called back a number of diplomats from overseas missions, including two ambassadors, indicating a major reshuffle in the diplomatic service after assumption of power by the Awami League-led alliance, sources in the foreign office said.
The two ambassadors who have been asked to join the headquarters immediately are Humayun Kabir, Bangladesh ambassador in Washington, and Maruf Zaman, Bangladesh ambassador to Vietnam.
Humayun Kabir, a career diplomat who was posted to the US during the interim-government, is learnt to have topped the list of choices for making the foreign secretary by the new government.
The sources told New Age that the officials, who had been called back, would be given posting or promoted to higher positions in foreign services hierarchy after they return home at their convenient time of a month or so.
The two other diplomats who have been called back are Mollah Farhad, counsellor at Bangladesh high commission in London, and Kabirul Yazdani, counsellor of Bangladesh mission in Singapore.
After taking over power on January 6, the Awami League-led alliance government had also called back Bangladesh high commissioner to Malaysia Khairuzzaman, who is yet to come back, however.


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India hikes defence budget by 24pc
Agence France-Presse . New Delhi
India announced Monday a hefty 24 per cent hike in its defence budget for the upcoming fiscal year as its military fast-tracks acquisitions following the Mumbai militant attacks.
‘We are going through tough times. The Mumbai terror attacks have given an entirely new dimension to cross-border terrorism,’ acting finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said as he presented an interim budget to parliament.
India blamed the November attacks, which killed 172 people in India’s financial capital, on a Muslim militant group based in Pakistan.
The 1.47-trillion rupee (29.4-billion dollar) defence allocation comprised 15 per cent of the entire budget for the financial year beginning April 1, and Mukherjee said the amount could be increased if necessary.
‘A threshold has been crossed, our security environment has deteriorated considerably. Needless to say, any additional requirement for the security of the nation will be provided for,’ Mukherjee said.
It is the steepest increase in defence spending since independence in 1947 and experts said the lion’s share would be spent on modernising the world’s fourth largest military.

Hybrid fish a threat to indigenous

Hybrid fish a threat to indigenous
species in Kurigram
Our Correspondent . Kurigram
The indigenous fish species in Kurigram is under a big threat due to rapidly increased farming and marketing of the hybrid ones.
Besides, all varieties of local fish are also on the decline in all nine upazilas of the district because of drastic fall in waters of the rivers, ponds and water bodies.
The sharp fall in production of local fish resources is also widely blamed on the indiscriminate catching of the mother fish.
The hybrids are replacing a total of 20 varieties of local fish including puti, kai, magur, baim, chital, khalisa, shol, shing, boal, pabda, tengra, bheda and lalkhalisa.
The local hats and bazars are now flooded with hybrid varieties of fish which are less tasty and nutritious than the local ones.
Poor production of the indigenous fish species has made them scarce on the markets and thrown a good number of local fishermen out of their ancestral job.
These fishermen once caught huge fish from the local water bodies and sold the same after meeting their domestic demand.
With the depletion of local fish resources in the region, the proverb ‘Bengalis are with rice and fish’ seems to have started losing its actual meaning.
Sources said unabated use of fine nets for fishing in the water bodies, their pollution and poor depth in river waters, because of filling up of their embankments by illegal encroachers are also among the reasons behind the fall in production of the local fish.
Dulal,30, Manik,33, and Kachua,38, fish traders at the musicality market, told this correspondent that very few number of the local fish species were now found in the rivers and water bodies, adding that the production will decrease more in future.
Rabindranath Roy, 52, Mustafiz,39, and Dr. Aminul Islam, buyers at the Krigram municipality market, told this correspondent that local fish were very scarce on the market, adding that even if they were found, very high prices were charged for them which was beyond the purchasing capacity of the common consumers.
According to sources at the Kurigram district fishery office, there are a total of 8,896 ponds (8817 on private owned and 79 on Khas land) on 1,109.12 hectares of land, 169 water bodies on 1,626.28 hectares of land and 13 rivers on 18,794.49 hectares of land in all the nine upazilas of the district.
Awareness should be created among people not to catch local fish from the rivers and water bodies to boost their production and this is possible only through a joint public-private initiative, the sources said.


