Tuesday, June 21, 2005

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Adhikar report says
394 Bangladeshis killed by BSF during last 5 years

Staff Correspondent

As many as 394 Bangladeshi citizens were killed by the Border Security Force (BSF) and miscreants of India in Bangladesh's bordering areas during the last 5.5 years.

Besides, 1,890 Bangladeshi nationals became the victims of human rights violation by the BSF and Indian miscreants in the country's north and southwestern region during the period, human rights organisation Adhikar said in a report on Monday.

The Adhikar report prepared on the basis of newspaper reports published between January 1, 2000 to May 31, 2005 observed that a disastrous inhuman situation has created in the bordering areas due to killing, kidnapping and looting by the BSF and Indian nationals intruding into the Bangladesh territory.

Most of the Bangladeshi victims are innocent farmers, the report said adding that the Indian miscreants kill or abduct the Bangladeshi innocent farmers when they go to harvest their crops in the fields.

UNB report says: It said 480 Bangladeshis were injured, 469 arrested, 498 kidnapped and 43 people, including eight children, went missing and six women were raped by the BSF troops during the period. Fifty incidents of snatching and looting also took place along the border during the same time.

Since January this year to May 31, 37 Bangladeshis were killed, 37 injured, two arrested, 36 kidnapped, six went missing and one woman was raped by the Indian border guards.

Describing the present situation, as grim, the report said the farmers can hardly harvest paddy from their croplands as they always suffer from a sense of insecurity due to surprise BSF attacks.

Flag meetings from BOP commander to DG levels has so far failed to improve the situation, the report said.

Adhiker also expressed deep concern over frequent attempts by the BSF to push the minority Bengali-speaking Indian citizens into Bangladesh.

It said the BSF personnel were still gathering Bengali-speaking people, including children and women, along the border from different parts of India to push them into Bangladesh.

The Bengali-speaking people are either being compelled to live on no man’s land or in BSF-cordoned boarder areas in miserable condition, Adhiker said.

Adhiker demanded international investigations into the killings and other misconduct by the Indian border guards to put an end to such human rights violation.


Dhaka-Riyadh agreement on trade promotion signed

Two apex trade bodies of Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to tap the potential of expanding cooperation in trade and investment between the two countries, reports UNB.

The agreement was signed between the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CSCCI) in Riyadh on June 15, according to a message received in Dhaka on Monday.

FBCCI President Abdul Awal Mintoo and member of the CSCCI Board of directors Saad I Al-Moajel signed the MOU for their respective sides during the 8th session of the Saudi-Bangladesh Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation meeting on June 14-15.

The agreement was signed recognizing “immense possibilities of promoting economic and commercial cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh”, according to the MOU.

It also appreciated the scope for further expansion of bilateral trade relations and the prospect of setting up industries under joint venture and joint collaboration within the framework of the laws and regulations prevalent in the two countries.

In the Joint Commission meeting, Bangladesh embarked on a negotiation with Saudi Arabia towards signing a deal on avoidance of double taxation as part of the move for boosting bilateral trade and investment.

The two sides agreed to finalize a draft of the deal by the end of this year.

The official-level deliberations during the meeting yielded an agreed minutes on June 15, covering two slots of bilateral cooperation -- economy, trade and investment cooperation and culture, information and science and technological cooperation.


Contempt of court HC sets July 4 for verdict on judge, PP, Shoeb

A High Court bench on Monday set July 4 for pronouncing the verdict on its suo moto contempt rule upon a metropolitan sessions judge, a public prosecutor and the sacked managing director of proposed Inqilab TV, Salahuddin Shoeb Chowdhury, reports UNB.

Appearing before the bench during Monday’s hearing, the contemners–Metropolitan 1st sessions judge Mohammad Shamsul Alam Khan, Public Prosecutor Abdullah Mahmud Hassan as well as Salahuddin Shoeb Chowdhury–sought unequivocal apology in writing for their misdeeds. They also stood on their feet for about two hours.

After the hearing, the bench, comprising Justices Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Mohammad Emdadul Haque Azad, set July 4 for judgment. It ordered for personal appearance of accused Salauddin Shoeb to be on the dock on July 4, but spared the judge and the PP from physical presence.

Earlier, the High Court had turned down their petitions seeking verbal apology for their misconduct.

The High Court on May 16 issued suo moto rule on the three to explain why contempt proceedings would not be drawn against them for suppressing facts.

