Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bangladesh disapproves natural gas price hike

DHAKA, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) rejected on Sunday a proposal by the state-run Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation or Petrobangla to raise natural gas prices to offset losses.
"We decided not to raise natural gas prices proposed by the Petrobangla as the state firm is making profit by selling gas to the consumers," said Ghulam Rahman, chairman of the BERC.
Bangladesh in 2003 formed BERC following suggestions by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to closely monitor, review and adjust country's administered oil, gas and electricity prices in accordance with the global prices.
"Petrobangla proposed to raise gas prices by nearly 66 percent on average at consumer level to pay its bills to the international oil companies (IOCs), which we do not consider just and reasonable," Rahman told reporters.
The outstanding bills of the IOCs until June 2008 is about $359 million, officials said.
Foreign companies involved in gas exploration and production in Bangladesh include Chevron of the United States, the UK's Cairn Energy, Irish company Tullow, French oil company Total SAa and Canada's Niko Resources.
Rahman said the BERC might consider to hike gas prices between 10 and 15 percent only if Petrobangla wanted to create a "gas development fund" dedicated to gas exploration and production in order to boost natural gas supply.
Bangladesh at present faces up to 250 million cubic feet of gas (mmcf) shortages every day.
"The Petrobangla has to place a new proposal for any price increase," Rahman said.
"After we received the suggestions from the BERC, we will review and discuss with the ministry to take a decision," said Jalal Ahmed, chairman of the Petrobangla.
BERC said Petrobangla is making profit as its production cost for per unit or per thousand cubic feet (mcf) is 109 taka ($1.58) and selling price is 111 taka ($1.61), meaning it is making nearly 2 percent profit.
Jalal told Reuters Petrobangla was incurring losses of 800 million taka ($11.6 million) every month, because its buying cost of natural gas from international oil companies is more than the selling prices.
Petrobangla is supplying nearly 1,800 mmcf of gas per day to the national grid, of which it buyes almost half from the international oil firms with a cost of 94 taka per unit compared with 7 taka from the Bangladeshi oil firms.
In total, Petrobangla is purchasing gas worth 2.1 billion taka a month, which it sells for only 1.3 billion taka, Jalal said. ($1=68.80 taka) (Reporting by Serajul Islam Quadir; Editing by Andrew Macdonald)

Tiger dies in Rajshahi zoo


The lone Royal Bengal Tiger of Rajshahi Central Zoo Samrat died in his cage yesterday.Refuting allegations of poor care, zoo officials said the 17-year-old tiger died of old age related diseases.Samrat was weak during last three days and the tiger reduced its daily meal of 12kg meat, said zoo veterinary surgeon M Forhad Uddin. "Captive tigers usually live less than 20 years, the average lifespan of tigers in the wild," he said.Samrat was living without a companion since June, 1997, when he was brought to the zoo.

Protesters to lose right to do AL politics, says RCC mayor

Liton warns others for taking the same road he rode before!

Rajshahi city Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, centre, introduces six Awami League nominees for constituencies in the district at a meeting of grassroots AL leaders yesterday as nomination deprived party leaders continue agitation. Photo: STAR
Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, who himself opposed party decision during the last RCC polls, yesterday said the protesters against the Awami League nominations for six seats in Rajshahi district will lose their right to do AL politics.“Sheikh Hasina's [AL chief] decision for nomination is the final. Those who are protesting should stop it immediately or they will have no right to do Awami League politics in future,” he said at the party's special workers' meeting at Rajshahi Zila Parishad auditorium.Rajshahi AL General Secretary Omar Faruk Chowdhury, also AL nominee for Rajshahi-1 constituency, chaired the meeting.A large AL faction led by district AL President Tajul Islam M Faruk is holding protest meetings demanding AL nominations to senior politicians.They criticised AL nominations to three industrialists who are newcomers to the party.At the meeting, Liton called upon all to unite for ensuring victory in upcoming election as well as to fight against the undemocratic, communal and militant forces and establish pro-liberation ideologies.All six AL nominees from the seats under district Omar Faruk Chowdhury, Prof Abdul Khaleque, Meraj Uddin Mollah, Enamul Haque, Kazi Abdul Wadud Dara and Shahriar Alam were present at the meeting.Khairuzzaman Liton himself went against the AL decision before August 4 RCC election when the party gave the AL-led combine ticket for Workers Party leader Fazle Hosain Badsha in the mayoral poll.Following Liton's role under the banner of Rajshahi Nagorik Committee, Badsha had to withdraw from the RCC mayoral race. Liton later won the election.

Badsha 'denied' alliance ticket

Awami League on Friday night changed its nominee for Rajshahi-2 constituency where Workers Party Politburo member Fazle Hossain Badsha is seeking grand alliance ticket.Prof Abdul Khaleque, central AL adviser and former vice chancellor of Rajshahi University was given the party ticket replacing Mohila AL's central vice- president Akhtar Jahan.Party sources here said Prof Khaleque was selected by grassroots leaders for party ticket but the nomination went to Akhtar Jahan. Later, Khaleque was chosen again when Akhtar Jahan refused the party ticket as she would not be eligible to vie because of her government job at Rajshahi University.However, the change indicates denial of alliance ticket to Badsha, party sources said.But some senior leaders said still there is chances for Badsha to get ticket for Rajshahi-3.

Jamaat losing battle for 3 tickets in Rajshahi

Published on November 29 at page 14

The Jamaat-e Islami demand for three seats in Rajshahi district is not gaining ground in seat-sharing negotiations with BNP making them dissatisfied.

However, the BNP is fielding heavyweight candidates envisaging their win over discords in local Awami League.

“If our man is not chosen at even a single seat, our workers would lack devotion during election campaign”, said Ataur Rahman, the city unit Jamaat Amir.

“Rajshahi is our stronghold… The intra party rivalry in Awami League over nominations will help us winning”, said Rajshahi BNP organizing secretary Alauddin Ahmed.

Jammat demanded the four-party alliance nominations for its assistant secretary general Mujibur Rahman, Rajshahi city Amir Ataur Rahman at and Bagmara upazila Amir Abdul Ahad Ali Kabiraj at Rajshahi-1, 2 and 4 constituencies.

But BNP’s former lawmakers Mizanur Rahman Minu and Abu Hena are back and their nominations are almost confirmed at Rajshahi-2 (City) and Rajshahi-4 (Bagmara) constituencies.

However at Rajshahi-1 (Godagari-Tanore), former BNP minister Aminul Haque can not return as he is fleeing abroad being convicted in a case for patronising militancy.

In his place, his brother Enamul Haque, a former Inspector General of Police (IGP) and law commission member is standing in the election.

BNP insiders said, the party tickets to Enamul and Minu are almost confirmed.

Former BNP lawmaker and senior politician Kabir Hossain is seeking party ticket at either the newly created constituency (Rajshahi-3 Paba-Mohonpur) or at his own seat Rajshahi-6 (Bagha-Charghat).

But BNP’s central office secretary Ruhul Kabir Rizvi is likely to get party ticket at Rajshahi-3 while local BNP men are advocating for the district BNP president Azizur Rahman to get party nomination at Rajshahi-6.

At Rajshahi-3, district BNP’s student affairs secretary Raihanul Haque, district Jubo Dal president Tofazzal Hossain, and former city Chhatra Dal president Shafikul Islam Milon are in the race.

Bagmara upazila BNP president Abdul Gafur wants to be nominetd at Rajshahi-4.

Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul who was lost to AL’s AHM Khairuzzaman Liton in the last Rajshahi City Corporation poll is seeking nomination at Rajshahi-5 (Puthia-Durgapur) constituency.

In absence of former lawmaker Nadim Mostafa at the seat, Abdus Sattar Mondol, Matiur Rahman Mantu and Abu Bakar Siddik are also seeking party ticket.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai Seize over, three terrorists killed in Taj

The 62-hour siege of old Taj hotel ends with the NSG killing three terrorists who were holed up inside in one part of the hotel. NSG said they are now sanitising each and every floor.

TV grab ..... Picture of an unidentified terrorist released on news channels involved in the terror attack in Mumbai on Saturday.

