Dec 212018

BNP’s existence in the race a rare view

Pulack Ghatack: With only eight days left for the national parliamentary polls, leaders and activists of Jatiya Oikyafront are scarcely seen electioneering, though the opposition alliance has fielded candidates in all the three-hundred constituencies across the country.
Posters, pamphlets, leaflets and loudspeaker-blaring are largely sounding the presence of ruling Awami League-led grand alliance supporters in every corner of the capital and elsewhere of the country, while the opposition coalition’s existence in the race is only in name.
“The opposition is apparently outfaced before the result of the election to be held on December 30. We are not finding them in election canvassing,” said Akmal Hossain, Principle of the Lalmatia Housing Society School and College in the city.
BNP, the main component of Oikyafront, are alleging that its leaders and activists are being attacked by ruling party supporters in places, while trying to take out an election rally, since its formal start on December 10.
“This authoritarian government is using police, RAB, and all the government administration against BNP and Oikyafront leaders. Our members are being harassed, arrested, and attacked everywhere. They are not letting our candidates and supporters campaign peacefully,” BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said at a rally on Wednesday.
But some analysts say the poor presence of BNP in the electioneering is indicative of the party’s inherent weakness. BNP activists are not braving obstacles, if any, despite having a large support base, they observed.
National University Vice Chancellor Prof Harun-or-Rashid said, “BNP leaders totally failed to boost the confidence of its activists
about any possibility of their victory in the December 30 elections. Rather than competing with Awami League, the Oikyafront leaders dubbed police and the administration as their opponents from the very beginning, which was a wrong path.”
“They threatened the officers in police and civil administrations of dire consequences, once they can win and go to power. This kind of attitude appears apolitical,” Prof Harun, who is a teacher of political science, told the Daily Observer.

While roaming around some roads and alleys in the Dhaka-6 constituency -that covers Sutrapur, Wari, Gendaria and parts of Kotwali and Bangshal of the capital -this correspondent did not find any sign of election campaign by the BNP activists.
Former city mayor Sadek Hossain Khoka’s son Ishrak Hossain intended to contest from the area using the ‘paddy sheaf’ symbol of the BNP. But the party left the seat to Subrata Chowdhury, executive president of its ally Gano Forum, who has no previous association with the BNP.
Ruling Awami League, on the other hand left the seat to Grand Alliance ally Jatiya Party’s Presidium Member Kazi Feroz Rashid, who has been competing under his party’s symbol ‘plough’.
Awami League leaders and activists of the area are running the campaign for Firoz Rashid, but no BNP leaders or activists were seen to campaign for Subrata. Locals said that they saw processions of people chanting slogans for the plough, but they never saw any campaigner for paddy sheaf.
When asked some locals whether they witnessed confrontations over election campaign or found anybody to attack the paddy sheaf campaigners. They answered “No.”
“I did not see anybody disturbing BNP activists during their election campaign. But they are not in the field. I don’t know the reason,” said Mahmud Hossain, 48, a street vendor at Sutrapur.
“I do not find any paddy sheaf posters in alleyways. There are many posters for other candidates,” Yaqub Hosain, 32, a rickshawpuller in Gendaria said.
Posters or election campaign by BNP activists are rarely visible on Topkhana Road, Segunbagicha and Shantinagar, the central part of the capital.
Some people in Segunbagicha told this correspondent that they saw scuffles between two groups twice last week. Awami League men chased BNP campaigners, as they tried to bring out processions in support of Mirza Abbas, an Oikyafront candidate.
Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon, who is contesting from the ruling grand alliance in the constituency, however, trashed the allegation and said, “It is the BNP candidate and his followers, who are trying to create disturbance and terrifying the people. Our people are going door to door seeking votes from people in a peaceful manner.”
Our correspondents from different districts have reported absence of BNP’s election campaign in many places. They also reported some incidents of attacks on BNP candidates and vandalising of election camps for paddy sheafs in some places.
There are also reports of some attacks on Awami League leaders and activists and killing of three leaders of the party in separate incidents, after beginning of the election race, while no report of killing of any BNP leader was received from anywhere of the country. However the number of small-scale attacks on BNP leaders and activists was relatively high.
Apparently demoralised BNP activists, with the party’s Chairperson Khaleda Zia in jail and Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman in self exile, are not braving to take to the streets to face a minimum obstacle as they saw a bleak possibility of a win in the election.

