Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tk 150 Crore Commercial Bldg on City Corporation Land

RCC defies rules to favour AL lawmaker

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) plans to let an Awami League (AL) lawmaker's real-estate company implement two multi-storeyed commercial building projects worth Tk 150 crore on corporation land.

The RCC does not have any rules or regulations that allow private real-estate companies to make commercial developments on RCC land, according to officials concerned. The RCC rules also do not allow it to follow instances or rules of other city corporations under any circumstances, they said.

However, RCC Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton has already publicly spoken about awarding the projects to Ena Properties, owned by AL lawmaker Enamul Haque of Rajshahi-4 (Bagmara) constituency, way before any tender in this regard was floated.

Ena Properties has been short-listed for the projects during the pre-qualification process. The final tender is yet to be floated.

The RCC decided to sign contract with the "tender winning" company under the rules fixed for Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) for privately-funded construction of commercial/residential buildings, long-term lease and handover, reads pre-qualification tender documents.

"As we have no such rules, ministries concerned approved our initiatives for these projects which will be done by contractual agreements under DCC rules," Rajshahi Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton told The Daily Star.

"The steps are being taken only to develop and beautify the long deprived north-western part of the city at private cost," he explained.

Liton said the RCC owns the pieces of land but its fund for development is inadequate for the desired development. "As well as development, the projects will open up sources of income for the corporation," he argued.

However, the RCC has not done any assessment about what the projects will cost the corporation if it went ahead by itself.

According to pre-qualification tender documents, the developer firm will construct the multi-storeyed commercial buildings on RCC's land and earn profit through long-term leasing out of shops and floor space. It would then handover the buildings to RCC so that the RCC can receive monthly rents.

In one of the projects, a five-storied shopping complex will be built alongside a 12-storied tower on over two acres (around 6.5 bighas) of land at Sonadighi area at a cost of Tk 100 crore, said RCC officials.

The old city bhaban will be demolished. The water of Sonadighi will be treated and its surroundings will have recreational facilities.

In the other project, an eight-storied commercial complex will be developed on 1.55 bighas of land in Kadirganj, southeast corner of New Nagar Bhaban, at a cost of Tk 50 crore.

Locals value the pieces of land at Tk 16 crore.

Since Mayor Liton spoke in several public meetings about awarding the projects to Ena Properties, many city dwellers fear that both the projects will be given, somehow, to the MP's firm.

"The projects will never realise if they are not given to Ena Properties," said an RCC official on condition of anonymity.

The RCC is also planning several other similar projects, including one for building a multi-storied market demolishing the kitchen market next to Rajshahi New Market.

For the project in Sonadighi, all nine bidders were chosen in pre-qualifiers. Besides Ena Properties, ABC Real Estates, Mahmood Builders and Associates, Monico Ltd, Padda Associates, Iswiraj Associates, N Amin and Sons, KB-Eal Joint Venture and BABL-JC JV are in the race for the job.

For the Kadirganj project, a total of 13 bidders pre-qualified, including Ena Properties and most of the nine from Sonadighi project, also known as Rajshahi City Tower project.

The projects are being called "package projects" since they include essential electrical, water supply, sanitary works and common facility development like internal road network, community space, recreational facilities, utility services and beatification besides building the buildings.

The Daily Star obtained a CD, prepared by Ena Properties, that have a three dimensional images of the proposed Rajshahi City Tower project. RCC initiated the projects showing this CD publicly at different city points.

On contact, Shafikul Islam Bhuiyan, managing director (MD) of Monico Ltd, said, "It is too early to even guess who will win the job as the tender notice is yet to be issued."

"We took part in the pre-qualification process knowing the tender proceedings will be fair," said Asim Kumar Joarder, chief executive of ABC Real Estates JV.

Nasiruddin Mahmood, MD of Mahmood Builders and Associates, also hoped or a fair tender process.

However, lawmaker Enamul Haque, also MD of Ena Properties, while talking The Daily Star sounded more confident than the other pre-qualified companies.

"We shall get the work. We hope to begin primary works within three months [from now] as we have already started designing the project," he said.

"We will construct the tower first and then we will develop the surroundings so that we can relocate the businessmen around inside the tower," he added.

Asked about RCC's benefit from the projects, Enamul said, "The matter is still in negotiations. I cannot disclose this at this stage."