Indian Officials say number of people killed in Terror Attacks rises to 195 and "still counting"

Terrorists had plan to blow up Taj
Times of India NEW DELHI: In a sensational revelation by Times Now, terrorist who was caught alive had confessed to investigating agencies that they had a plan to blow up the Taj Mahalhotel in Mumbai. The terrorists had enough explosives to blow up the Taj hotel. Sources have told the TV channel that they wanted to reduce the life-size building of Taj hotel to rouble. They also believed to have told about their plan to replicate a ‘JW Marriot’, happened at Islamabad, to the Mumbai hotel. In a sense to destroy the symbol of financial strength of the country and send shock-waves all across the globe, the terrorists wanted to do a 9/11 in India. The above revelation came from the 21 year old Azam Amir Kasav, who hails from tehsil Gipalpura in Pakistan's Faridkot. On Wednesday-Thursday night Azam and his colleague opened fire at CST before creating havoc at Metro and then moving on to Girgaum Chowpatty in a stolen Skoda, and where they were intercepted by a team from the Gamdevi police station. Azam shot dead assistant police inspector Tukaram Umbale. But in that encounter Azam's colleague was killed and he himself was injured in the hand. He pretended to be dead giving rise to the news that two terrorists had been killed. However as the 'bodies' were being taken to Nair Hospital, the accompanying cops figured that one of the men was breathing.

Deccan Mujahideen: The new name in terror
HYDERABAD: The word Deccan - corruption of the word dakshin or dakhin - immediately conjures up the image of Hyderabad.But the police in Hyderabad say that they have never heard of an outfit called "Mujahideen Hyderabad Deccan,"- that has claimed to have carried the operations in Mumbai- ever before. "We haven't come across anything of this sort before," director general of police of Andhra Pradesh S S P Yadav said. "No central or state intelligence agency has ever mentioned that to us," Andhra Pradesh home minister Jana Reddy added. Analysts who are experts at picking cues from phrases and communications however feel that there could be an indirect connection of the militant group that carried out attacks with Hyderabad. "After Hyderabad was integrated with the Indian union in 1948, there was large-scale migration from the Nizam's state to Pakistan, the UK and the USA. It is possible that elements involved in the operation had some of their ancestors hailing from Hyderabad and they are using the name to connect with their original homeland," a senior police officer said. Other analysts pointed out after 1948 not only did the issue of Kashmir reach the United Nations, but even the Nizam in his last days had sent a team to the same agency seeking an independence for Hyderabad in the aftermath of the Independence of India and its Partition. Intelligence officials said that they knew that there were elements in Pakistan who still were not reconciled to the incorporation of Hyderabad to India. "We know it for a fact that in 2004, Jaish-e- Mohammad militants led by Maulana Masood Azhar had in one of their conclaves in Pakistan had decided to focus on the issue of independence of Hyderabad. What we see today is probably an assertion of this point of view," the intelligence source said. He added that with Kashmir now at the centre stage, militants want to open up another contentious issue and hope that it would have some emotive appeal. Along with Kashmir and Hyderabad, Junagadh's accession to India had also been challenged by some. But Junagadh is a small district in Gujarat and its potential for generating emotive appeal amongst ex-Junagadhi's abroad is little. Other analysts who believe that Mujahideen Hyderabad Deccan "is real and not a red herring" said that nothing called Indian Mujahideen had also been heard till the rash of terror attacks in the country in the last few months. "But it was found that the term denoted the emergence of home grown terrorists and that was proven with the arrest of many educated merchants of death. The same could be the case with Mujahideen Hyderabad Deccan," the officer said. Director general Yadav however parried questions and tried to deflect the issue saying that the term Deccan denoted Deccan plateau and could denote any place between Pune and Hyderabad. Analysts however ruled out the direct connection of any present Hyderabad citizen with the militant group because the attacks bear the stamp of a high motivated and trained foreign agency. "The most that we can see is that local underworld elements in Mumbai may have helped in the landing of the militants in the vicinity of Gateway of India. This is not the job of any local Hyderabad trained ultra," a police source said.
Terrorists used hijacked vessel
The Hindu
MUMBAI: Even as special forces continued to battle the terrorists, investigators have been working to piece together the sequence of events that led up to the massacre that started on Wednesday night.
Based on the continuing interrogation of arrested Lashkar terrorist Ajmal Amir Kamal, investigators believe the 12 terrorists who left Karachi on a merchant ship hijacked a fishing boat to facilitate their final assault on Mumbai.
According to Kamal, the group hijacked the Porbandar-registered Kuber to avoid detection by Indian Navy and Coast Guard patrols, which had a considerable presence in off Mumbai.
While one group of terrorists used the hijacked boat to land at Sassoon Docks on the eastern coast of Mumbai, a second group used a fibreglass lifeboat to row west to the Cuffe Parade fisherman’s colony.
Before leaving the fishing boat, the terrorists beheaded its captain, who Gujarat authorities have identified as Balwant Tandel, from Una village in the Union Territory of Diu. There is no word on the fate of the remaining crew of five.

Top professionals, businessmen killed in five-star carnage
Times of India
As the smoke cleared from the two south Mumbai hotels and the commandos secured these properties, friends and family were confronted with the
painful task of identifying the dead. While the Taj hotel's casualty list is still not available, the names that emerged from the Oberoi confirmed people's worst fears. The list included well-known names from Mumbai's business and social circles. Yes Bank's non-executive chairman and co-promoter Ashok Kapur, businessman Sunil Parekh, developer Pankaj Shah and solicitor Anand Bhattwere among those found dead at the Oberoi. Kapur's body was found on the 19th floor of the hotel on Friday evening. He had gone for dinner to the hotel with his wife Madhu, who managed to escape. Kapur owned a 34% stake in Yes Bank along with the bank's MD & CEO Rana Kapoor. Sunil Parekh, a businessman with shipping interests, and his wife Reshma, were also among those killed at Tiffin, the coffee shop at The Oberoi. Uma Garg, wife of Ispat Industries' executive director (commercial) Vinod Garg, was found dead on the 19th floor. She had come for a dinner meet with her husband and a team of foreign clients. Vinod Garg, however, managed to escape on Thursday. Shah and Bhatt were dining with another developer, Apoorva Parekh, at the Kandahar restaurant in the hotel. Parekh survived, but has been admitted to the Breach Candy hospital with several bullet injuries. Solicitor Bhatt, who was at the same dinner, is a senior partner with Mumbai-based law firm Wadia Gandhy. He was admired in legal circles for almost single-handedly, and quite democratically, bringing the law firm out of a slump.

Dying and maimed ask: Why me?

Harishchandra Shiverhankar scribbled furiously on a notepad, gesturing with his fingers to explain his last bloody memories of Wednesday night before waking up in an unfamiliar hospital bed.
The 56-year-old was walking towards the Metro cinema when he felt his legs collapse - a bullet had been shot through his lower back. A hand then grasped his hair, pulled back his head and a blade slit his neck. He had been caught in the vortex of violence unleashed by people who wanted to murder, not just maim.
Setting down his pad he manages to croak: "This should have never happened to me."
The office worker's story, told from his bed in Mumbai's JJ hospital, is part of a largely hidden tragedy - that behind the headlines of wealthy westerners fleeing Mumbai's terror frontline it was ordinary Indians who bore the brunt of the bloody attack on this city of 19 million people.
Next door to Shiverhankar lies Jayaram Chavan, his leg shattered by bullets. He had been running for his train home to the western suburbs amid the Victorian splendour of Mumbai's main Chhatrapati Shivaji rail terminal when two young men with guns in their hands opened fire. "I wanted to go home, that's all. Why me?"
Outside the private Bombay hospital journalists jostled for news of the three British nationals inside, but little was heard about the 70 Indians that lay next to them. Part of the reason for the lack of publicity about local casualties is that hospitals themselves have banned journalists, pointing out that the militants had targeted wards in the first wave of attacks. No one, unless they could prove they were hospital workers or related to the victims, was supposed to be allowed in. But the Guardian was allowed access by doctors keen to publicise Mumbai's suffering.
In these wards terror has given way to blood and tears. Standing in front of hospital boards displaying the dead and the nearly dead were old women in saris and burkas looking for names of loved ones lost. On blood-soaked beds friends and relatives sat tending the injured.
Indian hospitals are never places for the fainthearted. JJ hospital is one of the city's best public health centres, but yesterday its corridors were smudged with blood and staircases littered with the detritus of medical procedures: wet tissues, empty cartons and used dressings. In the wards nurses rushed from bed to bed looking after not so much human figures as writhing masses of plastic pipes attached to heaps of bandages. Only the flicker of eyes gave away the fact that a patient lay beneath.
The sense that India's creaking public health system might be overwhelmed was palpable. Users of the social media site Twitter, popular with many Indians, sent pleas for blood donors to make their way to hospitals in Mumbai where doctors were faced with low stocks and rising casualties. Wards overflowed with people and doctors said they had worked on three operations an hour.
The bodies kept on coming. In the main hallway of JJ hospital orderlies placed on the floor three bodies swaddled in white cotton. Two were young girls, their faces caked in blood. The other was a man, distinguishable only by his black leather shoes. They all worked in the Trident hotel, wearing the blue and white uniform of service staff. Doctors said they were expecting 30 more bodies to emerge from the smoking hulk of the building and fear that the death toll will soar once the Taj is opened up.
A few miles away in Bombay hospital there were more stories of how the Indian dream had turned into a nightmare. Gunjun Nagpal had been celebrating her 31st birthday at the Golden Dragon restaurant in the Taj Mahal hotel when two gunmen sprayed her table with bullets. She, her mother and her father were killed instantly. Kamal Nagpal, Gunjun's cousin, said her family had been wiped out. "My sister is hanging on for dear life. She's the only one left. We are victims but who is bringing the war [to India]?"
One doctor said that at first "no one could believe that the flow of casualties would ever end. We are a city hospital not an army casualty ward. You have to ask how many bullet wounds and bomb burns we can cope with."
The Bombay hospital, which has waived all fees for those caught up in the bloody events of this week, has also been treating commandos who fell in the line of duty. One doctor said he had never seen such wounds. "Machine gun bullets to the head are not something we see a lot of. Even in Mumbai," said one physician.

