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  • probirbidhan 17:53 on August 4, 2015 Permalink |
    Tags: acid violence, , fatwa, , police, , sexual violence, suicide   

    জুলাই মাসে গণধর্ষণের শিকার হয়েছেন ১৫ জন! 

    বাংলাদেশ মহিলা পরিষদের দেওয়া তথ্য মতে, জুলাই মাসে মোট ৩৬৮ জন নারী বিভিন্ন ভাবে নির্যাতনের শিকার হয়েছেন। এর মধ্যে ধর্ষণের ঘটনা ৮৩টি। গণধর্ষণের শিকার হয়েছেন ১৫ জন। আর ধর্ষণের পর হত্যা করা হয়েছে ৯ জনকে। এ ছাড়া ধর্ষণের চেষ্টা করা হয়েছে ১৯ জনকে। শ্লীলতাহানির শিকার হয়েছেন ১০ জন। যৌন নির্যাতনের শিকার হয়েছেন একজন।

    আজ মঙ্গলবার বাংলাদেশ মহিলা পরিষদের এক বিজ্ঞপ্তিতে এসব তথ্য জানানো হয়েছে। এতে বলা হয়, সংস্থাটির লিগ্যাল এইড উপ-পরিষদে সংর‌ক্ষিত ১৪টি দৈনিক পত্রিকায় প্রকাশিত সংবাদের ভিত্তিতে প্রতিবেদনটি তৈরি করা হয়েছে।

    মহিলা পরিষদ বলছে, ওই মাসে ৬২ নারী ও শিশুকে হত্যা করা হয়েছে। যৌতুকের জন্য নির্যাতনের শিকার হয়েছেন ৪১ জন নারী। এদের মধ্যে যৌতুকের কারণে হত্যা করা হয়েছে ১৯ জনকে। অ্যাসিড দগ্ধ হয়েছেন ৪ জন। অপহরণের ঘটনা ঘটেছে ৬টি। নারী ও শিশু পাচার হয়েছে ৪ জন। এর মধ্যে যৌনপল্লিতে বিক্রি করা হয়েছে ২ জনকে। গৃহপরিচারিকা নির্যাতনের শিকার হয়েছেন ৪ জন। এর মধ্যে হত্যা করা হয়েছে দুজনকে।

    প্রতিবেদনে আরও বলা হয়, ওই সময়ের মধ্যে উত্ত্যক্ত করা হয়েছে ২৪ জনকে। এর মধ্যে আত্মহত্যা করতে বাধ্য হয়েছেন একজন। ফতোয়ার শিকার হয়েছেন ৭ জন। বিভিন্ন নির্যাতনের কারণে ২৬ জন আত্মহত্যা করতে বাধ্য হয়েছেন এবং নয়জনের রহস্যজনক মৃত্যু হয়েছে। বাল্য বিয়ের শিকার হয়েছে ৩ জন। পুলিশি নির্যাতনের শিকার হয়েছেন দুজন। শারীরিক নির্যাতন করা হয়েছে ৩০ জনকে।

  • probirbidhan 01:28 on June 21, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: Ashulia labour workers unrest, , police, rights, wages   

    Ashulia reopens 

    The Daily Star June 21, 2012

    After four days of shutdown, owners of Ashulia-based garment factories yesterday decided to reopen more than 300 units today upon government assurance that it will ensure security of the factories.

    The decision came at a meeting between Labour Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain and the leaders of BGMEA, BKMEA, FBCCI and Bangladesh Employers’ Federation at the ministry.

    খুলছে আশুলিয়ার সব কারখানা

    “We have decided to reopen our factories from tomorrow [today] as the government has assured us of security in the industry,” Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told The Daily Star yesterday.

    At the meeting, the minister called upon the garment factory owners to reopen their factories, and assured them of security.

    After a weeklong spate of street violence by the workers in the area demanding a pay raise, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) on Saturday announced the shutdown that began on Sunday.