"The developer that will provide the maximum benefits to the corporation will be selected," Mayor Liton told The Daily Star refuting possibilities of any unfair means in the tender process.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Short film The Flag screened in Rajshahi

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rajshahi Theatre has come up with yet another unique production, "The Flag", a short film based on the Liberation War and war crimes. The second screening of the film was held at the Padma Ranga Mancha last Friday.

Ahsan Kabir Liton, a promising young playwright and member of Rajshahi Theatre, came up with the concept and directed the 34-minute thought provoking film. The film stands out for no use of dialogue. Background score has been done by Bappa Majumder.

Another highlight is that the film does not show the faces of the actors. Actions are denoted by lower parts of the body, especially legs, and hands, and shadows.

A few years ago, Rajshahi Theatre drew much acclaim at home and in India for staging its play "Aronney" on a tree.

Eminent litterateur Hasan Azizul Haque attended the film screening ceremony as the chief guest.

Renowned dramatist and teacher Malay Kumar Bhowmik and Dr. Syed Shafikul Alam, general secretary of Rajshahi Sammilito Sangkritik Jote, attended the event as special guests.

The speakers conveyed that the viewers would have to deeply focus on the film to get a grasp, as it has no dialogue. The film addresses the necessity of understanding the issues regarding war criminals and religious fanaticism, they added.

The premier of the film was held in Dhaka in January this year and had filmmaker Morshedul Islam, theatre personality Nasiruddin Yousuff, documentary filmmaker Manzare Hasin Murad and secretary general of Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation Jhuna Chowdhury in the audience.

Prior to the second screening, some editing was done to the film. The film was shot at different locations in Rajshahi and features local actors.

The film zooms in on a fisherman and his little girl, going about their lives, at a village near the Padma river.

Pakistani military men, assisted by their local collaborators, break into the village after the fisherman shelters a wounded freedom fighter at his house.

The freedom fighter teaches the fisherman's daughter the significance of the flag and what it represents. When the razakars (collaborators) try to burn the flag, the young girl takes it as an attack on the dignity of the motherland and runs away with it.

Rajshahi Theatre provided all sorts of assistance, including the actors, with a view to draw a greater audience, said Kamar Ullah Sarker, president of the group.

The cast includes Prokriti, Kamal, Sharif, Shahin, Dr. Jahid, Robin, Tuli, Khorshed, Bakul, Sony, Asif, Rajon, Baul, Shohag, Uttam, Hannan and many others. Mostafizur Rahman Tuhin is the cinematographer.

Bagmara AL leader killed allegedly by Jamaat cadres

Published On: 2009-05-16

An Awami League (AL) leader was stabbed to death at Balia under Bagmara upazila yesterday afternoon.

Bagmara upazila acting president of AL Mokbul Hossain Mridha blamed armed cadres of Jamaat-e-Islami for the murder.

The deceased was identified as Shahadat Ali, 45, a teacher of Jatrapukur Dakhil Madrasa.

He was the convener of AL's election conducting committee of Balia during the December 29 polls, Mokbul added.

The attackers numbering over 15 waylaid Shahadat at around 4:00pm when he was going to Bhawaniganj bazar with his son Emdadul by a motorcycle, locals and police said.

The attackers also clashed with locals who rushed out of their houses to his rescue leaving 20 villagers injured, said locals. Ahad Ali, the victim's elder brother, was also injured in the attack.

Later, the angry mob torched the houses of Seher Amin and his sons Shamsul Islam, Amjad, Amser and Ashaful blaming them for the murder.

Police and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) members rushed the spot and brought the situation under control.

Two years ago, Seher Amin developed an enmity with Shahadat as the latter joined AL quitting the politics of Jamaat for Seher's link to JMB, said victim's family members and police sources.

"The incident is not political but it was linked to a feud over lands and other disputes." said Rajshahi SP ASM Masum Rabbani adding that Shahadat's body was sent for autopsy.

Monday, May 18, 2009
Sequel to AL Leader Murder on Friday
3 more houses torched, 7 damaged in Bagmara

Over 100 arsonists torched three more houses and damaged houses of seven other people in presence of police at Balia village in Bagmara yesterday allegedly in retaliation for Friday's murder of an Awami League (AL) leader.

Led by Akbar Ali, Maria UP chairman, the arsonists also looted households and cattle from some houses, said witnesses.