Eyewitnesses: From under beds, tables, and 'other people's blood' - tales of survival
Paul Lewis and Rachel Williams
Saturday November 29 2008 00.01 GMT
Victims of Mumbai's terror attacks gave remarkable accounts of their survival last night as the death toll of both Indians and foreigners continued to rise.
Survivors described how they had barricaded themselves into hotel rooms, hidden beneath tables or pretended to be dead in order to escape the rampaging gunmen.
Joey Jeetun, 31, the actor who played the role of a suicide bomber in a TV drama about the 7/7 bombings, said "other people's blood" had saved his life when militants opened fire in the Leopold Cafe, the first of their targets. The moment the attack started, he said, a "local man" pushed him to the floor out of the line of fire: "He said [to me]: 'Get down, get down, don't speak.'
"I just curled myself in the smallest ball I could and closed my eyes. The gunfire was sporadic. It sounded like they sprayed everyone, and then looked to see who was alive - and then started shooting at them on the floor. I was covered in other people's blood and I think that is what saved me," said Jeetun, who portrayed terrorist Shehzad Tanweer in a Five dramatisation of the bombings in London in 2005.
"I was just hoping that if I stayed still they would think I was already dead. After about five minutes, it stopped and I opened my eyes. There were dead people next to me who had been shot in the head. There was blood everywhere."
Harnish Patel, a 29-year-old Briton, was sitting at a nearby table in the cafe: "I was so lucky. The guy [gunman] just took one look at me and showered the whole side of the bar - chairs and table and everything. He just let loose," he told the London Evening Standard. "Luckily he didn't keep his finger down - because if he did, I'd be gone."
Dozens of foreigners were released yesterday from the Oberoi Trident hotel, 36 hours after the militants occupied the building. Among them was Mark Abell, a British businessman who told the BBC he locked himself in his room "surrounded by explosions, gunshots and people screaming" with no food and little water.
An Italian chef, Emanuele Lattanzi, emerged carrying his baby daughter.
Another child, Moshe Holtzberg, aged two, had been smuggled out of the Jewish centre the previous day before it was stormed by commandos; his parents were among the five hostages inside who were found dead - Gavriel Holtzberg, a New York rabbi, and his wife, Rivka, who ran the local office of the ultra-orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
Up to 19 foreigners in all died in the attacks, reportedly among them three Germans and one citizen each from Australia, Britain, Canada, Italy, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.
With more than 370 injured, the overall toll stood at more than 150 last night and included:
· Loumia Hiridjee, French, 47, the founder of the fashion brand Princesse Tam Tam, and her husband, Mourad Amarsy, 49. The couple had settled in India with their three children, and were dining at the Oberoi Trident hotel when it was attacked.Hiridjee came from a family of Indian merchants who had settled in the former French colony of Madagascar. She and her sister, Shama, studied in France, and created their first collection in 1985.
· Alan Scherr, an American, and his daughter Naomi, 13. They were members of the Synchronicity Foundation, a meditation community in Virginia, and were among 25 participants in a meditation programme in Mumbai. They were killed in a cafe on Wednesday night. Scherr's wife, Kia, and their two sons had not travelled to India.
· Monica Chhabria, sister of the Bollywood actor Ashish Chowdhary. She and her husband had gone for dinner at the Oberoi Trident hotel, and Chowdhary had been waiting since Wednesday night for news of what had happened to them.
· The wife and two sons of the general manager of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. They were said to have been staying in a suite on the top floor of the 105-year-old hotel.

Method in Madness

BBC Internet

By Sumantra Bose London School of Economics

The audacity of the Mumbai attacks on shocked IndiaIndia's cities are no strangers to indiscriminate terror attacks. Such attacks have occurred regularly, and with steadily increasing frequency, in recent years.
Mumbai, India's financial capital, has been targeted before.
In March 1993, a series of car bombs were detonated at public landmarks across the city, including the stock exchange, killing 257 people.
Those attacks, in which the city's underworld played a key role, followed Hindu-Muslim violence in the city during December 1992 and January 1993. Working-class Muslims were the principal victims, often shot at point-blank range by members of the city's police force.
In July 2006, a series of bombs planted on Mumbai's commuter train network killed 183 people.
Other Indian cities have been regularly targeted as well, particularly Delhi, the capital.
In October 2005 bombs exploded in crowded Delhi markets on the eve of the festive day Diwali, the festival of lights. More than 60 people were killed.
Most recently, in July 2008, bombs exploded at a number of congested public locations in Ahmedabad, the capital of the western state of Gujarat.

India's parliament was attacked in 2001, leaving nine people dead.
Gujarat, one of India's most prosperous states, saw large-scale killings of Muslims in 2002 after an arson attack on a train in the state killed 59 Hindu nationalist activists.
More than 50 people were killed in the Ahmedabad bombings.
A previously unknown group, the Indian Mujahideen, claimed responsibility.
The Ahmedabad attacks were particularly vicious in that bombs were detonated outside the emergency facilities of city hospitals just as people injured in other explosions were being brought in by ambulances.
Frontal assault
So what is new about Mumbai, November 2008?
It is tempting to label the attackers as 'crazies' - but such a dismissive appellation may be misplaced
Sumantra Bose
Mumbai: A Pakistan militant link?
The obvious novelty is the use of frontal assault tactics instead of timed explosive devices.
This is new in the urban Indian context. There was one notable exception - an attack by a five-man squad armed with rifles and grenades on India's Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001.
The attackers were narrowly prevented by alert staff from gaining access to the building, where hundreds of parliamentarians and ministers were attending a session.
They were gunned down near the entrance by security personnel after an hour-long battle.
Nine guards and parliament stewards also died.
This attack led to the crisis of 2002 between India and Pakistan.
The Indian government blamed Pakistani religious radicals, and embarked on a major military build-up on the border with Pakistan, to which Pakistan responded with its own mobilisation.
The stand-off eventually wound down later in 2002 after months of tension and brinkmanship.
But frontal assaults, usually carried out by two-man teams firing semi-automatic rifles and lobbing grenades, were the favoured tactic of the insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir between 1999 and 2003.
Fidayeen technique
Scores of such attacks were carried out by "fidayeen" (literally "death-defying") squads in Indian-administered Kashmir during that period.

Ahmedabad saw rioting after the Gujarat killings in 2002In many instances, these attacks led to confrontations lasting anywhere between 24 and 72 hours between the raiders and security forces, who were often constrained by the presence of trapped civilians.
Most of the locations targeted were Indian military and police installations in the Kashmir Valley, particularly in the regional capital Srinagar.
But some attacks targeted civilians, especially in and around the Hindu-majority city of Jammu, in the southern part of Indian-administered Kashmir.
The perpetrators were not members of the main homegrown Kashmiri insurgent group, the Hizb-ul Mujahideen ("Warriors of the Faith").
The fidayeen technique - a rudimentary form of "shock and awe" warfare - was introduced into Kashmir by Pakistani radical organisations that entered the Kashmir insurgency from the mid-1990s onwards.
The large majority of fidayeen attacks in Kashmir were perpetrated by one such organisation, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, headquartered in Pakistan and founded and led by Pakistani religious radicals.
The Lashkar-e Toiba did over time recruit a handful of local Kashmiris as fidayeen cadre, but most of the attackers were Pakistani nationals who had crossed into Indian-administered Kashmir.
Fidayeen attacks have died down in Kashmir since India-Pakistan relations thawed from 2004 onward.
But the deployment of exactly the same tactic in central Mumbai shows that this technique has now found a new and even more dangerous theatre in which to operate.
The tactic is thus not without precedent, but the mayhem in Mumbai may nonetheless mark a new chapter in the evolution of urban terrorism in India.
Bombs planted in markets and on commuter trains kill and maim working-class and middle-class Indians.
The gunmen who attacked two luxury hotels, and a fashionable cafe frequented by visiting Westerners, have brought the "war" - as they see it - to India's elite class, and to affluent Westerners living in or visiting India's most cosmopolitan city.
If reports that the gunmen specifically looked for American and British citizens to take hostage are true, it would suggest that this terrorist spectacular had little to do with the prejudice and discrimination many Muslims do encounter in India.
It is tempting to label the attackers as "crazies". But such a dismissive appellation may be misplaced.
It is more than likely that the masterminds are seasoned operatives and that the foot-soldiers, young as they may have been, had undergone rigorous training for months, perhaps years.
The attacks also show every sign of having been designed to maximise media attention on a global scale.
In other words, there is a method to the madness.