Source: The Daily Observer

Dec 102018

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of Bangladesh KM Nurul Huda on Monday urged the judicial magistrates to perform their duty neutrally in the upcoming general election.

“You’ve to perform electoral duties applying your merits irrespective of any party, views and individuals. You are free and neutral as you are judges.

You have to apply your judicious minds,” he said while addressing a three-day briefing for the judicial magistrates at Nirbachan Bhaban in the city’s Agargaon area.

Huda said the Election Commission (EC) wants to hold a credible election as it is accountable to the nation, the constitution, political parties as well as the country’s people for holding a fair election.

He said more than 600 judicial magistrates will perform their duty from December 29 to January 1 to ensure suitable atmosphere during the polls.

Election Commissioners Mahbub Alam, Rafiqul Islam, Kabita Khanam and Brigadier General (retd) Shahadat Hossain and EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed also spoke at the briefing.

Mahbub Alam said the Commission expects active role from the judicial magistrates during the election. “If anyone shows negligence in performing his/her duty and plays biased role during the election, steps will be taken against his or her as per the act of 1991,” he added.

A total of 215 judicial magistrates took part in the briefing today. A total of 640 magistrates will be briefed in three phases.

Dec 012018

Bangladesh freedom fighters celebrates victory on December 16
The celebration of Month of Victory, commemorating the country’s victory on December 16, 1971 in the Liberation War, began with different programmes amid much enthusiasm and festivity in Bangladesh on Saturday.

Forty-seven years back on December 16, Bangladesh was liberated from the Pakistani occupation forces after a nine-month-long bloodstained War of Liberation and the supreme sacrifices of three million people and the honour of nearly half a million women.

Different socio-political, educational and cultural institutions and organisations have chalked out numerous programmes throughout the month of December to celebrate the nation’s great victory that was achieved under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The programmes include placing of wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi in capital and processions, discussions, photo exhibition and cultural events.

Different organisations observed today the first day of December 1 as the ‘Freedom Fighters Day’.

To mark the day, Muktijoddha Dibas Udjapana Jatiya Committee paid tributes to Liberation War martyrs by placed wreaths at Mirpur Martyred Intellectuals Memorial in the city at 8.30 am.

Dhaka University (DU) teachers, students, officers and employees brought out a victory procession this morning on the campus as part of the Victory Day celebration programme.

DU Vice-Chancellor (VC) Professor Md Akhtaruzzaman inaugurated the procession by releasing balloons and pigeons at the Aparajeyo Bangla in front of Arts Faculty building on the campus.

Pro-Vice Chancellor (administration) Prof Muhammad Samad, Treasurer Prof Md Kamal Uddin, Dhaka University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) President ASM Maksud Kamal, deans of different faculties, provosts of different residential halls and a large number of teachers, students, officers and employees took part in the procession.

The procession ended at Swadhinata Chattar in the historic Suhrawardy Udyan after parading campus thoroughfares including Teacher-Student Centre (TSC).

A rally was held on the premises of Swadhinata Chattar.

Addressing the rally, the DU VC said anti-liberations forces are again hatching conspiracies against the country. He urged the young generation to resist all conspiracies to continue the trend of victory over anti-liberation forces.

Besides, another function titled “First Dawn of Month of Victory” was staged at Hakim Chattar on the university campus at 7am under the arrangement of ‘Podokkhep Bangladesh’.

Prof Akhtaruzzaman attended the function as the chief guest while different cultural organizations performed music in the function.

As part of month-long programme, Bangabandhu Parishad paid homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing wreaths at his portrait on the premises of Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi here at 8am.

Besides, many other organisations organised various programmes across the country to celebrate the beginning of the month of victory.

On December 14, the nation will observe Martyred Intellectuals’ Day to commemorate those intellectuals who were killed by Pakistani forces and their collaborators during the 1971 Liberation War, particularly on 25 March and 14 December 1971.

The Victory Day of the country will be celebrated on December 16 paying homage to the martyrs for their supreme sacrifice for freeing the country from the misrule and occupation of Pakistani ruler.

On this day in 1971, the commander of Pakistan occupation army, General AAK Niazi, and his 93,000 soldiers surrendered to the allied forces of freedom fighters and Indian army at Ramna Racecourse, now Suhrawardy Udyan, in Dhaka following a miserable defeat in the war of independence that broke out in March 25.

Dec 012018

Clash over supremacy in Bishaw Ijtema ground at Tongi on December 1.

