Vol. # 02   issue # 1315

Dhaka, wednesday , may 17, 2006

Jaistha 04, 1413 BS

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Leading News

Biman in a farrago
Staff Correspondent

The DC-10 aircraft which was refused permission to land at John F Kennedy Airport (JFK) in New York, has at last returned to Dhaka on Monday night. But the incident has revealed once again that Bangladesh Biman is a in shambles due to reckless mismanagement by those who are in charge.
Meanwhile, operation of Biman flights on Dhaka-New York route remains uncertain, if not set to be closed down, although the US State Department authority has regretted its refusal of permission to Biman aircraft for landing in New York saying “it was a mistake.”
Biman officials in Dhaka told journalists on Tuesday that the Bangladesh Mission in Washington had contacted US State Department. US officials said that the Biman aircraft was refused permission to enter US airspace out of mistake and that Biman flights to US have not been banned.
The Biman officials further said, they are planning to take up the matter with the US authorities for demanding compensation for the loss incurred by Biman.
The BG-011 flight left Dhaka on Saturday with 251 people on broad via Brussels and was due to land at JFK Airport in New York on Saturday but the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAI) refused landing permission to it reportedly because of the old ACR model of the DC-10 aircraft of the Biman. According to a report, there is restriction on operation of DC-10 in USA as ‘operation of such outdated aircraft is highly risky.’
Following the refusal of landing permission by the US FAA, the Biman aircraft had to land in Montreal on Sunday morning. According to sources, the US Aviation Authority had informed Bangladesh Biman recently that restrictions have been imposed on landing of old, faulty and risky aircraft on US soil and that Biman flights would not be allowed to land unless it’s security and safety conditions were improved.
But, Biman ignored the warning and sent BG-011 Flight to New York only to be refused landing permission much to the agony and inconvenience of the passengers. It may be recalled that the FAA had earlier fined Biman for changing its Dhaka-New York flight route via Brussels without prior permission from the FAA as required under rules. Biman changed its route since April 8 excluding Brussels and adding Manchester as the new transit station. However, Biman was later forced to revert to its orginal route.
At present the Biman fleet includes 6 DC-10, 4 Air Bus, and 4 F-28 aircraft. With these aircraft Biman operates flights on 26 international routes and 7 domestic routes.
Biman is a losing concern and sinking relentlessly. It incurs a loss of Taka 73 lacs in every trip to New York. In view of this heavy loss Biman authority has reportedly decided to cancel the Dhaka-New York flight. But in fact, Biman’s flight operation on Dhaka-New York route has already come to a halt following the US FAA’s refusal to allow Biman aircraft to land on American soil.


Tussle between Ministry and PM's office aggravates power crisis

Staff Correspondent

The countrymen especially the consumers in rural areas could not get rid of the severe load-shedding and frequent disruption to electricity supply despite the start of rains when the consumption usually decreases.
The HSC examinees throughout the country are also being affected seriously because of the continuous power outage and load-shedding.
On Tuesday, the country experienced some 1000megawatt (mw) of load-shedding in peak-hours. A day before on Monday, the load-shedding was about 1100mw.
Inefficiency of the power division and tussle between the state minister for power and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) have created obstacles to generation of more power against the growing demand resulting in huge load-shedding and erratic supply across the country, observers said.
The power producers were able to generate around 3200mw of electricity on Tuesday against the demand for more than 4200mw resulting in over 1000mw power shortage. However, the actual power shortage in the distribution level is higher than the generation-demand gap as there is some 22.06 per cent system loss in power sector.
The people of Dhaka city and its adjacent areas were able to consume around 1200mw of power against their demand for more than 1400mw.
Official sources said, owing to suspension of power generation in some power plants in the country for technical faults, the power crisis over the last couple of months was being experienced resulting in frequent disruption to power and severe load-shedding.
According to Power Development Board (PDB), some power plants including the 71mw Baghabari power plant, newly introduced (125x2)mw coal-fired Barapukuria, the 210mw Ghorasal and the 110mw Khulna power plants remain suspended. On Tuesday, the city dwellers in different areas claimed that they faced severe load-shedding three to four times, each lasting for at least one hour, which affected the HSC examinees badly.
People from rural areas of different regions said that they did not get adequate power. They said they were experiencing frequent load-shedding, two to three hours at a time.


Biman to suspend flights to US, Europe and Japan
AFP, Dhaka

  Cash-strapped national carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines will suspend unprofitable long-haul flights to Europe, America and Asia to reduce losses, a minister said Tuesday.
Biman would temporarily discontinue services to New York, Tokyo, Paris, Frankfurt and Bangkok-Singapore as they are not profitable, Junior Civil Aviation Minister Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir was quoted as saying by the state-run BSS news agency.
“We are suffering a loss of 5.5 million taka (80,000 dollars) on each flight to New York because of operating with old DC-10 aircraft,” the minister said.
State-run Biman racked up a loss of around 41 million dollars last year as fuel costs soared and two accidents resulted in a DC-10 and Fokker F-28 being written off.
Officials said the company was set to incur huge losses in the current finacial year because of increasing jet fuel prices and a jump in the cost of fleet maintenance.
Currently Biman travels to 27 international destinations with five DC-10 aircraft that are at least 20 years old, four Airbus 310s bought in the early 1990s and three Fokker F-28 aircraft.
The minister said officials were trying to improve the airline’s fortunes by seeking a “strategic partner” and that talks had already been held with Thai Airlines, Emirates and Gulf Air.
Under any deal, a strategic partner would manage Biman and supply aircraft in exchange for access to the national flag carrier’s guaranteed destinations.
Last October, Biman’s board approved a sale of a 61 percent stake in the company to private investors in an effort to raise money to buy new aircraft for its ageing fleet.
The minister gave no date when the suspended flights might resume.