The HC rule was issued after Metropolitan 1st sessions judge Alam on April 30 granted bail to Shoeb, who faces treason and other charges, despite the fact that his appeal against denial of bail by the same court was pending in the High Court.

The PP Hassan, being a prosecution lawyer, also did not oppose the bail prayer on ground that an appeal was pending on same before the higher court.

As part of law, no lower court can pass any order if any rule is pending with the higher court on the same issue.

On March 28, the High Court on an appeal from Shoeb had issued rule upon the government to explain why the petitioner detained since November 2003 on treason and other charges, should not be enlarged on bail.

Shoeb, also former Dhaka-based correspondent of a Russian news agency, was held on November 29, 2003 by the immigration police at Zia International Airport while he was leaving the country. The police lodged two criminal cases, including treason, against him on January 24, 2004.


Construction of Zia Complex to be completed by December

The construction works of Shaheed Zia Smriti Complex at Kalurghat and Swadhinata Stamba at Suhrawardy Udyan are expected to be completed by December next, reports BSS.

“The project implementation works of Shaheed Zia Smriti Complex at Kalurghat in Chittagong and Swadhinata Stamba at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka are progressing fast,” this was informed at a meeting held in Dhaka on Monday with State Minister for Liberation War Affairs Prof. Md. Rezaul Karim in the chair.

The meeting was held to review the progress of implementation works of different ADP projects of the ministry for the current fiscal (2004-05).

It was informed in the meeting that Taka 30 crore 30 lakh and 75 thousand was released till May this year out of the total allocation of Taka 50.45 crore against seven projects under the revised Annual Development Programme (ADP) in the current fiscal.

“Of the released amount, Taka 22 crore 64 lakh and 82 thousand was spent till May this year which was 75 per cent of the total amount released within the period,” it was told.

Addressing the meeting, the state minister directed the concerned officials to complete the project works within the stipulated time frame by ensuring optimum use of the resources.

Secretary-in-charge of the ministry Taj Mohammad, Managing Director of Bangladesh Muktijoddha Welfare Trust Mohammad Nawfel Mia and Chairman of Muktijoddha Central Command Council Kabir Ahmed Khan, among others, attended the meeting.


Removal of NCTB Secy demanded

Staff Correspondent

Bangladesh Book Publishers and Sellers Association called upon the government to give order to print, publish and supply books of the National Curriculum and Text Book Board (NCTB) to those who were lowest in the tender.

Addressing the newsmen at a city hotel on Monday Vice President-1 and Member Secretary, Board Book Standing Committee A.F.M.Shah Alam also called upon the government to announce re-tender of those lot and items which were not participated  by any body or organisation and no tender form was dropped on certain items immediately.

He demanded removal of Secretary of National Curriculum and Text Book Board  (NCTB) immediately because all have lost confidence on him. He alleged that total mismanagement and corruption continuing in the National Curriculum and Text Book Board (NCTB) under the patronisation of State Minister for Education.

He further alleged that an alternative administration running in the office of NCTB under the patronisation of State Minister for Education Ehsanul Haque Milan.

He also alleged that the office of NCTB is in total mess and he believed the books  of  NCTB would not print, publish and supply in time for which students will suffer in the year of 2006.  


Howard greets Khaleda, cricket team

Australian Prime Minister John Howard congratulated the Bangladeshi cricket team on its historic victory over his country’s world-champion squad, reports UNB.

Prime Minister John Howard and Leader of the Opposition Kim Beasley felicitated the Bangladesh High Commissioner to Australia Ashraf-ud-Doula on the Bangladeshi players’ success at a reception hosted by the Australian PM and Mrs. Howard to honour those Australians who contributed to the Asian Tsunami disaster relief on Monday.

Prime Minister Howard asked the High Commissioner to convey his “very sincere and heartfelt felicitations” to Prime Minister Khaleda Zia on the success.

According to a message received on Monday from the High Commission in Australia, electronic and print media over there were awash with several analyses and postmortems of what has been termed “arguably the greatest upset in one-day International Cricket”.

Monday’s Canberra Times ran a story headlined ‘First Test of Bangers, and Smashed’, opining that “Bangladesh’s win is one of cricket’s biggest upsets, possibly rivalling the Test that created the Ashes, when Australia beat England at the Oval in 1882, and Australia’s loss to Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup”.

The Sydney Morning Herald wrote: “Credit must, of course, go to Bangladesh and in particular to Ashraful, whose euphoria at raising his maiden limited-over hundred was one of sport’s more uplifting moments.