Sumantra Bose is Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics. He is the author of Contested Lands: Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus, and Sri Lanka, published by Harvard University Press.

Police declare Mumbai siege over
Inside the Mumbai police control room, assistant commissioner Ramesh Chango Tayde remembers the first telephone call they got from a panicky man who said he had heard the sound of gunfire at the city's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station. It was exactly 2121 on Wednesday when the call arrived. The dour chief of the control room flashed the information to the 500-odd police vans patrolling the city. For the next few hours, Mr Tayde and the 40 other men in khaki uniforms who staff the police nerve centre in India's financial capital took calls about the attacks taking place all over the city. "It was the toughest night I faced since the day of serial train blasts in the city in 2006. That was my first day as the chief of the control room," says Mr Tayde. "We have been very, very busy ever since," he says. He has not returned home since the attacks began. Growing fear On average, the 20 toll-free lines in the bustling control room receive more than 15,000 calls a day from citizens reporting anything from murders, thefts and burglaries to neighbourhood brawls, spousal tiffs and domestic violence. Since the attacks, the number of calls has jumped by a quarter, says deputy commissioner AV Jadhav. Skittish residents are calling up and talking about "people moving around suspiciously, unattended bags and packets lying around and other perceived threats".

"People are suffering from a lot of anxiety and fear. We have to deal with all these calls and send our men out to check whether their fears are true," he says. This in a city where, according to the police, barely a fifth of the calls received every day by the control room require attendance. The frenzy of calls hints at the growing fear in Mumbai after the attacks. On Friday afternoon, the control room received a flurry of calls from people saying that some gunmen had gone on another shooting spree in a few places, including the railway station. The information was found to be wrong - triggered by rumours swirling around the city in the wake of the attacks. But the rumours were powerful enough to set off a fresh wave of panic. Offices, schools and shops shut down and people scurried home. By late afternoon, downtown and south Mumbai had emptied. Offers of help Amid the clamour of ringing phones and the crackle of wireless in the control room, Mr Tayde receives a call from the city of Baroda, in the neighbouring state of Gujarat. "Why don't you send in some of your men inside the Taj hotel with teargas shells and start setting them off in the corridors?" the caller asks. "This will be a good way to overpower the gunmen," the man on the line advises. Mr Tayde mumbles something in reply, and puts down the phone with a hint of exasperation on his face.
"After the attacks, people have been calling up the control room from all over the country and giving us advice on how to take on the gunmen and handle the situation," he says. The callers are ordinary citizens or sometimes retired army and police officers. But then he also got a call from a woman in the city saying that her husband wanted to help in the operation at the Oberoi-Trident hotel to take out the gunmen. "My husband did the interiors in the hotel," she told the police. "If you want any help with the layout of the hotel in planning your rescue operations we can help." There have been calls from as far away as Nagpur, Delhi and even London, from people with advice for the police on how to handle the situation. "These people are usually well-meaning citizens who are all charged up after the attacks and want to help with suggestions. And we are getting a lot of such calls after the attacks," says Mr Tayde. Some of the callers are anxious relatives and friends of people trapped inside the hotels taken over by the gunmen, trying to discover the fate of their loved ones. 'I ran' Across the city, sitting on the sidewalk outside the Oberoi-Trident hotel, was Madhu Kapoor, wife of a banker trapped inside the hotel. She was relying on a helpline set up by the hotel for any information about her husband. Mrs Kapoor and her husband, Ashok, were dining at a restaurant with another couple when the gunmen stormed the hotel.
The diners were asked to leave the restaurant and run. As she ran out with her husband and scores of other people, she saw a man with an automatic weapon behind her in the scrum on the stairway. "Wait," the man told Mrs Kapoor. "I ran. I saw him firing on an old man next to him. I don't know what happened to the old man. I ran out of the exit door, but my husband was left behind." On Friday morning, the hotel informed her that her husband was safe. But she is still waiting for him to come out. Back at the control room, assistant commissioner Tayde and his men, working gruelling shifts, are hoping that the drama of terror ends soon and the phones stop ringing.

NDTV Reporter's diary

As NSG commandos launched their final assault at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, NDTV's Shaili Chopra sent us a report describing the action on the ground. We lie on the floor. Our hands have mikes, theirs have guns. Everyone has taken position and there's no end to the terrorist encounter at the Taj Mahal Palace outside the Gateway of India in Mumbai. The journalists and the forces are tracking the attack. There are reports of two terrorists inside with some hostages. Combat teams, paramilitary forces and the terrorists opened fire three times in the last one hour. The windows are broken, curtains flinging out of the rooms, the insides of the Taj, on day three of the encounter, remain abandoned. The police says one or two terrorists are holed up at the Crystal Ballroom in Taj along with a few hostages.Some people have been evacuated, others are inside rooms where the police is trying to reach. The lobby and porch are also key points of attack as police gherao that. The noises are sharp, the firing is intense and the scenes are hard to forget as pigeons fly in fear across the sky, changing the skyline, that's today filled with continuing smoke and sadness.

Mumbai terror attack planned 6 months ago
Friday, November 28, 2008 11:26 PM (Mumbai)
An arrested terrorist has revealed that the Mumbai terror attack operation was planned about six months ago.Investigators are examining satellite phone and GPS found on trawler seized in Arabian Sea.Sources have told NDTV that data from GPS revealed terrorists sailed from Karachi harbour on November 12 or 13. Their phone was used to call Lashkar commander Yusuf Muzamil in Muzaffarabad.The group of terrorists stayed in Karachi for about four days. The mobile phone found on a dead terrorist was used to make calls to Pakistan.On November 18, Coast Guard had warned of possibility of infiltration by sea route.

Times of India
Qaida in partnership with Lashkar in India

NEW DELHI: Terror does leave a calling card. As the enormity of the attack on Mumbai sank in, it seemed like the arrival of al-Qaida in India, a version of 9/11 designed to attract a global audience given the scale of violence and the planned targeting of westerners. With the capture of a terrorist, the actual authors were revealed. It wasn't the al-Qaida. But the jihadi credentials were not much less impressive with Lashkar-e-Taiba named as the suspect. Given the operation's obvious planning, few doubted it was the deadly firm of LeT-ISI in action yet again. Yet the difference between LeT and al-Qaida is not so significant as might have once been the case. In recent years, Lashkar has emerged as not only the single largest pan-Indian terror threat, but also a partner with al-Qaida in jihadi battlegrounds like Iraq, Chechnya and Afghanistan. It has shared training camps and cadre and used al-Qaida-Taliban facilities for a "jihad" against India. It has been proscribed by US and UK who have recognised LeT to be a global terrorist organisation. In UK, it has been allied to the Kashmiri underground, for long recognised as one of the easiest way to get into the jihadi circuit which leads to Pakistan. It poses as a charity and openly seeks donations in Pakistani cities for the "Kashmir cause" and its leader, Prof Hafiz Saeed, is allowed free movement apart from occasional cosmetic spells of house arrest. Before the Markaz-da'wa wal-irshad, the Lashkar's religio-political wing, was banned, its website regularly carried the view of its founder. Saeed's view of LeT's mission was quite unambiguous. He argued that Kashmir was the "gateway" to India, much of which comprised "lost Muslim lands". He saw jihad in Kashmir as a religious duty and fully identified himself with the 9/11 mayhem that Osama bin Laden wreaked. Aligned with the Ahl-e-Hadees sect, Lashkar was founded in 1987 by Saeed, who incidentally was also trained as an engineer like Osama and many other prominent jihadis, and who drew his inspiration from the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood — an organisation that saw Palestine as an Islamic cause way back in the 1930's. In collaboration with ISI, Lashkar built up an impressive Kashmir portfolio with recruits chiefly drawn from Pakistani Punjabis, Pashtoons, Bangladeshis, Arabs and south-east Asians. But its vision has never been Kashmir-centric as it bids to re-establish Muslim rule from Morocco to Indonesia and also eyes north Australia as part of its likely domain.

