Friday, January 29, 2010

Prof Yunus Murder: Two JMB men handed death

Friday, January 29, 2010

A court here yesterday handed down death sentence to two JMB leaders for killing Rajshahi University teacher Muhammad Yunus five years ago.

Of the two, Shahidullah alias Mahbub is married to a niece of Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, now-executed JMB military commander. The other one, Shafiullah alias Tarek, is commander of Rajshahi district Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, the banned Islamist outfit.

Besides sentencing them to death, Rajshahi Speedy Trial Tribunal fined them each Tk 5,000.

It however acquitted six other JMB men of the murder. They are Abu Isa alias Enamul Haque, Golamur Rahman alias Golam Mostafa, Abul Kashem alias Tufan, Abdul Matin alias Bomaru Matin, Abdur Rahman alias Arif and Zakir alias Jayed.

Except Zakir, who has been on the run, all accused were produced before the court.

Yunus, an economics professor at RU, was knifed to death while on a morning walk near the campus on December 24, 2004.

The courtroom was chock-a-block when Judge Md Manjurul Bachhid began pronouncing the verdict at 2:45pm.

The judgment is based on judicial confessions, as there were no eye-witnesses, said the judge adding that Mahbub and Tarek can go to the High Court to appeal against their convictions in 30 days.

Rehana Yunus, wife of Yunus, told The Daily Star that she was not quite satisfied as some of the "killers have got off scot-free".

Her daughter Sara Sudipa said, "I can't get my father back, but the verdict will somewhat console our hearts, though partially."

Abdul Halim, Yunus's brother and complainant of the murder case, died 42 days after his brother's death.

In the charge sheet, CID Inspector Helaluddin said 10 militants took part in the murder operation.

Of them, Ibrahim was killed in 2005.

JMB supremo Shaikh Abdur Rahman, who was executed along with five other JMB leaders in March 2007, had ordered Mahbub to kill Yunus.

Mahbub picked the 10 to carry out the order.

The Criminal Investigation Department did not press charges against 13 Islami Chhatra Shibir leaders and workers who were earlier suspected by police of being involved in the murder.

Those dropped from the charge sheet included Sirajus Salehin, former president of Binodpur unit Shibir, student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Our RU correspondent adds: Teachers, students and different organisations at RU yesterday hailed the verdict.

RU Vice-chancellor Prof Abdus Sobhan described the verdict as a milestone in efforts to establish the rule of law.

Bangladesh Chhatra League, Samajtantrik Chhatra Front, JSD Chhatra League, Chhatra Union, Chhatra Moitree, Muktijoddhar Santan Command and Kendrio Sangskritik Jote demanded immediate execution of the convicts.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Verdict in Prof Yunus murder case today

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Rajshahi court hands down the verdict in the sensational Professor Muhammad Yunus murder case today.

On completion of arguments in the case on December 31, Rajshahi Speedy Trial Tribunal fixed the verdict date on January 15. As the tribunal judge was on leave, the court deferred the judgment to January 28 (today), said Public Prosecutor Entajul Haque Babu.

Prof Yunus of economics department of Rajshahi University was murdered while on morning walk near his Binodpur residence on December 24, 2004.

Inspector Mohammad Helaluddin of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) pressed charges against eight militants of the banned Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh 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 men's involvement in the killing despite two witnesses in separate judicial statements said that Shibir men were involved in the murder.

Helaluddin explained that the investigation into the murder took an abrupt turn from the blame on Shibir men including former Binodpur area Shibir president Sirajus Salekin and Shibir cadre Zafar Babu as the JMB militants gave confessional statements before the tribunal.

Fishing cat beaten to death

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A fishing cat that fled from Rajshahi Central Zoo a week ago due to negligence of the authority was beaten to death at Haragram Sheikhpara area in the city yesterday.

Fazlul Haque Bhulu of the area, his son Hikmat along with their dog chased the cat after he saw it near his house after Fazr prayers.

Minutes later, the dog grabbed the cat's neck while Bhulu, Hikmat and other villagers beat it to death, said witnesses.

The villagers declined to return the cat's carcass to the zoo authority.

The cat managed its way out through a hole in the wired cage at the zoo last Wednesday, said Abul Kalam Azad, caretaker of the zoo. "We did not notice the hole beforehand," he said.

On taking any legal action, Forhad Uddin, veterinary surgeon of the zoo, told The Daily Star they could not say anything until they got the cat's body. "In fact, the forest department is responsible for this."

Afzal Hossain, officer-in-charge of Rajpara police station, said he heard the news but could not manage time to visit the scene. No other policemen were sent there.

