Sunday, December 27, 2009

Boro worries in Barind

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Declining groundwater hits irrigation

The drought that hit aman production in the Barind region this season is likely to affect the forthcoming boro too.

The anxiety deepens as the irrigation machines cannot pump up water properly due to drop in the underground water level in the Barind tract under Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabganj districts.

Against this backdrop, Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) has started recommending boro growers to cultivate other crops like wheat, maize and pulses that are relatively less dependant on irrigation.

The BMDA also sent notices to its branches in 25 upazilas in the three districts asking them to ensure irrigation of no more than 100 bighas of land with every deep tube-well despite the growers' demand for more.

"We are urging farmers to divert to other crops that hardly need irrigation with an aim to reduce pressure on the deep tube-wells," said BMDA Executive Director Abdul Mannan.

He explained that farmers used to irrigate some 350 to 400 bighas of land for boro from each deep tube-well while the deep tube-wells are normally set up to irrigate a maximum of 180 bighas of land.

BMDA arranges irrigation of around 3.24 lakh hectares of land in the region pumping out underground water with some 12,000 deep tube-wells, he says.

Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources said aman was cultivated on about 3.79 lakh hectares of land in this region this season.

They said the average per hectare output, recorded so far, is 2.3 tonnes against last year's 2.6 tonnes. The farmers have already harvested 80 percent of their crop.

This year aman harvest is good everywhere except in the Barind region where there was hardly any rain during the last monsoon, said agriculture officials.

Kawsar Ali who sends weekly water level reports to Water Development Board from Mundumala said the water level has dropped by 10 metres in the area during the last 14 years because of poor rainfall and drying up of the Padma.

"It took around 15 hours to irrigate one bigha in the previous years. But this year it takes around 30 hours to irrigate the same land," said Aftab Dewan, a farmer of Nachole.

The DAE in Rajshahi has lowered its boro cultivation target and fixed it at 83,811 hectares of land, which is 1,245 hectares less than last year's 85,056 hectares.

The DAE sources said the boro cultivators have prepared seedbeds on some 8,000 hectares of land in the nine upazilas of Rajshahi.

Konal wins "Channel i Shera Kontho 2009"

Saturday, December 26, 2009
"And the winner is ...Konal," TV presenter Farzana Brownia dramatically announced at end of the four-hour grand finale of "Channel i Shera Kontho 2009", a musical talent hunt, held at Rajshahi District Stadium on Thursday night.

With the announcement, the chilly winter night in the northwestern city warmed up for some moments as 25000 people at the stadium and some 50,000 outside jumped up in joy and fireworks lit the sky. It was a night to remember in Rajshahi.

The announcement came as a relief to millions of Bangladeshis at home and abroad glued to the TV screen, waiting for the result.

Somnur Monir Konal from Dhaka won the title, while Chaitee Mutsuddi Liza and the youngest finalist Moumita Tasrin Nadiraj won the first and second runner-up positions respectively.

Konal received a cheque worth Tk eight lakh, while Chaitee got Tk five lakh and Nadiraj got Tk three lakh. They also received monetary and other gifts from different organisations, including a Tk 25,000 award from Rajshahi City Corporation.

The finale featured spirited live performances by the seven finalists and the results were based on points given by the judges and SMS votes from the audiences.

Renowned artistes Runa Laila, Sabina Yasmin, Subir Nandi and veteran music composer Alauddin Ali were present as the judges at the finale, adding grandeur to the programme that left a lasting impression on the people of Rajshahi.

The programme began with speeches by Channel i Managing Director Faridur Reza Sagar and Rajshahi Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton.

The main event began with the performances of renowned dancers Shibli Mohammad and Shamim Ara Nipa accompanied by around 100 young dancers of Rajshahi; the song "Aguner Poroshmoni Chhoao Praney" played in the background.

The mega event changed the city mood. Four big screens were set up inside the stadium and six at different city points.

Head of News and Director, Channel i, Shykh Seraj, however, explained that the total amount of money would not be given to the winners right away. The winners will receive scholarships to acclaimed musical institutions abroad. He said, "A sudden rush of money often corrupts young minds."

The event, "Channel i Shera Kontho 2009" began in May with the slogan 'Gaaney... Awaz Tolo Praney." Some 92,000 contestants from seven zones of the country -- Dhaka Metro, Dhaka, Barisal, Rajshahi, Chittagong, Khulna and Sylhet -- took part in the competition.

On the occasion of the grand finale in Rajshahi, Channel i covered special reports highlighting the economy, environment and culture of the city during the last few days.

Farzana Brownia and Robin Khan directed the event jointly.

Talent Hunt Programme

50 injured as cops club crowd

The law enforcers charged truncheon on a scrambling crowd, waiting to enter the venue of a talent hunt programme, leaving around 50 persons injured in Rajshahi Thursday night.

The injured include Tanvir, 20, of Sopura, Pial, 18, of Bagha, Sagir Hossain, 20, of Seroil Colony, Tawhid, 22, of Malda Colony, Shahidul, 23, of Katakhali, Sohel Rana, 22, of Haragram, and Anwar, 22, of Puthia, who took treatment at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. The rest were given first aid at different clinics and households.