The owners of the attacked houses include 15 accused in the case filed with Bagmara police for the murder of AL leader Shahadat Ali.

Local AL blamed Jamaat-e Islami men for the murder saying they were partners in Bangla Bhai led JMB gang's operations in 2004.

Shahadat Ali, also a madrasa teacher, was stabbed to death near his Balia house on Friday. Police arrested suspected JMB man Sayed Ali while five houses were torched by a group over the murder on the same day.

The attacks were launched after the accused went into hiding along with their family members since filing of the case, said police and villagers. Finding none at the houses, angry AL supporters swooped on the houses at around 9am, they said.

The attackers razed to ground the brick-built tin-shed houses of Seher Amin and his sons Shamsul, Amser, Amjad and Ashaful. Then they set afire a portion of the house of Shamsul on the day of the killing.

Yesterday the arsonists marched to the houses of Bahar Uddin and his sons Mozahar, Azahar, Shahar Ali, Ali Hossain and Moksed of Balia village.

After damaging their clay-made houses, they torched three houses of Shahar Ali and Bahar Uddin, said witnesses adding many attackers were seen taking away the households and cattle-heads from the houses.

The rampage continued for nearly three hours but police were silent onlookers, said witnesses.

Nasir Uddin Zubayer, Assistant Superintendent Of Police who was at the scene said quoting villagers "The accused torched their own houses while fleeing away".

Local AL lawmaker Enamul Haque blamed Jamaat-e Islami for the murder and the incidents of arson and said that the evil forces are conspiring to create confusion by setting their houses on fire.

The MP at a protest meeting held at Jatragachhi madrasa ground yesterday afternoon also assured of bringing to book the murderers and the arsonists.

On Saturday, the officer-in-charge of Bagmara Police Station Shahabuddin Khalifa was closed to the police line for neglect to duty, said ASM Masum Rabbani, superintendent of police in Rajshahi. Harun-ur Rashid, Rajshahi Court inspector replaced him as the new OC.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Anwar Zahid and two sub inspectors Abdus Sattar and Emdadul Bashar were also withdrawn from Bagmara PS, said the SP.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

'Try war criminals to avert future political disaster'

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Speakers at BBC Bangladesh Sanglap (dialogue) in Rajshahi yesterday said the government should not delay in starting trial of the war criminals to avert political disasters in future.

They observed that those who opposed the country's liberation in 1971 are engaged in militancy and other subversive activities in the country.

The speakers called on the government to ensure employment of underprivileged people in the northern districts and take action against manpower recruiting agencies those are cheating with the job seekers.

They also called upon all political parties to be united for combating militancy in the country.

The programme on contemporary issues was recorded at Rajshahi Medical College auditorium in the city last evening. It will be aired on BBC Bangla service today after its news bulletin Probaha at 8:00pm and will also be telecasted at Channel i at 8:00pm tomorrow.

Panelists at the dialogue were Fazle Hossain Badsha MP, Mizanur Rahman Minu, organising secretary of BNP, Rajshahi University teacher ANM Saleh and Murshida Morshed, project director of Tilottoma, a local NGO in Rajshahi.

Fazle Hossain Badsha assured the audiences that the government is pledge bound to try the war criminals.

He said the manpower recruiting agencies employed during the alliance government are still active in cheating people.

Mizanur Rahman Minu blamed the government of hatching conspiracy against the opposition through delaying the trial of war criminals.

He said many ministers of the government have already proved to be unfit as they failed to face the problems of expatriates and foreign job seekers.

ANM Saleh said the government should develop agriculture-based industries to generate employment.

Reception to Prof Saidur

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Prof Dr M Saidur Rahman Khan, the newly appointed Bangladesh High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, was accorded a reception at Rajshahi Metropolitan Press Club (RMPC) on Friday.

Bulbul Chowdhury, president of the club, chaired the reception while Hasan Millat, president of Rajshahi Union of Journalists (RUJ) moderated the function.

Rajshahi University Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof Muhammad Nurullah, columnist and teacher Moloy Kumar Bhowmik, former RMPC president Dr Dayem Uddin and RU teacher Hasibul Alam Pradhan attended the function as the special guests.

Journalists Shafikul Islam and Anisuzzaman also spoke on the occasion.

Dr Saidur, also former vice-chancellor of Rajshahi University, in his speech said his new job is very challenging.

"I will do my best for brightening the image of our country alongside protecting the interest of expatriates in London", he said.