PM discusses EC related issues with senior ministers
Staff Correspondent

Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia held a meeting with her three senior cabinet ministers M Saifur Rahman, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and Khandoker Mosharraf Hossain on Tuesday and discussed recruitment of more manpower in the EC and other issues related to the Election Commission, according to a source in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The discussions were held as the controversy over the draft voters’ list has turned into a major political issue with the CEC, two Election Commissioners and the secretary remaining tight-lipped about 1.5 crore unaccounted voters.
Meanwhile, the employees and officials of Election Commission (EC) loyal to the four-party alliance government are going to be appointed to important posts and some of them will be awarded by giving promotion.
“On the basis of political affiliation, the district election officers are allegedly being transferred to sensitive and important places across the country. Besides, the officers working in the EC secretariat will also be promoted as deputy secretary,” a competent source in the EC said.
At the end of five-year tenure of former chief election commissioner MA Sayed, commissioners Shafiur Rahman, M Munsef Ali and AK Mohammad Ali, the EC secretariat is fully controlled by people liked by the four-party alliance government. The incumbent CEC Justice MA Aziz, two ECs SM Zakaria and Justice Mahfuzur Rahman and the acting Secretary are very loyal to the government scrupulously following the government instructions, the source added.
Although the EC is an independent constitutional body but its core members are directly patronized by the government. As a result, the CEC, two ECs and the secretary have been doing their best to satisfy the government through giving appointment and promotion to other officials on political background.
A number of district election officers and thana election officers who were appointed in 2004 for their political affiliation, will be transferred to important post in districts.

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Brighten country's image as a liberal, non-communal and democratic state: PM

UNB, Dhaka

Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia made a clarion call for country's religious leaders and imams to play their pivotal role in brightening Bangladesh's image as a liberal, non-communal and democratic state, through dispelling any misperception that the misguided elements tried to create.
Khaleda Zia made the call while inaugurating the UNFPA-assisted National Conference of Imams-2006 on Human Re-sources Deve-lopment Affairs at Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre. It was organised by Religious Affairs Ministry and implemented by Islamic Foundation, Bangladesh, with the help of the UN agency.
"You are the leaders of our society and live in close proximity to the common people. Your acceptability to them is much more than others. Therefore, your responsibility is much in providing proper guidance to people, " she told the Islamic thinkers and imams at the function.
She said their (imams and religious leaders) positive role in creating public opinion against the activities of some derailed 'bomb terrorists' in religious garbs, like the acts staged on August 17 last year and at different times later on, is indeed praiseworthy. She hoped that they would play more strengthened role in future. The PM stressed the need for pursuing modern education and science alongside religious education and making country's education time-worthy by removing discrepancies in the education system.
She informed the function that necessary steps are being taken to that end and expressed optimism that the imam community and religious leaders would play their wise role in this area.
"Islam is a religion of liberalism and humanism. This religion teaches us peace, amity, equality and empathy. Therefore, it is our moral responsibility and obligation to ensure the rights of every citizen of the country, irrespective of gender, and right to practice religious values," the Pime Minister observed.


 14000 women die from pregnancy complications every year in BD

Staff Correspondent

About 14,000 Bangladeshi women die from pregnancy complications and child birth every year.
This was stated by the visiting UNFPA executive director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, at a press conference at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel on Tuesday. UNFPA representative in Bangladesh Suneeta Mukharjee, assistant representatives Tahera Ahmed and Nurul Ameen were also present.
She disclosed that as per demographic and health survey, the population of Bangladesh will increase to 21 crore in the next 45 years from the existing 14 crore population.
Thoraya said the success of Bangladesh is remarkable despite many challenges and problems like promotion of urban and rural health services, education, safe motherhood, sanitation and immunisation and reduced child and maternal mortality rate.
She stressed the need for promotion of female education for their empowerment, checking population growth through delayed marriage, attaining gender parity, curbing dowry and other social vices.
We are working with government to sensitize people about population and reproductive health and family planning and safe motherhood. We are also working with Imams to spread the message to end discrimination and violence against women and to support family planning and safe motherhood. The UNFPA Executive Director emphasized the need for greater efforts to end gender discrimination and violence against women in Bangladesh. She called for easy access to information on HIV/AIDS to create awareness.


Pak PM calls for peaceful solution to Iran's nuclear crisis
Xinhua, Athens

Visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz defended his country's nuclear program in Athens on Monday and called for a peaceful solution to Iran's nuclear crisis.
At a lecture at a downtown Athens hotel on globalization and Pakistan's role, Aziz said his country opposed the proliferation of nuclear weapons but supported the peaceful development of nuclear energy in line with terms and prerequisites set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
He said Pakistan was "a responsible nuclear power" and it was India's nuclear program that compelled Islamabad to follow the path of the development of nuclear weapons. The prime minister underscored the need to solve the Iranian nuclear issue by peaceful means.
He also stressed that the Kashmir problem should be settled in a way which satisfies Pakistan, India and the people in the disputed Kashmir region. Earlier Monday, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Aziz on bilateral economic cooperation. The two sides signed an agreement on tourism cooperation.

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Viewpoints

A litany of lost opportunities

Israel does not acknowledge the nuclear capability it is widely believed to possess and that it has acquired with the active support of the United States.