The injured alleged that members of police and Rab beat up the invited guests without any provocation. Proper management at the entries was lacking though as much as eight gates of the district stadium were open to the visitors, they said.

Although the programme -- the grand finale of Channel i Sera Kontho -- was scheduled to begin around 7:30pm, the guests started to queue up from 12:00noon and the gates were opened not before 4:00pm, complained the guests.

Some people were seen selling entry passes at Tk 300, Tk 200 and Tk 100, though they were not for sale.

Rajshahi Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton described the unprovoked baton charge as undesirable. Officials of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police were not available for comments.

Fresh probe into killing of Prof Yunus demanded

Friday, December 25, 2009

Different quarters yesterday demanded reinvestigation into the killing of Rajshahi University teacher Prof Muhammad Yunus while the trial process of the case against eight JMB militants is at final sage at Rajshahi Speedy Trial Tribunal.

The tribunal fixed December 31 for holding argument between the lawyers of both sides on completion of recording statements of 26 prosecution witnesses and examining the accused on Wednesday.

"After the argument, the tribunal will fix the date for delivering the verdict in the case", said Public Prosecutor Entajul Haque Babu.

Teachers and students of RU economics department demanded reinvestigation into Prof Yunus murder case while observing his fifth death anniversary on the campus yesterday.

Hundreds of students and teachers of the department brought out a silent procession on the campus at around 11:00am and held a rally in front of the department.

Addressing the rally, Prof M Moazzem Hossain Khan, chairman of economics department, urged the government to reinvestigate the case. He slated RU administration for not dealing with the murder case properly.

Muktijoddha Santan Command, Bangabandhu Parishad and Bangladesh Economic Association also demanded reinvestigation into the case.

Prof Yunus of RU economics department was killed during morning walk near his Binodhpur house on December 24, 2004.

Inspector Mohammad Helauddin of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) submitted the charge sheet in the case against eight JMB militants on September 10, 2007.

The accused are Shafiullah Tarek (follower of Asadullah Al Galib), Shahidullah Mahbub (husband of the executed JMB leader Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai's niece), JMB's regional commanders Abu Isa Enamul and Golamur Rahman Mostafa, militants Abul Kashem Tufan, Abdul Matin, Abdur Rahman Arif and Mujibur Rahman.

In the charge sheet, the CID brushed aside previous police findings of Shibir involvement in the killing despite two witnesses in separate judicial statements said that Shibir men were involved in the murder.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ritwik Kumar Ghatak recalled in Rajshahi

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ritwik Kumar Ghatak, the Bengali master filmmaker was born in Dhaka on November 4, 1925 and stayed in Rajshahi for several years. He and his family moved to Calcutta (now Kolkata) in West Bengal in the 1940s. Partition (1947) had a major impact on Ghatak and is a recurring subject in his works.

Ghatak's films are now celebrated in India and beyond. His stature among Bengali film directors is comparable to that of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. Nevertheless, he is rarely remembered ceremonially in Bangladesh.

Starting from yesterday, Rajshahi Film Society has begun a three-day Ritwik Ghatak Film Festival at Rajshahi Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital at Ghoramara. Ghatak used to stay in the house that was later turned into the medical college.

"Our aim is to celebrate the life and works of Ghatak who maintained a bond between Bangladesh and West Bengal," said Dr FMA Zahid, convenor of the film society.

Eminent litterateur Hasan Azizul Haque formally inaugurated the festival on Thursday while Dr. AFM Zahid chaired the opening ceremony.

Rina Chakrawarty and Aroma Dutta -- nieces of Ritwik Kumar Ghatak -- were present on the occasion, which drew a huge audience.

Aroma said that Ghatak was greatly upset for having to leave Bangladesh (then East Bengal) during the Partition and that he was proud of his roots.

Lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha attended the event as chief guest while among others Fazlul Haque, Monish Rafik, two French researchers -- Sandra Alvarez and Anais Nasson -- spoke on Ghatak's life and works.

"There is hardly any Bengali movie enthusiast who does not know Ghatak, but only a few know that he was born and raised here," he added.

The festival will show eight full-length films by Ghatak -- "Nagarik", "Ajantrik", "Bari Theke Paliye", "Meghe Dhaka Tara", "Komal Gandhar", "Subarnarekha", "Titash Ekti Nadir Naam" and "Jukti Takko Aar Gappo".

The organisers hope that the festival is likely to draw a number of movie enthusiasts from across the country.

After Bangladesh's independence, Ghatak came to Dhaka with Satyajit Roy in 1972, just four years before his death on February 6, 1976. He then recalled his childhood in Dhaka and most of his youth in Rajshahi.

To Ghatak, the primary objective of filmmaking was humanity.

"Once we went to a char (shoal) on the Padma river in Rajshahi. Ritwik took some food that we thought was for us. But he gave away the food to people living in a small hut. He did not tell us who they were and why he gave them food, but we found out that he used to give them food regularly," wrote Pratiti Devi, Ghatak's sister, about his compassionate nature.

Ghatak came across the famous Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Tara Sankar Bandyopadhyay, Probodh Kumar Sanyal, Humayun Kabir and Syed Mujtaba Ali as they were close to his father and brothers, and visited their house in Rajshahi.

