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,
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.
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.
Wasa and its canal clean-up
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.
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.
End of an Army Legend
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.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005