Ghayoor Ahmed

T
he International Atomic Energy Agency's latest report has faulted Iran for refusing to stop enriching uranium within the 30-day deadline that was set by the United Nations Security Council.
It is, however, important to note that the report in question has not established conclusively that Iran was developing its nuclear capabilities to make nuclear weapons.
Iran has categorically rejected the belief that it possesses a nuclear weapons programme and has expressed its willingness to allow inspections of its nuclear installations by IAEA experts to dispel misgivings about the nature of its nuclear programme.
Iran's nuclear programme, which began in 1970 when it joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has been under the supervision of the IAEA which plays a key role in assisting the international community in curbing nuclear proliferation. In view of this, the reports systematically carried by the western media that in the past 10 years or so Iran has deceived the international community to conceal its build-up of nuclear weapons do not carry conviction.
In this connection it may also be pertinent to mention that, in April last year, when the then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presented President Bush with intelligence reports indicating that Iran was only a few months away from developing military nuclear capability, he was told that according to US intelligence evaluations, Iran was still years away from acquiring this deterrent. It is apparent, therefore, that Israel was behind the baseless propaganda campaign against Iran's nuclear programme. It is also clear that Israel has succeeded in making President Bush believe that Iran's nuclear programme is of military nature and poses a serious threat to its security.
Israel does not acknowledge the nuclear capability it is widely believed to possess and that it has acquired with the active support of the United States. Its security depends on its ability to manufacture nuclear arms and in order to retain its nuclear monopoly in the Middle East, it has been persuading Washington to prevent Iran from pursuing its perfectly legitimate nuclear programme.
Washington should, however, realise that in case unnecessary obstacles are placed in its path in pursuing its nuclear programme for peaceful purposes, Iran may be prompted to withdraw from the NPT, as is permissible under Article X (1). Following economic reforms, exploiting the existing and exploring new sources of energy has become a necessity for Iran.
President Bush has not ruled out military action against Iran to prevent it from pursuing its nuclear programme. It is widely believed that in case the United States fails to muster sufficient support in the Security Council in order to take punitive action against Iran it might itself strike pre-emptively to destroy Iran's nuclear installations or Israel may do so at its behest. In either case, both Iran and the United States would be entangled in a widening military confrontation leading to extremely serious consequences in the region as neutral hostilities could provoke a negative reaction in other Muslim countries giving rise to more anti-American movements dominated by militants and extremists.
The United States should, therefore, carefully weigh the pros and cons of a military confrontation with Iran. Realising the magnitude of the negative consequences of such an undesirable course of action it is hoped that President Bush will show circumspection and allow diplomacy to resolve the matter in an amicable manner which is the only forward to ward off a devastating armed conflict between Iran and the United States.
Iran and the United States are not destined to be rivals forever. The two countries cannot remain in a state of war in perpetuity. The geo-political interests of both countries demand that they improve their relations. Regrettably, however, Israel continues to be a major obstacle in achieving this objective. It may be recalled that Iran's foreign policy had entered a new phase, moving from confrontation to conciliation during the tenure of President Khatami who had declared that Iran was not an enemy of the people of the United States and that relations between the two countries should be based on mutual respect, trust and sovereign equality. Regrettably, President Bush did not grasp this historical opportunity to improve the years old embittered Iran-US relations, and declared Iran a part of the 'axis of evil'.
After his election as president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a conservative, also declared that his country favoured a rapprochement with the US. It was hoped that President Bush would reciprocate these sentiments and that the diplomatic stalemate of more than 25 years would come to an end. However, the US president remained persistent in his hostile attitude towards Iran and unleashed a vicious propaganda campaign against it, particularly on the nuclear issue.
In the wake of the ongoing stand-off between Iran and the United States on the nuclear issue, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a bid to ease the growing tensions and to resolve the matter peacefully sent a personal letter to President Bush on May 8. In this letter, while analysing the world situation and tracing the root causes of the problems between Tehran and Washington, the Iranian leader has proposed ways of ending the present predicament. It was generally believed that this unprecedented diplomatic initiative would break the ice and give way to a new process leading to better ties between Tehran and Washington. Regrettably, however, the United States has summarily dismissed this initiative by stating that it does not address US concerns about Iran's nuclear programme.

—Courtesy: Dawn


 Return of Red brigade

Till yesterday, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was a chief minister of Bengal. Today he has become a leader of his people.