It paled by comparison with the hysteria that broke out in the dressing room and in the small Bangladesh contingent in the crowd when Aftab nudged the ball behind the wicket and scrambled through for a single to win the match with four balls to spare. This was a momentous day for Bangladeshi cricket and one to warm the hearts of 140 million Bangladeshis who view cricket as national sport. It might even have surpassed the Asian minnow’s first Test victory over Zimbabwe in January, for this time a giant had been killed. It is not so long ago the Bangladeshi players queued for Steve Waugh’s autograph after the series in Darwin and Cairns.”


Businessman's house looted in city

Staff Correspondent

Dacoits looted cash and valuables worth about Taka 2 lakh from a businessman’s house at the city's Dhanmondi area on Sunday late night.

According to the sources, a gang of 7 to 8 dacoits entered the house of Md. Hossain on the second floor of a five-storey building at 11/1 Kathal Bagan under Dhanmondi police station.

The dacoits at first rang the doorbell and introduced themselves as relatives. They forcibly entered the house when an inmate opened the door hearing the doorbell.

They confined the family members in a room and looted 10 tolas of gold ornaments, three cellular phones and other valuables including  cash of Taka 15,000 by breaking the almirahs and safes at gunpoint.

Later, they fled away along with the booty.

A case was filed with the concerned police station in this connection. But, police could not provide the details of the incident and failed to arrest anybody in connection with the incident till the time of filing this report on Monday night.


Charmonai Peer says

Alliance govt fails to administer country

BARISAL , June 20:–Maulana Syed Fazlul Karim, the Peer Charmonai and Amir of Bangladesh Islamic Shasontantra Andolon, on Monday said that the four-party alliance government has totally failed to administer the country, reports UNB.

Addressing a meeting of senior party members at Barisal, he alleged that violance, killing, extortion, rape have become commonplace across the country while people were being killed in the name of crossfire.

He was critical of the activities of the law enforcing agencies including RAB who have allegedly got involved in robbery and extortion.

Maulana Karim called for establishing an Islamic government for bringing about peace and prosperity in the country.


Hasina flies to Paris from London to join PACE meet

Awami League President Sheikh Hasina Monday flew to Paris from London to attend a four-day meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) due to begin later in the day in French city of Strasbourg, reports UNB.

During her stay, the Bangladesh Opposition Leader will also hold official meetings with representatives of Hanns Seidel Foundation and members of Bravarian government at Strasbourg.

The Strasbourg meeting, due to end on June 23, will provide senior advisory council members insight information on the history, structure and mechanism of PACE following a decision of Association of Asian Parliament for Peace (AAPP) to transform itself into Asian Parliament Assembly (APA), according to a message received in Dhaka on Monday.

The meetings are also aimed at strengthening possibilities for further cooperation between PACE and APA.

Sheikh Hasina, who is founder President and senior member of AAPP, will attend a dinner to be hosted by Deputy Director General of Hanns Seidel Foundations Dr Rainer Geppeerth.

She is accompanied by senior party leaders Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim MP, Syed Abul Hossain MP and former Ambassador Zaiuddin.

Earlier in London, UK AL president Shamsuddin Khan, Vice-President Jalauddin, Secretary Prof Abul Hashem, All Europe AL General Secretary MA Ghani and others saw her off at Heathrow Airport.

Hasina will leave for Moscow on June 25 to receive a honorary Doctorate from People’s Friendship University of Russia.


Suicide car bomber kills 20 policemen in Iraq

IRBIL, June 20:–A suicide car bomber killed 20 traffic policemen and wounded 100 more Monday outside the unit’s headquarters in the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, police and hospital officials said, reports AP.

Iraq’s insurgency appeared unfazed by two massive US-Iraqi military offensives against militant smuggling routes and training centers west and north of Baghdad, mounting attacks that have killed at least 85 in the past two days - including 30 people on Monday.

The bomber in Irbil wore a police uniform and slammed his car into a gathering of some 200 traffic policemen during morning roll call in a courtyard behind the headquarters at 8 a.m. (0400 GMT), police Lt. Sulaiman Mohammed said.

At least 20 died and 100 were wounded, said Dr. Mohammed Ali of Irbil Hospital.

The attack occurred on a main street that leads to the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, which is south of Irbil, police said.

Irbil, one of two major cities in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, has enjoyed autonomous rule under Western protection since 1991. The area has been largely sheltered from the incessant violence wracking the remainder of Iraq, but has seen several major bombings blamed on militant Muslim groups.