    The owners closed the factories demanding security, normal working environment and punishment of those responsible for the unrest.

    Against this backdrop, State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian earlier on Tuesday held meetings with all the parties concerned.

    She also held a meeting with the labour leaders separately at the secretariat to bring an end to the crisis created in the country’s highest export earning sector.

    After the meeting yesterday, Mosharraf said that on instructions from the prime minister, the government will initially provide the garment workers with rice at lower price, and gradually other essentials, according to a press statement of the labour ministry.

    He said food inflation has now declined to 7.46 percent but the workers are in trouble because of non-food issues.

    “For example, they (workers) are in trouble regarding accommodation and transport. Each year, house rent is being hiked three to four times, which is not acceptable,” said the labour minister.

    He assured that the authorities will take stringent measures for regulating house rent, and mentioned that initiatives have already been taken to address the workers’ accommodation problems in Chittagong.

    The minister said any reasonable demands from the workers will be discussed and addressed.

    Noting that various conspiracies are on against garment industry, he urged the workers, “Please don’t take part in any conspiracies. Don’t take law in your own hand.” Those who participate in destructive activities will be brought to book, he warned.

    The minister assured that false cases filed against the workers will be withdrawn soon.

    He also requested the garment owners to be sympathetic to the workers and hoped that the issue of losses caused by the labour unrest and subsequent closures will be solved through discussions with all concerned.

    The labour unrest in Ashulia had started over the rumour of death of a storekeeper of Ha-Meem Group on May 11. The Agitation was brought under control with the reappearance of Salman, the missing employee. But the workers started fresh agitation on June 13 demanding a pay hike.

  • probirbidhan 17:29 on June 13, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , Dhaka Zoo, , police, ,   

    Tiger cubs still not safe 

    No one knows how to take care

    The tiger cubs recovered on Monday from the house of a wildlife trader are kept in a small bird cage at a private zoo in the capital yesterday.Photo: STAR

    The fate of the three tiger cubs rescued on Monday from a wildlife smuggler’s house in the capital is in the hands of experts who will sit this afternoon to decide their destination.

    One of the cubs, which are for now kept in a private mini zoo at Hatirpul in Dhaka, has already fallen sick and is too weak to stand.

    Asked why those cubs were handed over to a private zoo, Rab Magistrate ASM Anawar Pasha said he had contacted the Dhaka Zoo authorities and many other government wildlife organisations but no one wanted to take their responsibility.

    The forest department then formed a committee of five experts to decide where and how the tiger cubs should be reared since it also lacks expertise to deal with such young tiger cubs.

    Suggested by a veterinary surgeon, Malekur Rahman of Dulahazara safari park, the cubs are being fed on milk powder four times a day and fine-chopped meat for once.

    “I have no experience in dealing with tiger cubs, but once took care of lion cubs as those were born in the safari park,” he said.

    Yesterday, the cubs were seen in a cage beside a cage of a gray parrot. The veterinarian said he feared that the cubs could get an infection from birds.

    Meanwhile, the environment and forest minister said an international wildlife trafficking ring was active in the country. On Monday, the trafficker’s son Zakir Hossain, who was arrested with the cubs, told the press that the animals had been brought in from the Sundarbans for Tapan Kumar Dey, chief of wildlife section of the forest department.

    In a press release issued yesterday, Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) Yunus Ali outright rejected any forest official’s links with the trafficking network.

    The members of the experts team are Anawarul Islam, executive secretary of Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh; CCF Yunus Ali; Ishtiaq, country representative of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); wildlife expert Anisuzzaman Khan, and tiger expert Manirul H Khan.