Contacted, Rabiul Islam, Rajshahi divisional forest officer, said killing wild animals is prohibited and a punishable offence under the law of the land. He said the zoo authority, not the forest department, should take legal action, as the cat was the property of the zoo.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Near-extinct baby gharial dies at zoo

Sunday, January 24, 2010
The baby gharial that was captured from Padma river in Rajshahi 46 days ago died yesterday at Rajshahi Central Zoo.

The authority recovered the body of the gharial at around 4:30pm after the zoo workers saw it was floating in the water upside down while they went to feed it, said the zoo's caretaker Abul Kalam Azad.

Though the authorities considered the death of the baby gharial, one of the most critically endangered crocodilians on the globe and a near-extinct species in Bangladesh, was due to cold, experts blamed the zoo authority for their negligence.

Forhad Uddin, veterinary surgeon of the zoo, said the gharial was kept in a tiny cage of tortoise where there was little scope of sunbath for it.

"Gharial needs a temperature in between 24 degrees and 30 degrees Celsius for living, but the water temperature went down much below the requirement as the region was experiencing a cold wave".

"The fishermen who captured it in their net had beaten it. The injuries might have led to the death of the gharial", said Forhad adding that the zoo authority would have an autopsy on the gharial.

Relying to a question, Forhad Uddin said, the zoo authority had no expertise in bringing up captured gharials. "We ought to have released the gharial into the Padma as we had no expertise".

Contacted, Rajshahi University's fisheries department teacher ABM Mohsin termed the death 'unexpected' and said, "With the death, the prospect for captive breeding of gharial is almost lost".

Fishermen netted the two and a half feet-long gharial from Gohomabona under Paba upazila on December 9 last year and two local youths took it to the zoo.

It is presumed that there is no breeding adult gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), one of the three crocodilian species found in the wild in Bangladesh. Gharials are a natural heritage of Bangladesh and a flagship species for the riverine habitat.

The other two species of crocodiles -- freshwater crocodile or mugger (Crocodylus palustris), which is no more found in the wild, and the saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), found only in the Sunderbans, -- are also declining due to various factors such as habitat destruction, disturbances by humans, including capture of young hatchlings by fishermen.

However, the Centre for Advanced Research in Natural Resources & Management has started survey to find out the breeding population of gharials in Bangladesh.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reception for noted personalities in Rajshahi

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Seven personalities of Rajshahi were accorded a reception at a function held at a local community centre on Monday night.

Abdus Samad and Begum Monwara Rahman were given posthumous honours. Samad dedicated his life to social welfare while Monwara was a Language Movement veteran.

Musician Amaresh Roy Chowdhury, educationist Dwijendranath Banerjee and dance guru Bazlar Rahman Badal were honoured for their noteworthy contributions.

Apart from the senior personalities, youngsters Moumita Tasrin Nadiraj and Miti Annesha were also accorded reception at the function. Nadiraj, a student of class nine, was adjudged second runner-up at Chhannel i Shera Kantho 2009 while Miti represented children of Rajshahi division at the Climate Conference in Copenhagen.

The honoured individuals were given crests at the reception while the audience gave them a standing ovation.

Rajshahi chapter of Bangladesh Cable Television Viewers Forum (BCTVF) arranged the programme. Rajshahi Mayor attended the function as the chief guest while Shefaul Karim, deputy commissioner of Rajshahi and BCTVF central president Erfanul Haq Nahid attended as special guests.

Rajshahi divisional unit of BCTVF president Shahadat Hossain Munna chaired the function.

The function was followed by a cultural programme by artistes from Nikkon Nritya Shilpi Goshthi.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2 militant suspects arrested

Monday, January 18, 2010

Police arrested two militant suspects from Bagmara upazila yesterday for their involvement in organising teens and youths under a secret militant outfit.

They were identified as Majnu and Shahin Alalm. Both teens are nephews of convicted Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh leader and Bangla Bhai's associate Abul Hossain member of Rayapur.

They were arrested from their houses at Rayapur village under the upazila, said sources in the police.

Though the Officer-in-Charge of Bagmara Police Station Rafikul Islam said they were being interrogated. However, he declined to give any more details.

Sources in the police said the two militants were recruiting youths for a secret outfit in exchange for Tk 1,000 each during the enrolment and a monthly salary of Tk 6,000.

The youths were supposed to be provided with firearms and training in a few week, said the police sources adding a police team of the district detective branch had been monitoring the group's activities for last 15 days.

Record keeping system vital for implementing RTI law

Monday, January 18, 20

Speakers at a discussion here yesterday apprehended that the task of implementing Right to Information (RTI) law might face a major impediment if proper record management system is not developed.

They said the country's record keeping system is outdated and suggested formulating a fresh law to incorporate preservation of information into the RTI law to ensure proper record keeping in government offices and other institutions.