Rajshahi, Pabna had to wait for two more days

Friday, December 18, 2009

The nation as a whole had the final victory on December 16 in 1971 but the people of Rajshahi and Pabna had to wait for two more days to have the taste of freedom as the Pakistani occupation troops were desperately holding on a few camps there.

On the night of December 17 and early December 18, Pakistani forces fled to Natore from Shahid Shamsuzzoha Hall of Rajshahi University, their last camp in Rajshahi, reports our staff correspondent from Rajshahi.

Local people rescued a number of injured people including many tortured and abused women from the hall.

The Pakistani forces surrendered to the allied forces in Natore on December 20.

Sporadic clashes between the local people and Pakistani forces started in early March of 1971.

On March 28, Pak forces killed a number of policemen at Rajshahi Police Lines for their refusal to surrender arms.

As the freedom fighters under leadership of the then Captain Giasuddin Chowdhury and Captain Rashid started resisting the occupation forces, the latter had to remain confined to Rajshahi Cantonment from April 3 to 13.

On April 13, a huge Pak army from Dhaka broke the freedom fighters' resistance.

During the next several months, the barbaric army killed a number of people including freedom fighters and many mass graves were later found around Rajshahi town and different areas of the district.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rajshahi farmers profit from plastic crates

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Farmers in Chapainawa-bganj earned an additional Tk 15 lakh last fiscal year simply by changing their product packing system.

Farmers now use plastic crates instead of traditional straw-cushioned bamboo baskets covered with jute sacks. The plastic crates help farmers cut losses.

In fiscal 2007-08, the growers packed around 205 tonnes of fruits for sale. But they had to throw away around 10 tonnes, as those were rotten due to the poor traditional packing system, said an official of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The crates were provided by USAID under its project Poverty Reduction by Increasing the Competitiveness of Enterprises.

But the farmers were able to sell all of their 250 tonnes of fruits in fiscal 2008-09 thanks to plastic crates, the official added.

In each plastic crate, 25 kilogram of mangoes can be packed.

The traditional baskets are costlier than the new ones but not suitable for sending the fruits to a distant place in large quantities, said a farmer in Kansat.

"We funded the horticulture, aquaculture and leather sectors in Bangladesh," said Mark Visocky, deputy director of USAID's Economic Growth Office.

USAID has moved to train farmers. "This year, we will train around 100 mango growers in Kansat in how to farm with minimum chemicals."

USAID trained 30 farmers at Khamar Pathuria in Natore who have already begun growing vegetables like eggplant using compost and organic fertilisers, said Jules Lampell, chief of party of the project.

The project helps farmers bring the cost of chemicals from Tk 40,000 to Tk 4,000 per hectare through proper use of natural pesticides, Lampell said.

The project aimed at generating jobs for around 30,000 people in its five-year term. "These jobs did not exist before we started the project," said Mark Visocky.

Yet another 'heist' at govt office

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In a sequel to heists in five public offices in Rajshahi and Natore over last two nights, criminals ransacked another government office at Sutrapur in Bogra town on Sunday night and stabbed its night guard to death.

Meanwhile, the government sent alerts to all district and upazila administration offices and law enforcement agencies to remain vigilant.

Police and officials concerned in Bogra told our staff correspondent that a gang forced their way into the public works department (PWD) office, sometime on Sunday night, and stabbed night guard Jamaluddin, 35, to death and tied up another guard Abu Taleb.

They also ransacked 33 almirahs in 14 rooms of the office.

Earlier on Friday and Saturday nights, criminals also ransacked five government offices in Rajshahi and Natore, including Rajshahi Divisional Commissioner's office after tying up their night guards.

Police of the three districts could not ascertain the motives behind the robbers who hardly took away anything.

In Bogra, police said the officials came to know about the incident when they went to the office at about 9:00am. Some documents might have gone missing from the office but not for sure yet, they added.

The robbers might have killed Jamaluddin after being resisted by him, police said adding that they also made Taleb unconscious by giving some intoxicant.

Executive Engineer Md Abul Bashar of Bogra PWD filed a case in this connection with Bogra Sadar Police Station but police could nab none till filing of this report last evening.

State Minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Haq Tuku held a pre-scheduled meeting on law and order of the district yesterday. Bogra Deputy Commissioner Md Iftekharul Islam brought the issue before the minister's notice and the later asked the law enforcers to be after the perpetrators.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday afternoon, Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder said the motive behind these incidents might be to embarrass the government. He, however, expressed firm resolve that law enforcers would be able to nab the culprits soon.

The home secretary said 39 people have been picked up in Rajshahi in this connection while police are on the hunt to nab the criminals involved in Natore and Bogra incidents.

Meanwhile, following a directive from Home Minister Sahara Khatun, the police headquarters (PHQ) yesterday sent separate messages to its different units including seven divisional ranges, six metropolitans, criminal investigation department (CID), detective branch (DB) and special branch (SB) to look into the incidents.

Assistant Inspector General (AIG-Media) of Police Nazrul Islam said, "The police headquarters have sent separate written messages to all the units concerned, including the divisional range in Rajshahi and Chittagong and also the police superintendents (SPs) of Rajshahi, Natore, Bogra and Chittagong."