A man was killed and over 200 others were injured in clashes between two groups of devotees over establishing supremacy on the Biswa Ijtema ground in Dhaka’s outskirt Tongi on Saturday.

The clash ensued early this morning between the followers of Maulana Saad and Maulana Zubair over controlling the congregation of the Muslims at No. 1 entry gate at Tongi, Emdadul Huq, officer-in-charge (OC) of Tongi west police station said.

The deceased was identified as Ismail Hossain Modol, 65, of Munshiganj. The injured were rushed to Tongi General Hospital, Uttara Hospital and local clinics for treatment. Police and other law enforcement agencies brought the situation under control, the OC said.

Ismail was a follower of Maulana Saad Kandhalvi, top scholar of Indian Tabligh Jamaat, said Assistant Deputy Commissioner (ADC) of Gazipur Metropolitan Police, Masudur Rahman.

Tongi Ahsan Ullah Master Health Complex physician, Dr Monira Begum, said around 150 people received treatment at the hospital and more people are being admitted.

“Of them, 25 people who were severely injured, have been transferred to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Kurmitola Hospital, and other hospitals,” she said.

Supporters of Indian preacher Maulana Saad Kandhalvi, and Maulana Jubayer’s supporters engaged in sporadic clashes, chases, and counter-chases for several hours since morning, said OC Emdadul.

The trouble mongers also vandalized a number of cars and motorcycles parked at the Ijtema grounds, he said.

The clash broke out around 8am when supporters of Saad Kandhalvi tried to enter the Ijtema premises where the supporters of Maulana Jubayer had taken up position.

At one stage, the supporters of Maulana Saad broke open the main gate of the Ijtema grounds and swarmed in.

Sporadic clashes took place between the two groups, leaving Ismail dead on the spot and scores of people injured. The Tabligh men hurled brickbats at each other and attacked each other with sticks.

Tabligh Jamaat supporters leaving the Ijtema grounds area after the clash in Tongi Batar Gate area on December 1, 2018, afternoon. Commuters suffered as long tailbacks formed on the highway |Focus Bangla

Local administration takes control

Police officials of Gazipur Metropolitan police and members of Rapid Action Battalion went to the Ijtema grounds around 3pm and drove out all the people from there.

“The situation is now under control,” said OC Emdadul.

Additional police with armoured vehicles and water cannons have been deployed to avoid any untoward situation. Local administration has taken control of the grounds following a Home Ministry decision later in the day.

Meanwhile, Gazipur Metropolitan Traffic Police (South Zone) Senior Assistant Commissioner Thoai Aung Prue Marma told the Dhaka Tribune: “Thousands of Muslim devotees took up position on the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway, resulting in a huge tailback.”

Traffic ground to a halt on the highway for one-and-a-half hours in the afternoon, he said.

Vehicular movement on the western side of busy Airport Road remained at a standstill from the Airport intersection to Abdullahpur since morning, as Saad Kandhalvi’s supporters attacked followers of the other faction at the Airport intersection.

For the last couple of days, Maulana Jubayer supporters had been taking up positions on the Ijtema Maidan in Tongi. The followers of Maulana Saad started gathering in front of the maidan from 6am Saturday and took position in front of the main gate.

A follower of Maulana Saad said: “We had announced a ‘Jor Ijtema’ (a gathering of devotees before the Bishwa Ijtema) between November 30 and December 4, as a tradition that is followed annually.

“However, as thousands of devotees tried to enter the Ijtema grounds, they were denied entry by supporters of Maulana Jubayer. Madrasa students following Maulana Jubayer had already positioned themselves inside the venue with sticks.”

The devotee added that the clashes have resulted in a tense situation in the area.

Members belonging to one of the two Tabligh Jamaat factions wielding sticks during the clash on December 1, 2018 Dhaka Tribune

Maulana Shariful Islam, a supporter of Maulana Juyaber, said: “Both factions had entered a stalemate centring the Jor Ijtema, which was to be held at the Ijtema grounds.

“The Home Ministry had requested both parties to halt the Jor Ijtema until further notice, which we all agreed on. However, thousands of supporters of Maulana Saad attempted to enter the Ijtema grounds on Saturday morning, causing unrest in the area.” l

What is this fight all about?

In January, hundreds of members of the Bangladesh chapter of Islamic movement Tabligh Jamaat and some Qawmi madrasa Alems (clerics) staged a demonstration near Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, protesting the arrival of Indian preacher Maulana Muhammad Saad Al Kandhalvi.