M. J. Akbar

B
uddhadeb Bhattacharjee has buried the ghost that hovered over Jyoti Basu's table for two decades - that his remarkable run of victories was tainted by rigging. It was an easy accusation to make, and an easier one to believe outside Bengal, precisely because India had never witnessed anything like the democratic miracle engineered by Basu and the CPI(M).
The facts of course did not quite justify the accusation. Marxist support was anchored in solid economic benefits for the underprivileged, and lifted by the unique charisma of Jyoti Basu, a charisma that magnetised the Bengali voter. But it was the only accusation that a hapless, and then a hopeless, Opposition could make.
This charge was essential to the self-esteem, and therefore survival, of the Congress and its truculent child, the Trinamul. Without self-esteem you cannot offer hope; without hope, you cannot have a cadre. Mamata Banerjee can sustain her individual self on a diet of negative and near-hysterical cacophony. But why should the young, or even the old, person in search of a political career invest in her if all she can offer is forty years in the wilderness?
It is a fair bet that, after Moses, the Congress family in Bengal is the only leadership that offers forty years in the wilderness and hopes to survive. The journey to nowhere began in 1977. For 29 years the Congress family has been staring at a lost horizon. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has now set course for at least another eleven years. We shall check horizons again after the elections of 2016.
And Buddhadeb Babu has done it in style. The Election Commission pulled out all the stops in its determination to prevent any rigging. This election was as clean as it gets. The results were as overwhelmingly one-sided as possible. The difference was so huge that even the opinion polls could not get it wrong. Every government tries to use state machinery to its advantage, but no government has been able to change the course of a tide.
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's great achievement is that he corrected the course of the tide when he found that it just might go the other way, and set about this task almost from the moment he inherited Basu's extraordinary legacy. He introduced the dialectic of change into Marxist terminology. Like any Marxist, he is a child of ideology, but he rescued dogma from dogmatism. He was ahead of the youth curve.
The biggest danger for any establishment is to run adrift of the shifting perception of the young. Every generation rewrites the rules of economic aspiration, within the context of new technology and emerging opportunity. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee saw the future in the Chinese model, but not quite in the way we imagine. There was a subtle variation, even as he understood that Communism had to integrate with market forces. He realised that the Chinese Communist Party could survive a Tiananmen Square because the system was essentially despotic. But in a democracy such an upsurge would have been sufficient to unseat a government in the subsequent election.
His responsibility and challenge therefore was to prevent disillusionment, and ease the anger of the young before it erupted. He did not succeed in isolation, as is sometimes made out to be. He was not a voice outside the party's Politburo. The CPI(M) is now led by younger men and women with a vested interest in the future. And they are going to find that future with the steely determination of the generation that has provided them with an invaluable legacy. Till yesterday, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was a chief minister of Bengal. Today he has become a leader of his people.
Obviously he has been helped by the fact that the Trinamul and Congress had nothing to offer except emotional, non-intellectual and often unintelligible mishmash. Mamata Banerjee is the headmistress of the tired school of clichés. She confuses street theatre with politics. Bengalis may love jatra but they don't vote for drama queens. And as drama queens go, Mamata Banerjee is no Suchitra Sen. But she also emerges from a political tradition in Bengal. Marxist historians must never forget to thank three Bengalis for the rise of the CPI(M): P C Sen, Ajoy Mukherjee and Pranab Mukherjee.
Sen was Congress chief minister after Dr B C Roy, and led his party to defeat almost as surely as Dr Roy led his party to victory. Sen fell in the elections of 1967 to a United Front crafted by Ajoy Mukherjee, the ageing Congress rebel, Pranab Mukherjee, the rising young tactician, and Jyoti Basu. (Pranab Mukherjee is an ageing tactician now, but still a tactician.) 1967 marked the beginning of a decade of struggle and trial for the Marxists: through the fires of Naxalite havoc, Congress repression in the state and then the nationwide Emergency. In 1977 the Emergency was lifted and the mood of the north was passionately anti-Congress. Sen, now leader of the Janata Dal, did the Marxists an unparalleled favour. Basu offered an alliance. Sen arrogantly rejected it. The Left Front swept to power in 1977 in Bengal. No one has discovered the means to remove it in three decades.
A historic blunder (the phrase is Jyoti Basu's) in 1997 prevented the Marxists from taking a quantum leap forward in their political evolution. The CPI(M) Politburo prevented Jyoti Basu from leading a coalition and becoming the first Marxist Prime Minister of India. No party has used power to expand its base better than the CPI(M). Today, the Marxists have been restricted to two and a half fortresses (Tripura would be the half), and only one of those fortresses is under permanent possession (Bengal). With Jyoti Basu in Delhi, the party would have had a unique chance to take its message, as well as its management style, across the country. The results might not have been immediate, but they would have come.
A decade has passed since that historic blunder, and generations have changed. Can Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Prakash Karat reverse that blunder?
They have one great advantage, which was not so evident a decade earlier. When Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh ushered in economic reforms in 1991, they promised emancipation to all. Their work was carried forward by governments that were hostile to the Congress: the Vajpayee coalition was as committed to those reforms as its originators. In a sense, these policies were endorsed by a Right Coalition, which could have evolved into a Right Front. Fifteen years later, it is obvious to everyone but the blind that economic reforms have been only a partial success. The Maoist insurgency is violent evidence of the despair in the darker side of India - the moonlit India, as opposed to neon-lit India.
We must not lose what we have achieved through economic reform. But it is equally true that the next phase of economic growth is going to be impossible without a far greater commitment to equity and social change. If the first phase of economic growth was sustained by a Right Front, then the next phase will need a non-dogmatic Left Front in power. The poor will not wait much longer. If they are not included in rapid progress then they could even destroy what has been achieved.
The only political party with any credibility among the poor within the democratic ambience is the CPI(M). The Maoists are a splutter of anger, an important alarm bell, but they are not the solution to this growing problem. Their relevance is limited. The CPI(M) can seed a Left Front that re-establishes Delhi's equation with India. Step forward, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

—Courtesy: Internet


Great Lives, Great Places

Historic Center of Naples (1995)

T
he greek city of Neapolis, as usual in the ancient greek towns, had developed around three straight streets running parallel from East to the West (called "plateiai" by Greeks and "decumani" by Romans) and crossed by several secondary streets at right angles.
The decumanus end at Via Duomo (Cathedral Street) where is the Cathedral of Naples, seat for the Cardinal and for the Treasure of San Gennaro, the patron saint of the city. Here it happens twice a year the Miracle of San Gennaro, when the Martyr's blood (saved into an ampulla) liquefies, announcing that there will be no calamities for Neapolitans.
The actual construction belongs to the Angevin Age too, but here was a paleochristian basilica which had been enclosed into the new cathedral as a lateral chapel. The interiors had been changed during 17th and 18th century, but retain some previous chapels both from Gothic and Renaissance period, causing a much mixed style. The facade has been rebuilt at the end of 19th century following the neoclassical style, but the portals belongs to the 15th century and are decorated with statues of the 14th century.
The Historic Centre of Naples has its individual masterpieces, a classical town layout and is associated with many events and individuals of great importance in the early history of Christianity.
Naples was founded in 470 BC. It took its fair share of damage in the earthquake of 62 AD and the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 AD, the one that covered nearby Pompei and Herculaneum. Unlike these towns, the city was quickly rebuilt and flourished for centuries. Mainly as an autonomous kingdom, with an important interlude in the 16th century under Spanish rule (Viceroy Toledo left Naples a majestic quarter).
Since the 1990s, Naples is experiencing a renaissance. The city has become safer and cleaner, and many building works are executed in the city center to restore it to its former glory.
From the Neapolis founded by Greek settlers in 470 B.C. to the city of today, Naples has retained the imprint of the successive cultures that emerged in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. This makes it a unique site, with a wealth of outstanding monuments such as the Church of Santa Chiara and the Castel Nuovo.
An important seaport, Naples is built on the slopes and at the base of a range of hills bordering the Bay of Naples, an inlet of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Visible from the city is the volcano Mount Vesuvius.
Naples is the site of numerous castles and other places of interest. On a rocky islet connected to the city by a causeway stands the 12th-century Castel dell'Ovo, the site of which was occupied by the villa of the Roman general Lucullus. Other Neapolitan castles are the 13th-century Castel Nuovo, situated on the harbor, and the 14th-century Castel Sant'Elmo, on a hill overlooking the city.
The former royal palace in Naples, the Palazzo Reale, was built in the early 17th century; it houses the notable National Library, which has a large and valuable collection of books and manuscripts. Near the palace is the Teatro San Carlo (1737, rebuilt 1816), famed for its opera productions and one of the largest theaters in Europe.
The National Museum in Naples is renowned for its vast collection of Greco-Roman paintings and sculpture found in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and elsewhere in the vicinity of the city.
The museum also contains the celebrated Farnese collection of paintings. The city is the site of a university; Naples also has a naval institute, a school of foreign languages, a music conservatory, and an academy of fine arts.
Of the many ecclesiastical buildings in the city, the best known is the Cathedral of San Gennaro (begun 13th century, with many later additions, including a 19th-century facade). The cathedral contains the tomb of St. Januarius, the patron saint of the city; crowds fill the cathedral in May and September to witness what is believed to be the miraculous liquefaction of his blood. The Church of San Domenico Maggiore has a beautiful interior and is rich in sculpture and frescoes. Beside it stands the former Dominican monastery in which Saint Thomas Aquinas once lived and taught.
The ancient Neapolis (Greek, "New City") was originally a Greek settlement. Although conquered by the Romans in the 4th century bc, it long retained its Greek culture. The mild climate and the beauty of the site made the city a favorite resort of wealthy Romans. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the city declined. In the 6th century Neapolis was captured by forces of the Byzantine Empire, and in the 8th century it became an independent duchy. In 1139 the Normans conquered the duchy, and it was subsequently incorporated into the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. After the Sicilian Vespers of 1282 the city served as capital of the separate kingdom of Naples. In 1861 that kingdom became part of the modern state of Italy. The port of Naples was greatly improved in the late 19th century. The city, which had long been subject to epidemics of cholera, was provided with a pure supply of water in 1884 and a new sewage system.