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Mango trees budding in Rajshahi region
Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Rajshahi
With the advent of spring, mango trees have started budding massively in the greater Rajshahi region, the area known as the hub of the delicious fruit.
According to agronomists, experts and farmers that around 35 per cent mango trees had already sprouted due to favourable climatic condition.
Early departure of winter and absence of fog may be another reason for such a massive flowering of mango trees, they said.
Both the growers and officials, however, said that the coming summer is the ‘On Year’ for mango production and naturally this year the production of mango in the region will significantly be higher in comparison to the previous year that was considered ‘Off Year’ for production of natural reason.
Experts of Regional Horticulture Research Centre said most of the mango trees in Chapainawabganj, Rajshahi and other neighbouring districts have started flowering of buds due to favourable weather.
Dr Shafiqul Islam, senior scientific officer of fruit research centre, said congenial atmosphere helped for blooming 85 to 90 percent mango trees in the region. ‘The flowering began at the end of January and will continue till end of this month when all the mango trees will blossom,’ he said.
According to officials, this year may witness a bumper production of mango if the weather remains favourable during the next couple of months for this cash crop.
Dr Golam Murtoza, senior scientific officer of RHRC, however, attributed the problems like fluctuation of temperature, excessive rainfall or fog, attack of pests and insects and inclement weather for probable declining of mango production this year.
The current flowering season has already passed the first two stages. But the attacks of pest and storm in the months of Baishakh and Jaishtha remain as a major threat to the crop. ‘It has been witnessed that the young mango trees are more efflorescent than the older ones,’ he said.
Most of the commercial varieties of mango in the region are known as alternative or irregular varieties because they have the maximum yields after each alternative year. Department of Agriculture Extension sources said there are around 35 lakh mango trees of different ages on some 20 thousand hectares of land in the region.
He also said the number of young mango trees has been increasing in the region for the last couple of years following awareness created among the people.
Mango, the leading seasonal cash crop of the north-western region, commands the overall economy of especially Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj districts.
A large number of people are engaged in different jobs from nursing to harvesting and packing of mango for transportation and trading during this particular season every year.
Braja Hari Das, Deputy Director of DAE, said the region has long been producing more than 100 varieties of mangoes, including the sweetest ones like Gopalbhog, Langra, Fazli, Khirsapat, Mohanbhog and Lakhna.
‘The mango growers are habituated in producing the native varieties in traditional methods instead of using scientific system to grow newly developed varieties,’ he said.


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Potato yield likely to fall
in Barisal region
Our Correspondent . Barisal
Farmers fear sharp fall in potato production in six districts of Barisal region this season as their crop fields have been massively attacked with late blight, a fungal disease, due to inclement weather.
The ‘late blight’ virus has caused extensive damage to potato plants on vast tracts of land in Barisal, Patuakhali, Pirojpur, Bhola, Barguna and Jhalakati districts, causing worries to the farmers, locals said.
Cold wave accompanied by dense fog is mainly responsible for the virus attack on the potato fields, according to officials of Department of Agricultural Extension in Tangail.
DAE in Barisal division has set a programme to cultivate the cash crop on 13,450 hectares of land to produce 2.25 lakh tonnes of potato.
But farmers of these districts have cultivated potato on 10,483 hectares of land due to seeds and fertiliser crisis.
Farmers are now casting doubt about whether the production target could be achieved as the disease has hampered timely growth of potato plants in many areas of the districts.
Abdur Rashid and Sreemanto, farmers of Babuganj in Barisal, said the disease attacked potato on 10 hectares land out of 40 hectares in the upazila.
‘I borrowed money to cultivate potato, but my entire potato field is now affected with the fungus. I am now helpless, said Abdur Rashid.
‘I fear that massive virus attack could shatter the hope of bumper yield of potato this year,’ said Sreemanto.
Another farmer, Babu Molla of Bhola, said at least 60 per cent of potato on his eight acres of land was damaged by the diseases.
Humayan, another farmer of Nalchity upazila under Jhalakati, said late blight damaged almost 30 per cent of the plants on his 5 acres of land.
Molla Safiur Rahman, additional director of DAE in Barisal, said agriculture extension officials had promptly advised farmers to spray pesticides when the attack was at primary stage.
While farmers said they have spray fungicides following the advice of DAE officials but all of their efforts went into vain.
Besides, many farmers could not use pesticides on their potato fields due to high prices which have shot up because of high demand and scanty supply in the markets, they said.


