Thursday, May 29, 2008

'Indigenous women should be vocal for rights'

Speakers at a discussion in Rajshahi yesterday said indigenous women should raise their voice to ensure their rights.

The government had to step back from implementing the National Women Development Policy following movement against it, they said at a discussion on 'CEDAW and rights of indigenous and minority women' at the auditorium of Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Jatiya Adibasi Parishad (JAP), Institute for Environment and Development (IID) and Bangladesh Nari Pragati Sangha (BNPS) jointly organised the programme.

Constitutional status of the indigenous people is yet to be acknowledged and the condition aboriginal women is not satisfactory, said Workers' Party politburo member Fazle Hossain Badsha in his speech as the chief guest at the discussion.

He suggested that the aboriginal women get organised to join the mainstream movement for ensuring women's rights.

The government should take steps for implementing the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations against Women) as it involves proper initiative from the legal, judicial and administrative level, speakers said at the meeting.

They demanded formation of a commission on the status of women to help the government implement the CEDAW.

JAP President Anil Marandi presided over the discussion where Bangladesh Communist Party Rajshahi unit President Abdul Kalam Azad, Rajshahi Mohila Parishad President Kolpona Roy, Kakonhat municipality Ward Commissioner Morjina Begum, BNPS coordinator Shahnaz Sumi, IID Executive Director Numan Ahmed Khan, journalist Mustafizur Rahman Khan, NGO activists SK Lalon, Afzal Hossain addressed, among others.

3 held for illegally running pvt universities

3 traffickers get life in Rajshahi

A court here yesterday awarded life term imprisonment to three persons for their bid to traffick four women and a child to India through Bagha border in 2004.

The convicts are Sher Alam of Bagha, Rajshahi, Abdul Karim and absconding Kohinur Begum, both of Tangail district.

AKM Sirajul Islam, judge of Second Court of Women and Children Repression Prevention pronounced the judgment.

The convicts took the four women and the child of Tangail to Sher Alam's house at Bagha for trafficking to India, said Esmat Ara Begum, public prosecutor (PP) of the court, quoting case documents.

Law enforcers rescued them and arrested two persons on July 18, 2004.

The rescued persons are Nur Jahan, Marium, Nurun Nahar, Lal Banu and her seven-year-old daughter Rahima.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nazrul birth anniversary -- the Rajshahi way

Nazrul birth anniversary -- the Rajshahi way
Artistes take part in the cultural event Photo: STAR
The 109th birth anniversary of National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam was celebrated in Rajshahi on Sunday. Samilito Sangskritik Jote, Rajshahi organised a colourful cultural function at the open stage of Shahid Minar Mancha, Buban Mohon Park in the evening.

Different cultural organisations rendered songs, recitation, and dances.

Students from Shailee Art and Sangeet Biddyapit, Udayan Sangeetaloy, Sri Sangeetaloy, Sur-Dhoni Sangeet Biddyaloy, Silpasram Lalitakala Academy rendered Nazrul's songs.

Students from Sundaram Shilpalok Academy recited Nazrul poems.

Mancha Katha Theatre held a discussion followed by a cultural function at its premises. Nazrul exponents Abdus Salam, Aleya Mahmud, Abul Hossain, Mahmud Sarker, Monwar Hossain and Kajal Rekha participated in the discussion.

Habib, Sohag, Amjad and Rakib recited Nazrul's poetry, while Ayen Uddin, Jyoti and Sharier Joy rendered Nazul songs.

Barendra Sahitto Sangskritik Sangsad organised a discussion and a recitation at the Hasinaloy auditorium. The discussants said Nazrul's works played a pivotal role during the struggle against the British Raj as well as in the Liberation War. The great poet, they added, would remain in the public memory for his vision of love, freedom and be a spokesperson against injustice and war.

Among the speakers were Nazrul exponents M Obaidullah, Hasan Ali, Soaib Hossain, and ASM Rakib.

The cover of the fifth issue of Barendra Path, a quarterly literary magazine was displayed at the function.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Give special allocation for Rajshahi

Sangram Parishad demands

Rajshahi Rakkha Sangram Parishad (RRSP), a social vigilante organisation, yesterday demanded special allocation in upcoming budget for development of the district.

At a discussion meeting held at RRSP's Ganakpara office, they said the special allocation has become essential for implementation of nine development programmes.

Their demand includes implementation of the proposed North Rajshahi Irrigation Project for producing additional food grains and ensuring use of surface water reducing ground water use.

They also demanded gas supply through pipelines, protection of silk industries and silk growers, establishment of agriculture based EPZ and constructing new educational institutions.

They also demanded establishing a cardiology department at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, building a hospital for children and making the city a test venue for cricket.

Among others, Rajshahi Bar Association President Mohammad Yahia, freedom fighter Dr Abdul Mannan, Mahfujur Rahman Khan, engineer Tajul Islam, journalist Liakat Ali, Dr Shyamol Bannerjee spoke at the meeting presided over by RRSP convenor Zamat Khan.

Outlaw killed in Rab 'crossfire'

An outlaw was killed in crossfire between Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and his accomplices at Haripur village of Atrai upazila in Naogaon in the early hours yesterday.

The dead man, Ujjal alias Swapan of Hingalkandi village, was a member of an outlawed party, Rab said in a press release.

The rab statement said that a group of terrorists opened fire on a Rab team out on a special drive at Haripur village at around 3:40am, forcing Rab members to shoot back.