In the face of stern opposition from a faction of Tabligh Jamaat, Saad Kandhalvi had to return to New Delhi last year without being able to join that years’ Biswa Ijtema, the second largest religious congregation of Muslims after Hajj.

The radical Islamic organization Hefazat-e-Islam initially tried to prevent Saad’s arrival because they were strongly opposed to his participation in the Ijtema and oppose his statements made during the last Bishwa Ijtema.

Their opposition stemmed from allegations of what Hefazat leaders claimed to be “controversial statements about the Quran and Sunnah” that Saad had made. Saad is the great-grandson of the founder of the Tabligh movement and head of its Indian chapter, though his leadership is disputed by the organization’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi followers.

Tabligh Bangladesh chapter split into two groups following disputes among its top leaders over establishing dominance and the visit of Maulana Saad Kandhalvi.

The conflict had also led to violent clashes between the factions on the premises of Kakrail Mosque in Dhaka in November last year.

Following that, the government had issued five directives to resolve the internal disputes of Tabligh Jamaat and carry out their activities in an organized manner, on September 18.

Tabligh Jamaat supporters leaving the Ijtema grounds area after the clash in Tongi Batar Gate area on December 1, 2018, afternoon |Focus BanglaThe circular said that Tabligh Jamaat activities around the world were known as a non-violent, peaceful and completely religious. However, the directives have been issued as recently a visible split in the organization has spread conflict in two factions across the country, which goes against religious customs and overall peaceful environment.

Currently, the followers of Maulana Saad Kandhalvi in the country are not allowed into Tabligh Jamaat Bangladesh chapter’s markaz (headquarters), the Kakrail Mosque in Dhaka.

The government later decided to postpone Bishwa Ijtema due to the ongoing dispute between the factions and the upcoming 11th parliamentary election, which is slated for December 30..

Held every winter in Bangladesh, the next Ijtema was supposed to be organized in the second or third week of January.

The decision to postpone the congregation was taken at a meeting between Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and leaders of the two factions of Tabligh Jamaat at the secretariat on November 13.

Earlier, both Tabligh factions had announced the organizing of the Ijtema on separate days in January which led to a dispute between them.

Dec 012018

Legendary freedom fighter Taramon Bibi, Bir Pratik, was laid to eternal rest on Saturday at her family graveyard in Rajibpur upazila of Kurigram district.
Taramon Bibi died at her Katcharipara residence in Rajibpur upazila town of Kurigram district at 1:30 am last night. She was 63. She is survived by her husband Abdul Mazid, 65, only son Abu Taher, 32, and only daughter Majeda Khatun, 34, family sources said.
A pall of gloom descended among the freedom fighters, political leaders, professionals, socio-cultural activists and elite of Rangpur region following the death of the veteran freedom fighter.
A smartly turned out contingent of police forces gave a guard of honour and bugle played the last post before the namaz-e-janaza of Taramon Bibi held on her Katcharipara residence courtyard at 2 pm.
Her coffin was draped with the national flag. District, police and upazila administrations, Muktijoddha Sangshad, political parties and other organizations placed wreaths on her coffin after the namaz-e-janaza to show respect to the heroic daughter of the soil.
Former Awami League lawmaker from Kurigram-4 constituency Zakir Hossain and incumbent lawmaker Ruhul Amin, Deputy Commissioner of Kurigram Sultana Pervin, Superintendent of Police Mehedul Karim, Public Prosecutor of Kurigram Advocate Abraham Lincon, former District Muktijoddha Commander Sirajul Islam Tuku, Rajibpur upazila Muktijoddha Commander Abdul Hye, Rajibpur Upazila
Nirbahi Officer Mehedi Hasan, Chilmari upazila Chairman Shawkat Ali Sarker, Bir Bikram, Civil Surgeon of Kurigram Dr Aminul Islam, freedom fighters, officials and common people attended the janaza and burial process.
Vice-chancellor of Begum Rokeya University Professor Dr Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, Rangpur Divisional Commissioner Muhammad Joynul Bari, Deputy Inspector General for Rangpur Range of Bangladesh Police Devdas Bhattacharya, Rangpur Metropolitan Police Commissioner Abdul Alim Mahmud, Kurigram Deputy Commissioner Sultana Pervin and Superintendent of Police Mehedul Karim expressed their deep shock at the death of Taramon Bibi.
They conveyed their deep sympathy to the members of the bereaved family and prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul of the veteran female freedom fighter.
Taramon Bibi took part in the War of Liberation in Sector number 11 under the command of Colonel Abu Taher at the call of Bangabandhu after being inspired by Habilder Muhib at Char Rajibpur Muktijoddha Camp.
She first started cooking for the freedom fighters — but soon began spying to gather information on movements of the occupations forces — and subsequently took part in the battles after getting arms training from Habilder Muhib.
After independence, she returned to her native Sankar Madhobpur village (now eroded by river erosion) under Rajibpur upazila and got married to Abdul Mazid in 1974.
The then government of Bangabandhu awarded Taramon Bibi the gallantry title ‘Bir Pratik’ in recognition of her courage and bravery during the War of Liberation.