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Housewife killed by in-laws in Comilla
Our Correspondent . Comilla
A housewife was beaten to death allegedly by her in-laws for dowry at village Mugashair under Muradnagar upazila in Comilla Saturday night.
The deceased was identified as Shapna Akhter, 22, daughter of Golam Mustafa of Nobipur of the upazila.
Locals said she got married with Kowsar Miah six years ago.
From the beginning, Kawsar used to torture her for bringing dowry money from her parental house.
On the fateful night, Kowsar and other members of his family again pressed her to bring the money from her father’s house.
They became furious and started beating her mercilessly leaving her critically injured. Later, she died on the way to hospital.

Farmers block highway in

Farmers block highway in
Rangpur for water supply
Stage agitations in Moulvibazar for fertiliser
Correspondents from Rangpur, Moulvibazar
Several thousand farmers on Monday blockaded the Rangpur-Dinajpur highway at Shaleyasha near Paglapir Bazar under Rangpur sadar upazilla for three hours demanding water supply for their boro fields.
They put up the blockade at 11.00am, which halted several hundred vehicles on both sides of the barricade that caused huge sufferings to the travellers.
The farmers alleged that the Water Development Board through the sub-canals of the Teesta barrage would supply water for irrigating to their fields during the irri-boro season.
But the WDB suddenly stopped supplying water to the canals for several weeks, which left 10 thousand hectares of boro fields covering four villages in the area dried, they alleged further.
Earlier, the farmers had repeatedly requested the WDB officials to supply water to the canals, which failed to draw their attention, they added.
Seeing the huge damage to their boro fields, the farmers became aggrieved and they put up barricade on the highway demanding water to irrigate their boro fields.
The executive engineer of WDB Rangpur divison, Shahidul Islam, and Rangpur sadar upazilla nirbahi officer, Momatajuddin, along with other officials rushed to the spot and assured the farmers of supplying water to the canals.
With their assurance, the agitated farmers withdrew the blockade.
When asked, Shahidul Islam said there was hardly any flow of water in the River Teesta as India shut all the gates of Gojoldoba barrage in the upstream. Even two thousand cusecs of water were not available in the river during the season. So, we were supplying water to different canals on rationing basis because of the acute crisis of water in the river.
Our Moulvibazar correspondent reports: Around one hundred agitated farmers of Rajnagar upazila in Moulvibazar district put up barricade to a truck laden with fertiliser at Munshibazar area on Sunday night.
They became agitated as they were not finding fertilisers at the local markets to buy for using in their boro field during the peak season.
Later, officials of local administration came to the scene and made the truck released from the fertiliser-hungry farmers, giving assurance of fertiliser supply.
Besides, the farmers at Kamarchak area in Rajnagar upazila also staged demonstration on Monday, demanding fertiliser.
Shafat Mahbub Chowdhury, Rajnagar upazila nirbahi officer, told New Age that only 140 tonnes of fertiliser were supplied for the farmers of the upazila against its demand for 420 tonnes in February.
He added that the higher authorities were informed of the fertiliser crisis.