Supported by USAID and PROGATI, Mass-line Media Centre (MMC) organised the discussion on 'RTI law and citizens' right to know' at Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industries auditorium.

SM Shameem Reza, information policy specialist from Dhaka University, read out a keynote paper at the event where Rajshahi Deputy Commissioner Shefaul Karim was present as the chief guest.

Florlis Geraedts, historian and archivist of the Netherlands, Muhammad Lutful Haque, general secretary of Campaign for RTI, Prof Moshiur Rahman and Dr M Anisur Rahman of Rajshahi University, Sayeed Ahmed Kabir, Sarwar-e Kamal and Mustafijur Rahman Khan Alam also spoke.

MMC Executive Director Kamrul Hasan Manju moderated the discussion.

Florlis Geraedts, also a member of Bangladesh Achieves and Record Management, stressed the need for building a good record keeping system and said, "If institutions have no good record management system, they cannot give information properly."

Lutful said files of documents are preserved in different offices in a way which might be automatically destroyed. He demanded providing additional manpower and budget for record keeping sector.

"If keeping records are not made mandatory, the authorities will get chances of avoiding answering questions on plea of lack of information."

Citing an example, he said due to lack of any record preservation law, Rajshahi City Corporation destroyed its century-old documents several months ago.

Shameem said the RTI law would not reap any benefit unless it is properly implemented through creating awareness among mass people of their right of access to information.

The speakers said lack of political will, culture of secrecy and lack of knowledge about RTI among general public are the major obstacles to implementing the law.

Chill in Rajshahi

Monday, January 18, 2010
Bone-chilling cold coupled with mists and winds paralysed the normal life in the district yesterday.

Meteorologist Bazlar Rashid observed that the chill increased due to sharp fall in the maximum temperature and reduction in difference between highest and lowest temperatures.

The gap between highest and lowest temperatures were 4.4 degree Celsius on Saturday while it went down to 3.4 degree yesterday, said Rashid.

The severity of cold forced most people to stay indoors affecting businesses, education, office and normal activities.

Paddy growers expressed anxiety as their boro seedbeds were being affected greatly while the potato growers were happy expecting a good harvest due to the chill.

Prof Yunus murder case

Friday, January 15, 2010
Prof Yunus murder case verdict now on Jan 28

The Speedy Trial Tribunal, Rajshahi, yesterday deferred the date for verdict in the sensational Rajshahi University teacher Muhammad Yunus murder case to January 28.

The verdict was deferred as the tribunal judge is on leave, court officials said. The tribunal had earlier fixed January 14 for delivering the judgment on completion of arguments in the case on December 31.

Yunus, a professor of economics department, was murdered while on morning walk near his Binodpur residence, a few yards away from the campus, on December 24 in 2004.

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

Thursday, January 14, 2010
Judgement in the sensational Rajshahi University (RU) teacher Muhammad Yunus murder case is scheduled to be delivered today.

Rajshahi speedy trial tribunal earlier fixed the verdict date on completion of arguments in the case on December 31.

However, the tribunal's public prosecutor Entajul Haque Babu told this correspondent that the verdict date might be deferred as the tribunal judge is on leave.

Yunus, a professor of economics department, was murdered while on morning walk near his Binodpur house a few yards away from the campus on December 24 in 2004.

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

Meanwhile, a Rajshahi court on Tuesday issued arrest warrants against three people in connection with Lima Parvin murder after a judicial probe found that she was murdered over dowry dispute.

The Women and Children Repression Prevention Court issued warrants for arrest of Lima's husband Anisur Rahman, father-in-law Abdul Malek and mother-in-law Anjara Begum.

A student of management department of Rajshahi University, Lima was allegedly tortured and murdered at her in-laws' house at Jagirpara of Puthia upazila on June 10 last year.

Her in laws attempted to cover up the murder by showing it as an incident of suicide, said Lima's lawyer Zahrul Islam.

Later, police pressed charges against the three accused for 'instigating' her to commit suicide.

Challenging the charge sheet, Lima's father Taslim Uddin submitted a no-confidence petition and demanded a judicial probe into the incident on November 15.

The court then ordered metropolitan magistrate Asaf-ud Doula to investigate the matter. The magistrate submitted the investigation report on Monday revealing that Lima was tortured and killed over dowry issue, said Zahrul Islam.

Rajshahi University chapter of Bangladesh Mohila Parishad is looking after the case, said the chapter's general secretary and psychology teacher Mahbuba Kaniz Keya.

The Parishad employed the lawyer for Lima as her father is too poor to run the case, she said.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More chiller on way as mercury dips to 3yr low

Wednesday, January 13, 20

As another cold wave grips most parts of the country, the lowest winter temperature in three years was recorded yesterday in Srimangal.