Terror Strikes on Mumbai

Taj operation over, 2 terrorists gunned down: Mumbai police chief

At Taj: Operation over, says NSG
At Taj: Two terrorists gunned down today
At Nariman: Cleared, no one found alive
At Oberoi: Terrorists killed, crisis has ended
At Taj: Bodies brought out of back entrance

Thursday, November 27, 2008

AL nominees face deprived party men in 3 Rajshahi seats; BNP still undecided as Jamaat demands 3 seats

Awami League (AL) nominees have started electioneering in all six constituencies in Rajshahi district braving division among party men over ticket to three industrialist newcomers.
BNP leaders are still waiting for party nominations while its electoral alliance partner Jamaat-e Islami has demanded tickets for party men in three seats.
The BNP leaders and activists, affected much in the anti-graft and anti-crime drives during the last two years, now seem to get encouraged again following the two BNP bigwigs' return to election field.
The two bigwigs are former Rajshahi mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu and former lawmaker Abu Hena.
AL district President Tajul Islam M Faruk is leading a party faction that is representing the nomination-deprived leaders while General Secretary Omar Faruk Chowdhury in leading the other faction in favour of AL nominees.
Still AL is hopeful for winning all the Rajshahi seats cashing on BNP-Jamaat's 'image crisis'.

Rajshahi-1 (Tanore-Godagari)
Former BNP minister Aminul Haque, convicted in a case for abetting militancy, is now staying abroad. Aminul's brother former inspector general of police Enamul Haque is likely to get the party ticket in the seat while Jamaat is lobbying for its Assistant Secretary General Mujibur Rahman.
District AL General Secretary Omar Faruk Chowdhury is the party candidate from the seat.

Rajshahi-2 (Rajshahi city)
This seat is the centre of attention for all as the major electoral fight of the district is likely to be here between Workers' Party leader Fazle Hossain Badsha and BNP leader former Rahshahi city mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu.
BNP's Mizanur Rahman Minu, now acquitted in the extortion case he was convicted before, is still in jail as he is yet to get bail in two graft cases.
But he is now eligible for contesting the election and nomination papers have been collected in his favour.
Rajshahi city Jamaat Amir Ataur Rahman also collected nomination papers.
AL nominee Akhtar Jahan told the media that AL is going to share the seat with Fazle Hossain Badsha who is already in electioneering.

Rajshahi-3 (Paba-Mohonpur)
BNP is considering its office secretary Ruhul Kabir Rizvi and former lawmaker Kabir Hossain at this newly created constitution to fight against former district AL acting President Meraj Uddin Mollah.
District BNP Student Affairs Secretary Raihanul Haque is also a nomination seeker from this seat.

Rajshahi-4 (Bagmara)
Industrialist Enamul Haque, a newcomer to AL, is facing protests of party men while electioneering as he was nominated ignoring grassroots opinion for senior party leader Sardar Amjad Hossain.
Former BNP lawmaker Abu Hena who was ousted from party for revealing party men's involvement behind the rise of militancy returned to the party again.
He is likely to get nomination this time too. Bagmara upazila BNP President Abdul Gafur is another possible candidate.
Jamaat wants this seat for Ahad Ali Kabiraj.

Rajshahi-5 (Puthia-Durgapur)
Unlike two other industrialist AL nominees, Kazi Abdul Wadud Dara was in the panel of nominees elected by the grassroots.
Yet local leaders and activists are protesting as the nomination was made ignoring Tajul Islam M Faruk who got highest grassroots votes.
In absence of former lawmaker Nadim Mostafa, BNP leader Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul is lobbying for ticket in the seat.

BNP, AL to resist Alamgir Kabir

Grassroots leaders and activists of both BNP and Awami League have vowed to resist former BNP state minister Alamgir Kabir in Naogaon-6 (Atrai-Raninagar) constituency.
Hundreds of BNP leaders staged agitation in Atrai and Raninagar upazilas yesterday and threatened to resign en masse following a rumour that Kabir, now a leader of Liberal Democratic Party, was returning to BNP.
Local Awami League leaders also told the media that they would reject Kabir if he gets nomination from the AL-led grand alliance.
Alamgir Kabir won Naogaon-6 seat three times since 1991.

Rooppur power project to be revived

The caretaker government has undertaken a programme to revive the Rooppur Atomic Energy Power Project to generate 600 MW electricity, Special Assistant to the Chief Adviser for energy Prof Dr M Tamim said yesterday.
If the next government continues with the programme, the ambitious project involving around 2000 billion US dollars can be implemented, he said at a seminar as the chief guest.
He also said all preparations to start supplying gas to Rajshahi by the next year are almost complete.
Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) organised the seminar on 'Development of western region from the perspective of fuel and industrialisation' at Rajshahi Medical College auditorium, with Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton in the chair.
Khulna City Corporation Mayor Talukhdar Abdul Khaleque and Barishal City Corporation Mayor Shawkat Hossain Hiron also attended the seminar. The three mayors together decided to launch a coordinated programme for the development of the western region of the country.
They also called on the political parties to make a pledge to remove regional disparity if voted to power.
Mollah Amjad Hossain, editor of the Energy and Power, presented the keynote paper at the seminar. Former lawmaker Lutfunnesa Hossain, Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Fazlul Bari, Prof Abdul Khaleque and former president of Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industry Omar Faruk Chowdhury also spoke.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

BNP Bigwigs Out Of Scene In Rajshahi, Natore, Naogaon; Jamaat wants tickets in JS seats of Aminul, Dulu, Nadim

As some BNP bigwigs may not be able to run the polls race, the party is in great problem in selecting candidates in five constituencies in Rajshahi, Noagaon and Natore.
Taking this opportunity, Jamaat-e Islami is lobbing hard to field candidates in at least three of the seats.
As a possible way out, Rajshahi BNP has invited party chief Khaleda Zia to contest from one of the six seats in Rajshahi.
"We have candidates from within the party, yet we invited Khaleda Zia run in any Rajshahi seat.
We want to retain the seats we held for three terms", said district BNP president Azizur Rahman.
According to disclosure made by JMB chief Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai and police investigation, the then telecommunication minister Barrister Aminul Haque patronised Islamist militants by using police and administration during BNP-Jamaat government and barred authorities in Rajshahi to take action against militants in 2004-05.
Aminul was elected from Rajshahi-1 in 2001 polls.
Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu, Rajshahi Mayor and former lawmaker Mizanur Rahman Minu and former MPs Nadim Mostafa (Rajshahi-4) and Alamgir Kabir (Naogaon-6) also patronised JMB.
Rajshahi-1 (Godagari-Tanore)
Aminul Haque, who won from Rajshahi-1 three times since 1991 went into hiding after 1/11. He was jailed for 31 years in a case for abetting militancy. Haque, now abroad, is unwilling to contest in the changed scenario.
"Instead, he (Aminul) has requested for selecting one of his brothers", said Godagari BNP general secretary Anwarul Islam.
Aminul's brother and former inspector general of police (IGP) Dr M Enamul Haque has given his consent to vie in the parliamentary polls.
Jamaat central assistant secretary general Mujibur Rahman announced that he would seek alliance ticket from Rajshahi-1.
Natore-2 (Natore Sadar)
Dulu who allegedly held a meeting with JMB leader Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai in March 2004 is sentenced to 18 years imprisonment in two cases for abetting arson prior to militant activities.
"We are yet to finalise…" said Natore BNP general secretary Shahidul Islam Bachchu.
If Dulu can not contest, his wife Sabina Yasmin Chhobi or he would seek nomination, said Bachchu.
BNP national executive committee member Sirajul Islam and district Jamaat Ameer M Yunus Ali are also lobbying for nomination.
Naogaon-6 (Raninagar-Atrai)
Alamgir Kabir won this seat three times since 1991. He was sued in two cases for abetting militancy, but his name was dropped from charge sheet. He left BNP to join the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in late 2006.
District BNP president Zalal Ahmed Bokul, vice-president Anwar Hossain Bulu, law secretary AZM Rafikul Alam and Col (retd) Abdul Latif Khan are also lobbying for ticket.
Rajshahi-2 (city)
In absence of former BNP lawmaker Mizanur Rahman Minu,former lawmaker Kabir Hossain is seeking nomination in this seat, but a section of party leaders want Khaleda Zia or anyone else to vie from this seat.
"Kabir has become disputed as he did not back us during the city corporation polls …We are waiting for central decision ", said Rajshahi BNP organising secretary Alauddin Ahmed.
City Jamaat Ameer Ataur Rahman is lobbying for nomination.
He is joint convenor of Rajshahi city unit of four-party alliance in absence of Minu.
Rajshahi-5 (Puthia-Durgapur, previous Rajshahi-4)
Former BNP lawmaker Nadim Mostafa, elected from the seat, is serving ten years imprisonment in two cases for extortion and criminal activities.
He was also named in three cases for abetting militancy. He went into hiding since 1/11 and is now staying in Malaysia and Singapore, said his close aides.
Nadim Mostafa is now wiling to return to country till he is cleared of charges, the sides said.
"Some local leaders are showing up. We will sit to decide about them", said Alauddin.