The criminals fled after a 12-minute shootout. Rab discovered Ujjal in a critically injured state and rushed him to Atrai Health complex, where he was declared dead on arrival.

The press release, quoting locals said, in addition to being an outlaw Ujjal was also a bomb expert, extortionist and an accused in a number of cases.

Rab also recovered a gun, four bombs, a 39-inch machete, a knife, two bullets, a cartridge and torchlight from the scene of shooting.

Prof Taher's family, RU teachers feel insecure as Salehi released


Family members of murdered Rajshahi University (RU) teacher Dr S Taher Ahmed and many other RU teachers are feeling insecure after release of key killer-suspect Salehi from jail.

Mahbubul Alam Salehi was freed from jail on Thursday afternoon after a Rajshahi court acquitted two persons including him. The court awarded death to four persons including RU teacher Dr Mia Mohammad Mohiuddin.

"I am anxious about security of my son and daughter. We are in fear. We cannot tell what everybody knows," said Sultana Ahmed, Taher's wife.

"We faced pressure while running the case. Now we are thinking about our security," said Taher's son Sanjid Alvi Ahmed.

Expressing anxiety over Salehi's release, several senior RU teachers of RU said they are not satisfied with the trial of Prof Taher's killing while trial of another RU teacher's killing is yet to be completed.

"Shibir men who were always after progressive teachers will be desperate after Salehi's release," said a senior teacher.

"Jamaat-Shibir men tried to influence the case by threatening the previous government to create anarchy throughout the country. They also sheltered Salehi although he was sought after by the court. His release might lead to deterioration of the law and order," said another teacher.

Prosecution lawyer Golam Arif Tipu said, "There was no eyewitness in Prof Taher murder case. The trial was done following confessional statements and circumstantial evidences."

"Salehi was acquitted on the benefit of doubt raised due to contradictions between the judicial confessions and medical reports. But the law points by which the other accused were punished, were sufficient to prove Salehi's involvement," he said.

Expressing similar opinion, another prosecution lawyer Hamidul Haque said,

"Salehi's involvement and his suspicious activities during and after the murder were revealed by judicial confessions and several witnesses."

Salehi's lawyer Abu Mohammad Selim said, "The court considered part of the judicial confessions to be true. But the part involving Salehi was not true that was proved by the post mortem report".

He added that the prosecution could not also prove any rivalry between Salehi and Prof Taher during the trial.

Three killers Jahangir, Salam and Nazmul provided judicial confessions that Salehi put a pillow over Taher's face and sat on it after confirming his death.

They also stated that Salehi helped them dumping Taher's body into a sewerage well behind Taher's house.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Prof Taher Murder Verdict

Dr S Taher Ahmed
Prof Taher Murder
Shibir leader Salehi acquitted

Verdict in RU Prof Taher murder case today


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Road sinks the day after its repair in Rajshahi

Repaired on Monday night, the road near Boalia Police Station intersection gets damaged by plying of light vehicles yesterday. Photo: STAR

'Poor services outcome of corruption in bureaucracy'

Rajshahi Education Board staffs tell meet

Ensure participation of honest candidates

Election Olympiad 2008 Begins In Rajshahi

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Star Investigation 1 Import Scandal

Front Page
Star Investigation 1
Nexus of traders, politicians, taxmen abusing PSI system to gobble up at least Tk 1,000cr revenue a year

The system for pre-shipment inspection (PSI) of imports has become riddled with corruption, and plagued by tax dodging and money laundering, depriving the country of huge amounts of revenue, reveals an investigation by The Daily Star.

Behind the large scale corruption is a nexus of some businessmen, politicians, taxmen and PSI staff who have plundered government revenues since the system was made mandatory in 2000.

The exact amount the scams have cost the country is difficult to know, but businessmen and revenue experts believe the sum is well in excess of 1,000 crore taka a year.

Now the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has been forced to act, cancelling the license of one PSI company and launching probes into the activities of others.

"NBR will go for instant actions, if it finds any PSI company involved in irregularities," NBR Chairman Muhammad Abdul Mazid told The Daily Star. "Though we have cancelled license of one company, but none of the three others is innocent."

The PSI system was introduced to help the National Board of Revenue (NBR) generate revenue by minimising corruption in customs and ending hassle for importers in clearing goods. However it is now being abused at will, and swamped by phoney declarations, under or over invoicing, false inspections and fraudulent certification of consignments.

"Name whatever latest weapon or luxury item you want, it can be smuggled in as any legal item. Let's not bother about the duty!" says a top player in the syndicate that controls much of the PSI business with a laugh.

In the course of investigation, The Daily Star came to know about numerous abuses:

Rolls Royce without doors was imported as non-usable vehicle to dodge hefty taxes. The doors arrived in different container, and the super luxury vehicle was seen on the Dhaka roads complete with snugly fitting doors. In another case, an exclusive Mercedes Benz was landed at Chittagong port and declared as scrap although it was in pristine condition.

When checked another consignment, duty-free computers became heavy-duty sophisticated photocopier machines. Containers of tennis balls turned into containers of contraband B&H cigarettes at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Kamlapur, while hugely expensive Hummer SUV vehicles were shown at least two times cheaper on the government's tax sheet than their actual value. VCDs became cigarettes after import. And there are plenty more skeletons to be found out in the NBR-customs closet.

The investigation of the taskforces as well as the Anti-Corruption Commission could not yet reveal much as the corruption web is very complicated and money-laundering network works efficiently all over the globe in the form of hundi-- the age-old underworld money transfer system.

