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     Volume 4 Issue 12 | September 10, 2004 |

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News Notes

Govt destroying rally bombing evidence, claims AL
The main opposition party Awami League (AL) accused the government of destroying vital evidence of the dreadful grenade attacks on its rally to bungle investigation. Rejecting the government probe, frontline AL leaders, at a press conference on September 5, demanded the resignation of this government. Al General Secretary Abdul Jalil observed that neutral investigation would be impossible with the coalition in power, as they are involved in the crime. Referring to previous bomb explosions and huge arms seizures, Jalil said that government is trying to pass the present investigation process involving Interpol and the FBI as international investigation. He also alleged that the government halted every probe into the crimes finding the ruling alliance activists and fundamentalists in them.

In the face of Al's demand for an independent international inquiry, the government so far remained silent. However, on August 3o, in a huge public rally many Bangladesh Nationalist Party leaders accused the AL of having a hand in the grenade attack. In the AL press conference, the leaders reiterated their demand for a fresh probe into the August 21 crime under United Nations or the Commonwealth supervision.

Two policemen hanged for raping Yasmin
In the first death sentence of two policemen in the history of Bangladesh, Assistant Sub-Inspectors Moinul Haq and Abdus Sattar, convicted of raping and killing 13-year-old Yasmeen in 1995, walked the gallows on September 1. The third accused, Constable Amrita Lal Barman, was not executed, as a presidential decision on the mercy petition filed by his father is still pending. On August 24, 1995, the three policemen picked up Yasmeen, a domestic worker, who was on her way home from Dhaka to Dinajpur, promising her a lift. On the way, they gang-raped her and threw her onto the roadside where a vehicle ran over and killed her. When journalists visited the house of Abdus Sattar after his body had been handed over to his family, they were attacked by angry relatives who claimed that Sattar was executed due to false media reports.

Sher-E-Bangla Krishi University rampaged
As a result of failing eight students in their exams, the activists of he Jatiyabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) had gone on a rampage at the Sher-e-Bangla Krishi University, earlier this week.

Even though it is mandatory for each student to attend at least 80% of the classes, under the MS programmes, these students had not attended a single class. Somehow, these students had also managed to get permission from the vice-chancellor to sit for the exams.

The president and the secretary of the JCD unit, Emdadul Haque and Kamrul Islam, along with a group of activists, vandalised classrooms, the horticulture department and prevented students from attending their classes, besides misbehaving with the teachers.

The vice-chancellor was unavailable for comment as he was in an emergency meeting until 9:30 pm on that day.


Black visits Dhaka, counter-terrorism deal in the offing
In the face of the series of bomb blasts and killing of 20 people in Awami League rally on August 21, Bangladesh government is mulling over the signing of a protocol on counter-terrorism collaboration with the United States. Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan said on September 5 that Bangladesh would consider any offer from the US in counter-terror programmes in future. This, he said, would be done only after assessing Bangladesh's requirements. But, even before considering any offer from the US, Dhaka proposed a joint working groups (JWG) for more effective counter-terror operations with the US, UNB news agency said quoting meeting sources.

Joseph Cofer Black, US Senate Department's coordinator for counter-terrorism, spoke at a press conference hinting at the protocol. Before the conference, Black talked to the Indian weekly The Outlook on Bangladesh on September 5, the day he arrived in Bangladesh. In the interview titled "We are looking closely at Bangladesh" he confirmed that "some good insights from the Indian team on what is going on in Bangladesh" are being considered by the US. Seeking to develop a position on India's claim that terrorist camps in Bangladesh are inimical to the stability of the region, Black said, "We have certainly taken to heart information and the view the Indian government has of terrorist camps in Bangladesh."

Black also confirmed that the US trained Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies under their Training Assistance Programme and would soon realise the memorandum of understanding signed in May to install Pisces (Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System). Pisces is a sophisticated computer system to document passengers travelling in and out of the country and check movement of suspected terrorists. Black stayed for two days and left in his wake many questions unanswered. During the press conference he skirted all questions on presence of any terrorist outfit in Bangladesh.

Crossfire between RAB and Goons kill 5-year-old
When the anti-crime organisation Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) went to nab an alleged illegal arms dealer, 5-year-old Mayesha died in the crossfire. Mayesha, daughter of Mujibur Rahman died on the spot when Abdus Sobhan, an arms peddler, fired back at the elite anti-crime force.

Tipped off by an unnamed source, two members of the RAB contacted Sobhan posing as potential customers of illegal weapons. Sobhan fell into the trap and told the law-enforcers to meet him at a building near Mathertek graveyard. "As they went upstairs, the rest of the 11 members of the team cordoned off the house," said Mizanur, a member of the RAB team to the Daily Star. Sobhan smelt a rat and ran down the second floor; Sobhan was soon joined by two others of his group and together they opened fire on the RAB members. One of the twin bullets hit Mayesha; RAB members, meanwhile, fired back and Sobhan fell on the floor taking four bullets in the head and chest. "A witness claimed as he fell down, an angry RAB member raced to him and fired a hail at point blank range," the DS report says.

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