PHQ sources said messages have also been sent to all the divisions and SPs reminding of the mysterious break-ins of 56 rooms of Bangladesh Railway Headquarters in Dhaka and the Eastern Zone office in Chittagong on January 10 this year.

PHQ senior police personnel suspect members of a same group having inter-district link might have committed the burglaries.

Deputy Commissioner Mainul Hasan of DB-North, who supervised the Railway office break-in case, told The Daily Star, "We have recovered stolen laptop, mobile phones and money and arrested the persons involved. But we did not get anything mysterious behind the incident."

Our staff correspondent from Rajshahi adds: Rajshahi Divisional Commissioner Hafizur Rahman Bhuiyan sent letters to the deputy commissioners of all the districts of the division asking them to step up security measures.

The letter also ordered for forwarding the message to different Upazila Nirbahi Officers, said sources.

The divisional commissioner's office also sent a letter to Rajshahi metropolitan police commissioner to ensure security of the city by increasing patrol at nights.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police (Rajshahi range) Mokhlesur Rahman who was in Bogra yesterday told The Daily Star over phone that all superintendents of police in the division were asked to take extra security measures.

The DIG said they would increase police patrol around government offices in particular at night

Babla Bon mass grave in Rajshahi lies uncared for

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Family members of several Liberation War martyrs have demanded steps for protection and proper maintenance of Babla Bon mass grave site in Rajshahi city so that people can pay homage to the great sons of the soil, who were buried there.

The Pakistani army with the help of their local collaborators picked up 17 people including intellectuals and politicians from their houses on the night of November 25 in 1971.

Their bodies were found after local people discovered the mass grave near Boalia Club in the city on December 30.

Bodies of the 17 martyrs including Prof Mir Abdul Quayyum of Rajshahi University, Nawrose-ud-Doula Khan, Taslim Uddin, Abul Hossain, Alauddin, Taiyab Ali, Mirja Sultan, Azizul Haque Chowdhury and Aminul Haque Chowdhury were dumped at the site.

"I can still remember the day well when I went to the grave site riding a bicycle in the morning of December 30, 1971. I could identify my father's body by seeing the ring on his finger," said Asaf-ud-Doula Khan Gulzar, son of Nawrose-ud-Doula Khan who developed a transistor amplifier and supplied it to freedom fighters for use during the war.

Towfiqur Rahman Lavlu, nephew of martyred businessman Altaf Hossain, said he identified his uncle's body after seeing his sweater.

Thirteen of the bodies were tied up with a rope.

Family members of the martyrs and local people gathered at the gravesite on November 25 marking their abduction on this day in 1971.

Talking to The Daily Star on the occasion, they demanded protection of the site and trial of war criminals.

Monday, December 14, 2009

3 govt offices ransacked now in Natore

Monday, December 14, 2009

In mysterious incidents of a series of heists, criminals ransacked three more government offices in Natore early yesterday, just a day after similar incidents of robberies at two other public offices in Rajshahi.

Tying up four on-duty night guards, the gang swooped on Natore District Secondary Education Office, Natore Technical School and College at Madrasa crossing and a warehouse of Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) at Kanaikhali in the town in between Saturday midnight and 2:00am yesterday. They also ransacked nine rooms of these government establishments.

Officials concerned and police could not trace any clues to the incidents as nothing went missing from the offices except Tk 40,000 in cash from the technical school and college.

Similarly, criminals broke into the offices of the Rajshahi Divisional Commissioner and LGED early Saturday and ransacked a total of 32 rooms.

The officials concerned said nothing was missing from their offices. Police yesterday said Tk 16,000 in cash was looted from the commissioner's office but they later said that the money was found inside it.

Principal of the college Anowar Hossain told The Daily Star that some criminals tied up his two night guards and broke open the doors of five rooms, ransacked five almiras, and turned its documents and files upside down. They also looted Tk 40,000 and two mobile phone sets of the guards.

Police said the criminals ransacked the education office hours after the incident of the college.

The incident at the education office is mysterious as the criminals ransacked its two rooms but they did not even touch any of the valuables including laptops and textbooks, Additional SP Mozzammel Hossain told our Natore correspondent.

The criminals entered the BADC godown around 2:00am after tying up its two night guards.

Rajshahi Divisional Commissioner M Hafizur Rahman Bhuiyan said criminals broke into the offices professionally one after another.

Contacted, Deputy Inspector General of Police in Rajshahi Mokhlesur Rahman suspected that the same gang was involved in all the incidents in Rajshahi and Natore.

He said police are trying to nab the criminals.

In Rajshahi, police picked up several people in this connection. They were being interrogated, said Rajshahi Metropolitan Police Commissioner Nawsher Ali.

Rajshahi Divisional Commissioner office sources said night guard of its office Shiekh Jamal has been suspended while LGED Executive Engineer AK Azad said a three-member probe committee has been formed to investigate the incident.

Raiders ransack 32 rooms of two Rajshahi govt offices

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Criminals broke into the offices of Rajshahi divisional commissioner and Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) in the city's Srirampur area early yesterday and ransacked 32 rooms of the two adjacent buildings.