With a grim face, the country's first-ever Tax Ombudsman, Khairuzzaman Chowdhury confirmed the untold tale of smuggling and money laundering. "What has come out so far is just the tip of a corruption iceberg. Possibly, we may never get to the bottom of it," he said.

The massive corruption went on mostly unnoticed for years until the taskforces cracked down on the Chittagong port early last year. In March, the sheer scale of abuse forced the NBR to cancel the license of PSI company Cotecna Inspection SA.

It is not the first time Cotecna has run into problems with the NBR, which has already issued several warnings to the company and dealt out several crore taka worth of fines following probes into the Swiss group's operations. Indeed the National Coordination Committee against Grievous Offences asked the Central Intelligence Cell of NBR to take legal action against Cotecna for its alleged illegal activities back in December last year.

However, the stern action of today mocked NBR's decision to award about 50 percent import areas to a relatively inexperienced company like Cotecna that has no offices in many of the main cities in countries of the blocks assigned to it-- a major qualification for the PSI job.

NBR turned to the PSI system against a backdrop of massive corruption and harassment by a significant section of customs people, but its major move failed to live up to expectation as irregularities started with awarding of first license to 3 companies, dividing countries of import in 3 blocks.

The mandatory PSI system started off on the wrong foot with then prime minister Sheikh Hasina bending the first PSI order using her 'inherent power' to award license to the Intertek Testing Service (ITS) International Limited in 2000 after the lowest bidder Inspectorate Griffith pulled out of Block A-- which includes China, Hong Kong and 45 European countries.

Without considering options for close tender or re-tender after the pullout, NBR offered the job to ITS, the highest bidder in the block, initially for 3 years at a service charge rate 0.14 percent higher than the lowest bid of 0.45 percent after the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) office weighed in brushing aside opinions of finance and law ministries.

The government charges 1 percent of value from importers, a portion of which, fixed during tender, it shares with PSI companies for their service. The combined earnings by PSI companies should be around Tk 250 crore a year, 80 percent of which they are allowed to remit.

Then NBR chairman Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury in his note stated that the prime minister ordered 'to award three blocks to three companies for the sake of public interest and to protect revenue interest.'

But the ACC is now examining the low pricing in the ITS contract through which the country allegedly missed out on over Tk 100 crore in revenue in five and half years of the deal. Buoyed by taskforce finds and ACC initiative, NBR, after all these years on April 10, issued internal note to collect information on how much ITS earned in service charges during the period from 2000-2005.

All most all the PSI companies, number of which was increased to 4 after import regions were divided in 5 blocks for the second tender in 2005, had their share of controversial contract and poor performance.

Griffith ended up with series of poor performances so much so that on expiry of its 3-year contract the block was offered to ITS, which contracted out India portion to Societe General de Surveillance (SGS). Interestingly, the change in blocks took place without tender procedure.

Though contract awarding evaluation committee was to check technical and financial qualifications of bidders, a small group of unscrupulous businessmen with political clouts found no problem in influencing the government machinery and policy-making circle through brokers. And when appointed the company started to return the favour to its backers. Insiders of the PSI sector told of numerous stories, detailing how Hawa Bhaban stalwarts cashed in on the favour returned by a certain PSI company during BNP-led coalition rule.

"Did we check history of PSI companies before appointment? We considered lobbying before awarding license," remarked prominent economist Professor Muzaffer Ahmad. "Companies that got license in our country have obtained through some linkages. Some got it through money and some through political linkage."

Declined to be named, a leading PSI executive meanwhile refused to accept the allegation that all PSI companies are graft-ridden. "The allegation of irregularities and corruption in imports were there against customs even before the PSI system was made mandatory," he argued. " And it's for sure the PSI companies helped increase government revenue significantly in last eight years. There could be some mistakes in the process. But there is provision for punitive action for that."

Genuine businessmen reap the benefits of the PSI system but unscrupulous political businessmen and their partners in crime -- a section of PSI, NBR and customs officials--- manipulate the system to dodge taxes and siphon off money abroad with the help of hundi players.

Dishonest importers always have documents of their choices, certified duly by related PSI companies, which are obligated to carry out 100 percent inspection of goods in addition to its valuation and classification job.

"I believe the PSI companies are not involved with this corruption, but some of their greedy employees are for sure getting a fair share of the graft," said a top tax official, wishing not to be named.

According to taskforce investigations, many of our politicians, businessmen and even sidekicks of lawmakers amassed staggering wealth or bought lavish properties abroad, thanks to the PSI system manipulation and hundi. Our financial system could only see legal cash transaction as documented on invoices but the hundi networks work behind the scene to complete bulk of the money transfers involved with the imports. The caretaker government is now in touch with a few countries to bring back the money laundered by some detained graft suspects.

Portion of export proceeds and remittance never enter the country after being routed into to different destinations by hundi network, confide players in the unholy league. Million of dollars can be transferred to anywhere in the world or brought in local currencies, and it will take only few minutes for hundi network to get the job done.

Meanwhile, traders can also manipulate a provision that allows importers to directly bring in goods for customs inspection, not the PSI, and get away with fines, exploiting the corrupt system.

The corruption syndicate and many of its kingpins slipped into background when the taskforces unearthed some cases of corruption through the PSI system. A PSI broker earned so much success in winning appointment that he was nicknamed Mr PSI in the circle. Mr PSI, who thrived on his links with both AL-BNP governments and NBR, went into hiding for months after taskforces and NBR moved to probe the questionable ITS contract during the AL rule.