  • probirbidhan 06:42 on June 10, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: anti-drug Shikor, , , , Doberman dog, drugs peddling, Farhad Mansion, former chairman of Bangladesh Reconditioned Vehicles' Importers and Dealers Association (BARVIDA), Himadri Majumdar Himu killing, Junaid Ahmed Riad, police, Shah selim Tipu, Summerfield School   

    The brutal killing of Himadri 

    Elusive Justice

    Tamanna Khan and Minhaj Uddin/ The Daily Star June 8, 2012

    Snapshots of Himadri Majumdar Himu’s life that ended abruptly at 18. Photo: Courtesy

    The five-storied ‘Farhad Mansion’ resembles any other well-maintained house in an affluent neighbourhood of Chittagong city. Yet no gatekeeper guards any of the two steel gates that lead to the small front yard and the stairway of the building. With the summer holidays, it is not surprising that the ground and fourth floors that house an English medium school are deserted. But even the residential second and third floors show no signs of life. Climbing to the top, the locked grilled-gate to the roof is reached. Standing there, one cannot help but shudder, imagining what had happened there on April 27, 2012.

    It was a usual Friday for eighteen- year-old, Himadri Majumdar Himu, a mild-mannered A’ level student. With his friends from Shikor, a social organisation based in Panchlaish, Chittagong, Himu was supposed to attend a ‘Mejban’, held on occasion of the death of the father of another Shikor member. While his Muslim friends went to say the Friday prayers, he waited for them in front of Summerfield School at Panchlaish. Little did he know then, that this wait would be such a fatal mistake.

    “Tipu (Shah Selim Tipu, one of the main suspects of Himu murder case) saw him standing there and ordered his son (Riad) and his cronies Shaju, Danny, and Shaon to abduct Himu and lock him up in his building (Tipu’s house),” says Jawed Ali Chowdhury, General Secretary of Shikor, who was one of the last people to hear the account of a grievously injured Himu at the Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) later that day.

    ‘Farhad Mansion’ stands witness to medieval barbarism. Photo: Prabir Das

    Some members of Shikor recorded Himu’s account of the incident on a mobile phone: “They took me there. On the way, they broke my mobile phone. Then they took me to the roof and let five or six dogs out….. Then they beat me; no, not with anything; they beat me with their bare hands. I was taken there forcefully. There was Danny bhai, Shaon bhai, the one who plays with the medical team and there was another fair complexioned man. He told me, ‘Do you know who you have (insulted)? He is my father.’ I implored, ‘I have never insulted anyone bhaiya, I never did anything wrong.’ He was Tipu Uncle’s son. Then they pushed me off. They pushed me off from the roof. They let the dogs out….” The brutality of the barbaric incident is evident in Himu’s strained voice as he fought with the excruciating pain that gripped his body.

    One of the three Dobermans that
    were let out to attack Himu.

    Himu had also mentioned Shahadat Hossain Shaju and Shah Selim Tipu’s son Junaid Ahmed Riad as his assailants at other times while he was still conscious, informs Jawed. Gopa Majumdar, Himu’s mother, confirms the claim. “They were standing near the gate to the stairs and were laughing at him. To save himself, he then crossed the roof railing and stood on the sun-shade, so that the dogs could not reach him. At one point, Selim’s son Riad ran towards him and pushed him off,” says a grief-stricken Gopa recounting what her son had told her while fighting with death at the hospital.

    A hushed silence hangs in the living room of Himu’s parents’ rented apartment in Grindlays colony, where he had grown up. Gopa and Prabir Kanti Majumdar are found sitting like two stone statues; defeated in the battle of trying to save their eldest son’s life. “The bones of Himu’s left hand were broken and mutilated, the left leg and the waist was badly hurt; he had serious injury at the back of his head and his lung was totally crushed,” says Prabir Kanti Majumdar, Himu’s father. Ironically, Prabir received the news about Himu’s condition from one of the suspects.

    Mohammad Raihan Hossain, site supervisor of a construction work, adjacent to Farhad Mansion and another unidentified man came to Himu’s rescue initially. Later, he was taken to CMCH by the suspects, who claimed to be Himu’s friends, says Raihan. Though Himu’s family and Shikor members deny any friendship between Himu and the suspected murderers, they weren’t strangers to the teenager. “His school is situated there (the neighbourhood where all of the accused reside) and he also used to take tuition there,” says Gopa, “He was a member of the organisation Shikor. Though he was very young, perhaps he was inspired to join Shikor by a friend at the coaching centre. Shikor’s theme was to protest and prevent drug abuse in that area. They knew that the accused were involved in it (the drug trade).”

