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     Volume 5 Issue 86 | March 17, 2006 |

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News Notes

Past speaks: These pictures show how Bangla Bhai was protected by the administration in his heydays. The militant chief comes out of the Rajshahi police super's office and speaks to his cadres; he marches through the village; a The Daily Star reporter interviews him at a UP chairman's office; a police van escorts his procession. The Daily Star File Photo

Amazing Captures
Perhaps the most frustrating things about our governments is its pathetic attempt to camouflage gross violations of human rights and blatant manipulation of state machinery. The dramatic capture of two of the apparent 'masterminds' behind the long spate of bomb blasts that have killed and maimed so many of our fellow citizens, seem too good to be true.
Of course the public is relieved that the two most wanted terrorists who have trained and mentored thousands of militants (including suicide bombers) have been caught.
Every day the newspapers are filled with confessions from the arrested deadly duo, namely, Shaekh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai as well as colleagues from the lower ranks about JMB's involvement in many of the devastating bomb blasts--August 21, August 17, even the attack on writer Humayan Azad and murder of Professor Yunus of Rajshahi University. It is indeed remarkable that what the US and British investigators and agencies have not been able to do in the last five years namely nab Osama Bin Laden, our own men in black have not only captured two Kingpins of religious terrorism but even many of their henchmen, plus huge caches of ammunition and a treasury of confessions that pretty much cover all the mysterious murders and massacres from bomb blasts.
But amidst all the revelry of seeing these criminals being brought to book are some naggin questions in the mind of the public. Here are some:
1. Why was Bangla Bhai allowed to carry out his deadly campaign of torture on people right under the nose of law enforcers?
2. Why did the government repeatedly deny Bangla Bhai's existence stating that it was a figment of the media's imagination?
3. Why did he have such strong links with th epolice, UP Chairman and other members of the coalition government?
It is only when the government provides reasonable answers to these questions that the public can start believing that its 'war on terror' as a genuine one.

An Act of Generosity
Philanthropic or altruistic acts are not at all that common these days where most people are busy being part of the rat race in which acquiring the maximum amount of wealth is the ultimate accomplishment. But there are those rare instances of generosity that prove that there are good people in our society.
Matiur Rahman, editor of Prothom Alo donated his Ramon Magsaysay Award money an amount of US$ 50,000 (33 lakh taka)to three of Prothom Alo's funds- for the acid victims, the anti-drug movement and for persecuted journalists.
Rahman handed over the cheques to the represtatives of the funds at a function recently. There were also others who gave in substantial donations. Anjon Choudhury, MD of Square Toiletries Group handed over 11 lakh taka to the Prothom Alo acid victims' fund. Actor Alamgir also gave 11 lakh taka to the anti drug fund and artist Quaiym Chaudhury gave 11 lakh taka to the fund for persecuted journalists. Muhammad Aziz Khan, Chairman of Summit Group and Prothom Alo's assistance fund advisor gave 50,000 taka to each fund.
It is certainly commendable that a daily newspaper has taken such a bold and noble initiative to help the most helpless in society. What's more, Prothom Alo has encouraged many members of the society to share their wealth. We can hope that this trend of giving spreads like wild fire.

Police on the Warpath
IT triggered old memories (though not quite that old), when on the day before a pre-announced hartal last week, protestors and the police clashed against each other in Dhanmondi. The police flushed a basement of a shopping mall with the help of a water canon to get the women demonstrators out, where they had taken temporary shelter.
The law enforcers got a chance to burst out all their pent up anger on these protestors, pouncing on them and beating them up, both men and women. However, many of these men and women were simple bystanders or just trying to mind their own business, totally unaware of the episode, which had unfolded. It was a little after noon when this happened and a frantic sub-inspector was desperately trying to stop his angry men from entering basements and car parks and beating these people up.
The latest rage in the country today, the television media, gathered their gears once again to bear witness to what had happened. During a spot interview of a police officer, the media people asked him as to why he was allowing his platoon to attack these people, amongst who several were ordinary folks. The officer denied these allegations, though a number of people on the street were beaten up.
A young woman in an orange sari was beaten up as soon as she emerged from the basement to escape the flowing water inside. As soon as she got out, hordes of policewomen pounced on her and beat her up, as witnessed by a number of media people. Later on, she was dragged to a police van, where she was locked and beaten for 10 minutes until the driver of the van came and unlocked the vehicle, getting the officials out.
"These people almost killed a young policeman this morning in front of these constables, that is why they are so angry," said an on-duty police officer with his nametag removed and refusing to identify himself. However, the fact still remains that many of the beaten up were normal, ordinary citizens probably just returning home from somewhere else.

Jamal Uddin Buried
Thirty one months since his abduction, Chittagong businessman and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Jamal Uddin Ahmed was buried last week. It took the law enforcers 25 long months to recover the remains of slain Jamal from Satkainda tilla (hillock), about 25 miles off his workplace; the rest 6 months the government has spent on collecting and getting Jamal's DNA samples analysed.
At his funeral, held in the Lal Dighi Maidan in Chittagong, the slain leader's bereaved family blamed fellow BNP leader and MP Sarwar Jamal Nizam and his brother Maruf Nizam for masterminding the killing. ""They are the god fathers of the abductors and killers of our father and we demand their exemplary punishment so that no son like us has to lose his father, no wife like our mother has to lose her husband and no mother like our grandma has to lose her beloved son in such a tragic way in future," said Chowdhury Farman Reza Liton, Jamal's son. He claimed that no action had been taken even after those arrested for the abduction and killing named Nizam and Maruf as their masters.
MP Sarwar Jamal Nizam attended the funeral but hurriedly left it as soon as it was over. He claims innocence.

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