The caretaker government has so far made some progresses in a few isolated corruption cases, feel PSI specialists, adding that it is far from tracking down the syndicated graft network, which is gobbling up country's economy and capable of creating price disorder in the import-based market.

Sources in the joint forces alleged that the syndicated graft network manipulated the market prices to cause commotion among people after the government came down hard on the racket.

The PSI companies play a dominating role in poor economies and are capable of causing embarrassment to governments. They have histories of becoming partners in corruption with government top brasses in African and third world countries.

Figures like former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her spouse Asif Ali Zardari hogged the world headlines in 2003, when a Swiss court indicted them for receiving kickbacks from SGS and Cotecna. And if investigated extensively and without any influence, a lot of high-profile names from Bangladesh will also hit world headlines, say anti-graft investigators.
appeared in The Daily Star

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Govt looks for competent vice chancellor

Rajshahi University

Unlike previous governments which appointed the vice-chancellors of Rajshahi University (RU) mainly on political consideration, the caretaker government is likely to appoint a new one considering his academic background and efficiency.

Prior to removing Prof Dr Altaf Hossain, the government talked to a number of teachers and officials in last three months to select a competent person as VC, said sources.

The process is now at the final stage, added the sources.

According to Rajshahi University Act 1973, the RU Senate is to elect a vice-chancellor.

But the governments over the past one decade have made it a tradition to select the VCs on political consideration using its executive power.

The present government is too selecting the VC ignoring the Senate.

It initiated the process for removing Prof Dr Altaf Hossain following a number of allegations including the recruitment scam against him.

According to sources, the probable candidates for the post of VC are Prof Dr AHM Zehadul Karim of anthropology department. He is also a member of the University Grants Commission.

The other candidates are Prof Dr Atful Hai Shibli of history department, and Prof Dr AKM Azharul Islam of physics department.

Meanwhile, Pro-VC Dr Mamnunul Keramat is acing as new VC temporarily.


Unlike previous governments who appointed vice chancellors of Rajshahi University on political behest over last one decade, the government this time is to employ one considering his academic background and efficiency, though bypassing rules.


Prior to removing Prof Dr Altaf Hossain, the government agencies in last three months talked to a number of key teachers and officials with an aim for selection of a competent VC, said sources.


After scrutiny into the found names, process is now at the final stage and is underway for the Chancellor's approval to government nomination, added the sources.


Meanwhile, governed by Rajshahi University Act of 1973, the RU Senate is to elect the vice chancellors as per rules.


But governments over past one decade have made it a tradition to select the VCs on political behest using its executive power.


The present government is too selecting the VC ignoring rules of electing the VC by the Senate.


In 1997, following one and half month long deadlock in the campus, the then government appointed Prof Abdul Khaleque as the VC removing the Senate elected VC Yusuf Ali.


After Khaleque, Prof Dr M Saidur Rahman Khan was once again elected as the VC by the Senate.


The newly elected government in 2001 replaced Khan with Prof Faisul Islam Faruki as it simultaneously changed vice chancellors of all public universities with politically affiliated teachers.


Prof Dr Altaf Hossain was also selected in 2005 in the same way.


The present government initiated process for his removal soon after its assuming power over a number of allegations against him including the recruitment scam.


But implementation of the process was delayed for reasons unknown.


With removal of Prof Dr Altaf Hossain on Thursday, the talk over who is going to the next RU VC has become rife among educationists of the city.


And most RU teachers and staffs demanded an honest, accomplished and efficient person at the post for saving the university from years old corruption, nepotism and economic inconsistencies.


Probable VCs

The name of Prof Dr AHM Zehadul Karim is heard among teachers and students to have been on top of the list of probable RU VCs.


A teacher and researcher of anthropology, Dr Karim is now serving as a member of University Grants Commission (UGC). He also headed a recent anti-corruption drive inside the UGC.


Prof Dr Atful Hai Shibli of History was an RU pro VC. Later he was a faculty dean at National University for four years. Many opined him to be eligible for the post.


Prof Dr AKM Azharul Islam, a scientist of Physics has been on the probable VCs lists since 90s and he was always ignored for his affiliation with Jamaat.


Meanwhile, RU Pro VC Dr Mamnunul Keramat is now given the additional duty of RU VC.


Neonatal deaths rise at RMCH

138 babies die in three months

As many as 238 babies and children died at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) in three months till March.

Of them, 30 died of low birth weight, 107 of birth Asphyxia and 101 from other diseases. They were aged up to 30 days.

Hospital records show diseases like birth Asphyxia, pre-maturity and low birth weight, malnutrition, pneumonia, neonatal tetanus, typhoid, convulsion, organo phosphorous compound poisoning, protein energy malnutrition, septicemia, pulmonary TB, pericardial effusion, diarrhoea, hepatitis, encephalitis, meningitis, jaundice, bleeding per rectum, anemia, multi-gravita, and various infectious diseases were causes of the deaths.

More than 54 per cent of the babies died from birth asphyxia, followed by low birth weight.

But RMCH authorities did almost nothing to check the neonatal deaths. Even, it is lacking essential equipment to provide proper treatment.

The authorities are yet to take any steps to create more facilities. There is no separate ward at the hospital for critical patients.

Dr M Belal Uddin of pediatrics department at RMCH however pointed out lack of awareness among mothers and regular check up, patients' late coming to hospital and early conceiving as some other important reasons for death of babies.

"Babies are deprived of nutrition in anti-natal stage and sometimes do not get breast feed due to malnutrition of mothers. Patients do not come to hospital until they are forced, mainly due to poverty and lack of awareness", he said.