The attack came a day after a suicide bomber walked into a crowded Baghdad kebab restaurant near the heavily fortified main gate of US and Iraqi government headquarters at the Green Zone, killing at least 23 people including policemen - the deadliest attack in the capital in just over six weeks. A total of 45 people were killed in insurgent assaults throughout the country on Sunday.

Most of the suicide attackers are thought to belong to extremist groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq, which has justified killing other Muslims, including women and children, in their quest to destabilize the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

The rate of insurgent attacks has risen dramatically since al-Jaafari announced his Cabinet on April 28. At least 1,182 people have been killed since then.

Some extremists have also started threatening fellow Sunni Arabs, who make up the insurgency’s core, because some leaders of the minority Muslim sect have expressed a readiness to join the political process. Most Sunnis boycotted January’s historic election.

On Monday, Sunni Arabs were expected to name their representatives to a committee that has until mid-August to draft Iraq’s new constitution. The number of Sunni members took weeks to negotiate with the Shiite majority.

Elsewhere, a band of insurgents launched a bold assault on a Baghdad police station killing at least eight policemen and an 8-month-old baby early Monday, police said. At least 23 were wounded.

The attack on the Baya police station in southwestern Baghdad began just before dawn and included two car suicide bombs, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire, police Capt. Talib Thamir said.

Separately, a roadside bomb Monday killed a US soldier on patrol near Tal Afar, 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of the Syrian border, the military said. The soldier belonged to the 1st Corps Support Command and was not part of the two major US-Iraqi offensives taking part in the western Anbar province.

At least one American has died since the new military campaigns - code-named Spear and Dagger - began Friday and Saturday, respectively, in Anbar province. About 1,000 US and Iraqi forces are taking part in each offensive.

Operations Spear and Dagger are aimed at destroying militant networks near the Syrian border and north of Baghdad, the military said. About 60 insurgents have been killed and 100 captured so far.

Troops on the ground said they found numerous foreign passports and one round trip air ticket from Tripoli, in Libya, to Damascus, Syria. They found two passports from Sudan, two from Saudi Arabia, two from Libya, two from Algeria and one from Tunisia.

Intelligence officials believe Anbar province is a portal for extremist groups, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaida in Iraq, to smuggle in foreign fighters. Syria is under intense pressure from Washington and Baghdad to tighten control of its porous 380-mile (610-kilometer) border with Iraq.

Operation Spear appeared to be winding down and US Marines reported finding a weapons cache in the town of Karabilah early Monday, including two dozen RPG launchers, heavy machine guns and equipment to make up to 25 bombs.

The dusty town is about 200 miles (320 kilometers) west of Baghdad and near Qaim, a city on the Syrian border.

Troops also found a large number of explosives in the building and conducted a controlled blast, leveling an entire block, according to an AP reporter in the town. Many residents had already left their homes for safer areas and portions of the town have been reduced to rubble.

US Marines reported killing 15 insurgents Sunday in battles near Fallujah, the Anbar province town 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad and a perennial insurgent stronghold.


Section 144 imposed AL meet at Songachha Bazar foiled

SIRAJGANJ, June 20:–An Awami League meeting at Songachha bazaar in Sadar upazila on Monday was foiled by imposition of section 144, reports UNB.

The restriction was imposed by the Deputy Commissioner in apprehension of trouble as the ruling BNP also convened a meeting at the same venue same time.

Informed sources said Awami League had called the meeting three days ago at the bazaar at 2pm. BNP called for a meeting today at the same place with an ulterior motive of foiling the programme of the political rival. Additional police were deployed in the area as tension mounted.


Kathmandu for direct bus service with Dhaka

Nepal has proposed direct bus service with Bangladesh and the two countries are now planning to raise the proposal with India as a tripartite matter to facilitate people-to-people contact in the region, reports BSS.

Official sources in the Ministry of Communications Dhaka on Monday confirmed the Nepalese proposal for direct bus link saying that it has been discussed at official levels and the government is considering it.

Sources in the Nepalese capital told BSS recently that India had also proposed transit facility through Nepal to China for direct trade access to which it has a huge bilateral business.

The proposal has given new hopes to the moribund Nepalese economy though it may take years for such a project to take physical shape, the sources said.

If one takes the India-China direct transit proposal with that of Bangladesh’s proposal for a land transit facility to Nepal and Bhutan for direct trade in goods and electricity, the impression that one will gather is that the whole region is now on the move for a change, the sources said.