The Met Office recorded a low of five degrees, which was just one degree higher than the previous record set in 2007, also in Srimangal.

A severe cold wave is now sweeping over Srimangal and Chuadanga, while a milder cold wave has spread over Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangamati, Chandpur, Sandip and Barisal.

It was 10.2 degrees Celsius in Dhaka yesterday, and even lower temperatures were recorded in Chuadanga (5.8), Iswardi (6.3), Rajshahi (7.5), Jessore (7.8), Sayedpur (8.2), Tangail and Dinajpur (8.6), Barisal (8.8), Bogra (9), Chuadanga (9.2), Feni (9.9) and Bhola (9.9) degrees.

In Rajshahi also, thousands are suffering due to a lack of warm clothes.

Last week the district administration requested 10,000 blankets from the government to distribute amongst the homeless.

The Deputy Commissioner of Rajshahi Md Shefaul Karim said, "The district's demand for warm clothes is much higher, but we asked for only 10,000 blankets considering the government's ability."

However, as of yesterday, the government had sent Tk 1 lakh for each upazila and had distributed a total of 2,300 blankets.

Dense fog disrupted traffic movement on Rajshahi roads last night and vehicles plied with their headlights on in the morning.

Cold Wave: Boro seedbeds withering away for dense fog

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The ongoing cold wave accompanied by dense fog has started impinging on agriculture, especially in the boro seedbeds in rice producing northern districts.

Boro seedbeds in greater Rajshahi region are turning yellowish and withering away due to severe cold while use of more pesticides and fungicides seems too ineffective in this regard.

Agriculture officials Natore, Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj and Naogaon districts are advising farmers to water seedbeds at night, cover them with polythene and use proper fertiliser.

"Boro plants suffer when the mercury dips. Those who sowed seeds late are facing problem due to the chilling weather. However, the situation is not yet alarming, as the temperature did not go below 8.5 degrees Celsius in last five days," said Dipendra Mohon Saha, crop production specialist of Rajshahi officials of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).

While visiting Mohonpur upazila, this correspondent found Golam Rasul watering his seedbed at Kalitala of Sabai Beel.

"We are watering seedbeds everyday as the soil absorbs water fast. But most of the plants are turning yellowish and bronze colour. Then they die," he said.

Ten farmers prepared seedbeds on two bighas of land at Dhuroil village but most of the plants have been damaged due to the cold wave.

"I sprayed pesticides and fungicides six times in last 20 days to save my seedbed from cold. But the paddy plants are still dying," said Jewel Rana.

Nazrul Islam, Mohonpur upazila agriculture officer, said, "Out of 500 hectares of paddy seedbeds in the upazila about two hectares are affected by cold. We are distributing leaflets among the farmers through mosques, union councils, clubs and meetings, telling farmers the ways to protect seedbeds from cold."

Several farmers of Mohonpur, Bagmara, Tanore and Godagari upazilas told this correspondent that they are yet to get any DAE leaflet or advice regarding protection of seedbeds from cold.

This season the farmers prepared boro seedbeds on at least 4,375 hectares of land in Rajshahi while boro can be cultivated on 20 times larger areas of lands.

The DAE fixed its cultivation target on 84,000 hectares of land against last year's target of 85,000 hectares in the area.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Polytechnic Clash: 4 Rajshahi BCL men remanded

Monday, January 11, 2010

The four Bangladesh Chhatra League members arrested in connection with Moitree leader Sunny murder case were taken on a five-day remand yesterday.

Police arrested Shamsul Huda, Shariful Islam, Zahidul Islam Manik, and Nahid Sarwar from Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute on January 7 soon after a group of BCL attacked some Moitree leaders.

Following the assault, institute unit Moitree vice president Rezwanul Islam Sunny, 22, suffered severe head injuries and died at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital on the day around 4:30pm. Moitree leaders Kazi Abdul Mottaleb Jewel and Serafat Ali Khan Bulbul too were critically wounded.

Police sent the arrestees to the court the following day with a seven-day remand prayer against them.

The first court of Metropolitan Magistrate Amirul Islam heard the police and the accused, and granted five-day remand for interrogating the arrestees. The court also rejected bail prayers of the accused.

Apart from the arrested BCL men, Sunny's father Monwarul Islam Chowdhury, a local Awami League leader, in his case lodged with Boalia Police Station accused some 30 persons including Polytechnic Institute unit BCL president Nizam Uddin, general secretary Saddam Hossain Tusher and four other BCL members.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Chhatra Moitree members wearing black badges brought out processions at different educational institutes demanding immediate arrest of the killers and proper probe into the incident.