Dr Tahmidur Rahman, another pediatrics physician at RMCH said, "RMCH is a tertiary hospital in the region. Patients usually come here at the last moment, which requires good facilities that are lacking undoubtedly".

Prof Dr A B Siddiqui, chairman of pediatric department, said there is no shortage of skilled manpower at three units of pediatric wards (ward no. 10, 24 and 27) at RMCH.

But other than a few oxygen cylinders and suction machine, none of the equipment is available at the hospital, making it difficult for doctors to cope with a heavy rush of new born babies, they said.

Besides problems of safe water and electricity, there is shortage of beds at the two pediatric wards which accommodate patients three times their capacity.

RU VC Prof Altaf removed

Front Page

Rajshahi University (RU) Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Altaf Hossain was removed yesterday for his alleged involvement in corruption in recruiting 545 university teachers and employees during the BNP-Jammat alliance government, education ministry sources said.

According to Section 11(2) of the Rajshahi University Act 1973, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr Mamnunul Keramat would temporarily act as new VC in addition to his present position, said an education ministry handout.

Campus sources said faculty deans, department chairs, and senior teachers thronged the campus residence of the removed VC after the ministry handout reached the university at around 6:45pm yesterday.

Prof Altaf later called an emergency meeting with faculty deans and high university officials at his residence.

He later told the press that the government took the decision in the greater interest of the nation.

The removed VC was widely criticised for his role following the arrests of eight RU teachers on charges of breaking the emergency rules in August last year. Even Dhaka University teachers demanded his removal for his role at the time.

He also incurred the wrath of his students for his failure to maintain law and order in halls of residence, especially in female dormitories. A university teacher, Dr S Taher Ahmed, was killed at his campus residence during Prof Altaf's time in office.

After the state of emergency was declared in early last year, RU teachers and students handed in memorandums to the chief adviser, demanding Prof Altaf's removal.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) conducted several investigations against top officials of some public universities and found huge financial and administrative irregularities in Rajshahi University, especially in recruiting teachers.

Prof Altaf, who became the RU vice chancellor on June 5 in 2005, was removed following UGC recommendations, sources said.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rajshahi clinic owners withdraw strike


Thursday, May 15, 2008

All private clinics in Rajshahi city stop admitting patients

All diagnostic labs also closed protesting 'unjust fining' by government
Private-owned clinics and diagnostic centres in Rajshahi city keep their shutters down following their announcement of indefinite work abstention yesterday afternoon. Photo: STAR
Around 60 private clinics and diagnostic centre owners in Rajshahi city went on an indefinite work-stoppage yesterday afternoon for what they said 'unjustified fining' by the government.

As the clinics and diagnostic centres, where around 3,500 people take treatment everyday, stopped admitting new patients and conducting pathological tests, hundreds of treatment seekers from different areas in the northern region faced problems.

The clinics, however, continued treating the patients who had already been admitted.

The action was taken just after the joint forces led by a magistrate raided four clinics and diagnostic centres and realised a total of Tk 41,000 for unhygienic surroundings and lack of necessary doctors and other staff.

At an emergency meeting yesterday evening, Clinic and Diagnostic Owners' Association (CDOA) President Dr Abdul Mannan said they closed their institutions as giving fines has exhausted them.

He alleged misbehaviour of the law enforcers when they went to Mukti Clinic owned by him.

"We operate with limited doctors, staffs and facilities so that we can survive by charging the minimum from the patients," said Mokhlesur Rahman, CDOA secretary.

"We have shut down our clinics in fear of further raids. There were over 150 clinics and diagnostic centres in the city before the emergency. Due to the drives, number of clinics went has gone down to 60," he said.

"As per the government rules, we have to keep three doctors, six nurses, six ayas and three sweepers for a 10-bed clinic but if we maintain the rules, our monthly expenditure would be much higher than our income," said Dr Arifur Rahman, owner of Cure Nursing Home.

Terming the statements of clinic owners to be baseless, Rajshahi Civil Surgeon Dr Sajjadul Islam said, "If government rules are barrier for their profit, why should they come to the business? Besides, the clinic owners were given warning several times earlier."

Indoor political activities resume countrywide

Front Page
Indoor political activities resume countrywide
Many political leaders gathered at their district party offices and exchanged greetings with each other while office staff of some of the parties were busy cleaning up the party offices.

On the very first day of their activities, almost all district level leaders of Awami league (AL) demanded the release of their party chief Sheikh Hasina before the upcoming elections. Similarly, the BNP district level leaders also demanded that their chief Khaleda Zia be released prior to the polls.

Many of the leaders expressed disappointment over the CA's address to the nation as the CA in his speech did not specify when the state of emergency would be withdrawn and address the issue of releasing the chiefs of the two major political parties of the country.

Our staff correspondent from Rajshahi reports: With no leader to organise them and having no active committee or an office in the city, the Rajshahi unit activists of BNP yesterday were seen gathering at different city points and roaming around private chambers and houses of different district and student leaders.

Out of five former lawmakers who used to lead the unit, one is behind bars, two are on the run, one fled the country and the other is now incapable of leading the party due to illness.

AL leaders in Rajshahi yesterday held their first meeting at the Kumarpara office of the party and criticised the government for an impending disaster in the agriculture sector. They also demanded party chief Sheikh Hasina's release.

Rajshahi BNP in crisis as bigwigs in jail or hiding

Party men sat at the chamber of its district president yesterday as the district unit has no office

With opening of indoor politics, the leaders and activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in Rajshahi are facing crisis due to lack of guidance in absence of party bigwigs.