 

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Global Wrapup

Saddam stays defiant as charges listed in court
AFP, Baghdad
 
Fallen Iraqi president Saddam Hussein defiantly refused to enter a plea Monday as charges were formally presented in a hearing that marked a new stage in his long-running trial for crimes against humanity.
Chief judge Rauf Rasheed Abdel Rahman read out charges implicating Saddam and the other defendants in the killings of 148 Shiite villagers in the 1980s, including accusations of torture, murder and the execution of minors.
The session also saw the beginning of the defense phase of the trial with witnesses testifying on behalf of one of the minor defendants.
Saddam was singled out for ordering the crackdown on the village which directly resulted in nine deaths and then signing a court order for the execution of 148 villagers two years later.
But Saddam, who along with seven co-defendants could face the death penalty if found guilty, replied: "I cannot reply yes or no to the charge." He argued that the list of accusations was too long and just for public consumption.
"A head of state is protected by the constitution, therefore I cannot reply to the long statement," said the ousted president, who has said he ordered the executions after a 1982 attempt on his life at a time of war with Iran.
Abdel Rahman entered a not guilty plea in Saddam's place, adding, "You were (head of state), but now you are a defendant."
The judge read out the official charges based on evidence presented since the trial began in October 2005 for each of the defendants in turn, who had to respond whether they were innocent or guilty.
The former head of intelligence, Saddam's half brother Barzan al-Tikriti, was singled out for his role in arresting some 400 villagers and the interrogations, while former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan was blamed for the destruction of the village's orchards.
"Everything you have said is lies," scoffed Barzan after the charges against him were read out.
Former judge of the revolutionary court, Awad al-Bandar, received particularly serious charges since he was the one who sentenced the 148 villagers to death.
The four other defendants, minor officials of the former ruling Baath party, were mainly charged with providing the names of people who were subsequently arrested, tortured, imprisoned, and in many cases, executed.
In contrast to some of the more turbulent past sessions of the trial, Monday's pace was swift and the chief judge was rarely interrupted as he read out the charges. All the other defendants pleaded their innocence.
The judge said many people under the age of 18 were executed, a violation of international agreements that had been signed by Iraq during Saddam's own rule.
 


Hamas PM vows to resist ‘unholy alliance’
AFP, Rafah

Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya, whose Hamas-led government is saddled with economic sanctions, vowed Monday not to be pressured by an 'unholy alliance' of Israel and the West.
Speaking at a rally in southern Gaza to mark the 58th anniversary of the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation, Haniya also appealed for Palestinian unity following deadly clashes between his faction and the former ruling Fatah party.
The European Union and United States have both suspended aid payments to the Palestinian Authority since Hamas formed a new government in March over its refusal to renounce violence or recognise Israel's right to exist.
The suspension of Western aid compounded an economic crisis first sparked by Israel's decision to freeze payment of customs duties it used to collect on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
"An unholy alliance is conspiring today to push the Palestinian government to accept political concessions and recognise the legitimacy of the occupation of Palestinian lands," said Haniya in the town of Rafah which borders Egypt.
"I say by God the Palestinian government will not make any concessions that infrine on the rights of the Palestinian people... By God we will not recognise the legitimacy of the occupier."
Haniya, whose organisation is classified as a terrorist organisation by Washington, was particularly scathing about US backing for Israel.
"We say here in Rafah today: 'No and a thousand nos' to America which wants to take away the rights to our land and turn us into slaves. We will not be slaves except to God."
Haniya pledged to tackle the lawlessness which pervades much of the Gaza Strip and West Bank and was highlighted by clashes last week between Fatah and Hamas that left three people dead.
"We must protect Palestinian blood and we must not point Palestinian weapons at Palestinian chests," he said.
"The government is serious in ending the security chaos because, as they say, if your house is not tidy within, then you cannot confront the external challenges."


Developing countries to stake position on Iran nuclear crisis
AFP, Kuala Lumpur

The 114-member Non-Aligned Movement of developing nations will stake its position on the Iranian nuclear crisis at the end of the month, Malaysia's foreign minister was quoted as saying Tuesday.
Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Iran's nuclear program will be "extensively discussed" when NAM foreign ministers gather in Kuala Lumpur from May 27 to prepare for a leaders' summit later this year.
"We hope the crisis Iran is facing will not reach a situation where there will be military conflict because the world does not need another such conflict," he was quoted as saying in the Star daily.
Malaysia is currently chairing the NAM, which includes Iran amongst its members, and Syed Hamid said the grouping did not oppose the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
"We do believe that there is nothing wrong for any country to look at alternative sources of energy, including nuclear power, as long as it is intended for peaceful purposes," he said.
The West fears that Iran is using a civilian atomic energy programme as a screen to develop nuclear weapons. The United States is seeking sanctions from the UN Security Council over Iran's uranium enrichment activities.
Syed Hamid said ministers will decide whether to issue a separate statement on Iran, or to include the issue in an expected ministerial declaration.
The Non-Aligned Movement brings together mainly developing nations and was formed during the Cold War as an alternative to the Western and Eastern power blocs.
In recent years the grouping has turned its attention to social issues as it struggles to maintain its relevance in the modern world.