President of Nepal-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NBCCI) Laxmi Bahadur Shrestha said the transit facility that India has proposed up to Tibet may also work as a liberalising factor on India’s attitude on other issues.

Nepal may now use this card for Nepal-Bangladesh transit corridor as well, Shrestha said pointing to Bangladesh’s demand for direct transit up to Nepal or issues related to improving the cargo handling at Banglabandh transit point, where India does not allow entry of trucks into Bangladesh side carrying Nepalese exports.

A new negotiating environment is emerging in the region, he said.

Diplomatic sources in Kathmandu said new moves are also being made in the water front and these moves, particularly centring the Sapthakushi river waters need to be very carefully watched.  Bangladesh should get actively involved with Nepal, India and China to work jointly on any such moves, they said.

It is important to make sure that the country’s interest is going to find proper representation in the Himalayan water management and that its legitimate share of regional waters coming home, said Bangladesh Ambassador to Nepal Humayun Kabir.

Pointing to a host of other bilateral issues which demand priority attention and also vigorous moves, particularly in the area of trade and investments, and on the people to people track, he said much of these should come from Dhaka.

This is because, he said, the Nepalese business and the leadership are very busy now with domestic issues such as the February take-over by the king and the Maoist insurgency.

Kabir said Nepal has many things to offer and also benefit from Bangladesh, there is a strong case for bilateralism. But this window of opportunities, he argued, need to be seriously exploited.

“We need a lot of homework and make calculated moves to reach the peopla and business in Nepal,” he said referring to short of the steam in the process.

“The whole Nepal policy and its priorities need to be reviewed,” he said pointing to its location, its strategic importance and the business potentials that it has in particular for Bangladesh.



Rahman made advisor to Energy Division

The government on Monday appointed Executive Chairman of the Board of Investment (BOI) Mahmudur Rahman as Advisor to the Energy and Mineral Resources Division with the rank and status of a Deputy Minister, reports BSS.

In addition to his new assignment, he will also discharge his duties as the Executive Chairman of BOI until further orders, official sources said.


DMA signs pact with ACB for making cancer hospital in city

Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) has signed an agreement with Associated Builders Corporation Ltd (ABC) for construction of a 10-storey Cancer Hospital building at Uttara Model Town at a cost of Tk 150 crore, reports UNB.

Kazi Rafiqul Alam, Executive Director of DAM and Engr Nazrul Islam, Director of ABC, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations at the DAM Head Office on Monday.

Speaking on the occasion, Kazi Rafiqul Alam said that with the signing of the construction contract the long felt need of having a full-fledged international standard Cancer Hospital in Bangladesh is going to become a reality.

The cancer hospital is the only project in Bangladesh with a large investment of Tk. 150 crore. Most of the fund has been raised through  voluntary contributions, said a DAM press release.

Construction of the hospital is expected to be completed within three years. The hospital will have adequate provision for providing cancer treatment to poor patients. 

Architect Tarek Alam AIA, Managing Director of USA Based Architectural firm Design Alliance, Md. Ziauddin, Secretary General of DAM, AKM Delwar Hossain, Project Director of Ahsania Mission and Engr Subhash Chandra Ghosh and Engr Nashid Islam, Directors of ABC, among others, were present at contract signing ceremony.


Mahmud takes his new job in Energy Ministry as challenge

On his appointment as Adviser for the Energy Ministry on Monday, Mahmudur Rahman said that his new responsibility given by the Prime Minister in the tough turf is a new challenge for him, reports UNB.

 “This is a new challenge for me to take over the charge of the Energy Ministry as its adviser,” he said in his initial reaction to the press following his new appointment in the rank of deputy minister, a day after State Minister Mosharraf was fired over a car scandal.

He said his main motto would be to bring transparency and dynamism in the country’s nascent energy sector.   

 “If I can work for the next 14 months of the present government, I will try to create momentum in the energy sector,” he added.

Mahmud, presently the executive chairman of the Board of Investment (BoI), noted that the country has two resources--one is mineral resource and another manpower. And if both are utilised properly, “definitely this will bring a major change in the country’s economy”.   

The BoI chief executive was on Monday appointed adviser for the Energy Division of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, in addition to his current assignment.

His appointment came following the resignation of AKM Mosharraf Hossain as State Minister for Energy on Sunday.  


Aug 21 grenade attack Interpol team due tomorrow

Staff Correspondent

A three-member Interpol (International Police Orga-nisation) team arrives Dhaka tomorrow (Wednesday).