    Had it not been for his interest in social activism, Himu today would have been enjoying the study break before university admission. “We had planned to get him admitted to North South University, after his A-Levels,” informs Himu’s mother, who like all mothers had big dreams for her son. But fate had something else up its sleeve for the teenager, who loved basketball and tried to play guitar, despite his friends’ irritation. As members of a minority, Gopa always advised Himu to keep a low profile, but he would not listen. Almost two years ago, he joined Shikor and soon became an active member.

    Besides campaigning against drug addiction and abuse, Shikor also started a neighbourhood vigil of the Panchlaish area where all the suspects of the Himu murder case reside. “Since Road-5, near Tipu’s house is a quiet spot, people use to take drug, yaba, phensedyl and alcohol there. Yaba peddlers used to come in cars and sell the drugs quickly and leave. We resisted those,” Jawed asserts. He alleges that Shah Selim Tipu provides shelter to the drug peddlers in that area. He says that once, during a confrontation with drug peddlers, they warned Shikor members not to interfere in their business, because they receive Tipu’s support.

    Shah Selim Tipu, former chairman of Bangladesh Reconditioned Vehicles’ Importers and Dealers Association (BARVIDA) is the son of Engineer Amin, and his family has been living in Panchlaish for two generations. Father of three children, one son and two daughters, Tipu and another of his three brothers live in the inherited property, Farhad Mansion. Tipu’s son Riad, his eldest daughter and wife live in London. Riad is said to be studying there and often comes to visit his father and sister. Tipu is also the motowalli (leader) of the neighbourhood mosque, Mokki Masjid.

    Md Shaheen, a resident of Panchlaish area alleges that Tipu uses his position as the mosque’s motowalli to have influence over the neighbourhood. “I inherited an eighteen katha land beside the Mokki Masjid which my father leased from the Public Works Department (PWD) in 1962. When I started to build a house at the plot in 2008, Tipu demanded a shop space in front of my house for free. When I refused, he demanded an extortion of Tk 10 lakh,” claims Shaheen. When that did not happen, Tipu obtained a stay order from PWD and stopped construction, says Shaheen. Later when Shikor set up a temporary office on that land with Shaheen’s permission, they also came under Tipu’s ire. “Tipu is a goon-like man at the Panchlaish area and almost all the locals fear him,” states Shaheen.

    One evening in October, 2011, Shikor members including Himu confronted a few drug addicts near Road -5; Shaju and Danny were present there too. “Shaju called Tipu. He came and scolded us and told us to leave the area by bringing out a knife,” Jawed says. Describing the event Shikor members filed a general diary with Panchlaish Police station on October 20, 2011.

    Himu’s bedroom — bereft of its occupant. Photo: Prabir Das

    Jawed believes that Tipu and his cohorts targeted Himu, because on the day of the direct confrontation with Tipu, Himu was the one who retorted back at Tipu’s threat. Shamim Yusuf, Principal of Summerfield, informs that Himu had once planned to organise an anti-drug seminar with Shikor at Summerfield. However, it did not happen for some reason. According to Jawed, Tipu had threatened Himu over telephone not to carry out any anti-drug activity. “Whereas for all these years nobody dared protested against him (Tipu), my son did,” says Gopa. The pride that should have echoed in the mother’s voice is subdued by grief.

    Till the time of writing this story, only one of the five accused, Shahadat Hossain Shaju, of the Himu murder case had been arrested by police. Although Himu’s father filed a general diary a day after the incident took place, the family claims that police started investigation only after the case was filed on May 24, 2012. According to police, Himu’s family has not been cooperative enough about the investigation. Refuting police’s accusation, Prabir says that right after the incident they were more concerned about saving Himu’s life than dealing with legal matters.