He recalled his days in prison over the campus violence of August 2007, saying that evil forces can't hide the truth.

Trial Of War Criminals: Start process without further delay

Published On: 2009-05-10
The government must hold the trial of war criminals as the anti-liberation forces are still active hatching conspiracy against the country.

This was stated by Shahriar Kabir, president of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, a forum for Secular Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals, in Chapainawabganj yesterday.

"Evaluate sincerity, skill and pro-liberation ideology over the political identity while engaging lawyers and investigators for the trial which should begin without any delay," he urged the government.

"If the trial is delayed, the conspiracies will be uncontrollable," he cautioned.

Shahriar was addressing a public meeting at Bir Shrestha Capt Mohiuddin Jahangir Mancha in Chapainawabganj town demanding speedy trial of war criminals.

He said the present government has come to power promising the trial of war criminals, so it has no scope to avoid it.

Shahriar called upon people to boycott Jamaat-e-Islami and the institutions run by the party.

He also urged people to help government by providing information and evidences against the war criminals.

Elderly freedom fighter Lal Mohammad Lalu presided over the meeting where Abdul Wadud Biswas, local lawmaker, was present as chief guest.

General Secretary of Nirmul Committee Chapainawabganj unit Kazi Mamun, lawyer and member of Nagorik Commission for trying war criminals Ziad Al Malum, Convener of Chapainawabganj unit Rofik Hasan Bablu, and Rajshahi committee leader Quamruzzaman also addressed the meeting.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

'Help bring war criminals to book'

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The government is facing conspiracies mainly for its election pledges that include trial of war criminals, steps against militancy and restoration of the spirit of the Liberation War in the constitution.

This was stated by Shahriar Kabir, president of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, a forum for Secular Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals, yesterday.

He was addressing a public meeting at Bhubon Mohon Park in Rajshahi demanding speedy trial of the war criminals.

"We are concerned as the government's move to try the war criminals is being hindered. If the trial is not held, the existence of the nation would be at stake," said Kabir.

He called upon all to stay alert on streets to help bring the war criminals to book.

Dr Sujit Sarker, vice-president of the district unit of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, chaired the meeting.

Rajshahi Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, Dr Sayed Shafikul Islam, Zihad Ali Mamun, Mostafizur Rahman Khan Alam, Abul Kalam Azad and Abdullah Al Masud also spoke.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

JMB torture victim sues 34 in Bagmara; Smugglers loot arms from Rab men, Later found abandoned

Thursday, May 7, 2009

M Manik, a torture victim of Bangla Bhai-led outlawed organisation, of Bagmara upazila yesterday filed a case with a Rajshahi court against 34 people including Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) adviser Lutfar Rahman.

The accused include Mahtab Khamaru, Bipul Ahmed, Mofazzal and Aynal Darji, close associates of the executed JMB leader Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai.

Other accused include alleged JMB militants Kalimuddin, Siddik, Aynul, Razzak, Jalil, Abdul Majid, Zaidul and Sayeedur.

The third Rajshahi court of judicial magistrate Asafuddoula recorded the case and directed the officer-in-charge of Bagmara Police Station to investigate into the matter and take legal actions, said Manik's lawyer Shamsunnahar Mukti.

The plaintiff in his case alleged that the accused people abducted him from his house in Jhikra on April 6, 2004. He was just an SSC candidate then.

They tortured him for several days at the JMB camp set up at Ramzan Kaya's house in Hamirkutsa village. The JMB militants extorted Tk 50,000 ransom for his release.

Manik in his case statement explained that he delayed in filing the case for lack of congenial environment and threats from the cohorts of Bangla Bhai.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Smugglers loot arms from Rab men; Later found abandoned

Organised smugglers swooped on two members of Rapid Action Battalion-5 (Rab) and looted their service pistols with 16 bullets at Tangon in Charghat upazila yesterday.

Senior officials of Rab and police rushed to the scene and recovered the 7.62 bore pistols abandoned, one in Charghat and another in Matia areas around 11:00pm.

The injured Rab members--Yunus Ali, 35, and M Shahinul Islam, 32--were given first aid at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH).

The incident took place around 7:30pm when a team of four plain-clothes Rab members, parted in two pairs, were patrolling at the scene close to the border and challenged a phensidyl dealer.

Rab and police separately held several people for interrogation.