Responding to the request of the Bangladesh Government, the Interpol team will conduct a full-fledged investigation into the August 21 grenade attack at Bangabandhu Avenue, sources said.

At least 23 Awami League leaders and activists including its Women Affairs Secretary Ivy Rahman were killed and more than 200 received injuries when unidentified assailants hurled at least 8 anti-personnel ARGES hand grenades on the AL rally in front of the party's central office at Bangabandhu Avenue at about 5:23 pm on August 21, 2004.

Reliable sources said the three-member Interpol team includes a Chinese explosive expert H W Shin. Other two members are American citizens Richard Green and Christ Hanshin. 

The Home Ministry recently again requested the Interpol to conduct further investigation into the 21 August 21-grenade attack.


Envoy presents credentials

'Dhaka firm to develop ties with Cuba'

Bangladesh is a democratic country and believes that all problems, including regional and international ones, can be solved by peaceful means, said President Prof. Iajuddin Ahmed, reports UNB.

He made the observations as the newly appointed Ambassador of Cuba to Bangladesh, Juan Carretero Ibanez, presented his credentials to the President at Bangabhaban on Monday.

The President and the Ambassador reaffirmed that both the countries are “committed to the principles of friendship and peace”.

Welcoming the Delhi-based Ambassador of Cuba, currently accredited to Bangladesh, President Dr Iajuddin Ahmed mentioned a cordial bilateral relation existing between Bangladesh and Cuba and reiterated Dhaka’s determination to “further consolidate and develop relations with Cuba”.

 “Bangladesh always supports Cuba since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972 in line with the UN,” the President said and apprised the envoy of success story of ongoing micro-credit programme in Bangladesh.

Professor Iajuddin said the literacy rate has increased in Bangladesh as present government took various measures in the education sector.  

He told the diplomat that Bangladesh is playing active role in strengthening SAARC, which was initiated by late President Ziaur Rahman to promote cooperation, peace and stability in the South Asian region.

Underscoring the need for South-South cooperation, the ambassador said that the next NAM Summit would be held in Havana next year and requested the President to attend the meet.

The newly appointed Ambassador of Cuba termed the relationship between Cuba and Bangladesh “excellent”.

He said Cuba is doing well in cardiovascular treatment and pharmaceutical industries and can develop similar industries in Bangladesh.

On his arrival at Bangabhaban, the envoy was given a guard of honour by the President’s guard regiment. He took salute and inspected the parade.

Acting Foreign Secretary M Khairuzzaman, Secretary to the President Md Abu Solaiman Chowdhury, MSP Major General ANM Muniruzzaman and Press Secretary M Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury were present on the occasion.


Rabbi for raising tax for whitening black money

Dr. TIM Fazle Rabbi of Jatiya Party in Parliament on Monday strongly criticized the proposed budgetary provision for whitening black money for a pittance, reports UNB.

 “I am proposing to raise the tax from 7.5 per cent to 25 per cent for whitening the black money,” he said while taking part in the discussion on the budget for fiscal 2005-06.

Dr Rabbi was also critical of the government for increasing the electricity and gas tariff and prices of fuel oil.

 “The country has been plunged into a crisis for lack of good governance, resulting in failure in all sectors including poverty alleviation and education,” he said.

Questioning the effectiveness of the new budget, he said the budget would not make any salutary impact on the people’s living condition due to spiralling prices of essentials, deterioration of law and order, and widespread corruption.

 “Without political consensus, there will not be any good result even after preparing a good budget,” the Jatiya Party lawmaker said.

He urged the ruling party to be more tolerant and considerate towards the opposition.

Dr Rabbi demanded reduction of duty on newsprint import to help the newspaper industry, increase the fund for old-age allowance and give festival bonus to the retired government officials.


NBR asked to achieve revenue target

A parliamentary watchdog on Monday asked the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to take appropriate reform measures to achieve the next revenue target, reports UNB.

It also suggested rapid implementation of the ongoing reform programmes–computerization and other logistic supports–to make revenue collection process transparent and a means of achieving the target.

The directives came from a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Finance held at Sangsad Bhaban with committee chairman Mushfiqur Rahman in the chair.

Reviewing the revenue collection progress, the meeting expressed the hope that the revised revenue target for the outgoing fiscal (2004-05) would be achieved as the collection registered a 14.55 per cent growth till May this year compared to the same period of the last fiscal.