Martyred Teachers: RU authorities ignore death anniversary

The 37th death anniversary of martyred Rajshahi University teacher Mir Abdul Quayyum passed off yesterday without any programme by the university authorities.
Several senior teachers said the authorities did not do anything in the recent past in memory of university teachers Prof Habibir Rahman, Prof Sukharanjan Samaddar and Mir Abdul Quayyum who borrowed martyrdom during the 1971 Liberation War.
Even the Department of Psychology, where Quayyum worked, took no initiatives to observe the day and let students know of his supreme sacrifice.
Despite the tradition of remembering martyred Quayyum at all events, the department observed its two-day Golden Jubilee in October without remembering him.
When Quayyum's daughter Dr Mahbuba Kaniz Keya, a teacher of the department, complained about it to the departmental academic committee (DAC), it was revealed that department Chairman Prof Nurullah had ordered scraping the event of remembering Quayyum from programme schedule.
Nurullah, also general secretary of Rajshahi city unit Bangabandhu Parishad and former convenor of pro-liberation Progressive Teachers Association at RU, apologised to DAC claiming it a 'lapse'.
But he did not mention martyred Quayyum's name in the apology resolution.
Several teachers said Nurullah is ambitious for the post of vice chancellor and is trying to get support of anti-liberation teachers who are dominant in RU administration.
“It [The deletion] was a mistake,” Prof Nurullah told The Daily Star.But the event was observed at the end of programme, he said referring to the one-minute silence that was observed in memory of the martyred intellectual.
RU Registrar Prof Muhammad Shafi said RU administration could not observe the Quayyum's martyrdom day due to its business in the ongoing admission procedure.
On November 25 in 1971, Pakistan occupation forces with the help of their local collaborators abducted 17 persons including Quayyum from their homes and later buried them alive on the bank of Padma River.
Rajshahi Mukhtijuddho Itihas Sangrakkhan Parishad observed the day in a small scale at a city community centre.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AL nominees unite to face deprived party men

All the six Awami League (AL) nominees from Rajshahi constituencies yesterday showed up together to counter Friday's meeting of nomination-deprived party men, making the intra-party feud over nomination public.
The candidates at a press conference at Rajshahi city AL office under the banner of Rajshahi district Awami Leageue claimed that they are stronger than their rival faction.
Rajshahi district AL secretary Omar Faruk Chowdhury conducted the conference.
They promised that they would not spend money beyond the limit fixed by the Election Commission. They claimed that they would be able to recover all the Jatiya Sangsad seats in Rajshahi retained by BNP-Jamaat in last three elections.
On Friday, the banner of district AL was also used at the press conference of the deprived candidates. Led by district AL president Tajul Islam M Faruk, the deprived candidates demanded that the party high command should evaluate party men and place politicians over businessmen in deciding nomination.
At yesterday's press conference, Omar Faruk Chowdhury said, “The party nominations suggest that we are in the right way and stronger than our opponents”.
Chowdhury who got AL ticket from Rajshahi-1 (Tanore-Godagari) said, “We honour the agony of deprivation, yet the deprived leaders should honour the party's decision”.
Among the six AL nominees, three were introduced as industrialists in the press conference. They are Enamul Haque of Rajshahi-4 (Bagmara), Kazi Abdul Wadud Dara of Rajshahi-5 (Puthia-Durgapur) and Shahriar Alam of Rajshahi-6 (Bagha-Charghat).
Mohila Awami League central vice-president Akhtar Jahan and former acting president of Rajshahi district AL Meraj Mollah, who got tickets for Rajshahi-2 and Rajshahi-3 respectively, were also present at the conference.
Asked about political identity of the three industrialist candidates, Chowdhury said, “Since they have been given the party tickets, they are politicians.”
Journalists asked the industrialists how they would campaign without having any political background. They said they would not spend money more than the limit fixed by the EC. They said they would win by campaigning door-to-door.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Workers Party leader Badsha submits nomination

Workers' Party (WP) politburo member Fazle Hossain Badsha yesterday submitted his nomination papers and said he is the candidate of Awami League-led electoral alliance at Rajshahi-2 (Rajshahi City Corporation areas).If nominated from the AL-led combine, Badsha is likely to face BNP's Mizanur Rahman Minu as his nearest rival in the election.“I am not only the candidate of Awami League-led combine, but also the torch-bearer of mass people and all pro-liberation organisations in the area,” he told newsmen after the submission of nomination paper yesterday noon.“If elected, I will take steps for reopening the closed down industries and factories. I will recommend for a budget giving priority to poor people,” he said.Meanwhile, local AL is keeping a noticeable distance with Badsha.They have alleged that he did not take part in the campaign in favour of AHM Khairuzzaman Liton during August 4 RCC polls.In 2002 RCC polls, Badsha was lost to Minu and Badsha's suit for vote rigging at 20 polling centres is still under trial.After the new delimitations, Rajshahi-2 constituency now covers only RCC areas.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Minu's acquittal enlivens Rajshahi BNP

He is now eligible to run in Rajshahi city, Minu's lawyer says

Mizanur Rahman Minu

With the news of Mizanur Rahman Minu's acquittal in extortion case allowing him to contest the parliamentary polls, BNP leaders and activists in all six constituencies in Rajshahi are now enlivened and have started calculating party nominations afresh.As the High Court on Tuesday acquitted him in the case in which he was convicted for 13 years' jail, he has become eligible for taking part in election, said his lawyer Ankur Sen.Minu will have to obtain bail in two other cases (among five others Minu is still facing) to come out of jail, Sen said. BNP leaders said, Minu will fight from Rajshahi-2 (Rajshahi City Corporation) and his leadership would help unite party units on other constituencies. They are also hopeful for winning the seat as his probable opponent Workers Party Politburo member Fazle Hossain Badsha is facing denial of local Awami League support.BNP leaders were in despair in absence of its big-wigs following anti-corruption and anti-terrorism drives. Rajshahi BNP president Azizur Rahman said they have started holding election preparatory meetings in different upazilas since the news of Minu's acquittal came.“We are now waiting for our central committee's announcement for participating in the election”, he said.Former BNP minister Barrister Aminul Haque and lawmaker Nadim Mostafa are still absconding being convicted in criminal and corruption cases while former BNP lawmaker Abu Hena is staying outside Rajshahi for long.In Barrister Aminul's seat -- Rajshahi-1 (Tanore-Godagari) --, his brother former inspector general of police (IGP) Enamul Haque may contest in the election. Rajshahi city BNP's former president Eklak Hossain and Jatiyatabadi Krishak Dal general Secretary Habibur Rahman Hasibul is also seeking BNP nomination from the seat.BNP's central office secretary Rizvi Ahmed is seeking nomination from the newly formed Rajshahi-3 (Paba-Mohonpur) seat. District Chhatra Dal president Raihanul Haque and former Rajshahi city Chhatra Dal president Shafikul Islam Milon are also listed there.In Rajshahi-4 (Bagmara), none other than Bagmara upazila BNP president and former lawmaker Abdul Gafur was listed as probable candidate.In Rajshahi-5 (Puthia-Durgapur), in Nadim Mostafa's absence, Abdus Sattar Mondol is seeking nomination. Central Jubo Dal vice- president Matiur Rahman Mantu, central Chhatra Dal leader Abu Bakar Siddik and Mahmuda Habiba were named for alliance ticket.Rajshahi-6 (Bagha-Charghat) was the seat of Kabir Hossain. Rajshahi district BNP president Azizur Rahman is seeking nomination from the seat.Kabir loyalists said, dropping the name Kabir has widened the rivalry among party leaders.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ex-mayor Minu acquitted in extortion case

A High Court bench yesterday acquitted Mizanur Rahman Minu, the former Rajshahi City Corporation mayor, in an extortion case as the charges brought against him were not proved. Earlier, a Rajshahi tribunal sentenced Minu to 13 years imprisonment on August 28, 2008 after a case was filed by Shamsul Alam Khan-- a governing body member of the local Evergreen Model College, with Rajpara Police Station. Later, Minu filed an appeal to the High Court against the conviction handed down by the Rajshahi tribunal. Advocate Hasan Foez Siddique appeared for Minu in the High Court.