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Launch cancer awareness programme,
say ICDRB doctors
Staff Correspondent
Oncologists and the people involved in cancer care services on Monday urged the government and non-government organisations to launch an extensive cancer awareness programme to prevent and control the deadly disease.
Addressing a roundtable organised by the Cancer Care Programme of the International Centre for Development Research Bangladesh at the National Press Club, they said that people should be made aware of the causes of cancer and importance of early diagnosis.
The roundtable, titled ‘Cancer: awareness raising, prevention and control’, was presided over by the chairman of the ICDRB, Dr Mizanur Rahman Shelly.
He said that as the result of some awareness increased by the campaign, it was seen that people are not considering cancer to be a killer disease, but many are still dying of it without any treatment due to the high cost of services and medicines.
He emphasised the need for raising awareness of the risk factors of cancer and its diagnosis. ‘Training programmes are necessary for the oncologists as well as the nurses who are involved in cancer treatment to handle those unfortunate cancer patients,’ said Shelly.
Cancer is a disease of the cells in the body. Different parts of the body such as organs, bones, muscles, skin and blood are made up of various specialised cells.
There are many different types of cells in the body, and many types of cancer arise from different types of cells. What all types of cancer have in common is that the cancer cells are abnormal and multiply in a ‘manner which is out of control’, said Dr Bimalangshu R Dey of the Harvard School of Medicine.
Each cancer is thought to start first from one abnormal cell, he said. However, certain risk factors are known to increase the chance that one or more of your cells will become abnormal and lead to cancer. The risk factors include chemical carcinogens and radiation.
Some viruses are linked to certain cancers. For example, people persistently infected with the Hepatitis B virus or the Hepatitis C virus have an increased risk of developing cancer of the liver, said experts at the roundtable.
People with a poor immune system have an increased risk of developing certain cancers. For example, people with AIDS or people undergoing immunosuppressive therapy are especially vulnerable, they said.
The executive director of the ICDRB, Enayet Karim, its chief executive officer, Masoodur Rahman Prince, international coordinator of the Cancer Care Programme of the ICDRB, Tanvir Raqib, addressed the roundtable as panel discussants, along with others.


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Rich tributes paid to Osmani
Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka
Political leaders and senior citizens Monday remembered commander-in-chief of the liberation forces General MAG Osmani on his 25th death anniversary not only as a great soldier but also as a vanguard of democracy.
He was a short-lived person but left behind the mark of a far-sighted statesman, they said. He was a close associate of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1970 elections that led the country to the War of Independence to bring freedom to the people.
Bangabir Osmani Smriti Parishad organised the event at Osmani Memorial Hall in the city Monday afternoon. The finance minister, AMA Muhith, was the chief guest and the minister for social welfare, Enamul Haque Mostafa Shahid, was the special guest.
Suranjit Sengupta MP, Rashed Khan Menon MP, Ziaul Haque Mridha MP, Nur-e-Alam Siddiqui MP, Gana Forum president Dr Kamal Hossain, president of Jalalabad Association Syed Abdul Muktadir Chowdhury, former secretary Sohel Ahmed and Siddiqur Rahman spoke, among others. President of the Smriti Parishad Syeda Muktada Khwaja was in the chair.
Paying glowing tributes to the memory of the late soldier- turned-politician, the discussants said General Osmani fought the War of Independence organising the liberation forces with professional soldiers and young freedom fighters and won the war fighting it from within the country and outside.
He has no parallel in the country’s fighting gallantry as well as in post-war rebuilding of state institutions and promoting fledging democracy as a member of the country’s constituent assembly.
They said as a soldier he never compromised values in the British army from which he started his career but also in the Pakistan army where he emerged as a big critic of erratic policies and later as an unflinching leader when he joined politics.
He resigned from parliament to protest at the amendment to constitution when BAKSAL was floated compromising multiparty democracy in 1974. The discussants said Osmani’s life and principles would remain an inspiring example in time to come and new generation politicians must learn lessons of selflessness from it.
Nur-e-Alam Siddiqui said Osmani had a strong personality and did not like telling lies and flatteries. During his electioneering when Osmani was a presidential candidate, Siddiqui made some false remarks on Osmani’s challenger late president Ziaur Rahman.
Siddiqui said when Osmani came to know of it, he was very angry and warned him not to make false remarks against his electoral rival. It was the value he had always nourished, Siddiqi said.
The present parliament should also take lesson from Osmani’s politics, he said pointing to deadlock now brewing on the floor, he observed.
AMA Muhith said after Osmani’s early retirement from army, the Pakistan government offered him the post of the chairman of Pakistan Tea Board, but he outright rejected it and later joined the Awami League to open the new front to fight for the cause of the Bangalee people.
Some discussants demanded the observance of Osmani’s birth and death anniversary by the government. A speaker from Narayanganj demanded the naming of an under construction road in the riverine city after his name.
Another discussant demanded the publication of an emblem with photos of his chequered career as a soldier and a politician-cum-statesman.