They also distributed leaflets blaming Chhatra League for Sunny's death.

A large number of riot police have been deployed at Rajshahi University, Rajshahi Government College, New Degree Government College and Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute as tension was still prevailing in the city.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Violence at Rajshahi Polytechnic: AL failed to tame BCL despite cops' warning

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Despite forewarning from the district police administration about Bangladesh Chhatra League's preparation for an attack, the ruling party leadership in Rajshahi failed to tame their student wing resulting in Chhatra Moitree leader Sunny's death on Thursday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity two senior police officials told The Daily Star yesterday that law enforcers told Awami League leadership beforehand about muscle flexing of Chhatra League activists on the Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute campus.

"As we could sense an imminent danger from some recent incidents we warned local ruling party leaders and requested them to control their student organisation at polytechnic institute," a senior police official here said preferring anonymity.

A bomb went off on January 3 as activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League were making bombs at a Chhatra League-dominated dorm as part of their preparation for a clash, he said.

"Sensing something ominous we deployed extra forces at the institute. But the attack on Moitree leaders was pre-planned and some of our men received injuries while trying to resist them," said another police official.

Contacted, Rajshahi city unit Awami League acting general secretary Shafikur Rahman Badsha acknowledged being warned by the law enforcers and said, "Even before police told us anything, we ourselves were aware of Chhatra League's internecine feuds and also its feud with Moitree over trivial issues."

He categorically mentioned the name of Chhatra League Polytechnic Institute president Nizam Uddin, the main accused in Sunny murder case, and said, "Sunny murder is not political; it was resulted from Nizam's personal enmity with Moitree president Jewel."

Rajshahi city Chhatra League president Abdul Momin said, "Actions against the Chhatra League men were delayed, as we were looking into an allegation against Moitree. The allegation is they recruited several former Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal activists in its student front who had beaten our men in the past."

Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute unit Moitree president Kazi Abdul Mottaleb Jewel was blamed for beating up Nizam and two other Chhatra League activists and damaging Nizam's newly purchased motorcycle on the campus on November 1.

Talking to The Daily Star, Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute Vice-principal Moazzem Hossain said they could not anticipate anything. "We will form a probe committee to look into the matter and punish the culprits after the institute reopens," he said.

Meanwhile, Workers' Party and its students wing Chhatra Moitree held a protest rally in the city last evening and demanded immediate arrest of the killers of Sunny.

Editorial: Campus death; Exemplary punishment needed for the culprits

Published On: 2010-01-09
THE death of a student leader belonging to the Chattra Moitree of Rajshai Polytechnic Institute (RPI) due to violence is most unfortunate and regrettable. The fact that the perpetrators belonged to the Chattra League must be a cause of severe embarrassment to the ruling Awami League. The matter assumes even more poignancy when it turns out that the deceased belonged to the student wing of one of the AL's coalition partners.

It seemed for a while that the spate of campus violence, perpetrated by the BCL immediately after the assumption of office by the AL, had subsided. But we were wrong. We feel that the AL high command is yet to get full control of its student wing; evidently not enough has been done to make it entirely malleable to party fiats despite the PM's clear directives. And it seems, too, that there is no one to take effective charge of the CL.

It is quite natural that there would be a period, at the initial stage when a party assumes the reins of power, when the focus is entirely on running the government, with the top party leadership engaged in managing the affairs of the state, thereby causing loss of grip on the party grassroots. But for a party like the AL, that should not be grounds for lax internal party control that creates indiscipline and causes not only embarrassment to the party but may even be the cause of decline of people's confidence in the party itself.

Predictably, the post-incident action of the party will be restricted to restating its position that no one would be allowed to vitiate the atmosphere in the educational institutions and that stringent measures would be taken against the culprits, with little substantive action. Such a state should not be tolerated by the party; it certainly will not be tolerated by the people.

We suggest that the government address the matter of ill discipline of its affiliates seriously, particularly of its student wing. A strong message must be sent to the cadres that consequences of such behaviour will be unforgiving.

We understand that several Chattra League members of the RPI have been arrested and some have been expelled from the party. We want exemplary punishment for the culprits, which should not only be quick but should also be seen to have been delivered. No one with such violent disposition deserves to be called a student or has the freedom to roam the premises of educational institutions. Authorities of these institutions must play their part to stop campus violence. Understandably, some are hesitant to act against government party affiliates. For the sake of peaceful academic atmosphere they must take stern action against the offenders irrespective of party connection, and which the government must back up fully.

