Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 4 Issue 46 | May 13, 2005 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   Straigh Talk
   Food For Thought
   In Retrospect
   Slice of Life
   Time Out
   Dhaka Diary
   Book Review
   New Flicks
   Write to Mita

   SWM Home


News Notes

It's Mohiuddin Again
In a major setback for the ruling Four-party Alliance (FPA), opposition candidate and incumbent Mayor Mohiuddin Chowdhury defeated FPA candidate Mir Mohammad Nasiruddin in the Chittagong City Corporation polls by a huge margin. Among the total votes cast, Mohiuddin, who is also a leader of Chittagong Awami League, netted 3, 50, 891 votes while Mir Nasir got only 2, 59, 410.
The margin of Mohiuddin's victory comes as a big blow for the FPA as it had put its full strength behind Mir Nasir. High-flying Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leaders and MPs went on a door-to-door campaign in the commercial capital of the country to lure voters. Tariq Rahman, prime minister Khaleda Zia's son and BNP's senior secretary general, also went to Chittagong to drum up support for the BNP candidate.
Though the elections have been declared free and fair, the Returning Officer (RO) made a last ditch attempt to change the course of the events. The beleaguered RO, who stopped announcing election results, later changed his mind after around 50,000 angry Chittagonians mobbed him to demand a resumption of the announcement. According to newspaper reports, the RO acted independently and, "the Election Commission was clearly annoyed with the pause in the results announcement".
Only time can say how the BNP-led government, which is halfway through its five-year-term, will grapple with this defeat.

Poetic Justice
Since April 11, when a nine-storoy building at Palashbari in Savar collapsed in the middle of the night, killing 61 people and injuring 84 others, Shahriar, a.k.a Sayeed Hossain, managing director of the factory, had been in hiding. On May 8, about a month after the tragedy, Shahriar and another director of the factory, Abul Hashem Fakir appeared in court for bail. It was then that Judge Mohammad Rafiqul Islam of the District and Sessions Judge's Court issued an order for the two men to be taken to jail. Lawyers of the two men, advocates Abdus Sabur, Khorshed Alam and Sanaullah Miah, appeared with them and claimed that the collapse was an accident and that the owners had paid Tk. 20 lakh to the victims' family members. They were asked why they did not appeal to the lower courts where the case was pending, and responded that they did not think that their clients would be granted bail in the lower courts. When the judge asked whether the building plans had been approved by Rajdhani Unnayan Katripakha (Rajuk), or the municipality the lawyers stated that the building was not in the jurisdiction of either RAJUK or the municipality and therefore, does not need their approval. The court then asked that the lawyers explain how the building had been constructed. Unfortunately the lawyers were not ready for such a question and failed to give a satisfactory answer to the court. Although Advocate Khorshed Alam tried to get bail for his clients by citing the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which state that if charges are brought against any criminal the court is bound to grant them bail, the judge overruled this by saying that the court will make a decision based on the allegations brought against the accused. Dhaka District Public Prosecutor (PP) Mohammad Mohsin Miah opposed the bail petition, claiming that the Savar tragedy was one of the deadliest such incidents in living memory. The main charge brought against the accused was that they constructed the factory without Rajuk approval, thereby being responsible for the tragedy that occurred a month ago. The judge, upon hearing both sides, rejected the bail petition and sent the two accused to Dhaka Central Jail. The court also fixed a hearing on May 12th for the bail petition.

Finally Enlightenment prevails
Wasa and its canal clean-up project

The Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority is coming up with a canal clean up drive this week in three selected canals as part of its effort to protect the city from water logging during the monsoon. Abdullahpur canal, the Ziabari canal in Mirpur and Uttara and the Sangbadik colony canal located in Pallobi, Modina Nagar and Adarshanagar in Mirpur are the main targets.
According to Wasa officials, this eviction drive began on March 29 on a total of 15 canals including main and branch canals and will be able to improve the drainage flow in several canals. It seems that drainage flow has improved in the Kalyanpur branch canals in the Janata Housing area in West Kafrul, as well as the Katasur and the Ramchandrapur canal in Mohammadur.
ANH Akhtar Hossain, the Wasa Managing Director, said at a press briefing held at the Wasa office that any illegal structures on the canal lands would be removed and the remaining encroachments will be demolished.
Wasa's drives on the city's canals, a total length of about 140 kilometers, include the Kalyanpur main canal and branch canals, the Begunbari canal, Mohakhali canal, the Zirani canal in Rampura, the Katasur canal in Mohammadpur, the Ramchandrapur canal in Mohammadpur, the Ibrahimpur canal and a cross-dam barrier on the Gulshan-Banani Lake.

Breathing Poison
Some 25 people fell sick after inhaling toxic fumes emitted by a newly-built fertiliser factory in Fatullah earlier this week. Another 20 people, including a Chinese engineer, were injured when angry locals attacked the factory. The factory, Hossain Chemical Complex, started emitting the poisonous gases during its test operation. People began to fall sick the same night. The locals apparently informed the factory authorities about the crisis and asked them to close it down but in vain. The general manager of the factory was quoted as saying that gases are emitted during the first few days of a factory's operation and that it does no harm to the public. Witnesses said the victims' stomachs swelled with gas and their skin turned red. A number of livestock also died and leaves of trees turned red. Neither party called the police to begin with, but Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) were later deployed in the area. The factory, which is supposed to have the approval of the government's environment department, was shut down as per a directive of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Narayanganj district the day after.

The End of an Army Legend
On May 3, Indian Lt. General Jagjit Singh Aurora, passed away due to heart failure in his sleep in a private hospital in New Delhi at the age of 89. Aurora was famous in Bangladesh because he was known as the man who oversaw the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani troups in Dhaka during the 1971 war. He was born on February 13 in 1917 in the Kalagujran village of the Jhelum district, which is now located in Pakistan. Aurora was famous for his ice-cold temperament in the face of adversity. Aside from his key role in the Bangladesh liberation was he was also well known for his part in the India-Pakistan over the disputed land of Kashmir in 1947. He assumed the charge of deputy chief of the army staff in June of 1966 as Lieutenant General, which he was until April 1967. After that he became the general officer commanding (GOC) of Eastern Sector corps headquarters from 1969 to 1973. After retiring, Aurora greatly supported India's Sikh minority cause. He opposed the security forces' "Operation Blue Star" in the Golden Temple, in 1984 and took up the cause of victims in the anti-Sikh riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Defence Minister of India Pranab Mukherjee referred to Aurora as the "principal architect" of India's victory in the Bangladesh war and carried on to say that he would be remembered as a great war strategist and great son of India. He was decorated with Padma Bhushan, a civilian award of the Indian government, and Param Vishist Seva Medal of the Indian army. He was also elected to Rajya Sabha, the upper House of Indian Parliament, in 1986, as a candidate of Shiromani Akali Dal. He is survived by a son and a daughter.



Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2005