The gang tied up the on-duty night guard and confined him to the mosque on the ground floor of the three-storey LGED building and ransacked 20 rooms while other night guards were asleep during the incident. Police rescued the night guard, Khalilur Rahman, from the mosque at around 8:00am.

Rajshahi Metropolitan Police Commissioner Nawsher Ali visited the scenes and told reporters that the criminals entered the rooms of the two building sometime between 3:00am and 4:00am. He declined to give details for the sake of investigation.

According to sources, criminals broke into the divisional commissioner's office by breaking open the main collapsible gate. They broke door locks of 12 rooms on the ground, first and second floors and left 13 steel almiras and several table in the rooms upside down. An official said around Tk 16,000 went missing from an almira and two table-drawers.

Elderly night guard Zamal Shiekh, who was alone in the divisional commissioner's office building on several bighas of land, told this correspondent that he was sleeping on the ground floor when the incident occurred.

"I noticed the main collapsible gate broken when I arose for saying Fazr prayers at around 4:00am. As I found the doors of 12 rooms on the three floors broken, I informed Nazir Abdul Halim of the incident".

The gang ransacked the office rooms of the divisional commissioner, his secretary, additional divisional commissioner and deputy land reform commissioner on the first floor of the three-storey building while other rooms are of accounts, general, revenue and development sections and library on the first and ground floor.

Different law enforcement and intelligence agencies' personnel collected fingerprints and footprints from the scenes. They suspect the criminals entered the rooms to steal important documents.

The LGED Executive Engineer AK Azad said two rooms out of five of the superintendent engineer, 15 rooms out of 16 of the executive engineer and all three rooms

of the executive engineer (Training) were ransacked. He said some 15 steel almiras were vandalised and lockers inside the almiras broken.

Valuables, including computers, laptops and telephone sets in the ransacked rooms of the two buildings were not touched, said the sources.

Two separate robbery cases were filed with Rajpara police station yesterday afternoon.

Divisional Commissioner Hafizur Rahman yesterday formed a three-member committee headed by Additional Divisional Commissioner Swapon Kumar Roy to probe the incident. The committee has been asked to submit report as early as possible.

The LGED department served show cause notices on its three night guards Khalilur Rahman, Rabiul Islam and Mohammad Bablu. Police asked the night guards of the two building not to leave the stations until further order.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Baby gharial caught from Padma lands in Rajshahi Zoo

Friday, December 11, 2009

Young one of gharial, one of the most critically endangered crocodilians on the globe and a near extinct species in Bangladesh, was captured from River Padma in Rajshahi on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a new fishing cat was brought to the Rajshahi Zoo recently after Atghoria Upazila Nirbahi Officer rescued the animal that was caught and injured by villagers.

After fishermen netted the two and a half feet-long baby gharial from Gohomabona under Godagari upazila on Wednesday morning, local youths Arifuzzaman and Ismail took it and handed over to Rajshahi Zoo, said Forhad Uddin, veterinary surgeon of the zoo.

"It is too early to understand the baby gharial's gender. Male gharials have a knot on their snouts, and the knot develops in one year. It is being fed dead fishes as per food chart prescribed by Dhaka Zoo," he said.

The creature is feigning dead in human presence, and seldom wandering in water as it is kept in the cage of tortoise, said Nawshad Ali, a staff of the zoo.

With its long and slender snout and needle-sharp interlocking teeth, the gharial has dark spots and cross-stripes against a light grey background. Its eyes are green, frosted with black.

"Size of the gharial tells that it would not be more than a couple of months old. The recovery indicates that breeding adults of the fish-eating reptiles are still surviving in the wild. A similar gharial, also captured from Padma River in January 2004, was sent to a wildlife organisation in Cox's Bazar," said zoologist Dr Altaf Hossain, also a former vice chancellor of Rajshahi University (RU).

RU Zoology teacher ABM Mohsin wondered how these reptiles were surviving amidst massive sand-lifting, human disturbances, intense fishing, siltation and pollution.

"The recent accidental captures of gharials from the Padma suggest the river basin stretching from Godagari to Yusufpur in Rajshahi was virtually a breeding place for gharials that were regularly seen nesting on the banks till the early 90s," he said.

The gharial existed for 2,000 million years and is classified in its own taxonomic subfamily, Gavialis (Hindi word ghariyal or crocodile) gangeticus (of the Ganges River), say Internet sources.

Now it has been included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data Book for endangered species headed for extinction. Rajshahi Zoo now has two grown up female gharials.

America Week in Rajshahi

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 

A three-day 'America Week', featuring activities of the US embassy and US agencies in Bangladesh begins in Rajshahi today.

According to government officials, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister GM Quader is likely to inaugurate the colourful programme that will continue until December 10 at Parjatan Motel.

On the inaugural day, US Ambassador to Bangladesh James F Moriarty will visit Martyrs' Memorial Archive at Rajshahi University and take part in a discussion with students on education in America and visa procedures, said RU sources.

Youths in Rajshahi showed enthusiasm about the programme as many of them yesterday visited the Parjatan Motel.

Following a tradition of past America week, people could visit more than 40 booths run by the US embassy, USAID and its development partners and some US business houses.

In a press conference in November, Cultural Affairs Officer of the US embassy in Dhaka Catherine A Hallock said the embassy is going to hold the week in the month of victory of Bangladesh.