Angry protests against AL tickets in Rajshahi-4,5, 6

Rallies, token hunger strike: Nominees declared unwanted

Awami League leaders and activists burst into angry protests in three constituencies in Rajshahi yesterday against party nominations to businessmen newcomers, instead of senior party leaders suggested from the grassroots.On the other hand supporters of the businessmen candidates also held meetings hailing the nominations, unleashing a flurry of protest programmes and tension between AL factions.Hundreds of AL leaders and activists held protest meetings, formed human chain and observed token hunger strike. They declared the businessmen candidates unwanted in the areas and threatened to quit the party.They demanded immediate cancellation of nomination of industrialist Enamul Haque in Rajshahi-4 (Bagmara), businessman Kazi Abdul Wadud Dara in Rajshahi-5 (Puthia-Durgapur) and industrialist Shahriar Alam in Rajshahi-6 (Bagha-Charghat) constituencies.They demanded nomination of minister Sardar Amjad Hossain, Rajshahi district AL president Tajul Islam M Faruk and former lawmaker Raihanul Haque in these Jatiya Sangsad seats. These senior party leaders were selected through vote of grassroots leaders in party meetings but their opinions were ignored, they said.The party leaders in protest meetings blamed Rajshahi Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton for helping the businessmen to get nomination. They are not even party members, speakers at the meetings said. AL chance of victory in the coming election, created by alleged crime and corruption by BNP-Jamaat, would evaporate if proper candidates are not selected, they said.Rajshahi-4Several hundred AL men held a protest meeting at Bhawaniganj in Bagmara and formed a 200-member citizens' committee headed by Abdus Samad to create resistance against nominee Enamul Haque. The meeting held with the upazila AL secretary Zakirul Islam Santu in the chair demanded ticket for Sardar Amjad Hossain from the constituency.“Out of 63-member upazila committee, only 13 support Enamul and he was not a party member even a month ago. How can we abide by him if he gets party nomination”, said Santu.Rajshahi-5Several hundred AL men formed a human chain and held token hunger strike at Puthia and Durgapur upazilas demanding nomination for Tajul Islam M Faruk.They announced a seven-day protest programmea and declared Abdul Wadud Dara unwanted in the area. Following allefged threats, Dara along with some 50 people rushed to Rajshahi city and held a press conference at Miapara Central Public Library auditorium welcoming the nomination. Dara vowed to recover the Rajshahi-5 seat that, he said, was lost to BNP four times for wrong selection of candidate.Rajshahi-6Shahriar Alam was also declared unwanted in Rajshahi-6. At a protest meeting held at Charghat AL office with the upazila AL president Anwar Hossain in the chair, a number of party-men demanded nomination for Raihanul Haque.They threatened to leave party en masse if the grassroots selection is neglected.

AL discards fly off the handle
Star Report
Awami League's nomination of candidates in the upcoming parliamentary polls kicked up an uproar among grassroots leaders, activists and supporters in some constituencies, with protesters donning shrouds in the capital...

Hijbut holds meeting under police protection

Published On: 2008-11-16

Hizbut Tahrir leader Muniruzzaman Masud addressing a discussion at Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industries auditorium yesterday. Photo: STAR

Hizbut Tahrir leaders who were released after arrest earlier as militant-suspects held a discussion amid police protection in the city yesterday.They threatened to launch a movement against the government branding them as brokers of capitalist powers.Hijbut joint coordinator Kazi Morshedul Haque, senior member Ahmed Zamal Iqbal, members Moniruzzaman Masud and Masud Kausar addressed the meeting, among others.Some 10 Hijbut men including Iqbal, Moniruzzaman and Kausar were arrested on September 18 but released two weeks later as police said they did not find anything to sue them.Police were deployed at Rajshahi Chambers of Commerce and Industries auditorium where the discussion was held.Around 50 Hijbut members and their supporters took part in the discussion.The speakers said launching movement against the 'present rulers is mandatory for Muslims as they implement secularism, instead of Islamic political ideologies'.They said Islam prefers Khelafat as a system to rule as it is free from the weaknesses of existing ruling system.They said, people witnessed democratic, autocratic, military and emergency rules in last 37 years. These are same types of government which are implementing agenda of other countries.

Bus tour of BBC Bangla Service now in Rajshahi

Published On: 2008-11-16

The six-city interactive bus tour of BBC Bangla Service reached Rajshahi yesterday to promote its FM radio service.The programme will roll on the special interactive campaign involving its audience to speak up and share their views for two days in the city from today.Quadir Kollol, a correspondent of BBC Bangla Service, in a press conference yesterday said BBC will engage people at bus stands and tea stalls in conversations and mini-interviews that will be integrated in programming to be aired on BBC Bangla.Views of the voters on the upcoming national polls, campaign situation and plan and pledges of probable candidates would be depicted in the BBC programmes, he said.BBC Bangla Service can be tuned on FM 105 in Rajshahi and its half-hour editions of Provati are aired at 6:30am, Pratyusha at 7:30am, Prabaho at 7:30pm and Parikrama at 10:30pm every day.Beginning the travel from Khulna on November 11, the bus will also be visiting Sylhet, Rangpur, Comilla and Chittagong in the two-month campaign.Fazlul Haque of BBC Bangla's communications and marketing department was also present at the press conference.

Badsha claims he is sure to get Rajshahi-2 ticket

Published On: 2008-11-15

Fazle Hossain Badsha

Workers' Party Politburo member Fazle Hossain Badsha yesterday hoped he would get nomination from Awami League-led alliance from Rajshahi-2 (Rajshahi City Corporation) constituency in the upcoming parliamentary election.“Politics should be the job of politicians, not of other professionals. My nomination is almost confirmed”, he said at a press conference held in the city.Talking on recent opposition by local Awami League to his nomination, Badsha said, “Anything unfair does not sustain. People will reject unethical politics”, he said. “Fundamentalists and communal forcers do not want me to win as they fear me”, he said. Badsha sacrificed his candidacy in August 4 Rajshahi City Corporation election to make way for Awami League leader AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, who was elected mayor. Local Awami League and Rajshahi Nagorik Committee promised Badsha that Rajshahi-2 would be left for him in the national election.

Badsha in despair again

Published On: 2008-10-26

Prof Abdul Khaleque(left) and Fazle Hossain Badsha (right)

AL men demand party candidate in Rajshahi-2

Workers' Party Politburo member Fazle Hossain Badsha is facing strong opposition again from local Awami League leaders in getting 14-party alliance nomination for Rajshahi-2 constituency though he quit the mayoral race in AL's favour on promise of alliance ticket in Jatiya Sangsad election.AL leaders and activists close to Rajshahi mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton are now speaking out against Badsha's nomination from Rajshahi-2 comprising Rajshahi Sadar and Paba upazilas. They argue that Badsha did not work for Liton in the mayoral polls. They said Badsha will not get support of AL leaders and activists even if he is chosen ignoring their demand for an AL candidate.The Rajshahi Citizens' Committee, floated ahead of August 4 mayoral election to campaign for Liton, has also backed out from its promise that it would support Badsha in JS election on the plea of grassroots demand for an AL candidate in the constituency.Badsha, however, said that he is working for the JS election and that his alliance nomination is 'almost ensured'. Badsha, who had earlier got alliance green signal to contest the mayoral polls, withdrew from the race in the face of strong demand from local AL for nominating Liton.Talking to this correspondent, Mayor Liton said the alliance should not take a decision ignoring opinion of grassroots leaders and activists. “I will not comment on his (Badsha's) nomination right now. It is solely the business of 14-party leaders... We will abide by their decision”.Dr Sayed Shafiqul Alam, member secretary of Rajshahi Nagorik Committee, also said this is not the time to make comment.“Our promise was made in a separate perspective. After quitting the mayoral race, Badsha did never sit with 14-party leaders", he said. Rajshahi city AL vice-president Rafik Uddin said, “Badsha failed to maintain relations with local Awami League and we, all leaders and activists are demanding for selection of a party candidate. They said party men may give their opinion for selecting Prof Abdul Khaleque, former vice-chancellor of Rajshahi University and central AL adviser, for nomination in Rajshahi-2.When contacted, Prof Khaleque said, “I will agree to run the race if party men want”.Talking to The Daily Star, Badsha said, he is taking preparations so that he can win the election race. “Awami League will understand the necessity of staying united to fight fundamentalists”. “After securing 14-party nomination and taking all preparations, I quit the mayoral race officially and thus paved the way for Liton. What bigger support for Liton could be there on my part?”