One of the them is in jail and four others are hiding.

BNP has no office of its own in the city. Party men sat at the chamber of district BNP president Azizur Rahman yesterday.

The building at Sonadighi intersection that Rajshahi Red Crescent rented from Rajshahi City Corporation was used as BNP office for over a decade. After taking over of the present government in January last year, Red Crescent re-established its office there.

Another office that was running at a house at Chal Patty in the city was also closed after emergency.

Former lawmaker and Rajshahi mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu, who got 13 years imprisonment in an extortion case, is now in jail. Several other cases for corruption, tax dodging and extortion against him are under trial.

Former telecommunications minister Aminul Haque, ex-lawmaker Nadim Mostafa and Rajshahi district BNP Secretary Shish Muhammad are absconding while ex-lawmaker Abu Hena is staying abroad.

Another bigwig, ex-lawmaker Kabir Hossain is virtually inactive due to his illness.

City committee is non-existent and there is no office in the city for its workers to meet.

Former minister Aminul Haque went into hiding after declaration of emergency. He and Shish Muhammad were awarded 31 years and six months imprisonment for patronising militants of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh.

Shish Muhammad is also absconding.

Nadim Mostafa, also city BNP secretary, went into hiding after the present government's take over. Accused in several graft cases, Nadim is now living in Malaysia, sources said.

Abu Hena was ousted from the party for being vocal against involvement of Jamaat (BNP's coalition ally) behind the 2004 rise of militancy in the country. He was taken back in the party after announcement of elections (later cancelled) scheduled for January 22 last year. He went abroad about a year ago.

Due to illness, former lawmaker Kabir Hossain has refrained from any outdoor politics for a few years. However, many BNP leaders and workers regularly meet at his house for political discussions.

The last city BNP committee was formed on September 30 in 2003 with Minu as its president but Minu was later pressurised to step down.

Later following directives from BNP high-ups, Saleh Uddin Baby and Nadim Mostafa were made president and secretary of the city committee.

Nobody assumed the president's post after Baby died on November 3, 2005.

At present, the party's city unit is inactive while there are several minor groups among the workers.

Azizur Rahman is working as the district committee president while Mustafizul Iqbal was made the secretary after district BNP secretary Shish Muhammad went into hiding.

BNP activists were yesterday seen gathering at different city points and roaming around private chambers and houses of leaders.

Former lawmaker Mizanur Rahman Minu, also the central organising secretary, was at the centre of BNP politics in the district. He was the mayor of Rajshahi City Corporation for 16 years.

Denying any crisis in Rajshahi BNP, Azizur Rahman said, "We believe our leaders were implicated with false cases and one day they will be released. Now the district committee will control the activities of all other units."

129 polling centres; Politicos start opening offices


Rajshahi election office yesterday published a list of 129 probable polling centers in Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) areas. There were 130 centers in the previous list.

In the new list, earlier two polling centers at Rajshahi University School have been merged into one.

The earlier center at Madar Bux Home Economic College has been shifted to Chandipur Government Primary School.

According to sources at election office, the list will be hung at election offices at divisional, district and upazila levels and at the office of RCC executive officer till May 19.

Within the period, people can lodge their objections, if any, regarding the vote centers, the sources said.

The number of voters in RCC area now stands at 2,58,650-- 15,478 less than 2,74,128 in the earlier voter list.

Deputy Election Commissioner Sayed Muhammad Musa said Rajshahi is the first metropolitan city in the country to have a list of probable polling centers.
Front Page

Leaders and workers of political parties across the country started gathering at party offices with cautious enthusiasm yesterday as the news of countrywide lifting of the ban on indoor politics spread.

Some jubilant political leaders however were seen hugging each other and exchanging sweets.

Leaders of BNP and Awami League (AL) started chalking out political programmes demanding release of two former premiers and their party chiefs, Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina, and were waiting for instructions from their central leaderships.

Presence of BNP and Jamaat leaders and activists were, however, thin at some local party offices.

Due to many frontline BNP leaders being in jail or in hiding to evade arrest, some BNP leaders who are still free said they will observe the situation for sometime and then announce their next course of action.

Our staff correspondent from Rajshahi reported that AL workers there started gathering at the city office in Kumarpara around 6:00pm while BNP, Jatiya Party (JP) and Jamaat refrained from any activity.

There is no BNP office in Rajshahi now as the ones the party had earlier were evacuated for being illegally set up.

Rajshahi City BNP President Mosaddek Hossain said they will rent an office soon after observing the situation for a few days and they will submit a memorandum to the authorities and go on a hunger strike on Friday demanding release of their chief Khaleda Zia.

Jatiya Party and Jamaat offices there were seen closed yesterday evening.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Patient released from RMCH after 3 days 'without treatment'

Doctor was busy at private clinic, attendant alleges

Special allocation sought for silk industry in budget


Special allocation for silk industry in the next national budget was demanded at a function here yesterday.

Silk traders, labourers and development workers at the discussion also sought government assistance for the development of silk industry.

Reshom Shilpa Sartho Sangrakkhan Committee, a body to protect silk industry, and Varendra Unnayan Prochesta, an NGO, jointly organised the discussion.

Bangladesh Silk Industry Owners' Samity (BSIOS) President Manjur Faruk Chowdhury, former president of the association Liaqat Ali, Rajshahi Rakkha Sangram Parishad (a body to uphold the development of Rajshahi) Convener Zamat Khan and marginal farmers spoke at the discussion.