    Unfortunately, Himu did not receive much help at CMCH, because of the absence of doctors on a Friday. He was later taken to Surgiscope Clinic, from where he was shifted to Dhaka’s Square Hospital, Sunday night, April 29, 2012. Almost a month later, Himu succumbed to his injuries on May 23, 2012. Ironically, Tipu accompanied the family from Chittagong Medical to Dhaka and according to Jawed he provided for Himu’s medical expenses at the Square Hospital.

    Prabir argues that Tipu followed them everywhere to prevent them from taking any legal actions against the accused. “He made all arrangements to be out of reach while Himu was still alive. He did all the necessary lobbying wherever needed to keep himself safe,” insists Gopa. Himu’s dead body was released from the Square Hospital without an autopsy. While Mohammad Alamgir Hossain, Officer in Charge, Panchlaish Police Station claims that police had to convince the family to send the dead body for autopsy, by filing a case, Shikor members, on the other hand, say that they are the ones who insisted on the autopsy. The case was finally filed by Awami League leader Sri Prakash Das Asit, a cousin of Himu’s mother, who had to take the responsibility as the family was too shocked by the death to take any legal action then.

    A reliable source, preferring to be anonymous says that Chittagong City Corporation ward councillor Giasuddin tried to prevent the autopsy and later provided shelter to the absconding Tipu. However, Giasuddin refuted both claims when contacted by The Daily Star. Relatives of Himu and residents of Panchlaish area are in doubt whether the main accused of the murder case Shah Selim Tipu and his son Riad would ever be arrested and be brought to the book. Requesting not to be named, a relative of Himu says, “Tipu has both money and influence. As he is involved with the political party in power, some leaders are trying to influence the administration to save Shah Selim Tipu and his son.” With a deep sigh he adds, “Perhaps Tipu and his son will slip away through the loopholes of the law and administration by using their money and influence.”

    It is difficult to differentiate the Himadri Majumdar Himu murder case from the thousand other cases where the accused are identified but for some strange reason remain out of the reach of the law enforcement agencies. While the families of the accused sleep in peace, the victim’s family live in fear. Himu’s close friends now pretend not to know him well; fear of repercussion are evident in their teenage eyes. Hardly a soul can be found in the Panchlaish neighbourhood near Farhad Mansion, who admits knowing Tipu well. It is more likely that Himu’s murder will just become another X-file among the million others that awaits justice in the police departments across the country. Power and money will yet again, stand in the way of justice.

  • probirbidhan 08:54 on May 26, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , crossfire, , , Ilias, Ilias Ali, , journalists Sagar-Runi murder, , Mohammad Yunus, , Nobel Peace Prize, police, , , Saudi ambassador, , The Economist on Bangladesh, , trade-union activist Aminul Islam   

    ‘Hard, tense time ahead’ for Bangladesh: The Economist 

    The Economist has published two articles on current political situation in Bangladesh. Titled “Bangladesh’s toxic politics: Hello, Delhi” and “Politics in Bangladesh: Banged about”, the articles — dated May 26, 2012 — are now on the British news magazine’s website. The Daily Star reprints them here.

    It is up to India to try to stop Sheikh Hasina ruining Bangladesh

    The Punch-and-Judy show of Bangladeshi politics, in which the ruling party –run by the daughter of a former president — bashes the opposition–run by the widow of a former president–before swapping places with it, has been running for decades. The outside world rarely pays attention because nothing seems to change.

    Recently, though, the squabbling has turned into a crisis, which threatens to make life still worse for the 170m poor Muslims who suffer under one of the world’s worst governments. Since Bangladesh’s political leaders show no interest in their fate, outsiders need to do so.