The collection, however, fell Tk 1886.60 crore short of the target as figures placed at the meeting.

The meeting was told that Tk 13,513.28 crore customs duty was collected during July-May period of the current fiscal against the target of Tk 13,841 crore while Tk 7,977.53 crore VAT could be collected against the target of Tk 8,483.75 crore and Tk 4,309.84 crore income tax came against the target of Tk 5,362.50 crore.

They registered 14 per cent, 13 per cent and 22 per cent growth respectively over the collection of the same period of the last fiscal (2003-04).

State Minister for Finance and Planning Shah Mohammed Abul Hossain, committee members Mohammed Sayedul Huq, AM Riasat Ali Biswas, Mohammed Azizur Rahman Chowdhury, Gazi Mohammed Shahjahan, Mohammed Habibul Islam Habib, Abdul Khaleque and Mohammed Moshiur Rahman Ranga and officials concerned were present at the meeting.


Political stability a must for poverty alleviation: Altaf

Commerce Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury on Monday said political stability is a must for poverty alleviation and attaining self-reliance, reports BSS.

He, however, said the government alone can not attain the objectives until and unless all come forward wholeheartedly, forgetting small differences on different issues.

He made the comments when speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural function of the annual economic conference of Young Economists Forum (YEF) of the private North South University (NSU) here.

Altaf Chowdhury said the country has made certain progress in the sectors of health, nutrition, education, infrastructure development, population management, rural electrification and information technology over the years.

“The telecommunication sector has also made a remarkable growth during the period,” the minister said, adding the private sector is booming in the country due to pragmatic policy of the present government.

He also appreciated the NSU for maintaining high quality of education.

Finance Secretary Zakir Ahmed Khan, Vice Chancellor of NSU Dr Hafiz G A Siddiqui and YEF President Adnan Ahmed also spoke on the occasion.


Lightning kills 2 in Habiganj

HABIGANJ, June 20:–Two football fans died and 15 others were injured when a thunderbolt struck them during a match being played at Shatmukha football ground in Baniachang upazila Monday afternoon, reports UNB.

Rahul (40) of Shatmukha and Alai Mia (20) of Kataiya village died on the spot, witnesses said. The injured were rushed to the health complex and clinics.


American prison guards describe Saddam as friendly, talkative

NEW YORK, June 20:–Thrust unexpectedly into the role of prison guards for Saddam Hussein, a group of young American soldiers found the deposed Iraqi leader to be a friendly, talkative "clean freak" who loved Raisin Bran for breakfast, did his own laundry and insisted he was still president of Iraq, says a report published on Monday, reports AP.

GQ magazine's July issue says Saddam greatly admired President Ronald Reagan and thought President Bill Clinton was "OK," but had harsh words for both President Bushes, each of whom went to war against him.

"The Bush father, son, no good," one of the soldiers, Cpl. Jonathan "Paco" Reese, 22, quotes Saddam as saying. But his fellow GI, Specialist Sean O'Shea, then 19, says Saddam later softened that view.

"Towards the end he was saying that he doesn't hold any hard feelings and he just wanted to talk to Bush, to make friends with him," O'Shea told the magazine.

A third soldier, Spc. Jesse Dawson, quoted Saddam as saying of Bush, "`He knows I have nothing, no mass weapons. He knows he'll never find them."'

The three soldiers were among members of C Company, 2nd Battalion, 103rd Armor Regiment, a Pennsylvania National Guard unit from the Scranton area that was activated for duty in Iraq in late 2003. Instead of going into combat, they were chosen by the FBI to serve as guards at a U.S. military compound where Saddam was an "HVD," or high value detainee.

The nine-month assignment was so secret that they could not tell their families, according to the article by GQ correspondent Lisa DePaulo. The article names five of the soldiers who agreed to discuss the experience, with the military's permission.

They were required to sign statements prohibiting them from revealing the location, dates, garrison strength and certain other details of Saddam's incarceration. But they were free to describe their interactions with the prisoner, according to the article.

Pentagon officials had no immediate comment because they had not seen the article, spokeswoman Lynnette Ebberts said Monday.

The soldiers' descriptions of Saddam's life in prison match the recent photos of him that apparently were smuggled out of prison - showing the former dictator in his underwear and a long robe. They describe a man who once lived in palaces and now occupies a cell where he has no personal privacy.

Once, when Saddam fell down during his twice-a-week shower, the article says, "panic ensued. No one wanted him to be hurt while being guarded by Americans." One GI had to help Saddam back to his cell, another carried his underwear, it adds.