"There will be a blend of culture of Rajshahi including folk song Gambhira with the American programmes", she said.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Terrorists out to destabilise world peace using Islam

Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister GM Quader in Rajshahi yesterday said some terrorists are using the name of Islam to destabilise peace across the world, adding: "In fact, it is not Islam which they (terrorists) are preaching."

"The American people must know that we, Bangladeshis, are their friends and brothers and would remain so, even if some terrorists were using the name of Islam."

The minister said this at a press conference after inaugurating the three-day America Week at the local tourism motel.

The people of Bangladesh have rejected distinctively this type of politics of terrorism and religious extremism, he added.

"All Muslims are not terrorists and definitely, majority of the Muslims hates terrorism in the name of Islam… Most of the Muslim world also dislike them."

Quader recalled the US assistance to Bangladesh during natural disasters, including cyclone Sidr, saying that the US is the friend of Bangladesh since its independence in 1971. "The friendship would be strengthening further."

US Ambassador to Dhaka James F Moriarty said, "Terrorism is the enemy of democracy and democracy is the enemy of terrorism. That's why, the new democratically elected government right now is very aggressively going after terrorists in Bangladesh."

He termed Bangladesh an 'important friend and partner of the United States', saying: "We have provided more than $5.5 billion in development assistance since Bangladesh's independence."

"As Bangladesh moves to a trade, not aid, driven economy, it is important to note that the US is Bangladesh's most important trading partner."

He said the bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded $4.2 billion in 2008. "The livelihoods of millions of Bangladeshis depend on our close relationship. We want to deepen and strengthen this friendship."

The envoy held a discussion with imams at Imam Training Academy at noon. Later, he visited the Martyrs' Memorial Archive and attended a discussion with the university students at RU Senate Bhaban.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Ghulam Rahman yesterday recommended allocating funds for the lawmakers and the election expenses of political parties from the national budget in order to curb corruption.

"If we can free our political parties, its activities and the election process from corruption, we can expect a remarkable reduction in corruption in our society and we can achieve the goals of our Liberation War -- improving the living standards and eliminating the economic disparity," he said at a discussion.

The political activities and the elections are very costly affairs, he said. "If one chooses to do politics or if a minister visits his constituency, he has to spend a lot of money for their supporters. Where would they get the money from?"

Progati (Promoting Governance, Accountability, Transparency and Integrity), an USAID initiative, organised the discussion in Rajshahi city to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day.

Speaking as the chief guest, Ghulam Rahman said a culture of cronyism and a business-politics nexus have developed in the country in the long absence of democracy.

"Parliament is the head of the country. If it is tainted by grafts, the entire country will gradually be involved in corruption. So, we have to combat corruption at the top first," he added.

Ghulam Rahman called on the countrymen to unite and launch a social movement to resist corruption.

He said the economic condition of South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand was similar to that of the then East Pakistan 50 to 60 years ago. "But today, those countries have developed a lot while almost half of the population in our country is still ultra-poor."

Speaking on the occasion, US Ambassador James F Moriarty said corruption reduces Bangladesh's GDP by about two percent or 1.5 billion dollars a year. "As a direct result of corruption, tens of thousands of Bangladeshis remain unemployed, uneducated and impoverished."

He, however, observed that Bangladesh has made progress in ensuring good governance and strengthening the democratic institutions.

He termed the participation of 80 percent of voters in the last general election 'an outstanding feat in any democracy'.

The independent Anti-Corruption Commission having investigative capacity, the formation of the Information Commission and Human Rights Commission and a very successful Election Commission helped the country make some progress in the annual Transparency International Corruption Perceptions index, he said.

"While it is heartening to see that Bangladesh is one of the nine countries that improved most in their rankings in 2009, the country still ranks near the bottom at number 139 out of 180 countries. Bangladesh still has a long way to go," the ambassador added.

Describing the activities of Progati, he said the project is helping improve transparency and accountability in public resource management. It works closely with the Jatiya Sangsad and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Smugglers-BDR Affair on Barendra Express

Monday, December 7, 2009

Passengers halted an intercity train for three hours at Panchbibi station in Joypurhat yesterday protesting carrying of smuggled goods in trains and alleged harassment by border troops in the name of raids.

Hundreds of passengers got down from Barendra Express that runs between Nilphamari and Rajshahi when it arrived at Panchbibi station at around 10:00am and staged demonstration for three hours until 1:00pm.

They sat on the rail track just in front of the locomotive of the express train and held a rally, said sources in the headquarters of Bangladesh Railway's west zone in Rajshahi.

The agitators said the smugglers were carrying Indian fertiliser at different compartments of Barendra Express since it started from Nilphamari. Half an hour before the train reached Panchbibi, some members of Bangladesh Rifles challenged the smugglers, they said.

At this stage, the smugglers spread the fertiliser inside the compartments by cutting sacks and threw the sacks bearing Indian seals out through the windows, they added.

Repulsed by an unpleasant smell coming out from the fertiliser, the passengers got down from the train.

The agitating passengers alleged the smugglers carry Indian goods, including cloths, phensidyl, spices and fertilisers in trains on the rail route.