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Land commission to be formed to
resolve problems of CHT people
Staff Correspondent
The government will form a land commission to resolve the land-related problems of the indigenous people across the country, including the Chittagong hill tracts.
The indigenous people are facing various problems relating to land as they have no legal right to land, said food and disaster management minister, M Abdur Razzaque, when a seven-member delegation, led by Lord Eric Avebury, called on him at his Secretariat office on Monday.
The former Awami League government had reached and struck the Chittagong Hill Tracts peace accord with the Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti in 1997 and the present AL government is very much sincere to implement the treaty, the food minister said.
He also said that the government had already strengthened the food security programme for removing the food shortage problem in the hill tracts area.
Demanding the full implementation of the CHT peace accord, the delegation observed that about eighty per cent problems of the CHT people were likely to be resolved through solving the land-related problems.’
They also observed that the regional bodies should lead all the programmes, including the development activities, in the CHT region.
The food minister also assured the delegation that the government would take all out initiatives in implementing the accord in phases.
The delegates were Sara Hossain, Shwapan Adnan, Meghna Guhthakurta, Yoko Shiva, Chiristina Nilsson and Shirin Sultana.


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Victim Support Centre to
be launched today
Staff Correspondent
The Victim Support Centre will start functioning today to provide all kinds of legal and moral support to the women and children who are victims of repression or harassment.
The Bangladesh Police, in cooperation with 10 non-governmental organisations, is establishing the centre on the Tejgaon police station compound under the Police Reform Programme project.
The home affairs minister, Sahara Khatun, is expected to inaugurate the centre in a function at 1:00pm.
The state minister for home affairs, Tanjim Ahmed, home secretary Abdul Karim, inspector general of police Nur Mohammd, resident coordinator of UNDP Renata Lok Dessallien and European Commission ambassador Stefan Frowein will be present at the function as special guests.
Women and children victims of trafficking, acid attack, rape, sexual harassment or family repression will get service from the centre round the clock, said a release from the police headquarters on Monday.
The centre will accommodate a total of eight victims at a time and a victim can stay there up to five days. Each of the victims will be provided with all legal and medical supports and counselling to overcome the situation.
The centre, set up as a pilot project, will be a part of the ongoing police reform programme. The project activities will be expanded upon achievement of the centre, said additional inspector general of police NBK Tripura, also the national programme director of PRP.
The centre will also provide advice to the victim’s family and work for creating public awareness.
The well-trained female police will provide instant services as per the victims’ need with the help of the NGOs – Ain O Salish Kendra, Association for Community Development, Association for Correction and Social Reclamation, Aparajeya Bangla, Acid Survivors’ Foundation, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, Dhaka Ahsania Mission and Marie Stopes.


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Suspect in Purabi killing
being interrogated
Staff Correspondent
Law enforcers on Monday were extensively interrogating Swashwata, the suspected killer of the Eden University College BA student Purabi Rani Halder Poly, of Lalbagh in Dhaka.
A Lalbagh police team, led by sub-inspector Imran Hossain, recovered the body of Purabi, 23, from the kitchen of her paternal uncle’s rented residence at Rishipara in Old Town at around 10:45pm.
Neighbours said Purabi was staying with her uncle for five years while her aunty was staying at Sonargaon in Narayanganj for her job.
Most of the time, Purabi and his younger cousin, Swashwata, 22, a cultural activist, were staying alone in the residence as both the guardians had to stay outside for their jobs.
The detective branch police picked Swaswata Nath Mistry from the scene for interrogation after the incident.


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Maulana Bhasani Univ VC resigns
United News of Bangladesh . Tangail
The vice-chancellor of Maulana Bhasani University of Science and Technology, Mohammad Mominul Haque, resigned Monday on personal ground.
Mominul was appointed as vice-chancellor of the Maulana Bhasani university on May 7,
2007.
He said he had resigned from the post due to some personal obligations.


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Tremor jolts parts of northern region
United News of Bangladesh . Dhaka
A mild earthquake jolted different areas of the country’s northern region early Monday.
The tremor shook different parts of the region at about 1:40am, prompting many panic-stricken people to get out of their homes for safety.
But there have been no reports of causalities or damage due to the midnight tremor.
The intensity of the tremor could not be measured as there were no Richter scales in the impoverished northern districts.
Meanwhile, a Met Office bulletin in Dhaka said a moderate tremor, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, struck Asam in India at about at 1:35am Monday.
The epicentre of the quake was 276 kms off the north-northwest side of Agargaon Seismic Centre.