Saddam learned the names of the soldiers guarding him, was interested in the details of their lives, which they were not supposed to discuss, and sometimes offered fatherly advice.

O'Shea said when he told him he was not married, Saddam "started telling me what to do." "He was like, `you gotta find a good woman. Not too smart, not too dumb. Not too old, not too young. One that can cook and clean."'

Then he smiled, made what O'Shea interpreted as a "spanking" gesture, laughed and went back to washing his clothes in the sink.

The soldiers say Saddam was preoccupied with cleanliness, washing up after shaking hands and using diaper wipes to clean his meal trays, his utensils and the table before eating. "He had germophobia or whatever you call it" said Dawson, 25.

The article quotes the soldiers on Saddam's eating preferences - Raisin Bran Crunch was his breakfast favorite. "No Froot Loops," he told O'Shea. He ate fish and chicken but refused beef at dinner.

Saddam prayed five times a day in his cell and kept a Quran that he claimed to have found in some rubble near the underground hideout. "He proudly showed (it) to the boys because it was burned around the edges and had a bullet hole in it," the story says.

According to the author, Saddam told his guards that when the Americans invaded Iraq in March 2003, he "tried to flee in a taxicab as the tanks were rolling in," and the U.S. planes attacked the palace to which he intended to escape rather than the one he was in, injuring some of his bodyguards.

"But then he started laughing," recalls Reese. "He goes, `America, they dumb. They bomb wrong palace."'

Saddam told the guards his capture in an underground hideout on Dec. 18, 2003, resulted from a betrayal by the only man who knew where he was, and had been paid to keep the secret.

"He was really mad about that," says Dawson. "He compared himself to Jesus, how Judas told on Jesus. He was like, `that's how it was for me." If his Judas never said anything, nobody ever would have found him, he said."

U.S. officials said at the time that Saddam's capture resulted from intelligence from several sources rather than a single informant.

The article says that if Saddam knew the statue of himself in Baghdad's Firdos Square was toppled on April 9, 2003, he never mentioned it to the GI guards. He insisted that everything he did, including the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, was for the good of his people, and invited his guards to return to Iraq and stay at his palace after he was restored to power. "He'd always tell us he was still the president. That's what he thinks, One hundred per cent," says Dawson.


AL to observe 56th founding anniversary on June 23

The main opposition Awami League will observe its 56th founding anniversary on June 23 in a befitting manner, says UNB.

The party had been fighting for the emancipation of the people and for establishing democracy since its inception in 1949.

In a statement on the occasion, AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil, MP, requested party workers to observe the anniversary through holding meetings, seminars, rallies, processions and Milad Mahfils at district, city, thana, upazila and union levels, a party Press release said.


BJKD announces month long programme

Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Krishak Dal (BJKD) on Monday announced a month-long programme aimed at strengthening the organization at grass root level, reports BSS.

General Secretary of BJKD Shamsuzzaman Dudu announced the programme at a Press conference held at the head office of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in Dhaka.

As part of the programme, organizational tour has been prepared which will begin from Gazipur and Jamalpur districts on June 25.

A total of five teams will tour the country and form committees at district, metropolis, thana, pourasava and union levels though holding the conferences.

Convenor of preparatory committee of BJKD conference and State Minister for Agriculture Mirza Fakharul Islam Alamgir, Acting President of the BJKD M Mujibur Rahman, Vice-President ASM Alauddin, among others, were present at the Press conference.

Mirza Fakharul Alamgir called upon the leaders and workers of the organization to work unitedly to make the district conferences of the BJKD a success. He said the government has earmarked Taka 1,200 crore in the proposed national budget for 2005-06 as subsidy in agriculture after taking into view the significance of the sector. He further said government has also stepped up efforts to increase subsidy in agriculture sector as a measure for poverty alleviation.

Five teams were formed for proper holding the district conferences. The teams will be headed by Mirza Fakharul Islam Alamgir, State Minister for Agriculture, Alamgir Kabir, State Minister for Housing and Public Works, Advocate Goutam Chakraborty, State Minister for Water Resources, Advocate Abdus Salam Pintoo, Deputy Minister for Industries and Asadul Habib Dulu, Deputy Minister for Food and Disaster Management.

BJKD secretary Dudu said at least 100 saplings of different kinds of trees including that of timber wood, fruit bearing and medicine will be planted in each union of the country under the supervision of Krishak Dal during the month-long conference.




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