We also feel that the party leadership should rethink the management of its affiliates and how to strengthen the mechanism of internal party control. More must be done to inculcate a new ethos in the party cadres that helps materialise the much vaunted politics of change.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Violence in Rajshahi Edn Institutions: 31 killed since '71

Saturday, January 9, 2010

At least 31 people, including 28 students, were killed and over 2,500 injured in some 61 incidents of violence at different educational institutions in Rajshahi since the country's independence.

Justice has hardly been meted out in any of the cases and in most cases the perpetrators got away with the crimes by exerting their political clout.

Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), student wing of Awami League, was involved in two of the murders after the Awami League-led government came to power in 2009 greatly affecting the educational atmosphere in the city.

The latest incident of murder took place on Thursday following a clash between Bangladesh Chhatra League and Chhatra Moitree, student wing of Workers' Party. After the killing of Sunny, vice-president of Chhatra Moitree of Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute, the institution was closed indefinitely.

The government and the local leaders of the ruling alliance have miserably failed in restraining Chhatra League activists from internecine clashes and clashes with Islami Chhatra Shibir and Chhatra Moitree in the district.

The killing of Shibir leader Sharifuzzaman Nomani in March 2009 on Rajshahi University campus left all higher educational institutes of the city closed for 79 days.

After the murder, an all-party meeting with heads of the educational institutes, was able to, though for the time being, maintain a relatively congenial atmosphere on the campuses. That too now is gone as student organisations seldom obeyed the rules, campus sources said.

Shibir was the archrival of both Moitree and Chhatra League in the 90s but in the changed political atmosphere Chhatra League now regards both Moitree and Shibir as its main opponents in Rajshahi University.

Meanwhile, Sunny's father Monwarul Islam Chowdhury lodged a case with Boalia Police Station accusing 30 persons including the Polytechnic Institute Chhatra League president Nizam Uddin, general secretary Saddam Hossain Tushar, Nazmul Huda, Shariful Islam, Zahidul Islam Manik, Nahid Sarwar, Rahim, Rokon, Matin and Masum.

The police showed Nazmul, Shariful, Zahidul and Nahid arrested in the case and sent them to the court seeking a seven-day remand. Police arrested the four on Thursday.

After the killing, both Rajshahi mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton and local lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha, also Workers' Party politburo member, directed local police to arrest the killers even if they are members of Bangladesh Chhatra League.

However, a senior police official seeking anonymity told The Daily Star they are under pressure for not arresting Chhatra League leaders although the city BCL dissolved the Chhatra League Polytechnic Institute unit and expelled eight of its activists including Nizam and Tushar for their involvement in the killing.

Sunny was buried at Tikapara graveyard after the Jum'a prayers yesterday.

Meantime, Chhatra Moitree yesterday held a protest rally at Shaheb Bazar zero point and brought out a procession demanding arrest of Sunny's killers immediately.

City Moitree president Motiur Rahman spoke at the rally. He said Moitree would bring out a mourning procession in the city this afternoon.

Both Chhatra League and Chhatra Moitree blamed each other for the incident. City unit general secretary of Chhatra League Zedu Sarker said Moitree recruited Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal activists in their committee who were involved in beating up Chhatra League activists during the BNP-Jamaat alliance government. This led to the clash on Thursday.

City unit Chhatra Moitree president Matiur Rahman, however, blamed the local Chhatra League for accommodating several students with Shibir background in their party ranks.

Moitree man killed in BCL attack

Friday, January 8, 2010

A leader of Chhatra Moitree of Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute unit was killed in an attack by Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) men over establishing supremacy on the campus forcing the authorities to close the institute for an indefinite period.

The Rajshahi City unit BCL dissolved the Polytechnic Institute unit committee of BCL and expelled its eight men including institute unit BCL President Nizam Uddin and General Secretary Saddam Hossain Tushar in connection with the attack.

Four people including two policemen were injured during the attack on the campus while another ten people also injured in a clash between the two groups following the death.

Rezanul Islam Chowdhury Sunny, 22, the institute unit Moitree vice-president, succumbed to his fatal head injuries at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) around 4:30pm.

Sunny, son of Monwarul Islam Chowdhury, Motihar thana Awami League's information affairs secretary and Shamima Monwar, acting vice president of the city Mohila AL, was the student of Computer department of the institute.

Police quoting Moitree leaders and witnesses said a group of BCL men equipped with sharp weapons swooped on Moitree leaders Sunny, Jewel and Bulbul in front of the administrative building around 12:00 noon and stabbed them indiscriminately.

On-duty policemen on campus rushed to the spot and constables Shahidul Islam and Ashraf received mild cut injuries to their hands while they were trying to resist the attackers.

Police rescued Sunny and Bulbul from a pool of blood and took them to RMCH.

Soon afterwards Sunny was declared dead at RMCH, Zedu Sarker, the city BCL unit general secretary, claimed that Sunny's parents are leaders of AL and Sunny was also the city unit BCL member.