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BCS candidates break fast on
govt assurance for jobs
Staff Correspondent
The government on Monday assured the agitating 27th BCS candidates, who came out successful as per the first results but were dropped from the second one, of appointments in civil service.
The jute minister, Abdul Latif Siddiqui, and the education minister, Nurul Islam Nahid, assured the BCS candidates that they would be reinstated in jobs as per their earlier results and urged them to break their fast on Monday afternoon at the Central Shaheed Minar. After the assurance, they ended their fast.
'The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, told us to inform the agitating BCS candidates of the governments decision to reinstate them in jobs as per the first results,' Latif Siddiqui told New Age.
The establishment ministry, meanwhile, has issued a letter to the Public Service Commission Secretariat, responsible for conducting the BCS examinations, for providing detailed information about the first results of the 27th BCS examinations.
A total of 1,137 examinees of the 27th Bangladesh Civil Service completed the lengthy process towards the jobs through the results of the examinations announced in January 2007. But they were disqualified in the results announced later. They claimed that they were deprived as the government had appointed other candidates after taking fresh viva-voce.
The interim-government of Fakhruddin Ahmed gave appointments to more than 3,000 successful candidates based on the results announced in September 2008. The appointment was challenged in the High Court.
The 'deprived' candidates along with their guardians have been protesting on the Dhaka University campus, demanding of the government to reinstate them in their jobs as selected earlier.
They were continuing the fast unto death programme for the last eight days for the second time. Of them, 52 had fallen sick during the past few days. A number of them were admitted to the Dhaka Medical College hospital.
The aggrieved candidates have been demonstrating since November, 2008 on the campus, pressing for their appointments and removal of PSC chairman Sa'dat Hossain.


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Two war crime suspects sent
to jail in Rajshahi
Shoumitra Mazumdar . Rajshahi
The two arrested war crime suspects at Mohanpur in Rajshahi were sent to jail on Monday after a two-day remand in the police custody.
The Mohanpur police produced the two alleged war criminals, Daud Hossain, 70, and Nur-a-Anwar, 65, in a Rajshahi court Monday morning after a two-day police remand.
Mohammed Alamgir, judge of the court ordered to send them to jail custody.
Asaduzzaman Milon, officer-in-charge of the Mohanpur police station told New Age that both the war crime suspects had admitted during their remand that they were members of the Razakar group, the local auxiliary for the occupation forces, and were involved in murders, arson and rapes carried out in the locality during the war of independence.
'Daud and Nur admitted that they were members of the Razakar group and were involved in murders, arson and rapes in the locality during the war', Milon said, adding, 'They also produced the names of other people who were also involved in the war crimes at Mohanpur.'
The investigation officer in the case, Khoda Newaz, told New Age that they had collected a lot of information from the two alleged war criminals.
'We collected lots of information from them in connection with the war crimes ', he said, adding, 'We are now examining the information'.
Both the police officials said witnesses of the case were still alive and the trial of the case was possible under the existing criminal law.
The police arrested Daud and Nur at Mohanpur in Rajshahi on Friday in connection with a case filed on June 22, 2008 by Mejharul Sheikh, son of a slain freedom fighter Bashir Uddin.
Mejharul filed the case against 19 suspected war criminals on charge of killing his father and 14 others and committing war crimes including assisting the Pakistani occupation forces and actively taking part in rapes, murders and arson during the war of liberation.


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55 hurt in Bagerhat clash
United News of Bangladesh . Bagerhat
At least 55 people, including six police personnel, were injured in a fierce clash over trifles between two groups of villagers at Singati village under Mollarhat upazila in Bagerhat Monday.
The police and witnesses said there had been a longstanding dispute between Kabul Chowdhury and Aulad Shikdar of the village over ownership of a piece of land.