    When Sheikh Hasina, leader of the Awami League and current prime minister, and Khaleda Zia, leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), alternated in power in the 1990s, things were pretty bad, but in the past decade they have got worse. The administration Mrs Zia headed from 2001 to 2006 was a brutal kleptocracy. It was followed by army-backed unelected technocrats. Then in 2008 the Awami League swept to power in a landslide victory. The League has 229 of 300 parliamentary seats compared with 31 for Mrs Zia’s BNP. Sheikh Hasina has used this mandate to consolidate power and hound her enemies, real and imagined.

    There has been a spate of mysterious disappearances. This month 33 senior members of the opposition were arrested on charges of vandalism and arson. A war-crimes tribunal to investigate the atrocities in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971some of the bloodiest in modern history now looks like an attempt to discredit the BNP and its Islamist allies. And the hounding of Mohammad Yunus, a pioneer of microfinance, creator of the Grameen Bank and a Nobel laureate, is seen as payback for his temerity in 2007 in trying to launch a “third force” in politics. Meanwhile, journalists and activists face intimidation and worse, and the vibrant NGOs that keep the spirit of democracy alive worry that proposed legislation would leave them at the mercy of government whims.

    Last year the League did away with the provision that caretaker administrations should oversee elections. The arrangement was not ideal. In January 2007 protests led by the League, convinced that the BNP would rig an election, led to a coup. But without some assurance of fair play the BNP will boycott the next election, due in 2014. So there is the prospect of yet more protests, which in Bangladesh often take the form of crippling strikes. There is also the real prospect of utter political paralysis, risking even worse turmoil on the streets.

    The outside world is trying to do its bit. The World Bank has scrapped a deal to pay for a big bridge because of its suspicions of corruption. EU ambassadors have denounced the treatment of Mr Yunus and the harassment of activists. Hillary Clinton flew to Dhaka this month to stand by Mr Yunus.

    But the government seems unmoved. In a snub to Mrs Clinton, it announced a review into ownership of Grameen, a move to take over (and probably destroy) the bank. The only country to have much influence in Dhaka is India. Until recently the regional superpower tolerated Sheikh Hasina’s excesses, in part because Bangladesh has cracked down on Islamists. India now seems to be hedging its bets between the two parties. But if it still wants to have a functioning democracy next door, it needs to speak out far louder in favour of it.

    The prime minister sets the country on a dangerous path

    Inching through the crowded streets of Bangladesh’s capital brings both exhilaration and frustration. Dhaka’s garishly painted tricycle rickshaws, battered buses, occasional goats and luxury cars somehow all manage to creep onward. Drivers skilled at furious honking are also masters of compromise and smiles.

    If only the bitter politicians could prove so deft. Some 18 months before a general election, Bangladesh suffers street protests. Opposition leaders are sent to jail, and disappearances and murders are widely blamed on an old rivalry for power. A confrontation over the next poll who should oversee it, and whether it will be fair is already so strident that some observers doubt a contested one will be held at all. Meanwhile, Bangladeshis fret over prices of food and fuel, chronic power cuts and broken promises of new roads.

    As the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Khaleda Zia, tells it, all ills lie at the government’s door. She ticks off a list of wicked acts she blames on her antagonist in an ancient rivalry, the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina. A young BNP politician abducted a month ago and very probably murdered. Two others killed earlier. Some 33 opposition figures, including senior MPs, dumped in jail this month over a trumped-up case of arson. In all, she says, 3,000 BNP members have been arrested. “It is to intimidate, to create a sense of fear.”

    There is plenty more darkness about. In recent months Bangladesh has endured a spate of other mysterious killings a Saudi diplomat shot dead; a trade-union activist tortured and murdered; a pair of journalists butchered after investigating corruption. This correspondent was trailed in Dhaka by a pair of secret-service men on a motorbike. A rumour of a bizarre coup attempt, in January, was used by the government to get closer political control over the army.

    One of the country’s best known figures, Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, has been harassed for some time. An increasingly paranoid Mrs Hasina sees him as a political threat. This month in Dhaka Hillary Clinton, America’s secretary of state, met the Nobel laureate and assured him of her support. It brought no relief. Ministers snipe at him, and the government has just ordered yet another official review of his bank.