Manjur Faruk Chowdhury said the local silk will be able to compete in the world market if the growers get proper technological support from the government.

He said the country is now producing only 50 tonnes of silk yarn against the domestic demand for 350 tonnes.

He said Bangladesh Sericulture Board is not doing enough to attract farmers in silk cultivation.

Liaqat Ali said the silk industry people are not getting bank loans.

He demanded a separate silk policy.

Khoda Bux, a farmer, said they never get timely payment from Bangladesh Sericulture Board for their produce.

The number of people engaged in silk farming is declining, he added.

Zamat Khan attributed government apathy and lack of supervision to the poor condition of silk industry.

Silk traders and workers at a discussion held here yesterday demanded special allocation in the upcoming budget to save silk industries of Rajshahi region from ruination.

Reshom Shilpa Sartho Sangrakkhan Committee (RSSSC) and Barendra Unnayan Prochesta (BUP) jointly organised the discussion at GDRC auditorium.

Rajshahi Silk Industry and Factory Labourers' Union president Ataur Rahman chaired the discussion while BUP coordinator Rashed Ripon presented the keynote paper.

Bangladesh Silk Industry Owners' Association (BSIOA) president Manjur Faruk Chowdhury, former president Liaqat Ali, Rajshahi Rakkha Sangram Parishad conveynor Jamat Khan and several marginal farmers addressed among others.

The BSIOA president said Rajshahi silk is capable to compete in world market like China if the growers are provided with proper technologies. He revealed the country is now producing only 50 metric tons (MT) of silk yarn much lower than the demand of 350 MT.

He blame Bangladesh Sericulture Board and its research unit for growers' lack in interest in silk cultivation.

Dismantle network, funding sources of outlaws

Matin asks law enforcement agencies

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Combing operation against outlaws soon in Rajshahi

High level meeting today to review situation and strategy

A massive combing operation will be launched in outlaw infested areas in Rajshahi 'within days' to nab the criminals.

The special operation is being launched against the backdrop of the May 2 attack on Tahirpur police outpost and killing of a policeman and aimed at dismantling their organisations ahead of the planned parliamentary and local body elections, high police officials said.

The apprehension of outlaws' activity during polls surfaced following investigation into the Taherpur attack and analysis of previous killings by outlaws, they said.

Outlaws were used by political leaders in previous elections. A section of dishonest politicians maintain secret relation with outlaws and use them against opponents during election.

Home Affairs Adviser Maj. Gen (Retd) MA Matin is likely to review the situation at a divisional meeting of top officials of law enforcing agencies today in Rajshahi, the sources said.

"Outlaws or any other criminals will not be allowed to influence polls. We must achieve some good results (in action against outlaws) ahead of the elections", said Rajshahi divisional DIG Mokhlesur Rahman.

"Our forces are working to neutraliae the strength of outlaws", he said.

The divisional police chief admitted that outlaws have built a 'strong network' in Rajshahi region and they were getting funds.

Alongside the operation, campaign will be launched in outlaw-infested areas to allay fear from minds of people and to motivate them to help law enforcers to flush out the criminals.

Strength at police stations and outposts will be increased and vigilance strengthened, the sources said.

Security at jails have been tightened so that the arrested top outlaws can not contact their cadres outside.

The steps will also include engaging special intelligence units to identify outlaws, their patrons, shelter providers and sources of funding. Political leaders suspected of patronising outlaws in the past and beneficiaries of previous murders of politicians will also be under watch, they said.

However, talking to this correspondent, some senior police officials said it is difficult to gather information about outlaws as party workers belonging to different tiers do not know activities of other groups. "When one of them is caught, he can not give information about cadres in other tires", said an official.

In Taherpur incident, one group planned the attack and the other group made the attack. The attackers only carried out the order but did not know the planners, he said.
Attack On Police

Bachchu, a notorious member of banned Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP), was remanded yesterday for seven days for more interrogation.

After his arrest, Bachchu alias Nishan revealed sensational information which led to recovery of five looted arms from a pond at Naldanga in Natore on Wednesday.

Bachchu has been haunted by Rajshahi police for last four years.

Natore Detective Branch assisted by a Special Branch team from Dhaka caught Bachchu from Haybatpur on Tuesday night tracking his mobile phone.

He said Nayek Mizanur Rahman was killed on May 2 as he refused to hand over the arms.

Jahangir alias Jalal was leading the killing team of about 13 outlaws, he added.

Bachchu said the attack was planned at a meeting in the house of a peon Sajir of Taherpur College.

Meanwhile, police were searching the pond, where the looted arms were found, for 49 bullets that the outlaws looted during the attack leaving one policeman killed.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Firearms looted from police recovered in Natore

Firearms looted from police recovered in Natore
All the five firearms looted from a police patrol team at Taherpur in Rajshahi were recovered from a pond at Munjalgachha of Naldanga upazila in Natore yesterday afternoon.

Police recovered one SMG and four Chinese rifles wrapped with polythene sheets from the pond some 1.5km west of Naldanga Police Station following confession of suspected outlaw Bachchu.

Earlier on Tuesday night, Natore Detective Branch of police assisted by a Special Branch police team from Dhaka used the latest mobile tracking technology to catch Bachchu alias Nishan from Kanpara of Hoybatpur.

Bachchu's arrest and the recovery of the firearms will help arrest others involved in the attack on the police patrol team on May 2, said a police official.