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Govt prepared to face global
meltdown fallout, says Muhith
Staff Correspondent
The finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, said on Monday that the government was prepared to face the consequences of the global financial meltdown although he did not think it would immediately affect Bangladesh's economy.
'Limited effects [of the global financial crisis] are seen as of now, but we are ready to face any situation in future,' the finance minister told parliament while responding to a supplementary question from Ali Ashraf of a Comilla constituency in parliament.
'We will have to be prepared for the future, as the crisis may have a long-term effect,' he warned.
To another starred question from Tajul Islam of Comilla-9 constituency, the minister listed the measures the government had already taken to offset the effect of global turmoil. The measures included formation of a high-powered committee, which he said, would regularly monitor the capital market.
Apart from that the Securities and Exchange Commission has strengthened its surveillance, he said.
To another question on the alleged smuggling of more than 400 suitcases by the family members of former prime minister Khaleda Zia during a foreign trip at the fag end of her tenure, the minister said that he would look into whether it was worth investigating.
Ruling party lawmakers Zillul Hakim of a Rajbari constituency asked the question.
To another question from Meher Afroz of Gazipur 5, the minister said that the authorities had frozen accounts of 298 persons or organisations while the officials of the National Board of Revenue were investigating tax evasion cases filed against individuals in the two years of interim government.
Among them the government lodged cases with the special court against 39 individuals or organisations. Verdicts in 15 cases were pronounced while the government confiscated Tk 21.69 crore in eight cases. He said bank account of none had been confiscated by the caretaker administration.


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Ctg BNP leaders assaulted by
local activists in Dhaka
Staff Correspondent
Two grassroots leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party were assaulted by the activists of Chandanaish thana unit of BNP in front of the party's central office at Naya Paltan in Dhaka on Monday when they came to face the organisational committee on revamping the party.
Witnesses said a group of activists of the Chandanaish upazila unit of BNP, led by MA Hashem Raju, waylaid the party's Chittagong south district unit president, Ahmed Khalil Khan, and acting general secretary, Sheikh Mohammad Mohiuddin, and charged them why Raju was not invited to face the committee. After a brief altercation, they attacked the two leaders.
The BNP's joint secretary general, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, who is also the in-charge of the organisational committee for interviewing the grassroots leaders of Chittagong division, brought the situation under control.
Later, Ahmed Khalil Khan told the journalists that Raju claimed himself as member secretary of the Chandanaish thana unit of BNP and wanted to be included in the team of grassroots leaders. But he was dropped from the committee long ago,' he added.
The organisational committees of BNP continued interviewing the grassroots leaders for the straight 13th day on Monday.
The committee assigned for Dhaka division interviewed the leaders of Faridpur district while the committee for Rajshahi division interviewed the leaders of Nilphamari district.
The leaders of Faridpur attributed the polls debacle to the nomination of Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid. It had irked the voters and the party activists also, they said.
Many of the grassroots leaders of Faridpur and Nilphamari found out the inaction of the committees, which served out their tenure long before, ignoring the opinions of grassroots leaders, responsible for the debacle in the elections.


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Death anniv of Kazi Aref observed
Staff Correspondent
The Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal has demanded formation of tribunals to try the war criminals of 1971 before the independence and national day on March 26.
The JSD leaders made the demand at a discussion meeting at the Shaheed Colonel Taher auditorium in Dhaka on Monday marking the 10th death anniversary of Kazi Aref Ahmed, one of the founder leaders of the party.
Speaking at the commemorating meeting, JSD president Hasanul Haq Inu said that Kazi Aref had fought throughout his life for establishing a non-communal democratic Bangladesh and his dream would be fulfilled through holding of the trials of war criminals and reconstituting the country on the spirit of the liberation war.
He demanded formation of tribunals for the trials of war criminals, before the upcoming day of independence on March 26.
On this day in 1999, Kazi Aref and four leaders of the JSD were killed by assailants on the podium of an anti-terrorism rally of the party at Kalidaspur school ground at Daulatpur upazila in Kushtia district.
With Hasanul Huq Inu in the chair, the commemorating meeting was also addressed by the party general secretary, Syed Zafar Sajjad, and its leaders Monuddin Khan Badal, Sharif Nurul Ambia, Shirin Akhter and Nazmul Haque Prodhan.
The JSD took different programmes, including placing of wreaths at the graveyard of Kazi Aref at the Mirpur Muktijodha graveyard.