But the city unit Chhatra Moitree claimed that Sunny was a vice-president of its Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute unit.

However, denying Sunny's involvement in any political parties, his father Monwarul Islam said he was the friend of two other victims--Jewel and Bulbul. He along with his two friends was going to the administration building to fill in the examination forms.

To establish the claim, a group of armed BCL and Jubo League men entered into the hospital when some Moitree workers were holding agitation protesting the killing.

At one stage, a clash ensued between the two groups and it lasted for half an hour, leaving at least 10 people injured. Later, BCL men took control of the hospital and drove out the Moitree workers.

Police said yesterday's attack was carried out in retaliation for the attack of Moitree workers on BCL leaders including Nizam several months back over establishing supremacy on the campus.

Confirming the closure of the institute, its principal Joynal Abedin told The Daily Star in the evening that the students were asked to vacate their dormitories by 5:00pm yesterday.

Kazi Abdul Motaleb Jewel, the Polytechnic Institute unit Moitree president and a final year student of Computer department, was undergoing treatment at RMCH while its executive member Bulbul was sent to Dhaka in an unconscious state.

Police arrested four BCL men---Shamsul Huda, Shariful Islam, Zahidul Islam Manik, and Nahid Sarwar--from the spot.

The city unit Chhatra Moitree president Matiur Rahman Matin blamed BCL activists who are the followers of the institute unit BCL president for the attack.

Kafil Uddin, an assistant commissioner of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police, said the attack was pre-planned and police have started investigation.

Lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha, also a politburo member of Workers' Party, said, "The incident occurred as authorities concerned did not take any step against the miscreants earlier."

BCL leader Zedu Sarker claimed that some Chhatra Shibir men somehow joined the BCL and made the attack.

Chhatra Moitree staged a demonstration in the city yesterday evening and demanded arrest of the attackers.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Theatre festival in Rajshahi ends

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The weeklong theatre festival concluded Tuesday night with renowned theater personalities from Dhaka assembling in the northwestern city of Rajshahi at the staging of Selim Al Deen's play "Dhaboman".

Bangladesh Gram Theatre and Sammilito Sangskritik Jote President Nasiruddin Yousuff; theater personality Shimul Yousuf and drama critic Nripendranath Saha of West Bengal delivered speeches at the brief concluding ceremony.

The ceremony was followed with the entire audience lighting candles at Rajshahi Medical College Auditorium. The song "Agun-er Poroshmoni Chhoao Praney" played in the background.

"This huge crowd indicates that Rajshahi craves for quality theatre," said Nasiruddin Yousuff, praising Rajshahi Theatre's initiative.

"The root of a nation is its culture. Culture helps a nation remain united," he added.

Last Monday Shimul Yousuf performed in another Dhaka Theatre production "Binodini".

Actor Shahiduzaman Selim who plays Nahabat Ali in "Dhaboman" said, "Having witnessed the audience at the 'Binodini' show, we were inspired and tried to give our best when staging 'Dhaboman'."

Esha Yousuff, daughter of Nasiruddin and Shimul, plays the protagonist Sohrab, the buffalo, in the play.

Rajshahi University's Anushilon Natyadal staged "Bhumi Konya". The story was based on the Tebhaga movement, following Ila Mitra, the legendary activist who led the farmers in their struggle for their rights. The play was written and directed by Moloy Bhowmik, a teacher of Rajshahi University.

Kamar Ullah Sarker Kamal directed Rajshahi Theatre's "Bhut-er Bhoy", a play written by Kazi Nazrul Islam. Other plays staged at the festival were "The Communicator" and three West Bengal plays "Ami Meye", "Ghum-er Manush" and "Hottyare" -- produced by Juagagni.

Weeklong theatre festival in Rajshahi

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rajshahi Theatre is holding a weeklong drama festival at Rajshahi Medical College auditorium to celebrate its silver jubilee.

The festival drew local theatre enthusiasts who crave quality shows.

"Visitors queuing up for shows is quite rare in this city," said Ahsan Kabir Liton, a cultural activist and senior member of Ritwik Film Society. He added that theatre is mostly Dhaka-centric but the audience in Rajshahi are just as keen on performing arts as in the capital.

An 18-member team of theatre artistes from West Bengal, India is participating in the festival as well as many actors from Dhaka.

"The Indian team is the first to visit Rajshahi since 1980," said Nripendranath Saha, leader of the visiting group.

As the festival began on December 30, performers of Rajshahi Theatre staged "Bhut-er Bhoy", a play written by Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Rajshahi University-based Anushilon Natya Dal performed the play "Bhumi Konya", written and directed by Professor Moloy Bhowmik. "Bhumi Konya" highlights the Tebhaga Movement during which farmers -- irrespective of caste and creed -- came together under Ila Mitra's leadership.