They stop the trains at their will at different places to load and unload the smuggled goods, alleged the agitators. Moreover, the border guards harass the passengers in the name of raiding the trains, they added.

The angry passengers withdrew the barricade after the railway authorities cleaned the compartments.


Road blocked as bus workers beat up Ruet student

Students of Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology (Ruet) yesterday barricaded the Dhaka-Rajshahi highway as bus workers beat up a student the previous night.

The agitating students damaged a Dhaka bound coach of Modern Enterprise during the barricade from 9:30am to 1.30pm while the bus workers assaulted Quamrul Hasan, a passenger of the coach for supporting the students.

The students were demanding punishment to the persons responsible for beating up Abdur Razzak, a civil department student and fixing of reasonable bus for students on all routes from Rajshahi.

According to students and police, Razzak scuffled with the staff of a bus of Paradise Enterprise on Saturday night as the conductor demanded 'excess' fare while he was traveling to Rajshahi from Rangpur.

As sequel to the scuffle, the bus conductor refused to drop Razzak in front of Ruet main gate. They took him to Rajshahi bus terminal and beat him up there mercilessly, alleged the students.

They claimed the bus workers also snatched away Tk 5000 and an expensive mobile phone from Razzak.

The next morning, the Ruet students, mostly from civil department, barricaded the highway in front of the Ruet main gate to protest the assault.

During the sit-in on the highway they damaged window panes of a coach with sticks and hurled brickbats at other vehicles.

As Quamrul Hasan, a passenger of the coach shouted at the bus driver for ignoring the students' demonstration, workers took him to the terminal and beat him up there.

A huge number of police forces were deployed at the scene as tension mounted at noon when bus workers started gathering at Talaimari to protest 'misbehavior' of students.

The students withdrew the barricade at 1:30pm after Ruet administration and senior police officials assured them of justice following a meeting with the bus owners and workers on the campus, said Tariqul Islam, an assistant commissioner of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police.

The students, however, threatened to go for tougher movement if their demands were not met within 24 hours.

Death Threat to Attorney Gen:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ahle Hadith man held

Detective Branch (DB) of police yesterday arrested the secretary general of Jamaat-e-Ahle Hadith, suspecting his hand in giving death threat to Attorney General Mahbubey Alam.

Md Rezaul Karim, also a teacher of Bogra Government Azizul Haque College, was shown arrested under Section 54 and produced in Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, seeking a 10-day remand.

Judge Ruhul Amin granted seven days' remand for Jamaat-e-Ahle Hadith leader.

Talking to The Daily Star, Mahfuzur Rahman, Assistant Commissioner of DB of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police, said a copy of the handwritten letter conveying the death threat to the attorney general was also posted to a local daily.

"We took samples of Rejaul's handwriting and sent those to CID's handwriting experts two days ago. The experts verbally confirmed us that the samples matched", said Rahman.

Police claimed they arrested Rejaul on secret information that he had visited Rajshahi on November 16 from Bogra for posting the letter conveying the death threat but they did not give details.

Meanwhile, JAH Law Affairs Secretary Golam Hossain Sarwar termed the allegations against Rejaul false and claimed that police picked up Rejaul from his house in Bogra on Monday night.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jamat-e Ahle Hadith secretary general Rezaul Karim was placed on three more days' remand yesterday in connection with a case filed on charge of giving death threat to Attorney General Mahbubey Alam.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ruhul Amin granted the remand after a long hearing on the police prayer for quizzing him for six days, said court inspector Debendranath Das.

Detective Branch (DB) police arrested Rezaul on November 25 under Section 54 and lodged the case under Anti Terrorism Act of 2009 with Boalia Model Police Station on December 3.

In the case, plaintiff Motiar Rahman, an inspector of the DB police complained that Rezaul's handwriting resembled with the handwriting of the letter issuing threats.

Rahman also alleged that Rezaul, despite being a government college teacher, came to Rajshahi from his home in Bogra thrice in November without permission of college authorities. "This indicates his ill motive," he stated.


"I saw Asadullah hosting Arab and Kashmiri mujahideens at his Naodapara Madrasa many times during 1992-93."
Expelled secretary general of Ahle Hadith Andolon (AHA).
Dr Asadullah Al Galib is a teacher at the Department of Arabic at Rajshahi University.

"We will continue our movement unto death."
leader of AHA
brushing aside the allegations that his party propagates terrorism.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nostalgia and melody at a school reunion

Wednesday, December 30, 2

The five and a half hour cultural evening at Rajshahi Bholanath Bisheswar Hindu Academy was abuzz with nearly 2,000 of former and present students of the 111-year old school and almost all were immersed in nostalgia.

Although performances by noted vocal artiste Rafiqul Alam and composer Anup Bhattacharya, who were students of the school in the '50s, were the main attraction, presentations of current students like Pial, Sangeeta Pal and Mousumi seemed no less important to the cheerful audience.

The academy organised the cultural evening, to celebrate its 111 years of glory and heritage at the school premises. Beginning at 6pm, the programme ended at 11:30pm on December 26.

The evening began with "Karna Kunti Sangbad" where young student Mousumi Moitra played the role of Kunti and Shukhen Mukhopadhyay performed as Karna.