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Rights watch body on people with
disabilities launched
Staff Correspondent
A new rights watch group styled Disability Rights Watch Group was formally launched on Monday with a call to build awareness in society to realise the rights of the people with disabilities.
The National Forum of Organisations Working with the Disabled organised the launching ceremony at the National Press Club in Dhaka in the afternoon with its president Khondokar Zahurul Alam in the chair.
Some of the objectives of the group are to prepare reports on violation of rights of people with disabilities and favour formulating law in their favour, assessing their life styles and to ensure that their rights are protected, said the NFOWD director, Nafisur Rahman, at the function.
The group will receive complaints about violation of rights of the people with disabilities, publishing annual report and assist other forums to build social movement for unified development, he said.
Two former advisers to the caretaker governments, CM Shafi Sami and Rasheda K Chowdhury, expressed their solidarity with the newly formed rights watch group.
The other eminent citizens who also expressed their solidarity included poet Kazi Rosy, former bureaucrat Abul Kalam Azad, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad president Ayesha Khanam, World University vice-chancellor Abdul Mannan Chowdhury, former principal information officer DP Barua, physician Shuvagata Chowdhury, environmentalist Syeda Rezwana Hasan, lawyer Naeem Ahmed, journalist Jaglul Ahmed Chowdhury, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh Iftekharuzzaman, Dhaka University teacher Shafiq Ahmed Siddiq and Bangladesh Economic Association president Kazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmed.
The speakers stressed the need for building social awareness to realise the rights of the people with disabilities.
People with disabilities are not burden of society as they can also make contribution to society if they are given the opportunity, they said.


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Body formed to investigate
attack on DU journalists
DU Correspondent
The Dhaka University authorities on Monday formed a five-member probe body, headed by the university pro-vice-chancellor Harun-Or-Rashid, to investigate the incident in which fine arts students beat up four of the university reporters on Sunday.
The Dhaka University Journalist Association arranged a press conference Monday noon and declared their next programme. The DUJA president, Mahbubur Rahman, put forth a four-point charter of demands at its office.
The demands include removal of Shishir Bhattacharya, fine arts teacher and cartoonist, cancellation of the studentship of the students involved with the attack on journalists on Sunday, compensation for the injured journalists and to those loosing valuable belongings.
They also accused Shishir for patronising the attack. While contacted, Shishir, however, denied the allegation.
Dhaka University reporters also demanded the investigation report to be published within ten working days.
They declared a human chain programme with black badge for today.


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EU assistance of €3 million for
Rohingyas and CHT people
Staff Correspondent
The European Commission has provided 3 million euros as humanitarian assistance for raising the living standard of the Rohingya refugees and providing food for the people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts who are starving after a severe rodent infestation since mid-2007.
€1 million will be spent for the improvement of the living conditions of an estimated 12,000 Rohingyas, relocated from the Teknaf camp to a plot of land in Leda, said a release of the European Commission in Dhaka on Monday.
It said that €2 million would provide additional food aid to, and help livelihood recovery of, an estimated 40,000 people living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. They have been coping with a severe infestation by rats which eat their crops since mid-2007, which has led to serious food insecurity.
The initial influx of Myanmar’s Rohingyas to Bangladesh dates back to 1978. They are genuine refugees, considered stateless people by the Myanmar authorities because of their Muslim faith and South Asian ethnicity.
The European Commission’s funds provide emergency food aid channelled through its implementing partners to tackle the increased vulnerability of the Rohingyas, as well as offering livelihood opportunities to help them to begin a new life.
Since mid-2007, the people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts have been coping with a severe rodent infestation, badly affecting the availability of food locally.
Rare seasonal flowering of the bamboo plants (every 40-50 years) has spurred rats to reproduce at an exponential rate, as they feast on the nutritious bamboo fruits and become highly fertile. The armies of rats also devour the crops in the fields as well as any stored grain in the people’s homes.


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Sarfaraz obtains Barrister at Law
Staff Correspondente
Mohammad Sarfaraz Hyder obtained Barrister at Law from Lincoln’s Inn, London recently.
Sarfaraz also secured a 2:1 grade qualification in his LLB (honours) from the University of London.
He had completed O-levels from Master Minds and A-levels from Maple Leaf International School in Dhaka. Sarfaraz is the second son of former secretary M Hyder Ali. He is the younger brother of Barrister Mohammad Zeeshan Hyder, said a release.


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