 EU pledges ‘bold’ nuclear offer for Iran
AFP, Brussels

The European Union pledged Monday to make a "bold" offer to persuade Iran to curb its atomic ambitions, including possible security guarantees and hi-tech help to develop peaceful nuclear power.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the 25-nation bloc, tasked with trying to defuse the West's diplomatic standoff with the Islamic state, could offer Tehran "the most sophisticated" technology to help its power needs.
"We want to prove to the Iranians that we have nothing against ... Iran to use nuclear power for peaceful means," he told reporters, adding that: "We are going to present a plan to them, a cooperative project to them."
"If they want to construct nuclear energy power plants they will have, in cooperation with the European union and other members of the international community, the best and most sophisticated technology.
The West fears that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon behind the screen of a civilian atomic energy programme. Tehran says it only wants to generate energy.
The United States is seeking sanctions from the UN Security Council but it has failed to win support for the move and has given its European allies "a couple of weeks" to draft a fresh approach.
The EU, whose package must also satisfy Russia and China, has until Friday-when negotiators from the Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany meet in London-to complete its work.
Solana played down comments by Iran's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, rejecting any new EU offer that might demand that the Islamic republic halt uranium enrichment activities.
"Any offer which requires us to halt our peaceful nuclear activities will be invalid," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying on Sunday by the state news agency IRNA.
"I am surprised that a group of people holds meetings without us being present there and makes decisions for us," he said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the ambassadors of Britain, France and Germany on Monday that "any call for a suspension or pause (in uranium enrichment) is illogical and unacceptable".
"The Europeans have shown that they don't pay the slightest attention to our rights and are not sincere when they say they want to reach a peaceful settlement," Mottaki said.


Iran invasion could see price of oil skyrocket: Chavez
AFP, London

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in London for a flying visit, on Monday warned the price of oil could rocket past 100 dollars a barrel if war is declared against Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.
The controversial left-winger made the claim at a news conference with London Mayor Ken Livingstone, stating his belief that any such attack would be "madness". But speaking at London's City Hall, the seat of the British capital's municipal government the Greater London Authority, Chavez insisted he does not believe the Islamic Republic was seeking a nuclear capability.
"We want dialogue, we are not for war. All we want is respect for the will of the people of Iran," he added.
But he said of any military action against Tehran: "I know you men and women in London, whatever you are paying for a gallon of petrol, it would be more.
"The situation would be destabilised against the whole world and that is why we want peace."
Chavez, whose whistlestop visit to Britain does not include a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair or any government members, also launched into a now characteristic attack on US President George W. Bush.
When one BBC journalist sought to compare him with Bush for interfering in the affairs of other countries, he responded: "If you are going to compare me to the worst criminal in humanity-the president of the US-he is an assassin; he is a criminal responsible for genocide, completely immoral. "I believe that he should be put in jail. He has invaded a country. Are we bombing cities?"
The comments followed on from his speech soon after arriving Sunday in which he denounced the international community for not standing up to the "American empire" and in which he said Iraq was the "Vietnam of the 21st century".
Livingstone, an often off-message member of Blair's governing Labour Party whose socialist views earned him the nickname "Red Ken" in the 1980s, said: "I sometimes have views on George Bush not too dissimilar from yours."

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Economy

Yellow Pages signs deal with Banglalink

Recently Yellow Pages (Pvt.) Ltd. signed a corporate agreement with banglalink under its "Professional" package, which is renowned as the most popular corporate offer in the market, says a press release.
Yellow Pages (Pvt.) Ltd. started its operation in the year of 1990 with the "Yellow Pages" Trade. Bangladesh Yellow Pages® being published by Yellow Pages (Pvt.) Ltd. have been playing the most important and effective role in the area of trade and commerce over a decade as business information directory home and aboard.
Yellow Pages (Pvt.) Ltd. already introduced "online" information service and also set up website to focus Bangladesh globally. Yellow Pages (Pvt.) ltd. is also providing online services through telephone and e-mail to meet the needs and satisfy the queries of people. In continuation to their dynamic and up to-date service, they have also launched a unique directory information service for banglalink customers.
AIM Hasanul Mujib, Managing Director of Yellow Pages (Pvt.) Ltd and Tanvir Ibrahim, Head of Corporate Sales of banglalink signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations. Jamal Alam Khan, Manager, Web and Network and Md. Firoz Ahmmed Bhuiyan, Executive of Yellow Pages (Pvt) Ltd and, Nasar Yousuf, Supervisor, Corporate Sales, Faria Sanzina Alam, Executive, Corporate Sales of banglalink were also present at the ceremony.


 Dollar steady against taka, falls further against majors
BSS, Dhaka

The US dollar on Tuesday remained steady against the Bangladesh taka, but lower further against major foreign currencies, dealers said.
The dollar eased as the foreign exchange market fretted over prospects for a pause in the US interest rate rise, they said.
The US currency has fallen heavily over the past months amid growing concern over the global economic imbalances with a speculation of the US interest rate hike and signs of forex reserve diversification by world central banks.
In the domestic market, the US dollar traded at 69.95/70.80 taka per unit in inter-bank trading in line with its previous closing on Sunday, dealers of various commercial banks said.
But in the kerb market, the dollar traded higher ranging 71.80/72.00 taka per unit as it was in the previous day, they added.
"The demand for US currency remained strong as pressure for import payments was high as the supply of dollar is yet to pick up", dealers of leading commercial banks said.
The volume of foreign exchange transactions was also higher than that of the previous day as most international markets resumed operations after weekend holidays on Saturday and Sunday.
The US dollar, the UK pound sterling, the euro, the Japanese yen were the mostly transacted currencies against the Bangladesh taka in the local foreign exchange market.
The euro advanced to 1.2813 dollars from 1.2795 dollars late on Monday in New York while the dollar dipped at 110.29 yen from 110.49 yen, dealers said.
Despite the euro's sharp appreciation, the ECB is expected to lift its key rate next month by a quarter point to 2.75 per cent, while the Bank of Japan is poised to lift borrowing costs some time soon for the first time in years, market analysts said.
Borrowing costs stand at 5.0 per cent in the United States.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, China's National Foreign Exchange Center set the central parity rate for the yuan currency at 8.0150 to the dollar per day after allowing the US unit to fall below the symbolic threshold.
Monday's strengthening of the yuan came after the release of a semi-annual US Treasury report into global currency policies that criticised China but stopped short of labelling the Asian nation a currency manipulator.