Dec 012018

Bangladesh is observing the 21st anniversary of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Treaty today (Sunday).

The treaty was signed on December 2, 1997 between the government and the Parbatya Chattogram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS) during the first tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ending bloody conflicts in three hill districts.

The then Jatiya Sangsad Chief Whip Abul Hasnat Abdullah signed the agreement on behalf of the government while Joritindra Bodhipriyo Larma (Santu Larma) on behalf of PCJSS.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today issued separate messages marking the completion of 21 years of the treaty.

In his message, the President called upon all irrespective of party affiliations to work together to make use of the potentials of hill districts and for the development of the motherland.

“I believe that the peace treaty is expediting socioeconomic and cultural development of the people in CHT region,” the President said.

He appreciated the ministry for CHT affairs for taking various programmes marking the 21 years of the peace accord and wished successes of all events.

He recalled that the historic CHT Peace Accord was signed between the CHT Affairs National Committee and the PCJSS on December 2, 1997 at the initiative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ending long-standing conflicts.

“This is a glaring example of resolving disputes peacefully,” he said.

As a sequel to the implementation of CHT accord, the CHT Affairs Ministry and CHT Regional Council were formed, he said.

In her message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sought cooperation from all for full implementation of the CHT peace treaty.

She congratulated all people in the CHT districts and the countrymen on the occasion.

On December 2, 1997, the historic CHT Peace Accord was signed without the mediation of any third party, with a view to stopping bloody conflicts in the CHT, she said.

The Prime Minister said: “It’s a rare incident in the world history”.

This peace accord brought an end to the long-term bloody racial skirmishes in the CHT region and established the trend of peace and development there, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said achieving the UNESCO Peace Prize is a global recognition to the treaty.

The Prime Minister said the post 1975 governments (after the assassination of Bangabandhu) had created divisions between the Bangalee and the hill people for their self-interest instead of maintaining social stability there.

Killings, tortures and injustice, grabbing of lands and wealth and misuse of the state resources had made the region more unstable, she added.

In 2001, she said, the then BNP-Jamaat alliance government had opposed the historic peace agreement and wanted to destabilize the hilly region again. But their ill efforts went in vain, she added.

“We are pledge-bound to maintain peace across the country, including the CHT,” the Prime Minister said.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has been implementing massive development programmes in all sectors, including education, health, electricity, communications, infrastructure and mobile networks in the region.

The government has set up a Science and Technology University and a medical college at Rangamati for advancement of the region through expansion of education with providing ICT-based modern education facilities, she added.

Initiatives have been taken to resolve land disputes, she said, adding that the CHT is no more a backward locality because of the timely steps taken by the government.

Source: BSS

Dec 012018

The Election Commission (EC) of Bangladesh on Saturday directed the authorities concerned not to give permission to anyone to cast vote openly as it is illegal.

“Voting in open spaces will not be allowed. The existing law doesn’t permit this. You also cannot allow this type of activity as it will make the election questionable,” Election Commissioner Md Rafiqul Islam said, speaking at a training of the trainers at Nirbachan Bhaban in city’s Agargaon.

He said, “Don’t think about security as a number of law enforcement agencies including army will be included in the security process during the polls. There is no reason of worry about life and equipments. Be communicating with the law enforcers to keep a peaceful environment. You should remain alert so that they (law enforcers) would not go to other places without your permission.”

He said many questions are rising centering the polls. “There will be law enforcement agencies, executive magistrates and judicial magistrates in the election field. We will take more steps if needed so the people can cast their votes freely.

He urged the presiding officers and assistant presiding officers to discharge their duties with utmost sincerity.

Senior officials of the Election Commission were present in the training programme.