    “We are very worried that the commission has been formed and terms of reference include ownership,” says Mr Yunus. In effect, the government is seeking ways to grab Grameen, which is 97%-owned by its poor members, many of them women. Officials are also bent on settling scores with Mr Yunus, who oversees an ungainly charitable empire that includes a telecoms company as well as the bank. Over a lavish dinner, a group of government spies brags of having a thick file of allegations ready against the “money-monger”.

    The list of gripes against the government is long. Corruption is pervasive enough for donors to be alarmed. The World Bank has scrapped funding for a bridge over the Padma river. Japan, the largest single giver of aid, has just sent its deputy prime minister to Dhaka to demand a clean-up. In a case of recent graft, a railway minister, who quit after police found sacks of cash in his aide’s car, was suddenly cleared by an internal inquiry of any corruption and reinstated to the cabinet. Meanwhile, strong doubts persist about the fairness of democracy. The United States’s ambassador in Dhaka this week repeated Mrs Clinton’s warning that the next election must be “participatory”, ie, run fairly so the opposition will take part.

    Most telling would be a shift in India’s attitude. Long a close ally of Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League cheering her crackdown on Islamic extremists and insurgents from India’s north-east, and being open to more trade India’s ruling Congress party may now, sensibly, be hedging its bets. Pranab Mukherjee, India’s finance minister, called on Mrs Zia recently, inviting her back to Delhi. Mrs Zia chuckles that she will go after Delhi’s summer heat is past. She also calls the neighbour a “friend”, a possible hint of change in a party that often seeks popularity by bashing India.

    As Sheikh Hasina looks ever more strident, people may start tiptoeing away from her. Not every ill in Bangladesh can be laid at the prime minister’s door. Although she did mess with the constitution, scrapping arrangements she had previously insisted on in opposition for a neutral caretaker to run the government for three months before election day, she now appears to want to keep her options open, possibly in order to be better able to skew the outcome of the next election. Meanwhile, Mrs Zia’s party orders street protests and hunger strikes, and threatens angry mass rallies in June. The sad result is that politics grows more polarised and confrontational.

    Still, Mrs Hasina is not quite the all-powerful bogey woman her bitterest opponents suggest. Certainly she seems set on cracking down on civil groups, for example with a new bill to put non-government organisations more firmly under political control. But it is hard to see how the murders and attacks on activists and journalists help her government, other than to spread a general sense of intimidation.

    The opposition, too, has a reputation for thuggery, corruption and intimidation, and does not bother much to hide it. A veteran leader of the BNP says that, should his party boycott the next election, 20 days of street protests by BNP supporters would then be followed by violent attacks by his party workers on their rivals.

    The shame of it all is how little heed the squabbling politicians pay to what should matter more: keeping the economy growing and reducing poverty further. In the face of electricity shortages, blocked roads and land disputes, the Bangladesh economy has been doing remarkably well. Its clothing industry has the potential to generate over $40 billion a year from exports, according to McKinsey, a consultancy.

    Indicators of well-being have been improving. If annual economic growth of over 6% is sustained, a country that not long ago was a byword for poverty can contemplate reaching middle-income levels in barely a decade. But that needs single-minded focus by the government on dealing with the country’s economic bottlenecks and social needs. Instead, like Dhaka’s wretched roads, politics looks jammed. Uncertainty leading up to the next election, and growing anxiety among diplomats and foreign observers of Bangladesh, suggest a hard, tense time ahead. More than anyone, blame the driver.

    The RAW activity in Bangladesh

    The Satkhira frustration

    ইউনুসের ‘শান্তিতে নোবেল’ প্রাপ্তি, প্রতিহিংসা ও পদক-কালচার

    দুর্নীতি, অনিয়মের খবর প্রকাশের কারনে আক্রান্ত সাংবাদিক

    সুরঞ্জিতের গদিপ্রীতি; রাষ্ট্রীয়ভাবে দুর্নীতি’র পালন

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