 Indian companies bullish over growth prospects
AFP, Mumbai

Indian companies remain upbeat about the surging economy but fear rising costs could hit prices, a business survey reported on Monday. More than three-quarters of the 439 respondents said they expect higher sales over the next months, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) said. "The performance of the Indian economy has seen a quantum jump and it is moving on to a new growth trajectory," the group said. The central bank has forecast the economy will grow at about eight percent in the fiscal year started April, the second year in a row at that pace.
But nearly 70 per cent of the companies surveyed reported that rising costs were holding back their performance. "The increase in oil prices and other raw materials continue to be a serious cause of concern for members of corporate India," it added. India, which imports 70 percent of its energy needs, lags in the frenzied global race to secure fuel supplies to feed its burgeoning economy. Coupled with other rising costs, this has forced companies to think about price rises. The report found that 38 percent of companies were planning to increase prices in the coming six months, according to the FICCI study from the fourth quarter of the fiscal year ending March 2006.
But it said a fourth year of high growth was well within reach with the economy currently growing at about eight per cent.
More than 40 percent of companies said they planned to increase employment. The survey was based on responses from companies across sectors ranging from heavy equipment to travel and tourism.


Pakistan to import 100 more items from India
PTI, Islamabad

Ahead of the approaching deadline for implementation of the South Asian Free Trade agreement (SAFTA), Pakistan is planning to import 100 more items from India from the next fiscal. Islamabad had received a list of 286 items from India during the third round of Joint Study Group held here, out of which the Commerce Ministry identified 100 items, which would be included in the positive list, for the time being, Pakistan daily 'Business Recorder' quoted officials as saying.
Preference would be given to those items on which duty is about five per cent and are not locally manufactured, the officials said adding that the list would be finalised at an inter-ministerial meeting to be held after the budget, after seeking approval from the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. If the 100 items are included, the positive list would reach upto 882 items as the decision to import cement from India could be withdrawn as the prices of the locally manufactured cement may come down the Economic Advisor to Finance Ministry Ashfaque Hasan Khan said.


Spectre of civil war batters investor confidence in Lanka
AFP, Colombo


Fears Sri Lanka could return to civil war have punched a hole in investor confidence and wiped millions of dollars off the value of local shares, analysts said on Tuesday.
The tiny Colombo Stock Exchange has shed nearly 53 billion rupees (5.3 million dollars) of its value since the crisis deepened last month, official figures showed.
The benchmark ASI index has slumped by 7.4 percent since April 7 when violence began spiking as domestic and foreign investors sold out rather than risk staying.
"The spate of violence has shaken foreign (investor) confidence levels," said Vajira Kulatilake, chief executive of NDB Investment Bank.
"Once they slip into their shell they take time to come out. It's hard to shake off that negative perception," Kulatilake said.
In April, international ratings agencies Fitch and Standard and Poor's downgraded the island's credit outlook to negative from stable, citing the fears of a slide back into war.
The conflict between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils has claimed over 60,000 lives since 1972 but a truce was brokered in February 2002. "A resumption of full-scale hostilities could have negative implications for the country's already stressed fiscal and debt position, and likely impair its previously adequate level of external balances," Standard and Poor's said.
The uncertainty is spooking companies which before the escalation in violence had hoped to take advantage of a boom in the stock market.
Many are delaying plans for initial public offerings (IPOs) "simply because of the fear of undersubscription," said Murtaza Jafferjee, managing director of JB Stockbrokers.
Among those companies which have put off their IPOs are Sri Lanka Insurance Corp., the island's largest insurance company, local footwear maker D. Samson Industries, confectionary giant Munchee and Asia Power.
Another drag on the economy is record oil prices, analysts say.
The Central Bank has forecast the economy will expand by over six percent this year after growing by six percent in 2005 but economists now say that target could be missed.
"Our next stage of growth requires huge investment in infrastructure," said Jafferjee. "If the government is distracted fighting a war, these investments will not happen and the economy will slow down."

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Capital

Water supply up by 5 crore liters
BSS, Dhaka

The supply of water by the Dhaka WASA has increased by five crore liters every day from last week after strengthening the monitoring system, operation of eight deep tubewells and other necessary measures.
Secretary of the Local Government Division (LGD) SM Zahurul Islam on Tuesday said this while addressing a press briefing at the conference room of the division in Secretariat here. He said the demand for water in the capital is 200 crore liters daily while the Dhaka WASA supplies 163 crore liters by its 430 pumps and four water treatment plants. The secretary, however, hoped that the situation would be developed very soon as work for installation of new tubewells and deep tubewells is going on in full swing to ease the present water crisis.
Referring to the measures undertaken for proper supply of water at Sanir Akhra, Zahurul Islam said troops have been deployed to solve the problem there. The secretary said legal actions would be taken against the persons concerned, who failed to supply water.
He said three officials of the mode zone-3 of the Dhaka WASA have been suspended temporarily for creating the water crisis at Sanir Akhra. The investigative committee would submit its report very soon, he added.
Zahurul Islam also expressed his optimism that the steps undertaken by the government to mitigate the water crisis in the capital would be completed within one year.
"There will be no water crisis in the capital if no-2 and no- 3 phases of the Sayedabad Water Treatment Plant and the Mawa Water Treatment Plant are completed, which will raise water supply by 112 crore liters daily," he observed.