Former student Tarun Kumar Das, a disciple of Pundit Raghunath Das, and music director of Rajshahi Betar enthralled the audience with his violin rendition while his brother Arun Kumar Das assisted him on the flute and son Tarun Kumar Das on tabla.

Anup Bhattacharya sang two songs and informed that there are at least three artistes from the academy who worked at Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra during the Liberation War. They are -- Rafiqul Alam, his elder brother Sarwar Jahan and Anup himself.

Rafiqul Alam came to the stage with a Shyama Sangeet, "Ma Tor Koto Rongo Dekhbo Bol", which was his first stage performance and it was at a function at the school in the early '60s.

Listening to the Shyama Sangeet, one of Alam's teachers expressed amazement and blessed him saying, "You will go a far way in music," recalled Alam.

Alam continued by saying that the education system of the Academy was different where teachers looked after every student personally.

At the programme Alam performed, "Ekti Doel Bon-e Dakle", "Kobey Shadhur Charan Dhuli", "Boishakhi Megher Kachhe" and "Bhalo Achhi Bhalo Theko".

RU Teacher Assault: BCL leader lands in jail

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) leader Emdadul Haque was sent to jail after he was hauled before a court yesterday on charges of beating up a Rajshahi University teacher and attempting to extort an admission seeker.

The First Court of Metropolitan Magistrate Amirul Islam also rejected his bail prayer in connection with the case filed by the assaulted folklore department teacher Anupam Hera Mondol.

Meanwhile, the RU unit BCL suspended membership of Haque, mass education affairs deputy secretary of the university unit. They also wrote to the central committee for his expulsion terming the attack on a teacher a heinous crime, said Ibrahim Hossain Moon, president of RU unit BCL.

Both police and RU BCL leaders say Suman, another accused in the case, could not be properly identified as his father's name and hometown remained unknown.

RU Proctor Prof Chowdhury Zakaria, meanwhile, served Haque with a show-cause notice asking him to clarify in seven days his position in the matter.

The university authorities served another show-cause notice upon folklore department student Ali Asgar Khokon asking him to explain the reason behind staging agitation over the issue.

Following the authorities' assurance of punishing the culprits, the folklore department teachers and students called off their strike billed for yesterday and joined academic activities wearing black badges.

The teachers, students, and Lalon Charcha Kendra, a folklore students' organisation, demand cancellation of Haque's studentship.

According to case documents and statements of the victims, Himanish Biswas, an admission seeker from Khulna, went to the campus on Wednesday as he was called in for admission from waiting list of management department.

As he was filling up the required form, Haque and Suman took him out of the department and demanded Tk 30,000 assuring that they would arrange his admission.

Anupam was passing by the spot near Kajla gate and intervened to rescue Himanish. At this stage, the accused snatched Himanish's cellphone and necessary documents for admission and started beating up Anupam for his intervention.

Witnessing a teacher being beaten up, a group of youths who were playing cricket at nearby field rescued Anupam and caught Haque red-handed. He was later handed over to police.

Both Anupam and Himanish alleged they were receiving threatening calls from unknown people.

Tofazzal Hossain Khan, officer-in-charge of Motihar police station, said they are trying to identify Suman.

RU Vice-Chancellor Prof Abdus Sobhan was not available for comments. Assistant Proctor Mustak Ahmed said they are seriously looking into the matter.

Nostalgia and melody at a school reunion

Wednesday, December 30, 2

The five and a half hour cultural evening at Rajshahi Bholanath Bisheswar Hindu Academy was abuzz with nearly 2,000 of former and present students of the 111-year old school and almost all were immersed in nostalgia.

Although performances by noted vocal artiste Rafiqul Alam and composer Anup Bhattacharya, who were students of the school in the '50s, were the main attraction, presentations of current students like Pial, Sangeeta Pal and Mousumi seemed no less important to the cheerful audience.

The academy organised the cultural evening, to celebrate its 111 years of glory and heritage at the school premises. Beginning at 6pm, the programme ended at 11:30pm on December 26.

The evening began with "Karna Kunti Sangbad" where young student Mousumi Moitra played the role of Kunti and Shukhen Mukhopadhyay performed as Karna.

Former student Tarun Kumar Das, a disciple of Pundit Raghunath Das, and music director of Rajshahi Betar enthralled the audience with his violin rendition while his brother Arun Kumar Das assisted him on the flute and son Tarun Kumar Das on tabla.

Anup Bhattacharya sang two songs and informed that there are at least three artistes from the academy who worked at Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra during the Liberation War. They are -- Rafiqul Alam, his elder brother Sarwar Jahan and Anup himself.

Rafiqul Alam came to the stage with a Shyama Sangeet, "Ma Tor Koto Rongo Dekhbo Bol", which was his first stage performance and it was at a function at the school in the early '60s.

Listening to the Shyama Sangeet, one of Alam's teachers expressed amazement and blessed him saying, "You will go a far way in music," recalled Alam.

Alam continued by saying that the education system of the Academy was different where teachers looked after every student personally.

At the programme Alam performed, "Ekti Doel Bon-e Dakle", "Kobey Shadhur Charan Dhuli", "Boishakhi Megher Kachhe" and "Bhalo Achhi Bhalo Theko".