Center for Asian Theatre from Dhaka presented its latest production "The Communicator" -- a Henrik Ibsen play -- on the third day. Negative impacts of globalisation were the theme of the play.

Jugagni, the troupe from West Bengal, staged two plays -- "Hottyare" and "Ami Meye" -- last Saturday and another play "Ghum-er Manush" on Sunday.

Dhaka Theatre staged "Binodini" yesterday. The troupe will stage Selim Al Deen's play "Dhaboman" today.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Youths stand by cold-hit poor on New Year's Eve

Saturday, January 2, 2010

While most people celebrated the New Year with party and picnic on Thursday night in Rajshahi city, a group of youths came out to the streets to mitigate the suffering of homeless poor people who were lying out in the biting cold.

The group of four youths, all are small businessmen, celebrated the New Year by distributing winter clothes among the poor people.

Minutes before the zero hour, Md Shamsuzzaman Mithu of Dari Khorbona, Rajesh Kumar Seraogi of Pathanpara, Masum Sarker of Seroil Colony and Sheikh Mehedi Iqbal Sumon of Sagarpara gathered at Kumarpara with some 250 blankets and winter clothes.

They went to Rajshahi Railway Station and saw a mother, who was hardly able to save her six-month-old child from the chill, holding it on her lap and sitting at a corner of the station veranda. She was sitting there, as the floor was also cold.

The unidentified mother did not delay in expressing her gratitude to the youths for giving her two blankets.

It was 1:30am. There were many other poor people at the station veranda who stood up in line for getting a blanket. However, an elderly man was stiff enough in cold to advance for winter clothes. He did not miss the eyes of the youths as he was shivering with cold wearing only a torn shirt and a lungi.

At the bus terminal, all shutters of bus counters were closed and some of the poor were hardly coping with the cold wearing one or two T-shirts. Blankets were distributed among them too.

Then the youths went to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital for distributing winter clothes among poor patients.

"In previous years, we passed the New Year night eating out at costly restaurants or holding picnic donating handsome money. This year, we just thought to share the joy with others who seldom have any real delight", said Sumon, who runs a mobile phone shop.

"Distributing winter clothes, we learnt that there are many of our fellow countrymen who really need help. And it is not difficult to fulfil what they want. If we look after each other, there will no poverty in society," said Mithu, owner of a cosmetic shop.

Saifuddin Shahin, a local businessman, also provided some winter clothes for distribution.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Temple land grabbed

Friday, January 1, 2010

A ruling party lawmaker's men have allegedly occupied 25 bighas of debottor (endowed) land of Radha Govinda and Durga Temple at Sohorapara in Godagari upazila of Rajshahi district.

Locals said the loyalists of lawmaker Omar Faruk Chowdhury, also general secretary of Rajshahi district Awami League, arbitrarily formed a committee in November making Omar Faruk's follower Sanjit Kumar Ghosh as its president to look after the temple and its properties.

On December 1, the self-styled temple-governing committee forced Anil Kumar Ghosh, the sebayet (custodian) of the temple, to leave the village and employed some 50 people to reap paddy from the land.

On completion of paddy harvest on December 5, the committee men announced their control over the land and the temple, witnesses and villagers said.

Temple committee president Sanjit acknowledged that they took control over the land at the lawmaker's directive that came after locals raised allegations of corruption against Anil.

"As Anil and his family did not take care of the temple, it turned almost into a cowshed. We, the villagers, were demanding recovery of the temple's properties from Anil's clutches over a long time and we did it when the MP gave consent," said Sanjit.

Anil, a retired high school headmaster, has been enjoying the endowed properties for last 54 years since the government employed him as custodian of the temple in 1955.

Anil and his son Debashish Kumar Ghosh alleged that local police refused to record any case in this regard.

Md Zakirul Islam, officer-in-charge of Godagari Police Station, denied the allegation of refusal to record the case.

Debashish alleged that they rushed to the lawmaker when his men started reaping paddy from the field but the public representative seemed reluctant to listen.

When contacted, lawmaker Omar Faruk Chowdhury denied the allegation of his backing in taking control of the temple land.

"I don't know about taking control of the temple land and police's refusal to record case. But I am aware that locals have become angry at Anil as he is enjoying the temple land without running the place of worship satisfactorily. No villager supports him due to his corruption," he said.

Asked if he thinks that the capture of the temple's properties was justified due to alleged corruption of Anil, the MP said, "There should be legal action against the acts of cutting away paddy and capturing the land as well as Anil's corruption."

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".