 Netherlands to give 9 lac euro
RDRS for women's welfare

BSS, Dhaka

An agreement was signed between the Netherlands Embassy and RDRS Bangladesh on Tuesday at RDRS Dhaka office.
Under this agreement, the Netherlands Development Cooperation Programme will provide support to work for elimination of violence against women and protect women's rights in northwest Bangladesh through the second phase of the LEGAL(Legal Education and Gender Aware Leadership) programme of RDRS. The Dutch contribution will be approximately Euro 900,000 over the next five years, said a press release. Kees Beemsterboer, Ambassador of the Netherlands and Kamaluddin Akbar, executive director of RDRS signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides.

 

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People & Places

Unrest mounts at Platinum Jute Mill
Our Correspondent, Khulna

Workers unrest mounts high at the state owned Platinum Jubilee Jute Mill at Khalishpur industrial belt in Khulna city centring their demand for payment of all their dues and buying enough jute to keep smooth production in the mill.
The labourers confined the officials at their office chambers on Monday noon for the second time in 12 hours and continued it till filing this report at 7:15 pm. According to the locals, several hundred jute mill workers of the mill stopped their works and confined the officials within their chambers to press home their demands on Sunday 2:30 pm.
They released the officials from about 10 hours' confinement on Monday at around 0:30 am after the local public representatives, police, collective bargaining agent leaders and officials declared to pay a part of their dues. The labourers and workers of the mill again confined the mill officials from their second shift on Monday at around 1:00 pm and took place around the mill's administrative building, as the authority did not pay any due to the labourers.
The labourers had been urging slogans expressing their demands again and again during the sit-in. The Khalishpur thana police said extra police forces were deployed at the mill area and the situation was under control.


Rival BNP factions hold separate rallies in Khulna
Our Correspondent, Khulna

Two factions of Khulna BNP on Monday afternoon arranged separate rallies and processions in the city to observe their central committee declared protest programme to present their showdown.
BNP lawmaker Ali Asgar Lobby, district president Majedul Islam and member secretary Saharuzzaman Mortuza led faction arranged the rally in front of Khulna BNP office at KD Ghosh Road at 5:00 pm while BNP lawmaker M Nurul Islam and former city general secretary Nazrul Islam Monju led faction arranged the rally at Shaheed Maharaj Square, about 100 meters away from the party office.
Lobby-Majedul-Mortuza led faction arranged the rally under the banner of Khulna district and city convening committee where City convening committee member Nuruzzaman Khokon chaired.
Nurul-Monju led faction arranged the rally under the banner of Khulna district and city unit of BNP where M Nurul Islam chaired. Former city general secretary Nazrul Islam, district general secretary Shafiqul Alam Mona and SM Morshed Alam also spoke.


College teachers, employees urge govt to meet their 8-point demand

TBT Representative, Comilla

A conference of teachers and employees of non-government educational institutions held at Comilla town hall auditorium on Tuesday morning.
Teachers and employees of the non-government educational institutions at the conference urged the government to meet their eight-point demands.
The conference was arranged by the Jatiya Shikkhak Karmachari Front, Chittagong division. Chief Coordinator of Jatiya Shikkhak Karmachari Front and President of Bangladesh College Tea-chers Association, Principal Kazi Faru-que Ahmed, attended the programme as chief guest, while President of Ban-gladesh College University Teachers Association, Principal Md. Shahjahan, President of Bangladesh Teachers Association, Md. Azizul Islam, Presi-dent of Bangladesh Karigari Shikkhak Samity, Principal Abdus Sattar, General Secretary of Bangladesh College Teachers Association, Prof. Asadul Hoq, Secretary General of the same MMA Jalil, and Principal Abdul Majid attended the conference as special guests. President of the association , Comilla unit, Principal Md. Abdur Rouf, presided over the conference. Secretary General of Bangladesh Shikkha Pratisthan Karmachari Federation, M. Arju, General Secretary of Bangladesh Karigari Shikkhak Samity, Principal Mohammad Ali Hossain Chowdhury, General Secretary of Bangladesh College-University Teachers Association, Principal Abdur Rashid, Principal Alamgir Kabir Patowari, Principal Mamunur Rashid, Prof. Pradip Narayan Saha, Principal Kazi Majibur Rahman, Principal Shafiqur Rahman, Principal Shahjahan Chowdhury, Principal Tapash Baxi, Professor Md. Rafiqul Alam, Professor Abdul Ali, among others, spoke on the occasion.
The programme was conducted by Dr. Ali Hossain Chowdhury, Professor Fatema Akhter Rubi and Professor Md. Faruque.
More than one thousand college teachers and employees from different areas of Chittagong division attended the conference.


Huge phensidyl and ganja seized, two arrested, RAB member injured

BSS, Rangpur


Police, BDR and Rapid Action Battalion in separate drives seized 686 bottles of contraband phensidyl, one maund of ganja and arrested two persons from different places of three northern districts during the past two days. Police sources said Syedpur police recovered 80 bottles of smuggled Indian phensidyl from a Dhaka-bound night coach of Nabil Paribahan on Saturday night.
Members of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) of Fulbari 15 Rifle battalion seized 466 bottles of smuggled phensidyl packed in seven cartons from frontier village Dharmojan near Khanpur border of Dianjpur and 75 bottles of phensidyl from Khanpur cattle corridor of the nearby area in separate drives on Saturday night.
One RAB member was injured when the elite force challenged a group of 14/15 drug traffickers on Maligram-Sadigram border in Dinajpur on Saturday night when they were entering Bangladesh from India with smuggled drugs. The smugglers attacked RAB injuring its member Yusuf Ali on the spot. RAB managed to arrest one of the drug traffickers Mosarraf Hossain, 45, son of Kafil Uddin of Baltoir village in the same area and seized 105 bottles phensidyl. The injured RAB member and the arrested person were admitted to Dinajpur Medical College Hospital. Detective Branch of Bogra police seized one maund (40kgs) of smuggled ganja at 9:30 pm last night from a sand-laden truck at Ganeshpur near Mokamtola on the Rangpur-Daka highway under Shibganj upazila of Bogra. DB police also arrested driver of the truck Dolan, 30, son of Mohsin Ali of Kazitola village in the same area.

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