Following his arrest, Bachchu confessed to being involved with the outlaw team that attacked the police patrol team. He said after the attack they went to the pond and dumped the firearms into it.

A huge team of policemen went to the pond around 10:00am yesterday and found leaflets of the outfit on the bank of the pond. They pumped out water from the pond with a shallow engine and recovered the firearms in the afternoon.

A group of outlaws of the Lal Potaka faction of banned outfit Purbo Banglar Communist Party attacked the police patrol team on May 2, killing one policeman and injuring four others.

Outlaws have carried out some 12 attacks on police in the northern districts since independence, killing at least 12 law enforcers and looting 28 firearms in just four attacks in the last five and a half years.

This was the first incident of recovery of firearms looted by outlaws.

"We are happy but not satisfied yet. Our operation will continue until all the responsible persons are arrested," said Mokhlesur Rahman, Rajshahi divisional deputy inspector general of police who rushed to Naldanga following the recovery.

"Eliminating outlaws will take time and we have already devoted on this issue like curbing militancy," he said.
Dr Taher Murder
The verdict in the Rajshahi University teacher Dr Sheikh Taher Ahmed murder case will be delivered on May 22.

Rajshahi speedy trial tribunal fixed the date on Tuesday when the three-day argument between lawyers of state and accused sides concluded. The argument began on May 4.

Journalists are not allowed at the court room to follow the trial proceedings since the case was shifted to the speedy trial tribunal.

The sensational murder trial started on June 18 last year against six people, including RU teacher Dr Mia Mohammad Mohiuddin, and former RU Shibir president Mahbubul Alam Salehi.

Other accused are -- Jahangir, his brother Salam and brother-in-law Nazmul and Azimuddin Munshi.

Salehi and Mohiuddin of same department masterminded the killing promising hired killers with computers and jobs. Mohiuddin is on bail.

Dr Taher, a senior professor of geology and mining department, was killed on February 1, 2006 and his body was recovered from a sewer behind his campus residence three days later.

Kobiguru in the Northwest

(Top)The Tagore Kacharibari at Patisar and (Bottom)Tagore's boat "Padma"; most of Chaitali and Chhinnapatra were written here Photo: STAR
Rabindranath Tagore etched his mark in the country's northwestern region several times between 1890 and 1937. Historians identified reasons of his visits to be chiefly associated with his family's zamindari -- travelling and attending literary meetings in between. He stayed at Patisar, Shahjadpur and Shilaidaha.

The zamindari of Tagore family was stretched to three parganas in the northwest -- Ibrahimpur pargana with headquarters at Shiladaha, Kushtia, Kaligram pargana at Patisar, in the then Rajshahi (currently Naogaon) and Shahjadpur pargana in Pabna. Patisar was stated by many to be the main zamindari that existed till abolishment of the system.

The historic Kacharibaris at Patisar, Shahjadpur and Shilaidaha still evoke the memories of the poet.

In the late 1890, the poet visited Patisar for the first time. He described nature and people of the region in many of his letters and literary works. On the bank of the Nagor river, Patisar -- 36 kms from Naogaon and 90 kms from the Rajshahi city -- was the headquarter of his zamindari in Kaligram pargana.

In 1920, the poet established the first agriculture bank at Patisar with funds donated from his Nobel Prize money to provide his tenants with loans on very easy terms.

Two years later in November 1892, the poet came to Rajshahi (Rampur-Boalia) town upon invitation from Loken Palit, the then Judge of Rajshahi district. Akshay Kumar Maitraya and Natore's Dighapatiya Rajkumar Sarat Kumar Roy were in Rajshahi then and they held several literary gatherings at Palit's residence.

The poet read out his keynote paper on "Sikkhar Herpher" (discrepancies in education) upholding the use of mother tongue as the preferable medium of education at a discussion in Rajshahi. Rajshahi Association organised the event on November 12,1892.

Rabindranath and Palit visited Natore in a horse-drawn carriage from Rajshahi. Unfortunately, he caught a chill and Kabiraj Jadu Lahidi was employed for his treatment by the Maharaja of Natore. The poet completed Protiksha during this visit (December 4, 1892). Then he went back to Patisar by boat and stayed at Palit's house in Rajshahi where he wrote Ebar Phirao Morey.

Historians say, the poet's friendship with the Maharaja of Natore, Jagadindranath Roy, prompted quite a few visits to this northern town.

Sarat Kumar Roy, the Rajkumar of Dayarampur, in his book Rabindra Smriti, wrote, "I have heard from Akshay Babu (Akshay Kumar Maitreya) that he (the poet) and the Natore Maharaja (Jagadindranath) were the two bhuts (ghosts) of Rabindranath's Panchabhuter Diary." Panchabhut was published in the Bengali year 1304 and was dedicated to Maharaja Jagadindranath Roy Bahadur.

In 1897, the poet again came to Natore; this time to attend the three-day session of the Provincial Congress of Bengal. His elder brother, Sattendranath Tagore was the Chairman of the Congress and the Maharaja of Natore was the Chairman of the reception committee. According to sources, Tagore inaugurated the session singing Amar shonar Bangla, which later became the national anthem of our country. Also, to the opposition of the English-speaking politicians, the poet declared that the session would be conducted in Bengali. The Maharaja read the translated Bengali version of his English speech and Tagore himself translated his brother's speech.

The poet went to Patisar in 1895 while his Chaitali was in the making and then in 1908. He visited Pabna in 1912. Kobiguru visited North Bengal for the last time in 1937 on the occasion of the Punnah ceremony at Patisar.