Saturday, November 8, 2008

AL hopeful of bagging most JS seats in Rajshahi

Delimitation of constituencies has raised the number of Jatiya Sangsad seats in Rajshahi to six from five and changed areas of three of them, making local Awami League leaders hopeful of making a dent in BNP-Jamaat strongholds in the upcoming election.
BNP and BNP-Jamaat coalition candidates had bagged all the five JS seats in last three Jatiya Sangsad polls.
The new delimitation has divided vote banks of the alliance partners, political circles said.
However, increase in the number of constituencies has made grassroots activists of all parties happy. They think this would help create new leaders as there would be one more candidate from each party.
Following the delimitation, Paba upazila has been sliced off from Rajshahi-2, the area of former Rajshahi mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu. Rajshahi-2 now comprises only Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) areas.
Paba has been added to Rajshahi-3, which now comprises Paba and Mohonpur. BNP leader Abu Hena was elected from the seat in last election.
BNP leaders in Rajshahi-3 areas however disclaimed AL's observation, saying there will be balance in public support for both BNP and AL after the delimitation.
AL leaders claimed that will win the seat if a good party man is fielded.
Rajshahi-4 constituency now comprise only Bagmara upazila, which was under Rajshahi-3 earlier.
Rajshahi-5 now comprise Puthia and Durgapur upazilas while Rajshahi-6 consists of Bagha and Charghat upazilas.Rajshahi-1 remains unchanged with Godagari and Tanore upazilas.
Except Kabir Hossain, all other former BNP MPs elected from Rajshahi are now absent from their areas.
Aminul Islam and Nadim Mostafa are allegedly hiding while Minu is in jail. Abu Hena is abroad.
Talking to this correspondent, AL leaders said they are hopeful of bagging all the six constituencies if good party candidates are fielded as vote banks of their rival parties have been divided.
But some front ranking BNP leaders claimed that their strongholds are unaffected. The main problem is absence of leaders from their areas, they said.
Acting president of Rajshahi city AL Rafik Uddin said BNP's claim of their stronghold in Rajshahi proved to be false in August 4 Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) poll in which AL leader AHM Khairuzzaman Liton defeated BNP-Jamaat supported candidate Mossadek Hossain Bulbul.
City AL law secretary Aslam Sarker said, “As Rajshahi-2 now comprise only RCC areas, victory of an AL candidate will be easier than any candidate of any party of the 14-party alliance.
“Many unions under Paba upazila, including Haripur, Haragram, Damkura, Darsanpara, were always worries for us. Now they have been dropped from Rajshahi-2”, he explained.
Fazle Hossain Badsha of Workers' Party, Enamul Haque and Abdullah Al Masud Shibli of Communist Party of Bangladesh are among those who are seeking AL-led 14-party alliance nomination from this seat.
In Rajshahi-3, new faces from parties have started lobbying for nominations from this seat.
Names of Zinnatunnesa Talukhdar, a former state minister during Awami League government and BNP's central office secretary Ruhul Kabir Rizvi are heard as possible candidates from this seat.
District BNP president Azizur Rahman said he will not make any comment before his party decides whether it will participate in the election.
“We are in difficulties due to absence of our popular candidates. Yet we will do every thing possible to retain the seats we held in last three elections”, he said replying to questions.
In newly constituted Rajshahi-4 (Bagmara), senior politician Sardar Amjad Hossain is likely to get the 14-party combine's nomination.
Amjad loyalists say, he has a huge vote bank in the upazila because of his personal good image among local people. If AL vote bank is added to this, he has good chance to win.
Some local BNP leaders said they are thinking of former lawmaker Abu Hena for the seat (Rajshahi-4), but he is absent from the area for long. Abu Hena was expelled from BNP for his statement revealing BNP-Jamaat support behind Islamist militants.

Shibir threatens RU cultural activists with death


Hardened Shibir cadre Zafar held

Friday, November 7, 2008

100 Indian snakes to be released in Sundarbans

The authorities yesterday decided to release about 100 Indian snakes, seized by the BDR members recently, in Sundarbans as two snakes died on Tuesday. The officials of customs and forest departments started for the Sundarbans with the snakes in eight boxes.

The snakes were lying uncared for since the BDR men seized them at Char Majhardiar border point on November 2 when a snake charmer was smuggling them into the country from India.
Land Customs Officer of Rajshahi Customs Godown Hasanuzzaman said the forest department at first denied to accept them but agreed to release them in Sundarbans after two snakes had died, he added.
BDR men said Mohammad Hossain, a snake charmer of Savar in Dhaka, collected the snakes from Bardwan district of West Bengal.

The report originated at The Daily Star

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A US lesson for Bangladesh in positive politics

Political analysts, diplomats, politicians and rights activists said the country's politicians can learn the politics of positive attitude and democratic culture from the US presidential election 2008 to bring about qualitative changes in the society.

Terming Barack Obama's historic win in the election a "victory of tolerance, co-existence and mutual respect", they urged the country's politicians to practise positive politics to make parliament effective with the real intent of serving people.

The Daily Star yesterday discussed Obama's victory with economist Muzaffer Ahmad, politicians Dr Kamal Hossain and Abdur Razzak, political scientists Dr Harunur Rashid and Dilara Chowdhury, former foreign secretary Farooq Chowdhury and former caretaker government adviser Sultana Kamal.

Prof Dilara Choudhury said American voters gave verdict for a change by expressing their unhappiness at unacceptable policies of the administration of incumbent President George W Bush.

"It may be a lesson for our political parties that people may not accept if they take any anti-people policy or go back to the old confrontational political culture," she said, adding that the verdict in the US presidential election teaches tolerance and co-existence.

Barack Obama tried for and succeeded in understanding the feelings of common people, and our politicians and aspirant candidates should also do the same, Prof Dilara said.

Former Dhaka University teacher and Transparency International Bangladesh Chairman Prof Muzaffer Ahmad said acceptance of Obama by American people may not mean accepting all his policies but Obama always listened to the people, especially the dissenting voices.

"What was important in Obama's whole campaign is his consultation with people," Prof Muzaffer said, adding, "From the verdict of the American people, we shall learn that the dissenting voice is more important than the supporting ones."

Eminent jurist and Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain said Obama's victory shows how people from all walks of life can be inspired to bring about qualitative changes in politics.

"Through active participation, people can liberate themselves from unhealthy politics which results from manipulation of the powerful and the corrupt who disempower them and undermine the democratic institutions with the help of money, the media and other instrument of control," said Dr Kamal.

Obama's victory should inspire democratic forces committed to bringing about meaningful changes in the world and, in particular, in Bangladesh where people are engaged in a movement to bring about changes through a credible election free from influence of black money and arms, he added.

Sultana Kamal, executive director of Ain o Salish Kendra, noted that Obama's victory is an honour to different communities of people whose rights remained unrecognised for years.

"His win is a clear verdict for change in the attitude towards the deprived communities. John McCain himself acknowledged that the full citizenship of the African-American people was not established for a long time," the former adviser said.

Besides the liberal image of the Democrats, the anti-war commitment of Obama did a lot for his win, she said, hoping that the new US president will succeed in that commitment.

Former foreign secretary Farooq Chowdhury said people of Bangladesh can learn positive attitude--particularly when someone loses, democratic culture and mutual respect from the US presidential election.

"The Republicans had the slogan 'Country first' while the Democrats had 'Change, yes we can'. We should keep in mind the message of these two slogans as we go into our own elections," he said.

It is only through democracy that we can achieve national solidarity, he added.

Awami League (AL) Presidium member Abdur Razzak said by voting Obama people of the USA have proved that they really want a change. "We hope Barack Obama will bring a change across the world in line with democratic system," he said.

People of Bangladesh also want a change and they want the parliamentary system to be effective, democracy and economy strengthened and the youths be made as a source of human resources, said the AL leader.

"But to bring these changes among others, there is no alternative to holding the election to restore democracy," he added.

Prof Harunur Rashid said, "Like the young generation of the US, our youths are also craving for a positive change in politics, and we hope the politicians will work to meet this expectation moving away from the confrontational politics."

The result of the US presidential election has set a new history of national solidarity and, besides strengthening American democracy, would inspire other democracies, he added.