Kurigram, Jan 7 (UNB) – January 7 not only marks the death anniversary of Felani Khatun, killed by Indian Border Security Force (BSF), but also her family’s long and painful wait for justice.
Teenager Felani worked as a domestic help in New Delhi. She was returning home with her father through Anantapur border in the district on this day in 2011 when BSF troopers shot her dead. Her body was handed over to Bangladesh a day later.
A picture of her lifeless body hanging from the barbed-wire fence went viral, triggering a global outcry and prompting BSF to open an investigation into the killing.
BSF pressed charges against constable Amiya Ghosh but he was acquitted by a special court on August 19, 2013.Amid criticisms, BSF later decided to revise the trial but another judicial court upheld the verdict, acquitting Ghosh for a second time on July 2, 2015.
Felani's frustrated father Nur Islam later moved the Indian Supreme Court with the assistance of human rights group Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha. A bench, headed by the chief justice, show-caused several bodies concerned, including the Home Ministry.
There has been little progress and Felani’s parents said they were upset as they were not getting any help from the government. They were also frustrated at the deferment of hearing dates.
But Kurigram Public Prosecutor Abraham Lincoln, who stood for Felani during the BSF trial, was optimistic.
“I hope Felani’s family will get justice,” he said.
Dhaka, Jan 7 (UNB) – Speakers at a roundtable urged new Cabinet members on Monday to prioritise rooting out corruption from Bangladesh.
The 11th general election dispelled bad political practices from the country, they said at a roundtable organised by Jago Bangla Foundation at Jatiya Press Club.
Bikalpa Dhara’s Presidium Member Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury said: “The people want to see the country imbued with the Liberation War’s spirit. So, a corruption free country, boasting good governance, must be created. We hope promises made before the polls [by ruling Awami League] will be kept.”
Eminent cultural personality Syed Hasan Imam said the government should prioritise developing villages, adding: “The education sector should be overhauled … Corruption and drugs must be uprooted.”
Sohel Haider Chowdhury, general secretary of Dhaka Union of Journalists, said the government’s first task should be to make the country free of corruption.
Security Analyst Major General (Rtd) AK Mohammed Ali Sikder said the country needed to increase local and foreign investments to make a new Bangladesh.
Professor Dr Abdul Mannan Choudhury, Vice Chancellor of World University of Bangladesh, retired Supreme Court judge Shamsuddin Chowdhury, and chief executive of Jago Bangla Foundation, among others, spoke at the programme.
Dhaka, Jan 7 (UNB) – BNP on Monday alleged that their chairperson Khaleda Zia is being deprived of the legitimate rights of prisoners as her close relatives could not meet her for over the last three weeks.
“Around 21-22 days have passed by since Khaleda Zia’s close relatives met her. Though the BNP chairperson’s personal secretary, close relatives, and party senior leaders repeatedly sought permission to meet her, the jail authorities aren’t paying heed to it,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
He further said, “As per the jail code, a prisoner can meet relatives after every seven days, but they made it 15 days regarding Khaleda Zia. Now the authorities are ignoring their 15 days rule at the behest of the government. What a cruel behaviour it is?”
The BNP leader alleged that the government is mentally torturing Khaleda Zia as part of a plan to harm the nationalist forces in many ways. “Prohibiting Khaleda Zia’s close relatives from meeting her is a serious mental repression. The country’s people, not only her relatives, are worried over the matter.”
He alleged that the government is trying to keep Khaleda isolated from the outside world by confining her to red walls of jail.
Rizvi demanded the authorities concerned to take necessary steps so that the relatives of the BNP chairperson can meet her in jail.
On February 8 last year, Khaleda Zia was sent to jail as she was convicted in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
Rizvi alleged that their party leaders and activists are being arresting and implicated in ‘false’ cases even after the 11th parliamentary elections.
Dhaka, Jan 7 (UNB) –Garment workers staged demonstrations in Uttara, Savar and Gazipur on Monday demanding cancellation of the ‘discriminatory’ wage board announced by the government for them, disrupting traffic on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway and Airport road for several hours.
In Uttara, the garment workers started gathering in front of their respective factories from 9 am and put up barricade on Airport Road around 12 noon on the same demand, disrupting traffic from Airport crossing to Abdullahpur, said Noor-E-Azam, officer-in-charge of Airport Police Station.
At one stage, the workers set a bus on fire around 1:20 pm, said Ershad Hossain, duty officer at Fire Service and Civil Defence.
However, the traffic returned to normalcy when police dispersed the agitating workers from the road around 2:30 pm.
On Sunday, vehicular movements from Airport crossing to Abdullahpur on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway remained suspended for five hours as hundreds of garment workers staged demonstrations to press home their various demands, including salary hike.
In Savar, at least 15 garment workers were injured in a clash with police at HemayetpurBagbari in the morning.
When around 8000 workers of ‘Shams Styling’s Wireless Garments’ of Standard Group took to the streets to press home their demand, police obstructed them, said workers of the factory.
Being obstructed, the garment workers hurled brick chips at the police, leading to a chase and counter-chase between the police and workers.
Police fired seven rounds of rubber bullets which left at least 15 workers injured.
Additional police, including a team of industrial police, have been deployed to avoid further trouble, said Abdul Awal, officer-in-charge of Savar Police Station.
In Gazipur, garment workers took to the streets and clashed with cops in Malekerbari area that left several workers and five cops injured.
The workers from three garment factories blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Malekerbari area around 9:30am, disrupting traffic till 11 am.
Police fired tear shells to disperse the unruly workers.
Dhaka, Jan 7 (UNB) - Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on Monday took oath as Prime Minister of the country for the 4th term, including the 3rd consecutive one, along with her 46 cabinet members following her party Awami League’s massive victory in the 11th national election.
With the oath taking of new ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers, the country gets an all-AL cabinet after 1973.
Apart from the Prime Minister, there are 24 ministers, 19 state ministers and three deputy ministers in the new cabinet.
President Abdul Hamid administered the oath to the Prime Minister at 3:40 pm while to 24 ministers at 3:46 pm, to 19 state ministers at 3:53 pm and to three deputy ministers at 3:57 pm at Bangabhaban.
The gazette over the new cabinet was published soon after the oath-taking ceremony. With the publication of the gazette, the outgoing cabinet was also abolished.
On Thursday, President Abdul Hamid invited Awami League President Sheikh Hasina to form the new government.
Of the 47-member cabinet, 27 are new faces who are picked in a bid to infuse dynamism into the cabinet activities to implement the election manifesto Awami League placed before the nation.
Twenty-three ministers, nine state ministers and two deputy ministers of the immediate past cabinet did not find their names in the new cabinet.
Election victory and manifesto
The Awami League-led Grand Alliance registered a landslide victory in the December-30 general election bagging 288 seats out of 298.
Awami League alone took 257 seats while Jatiya Party, a component of the alliance, 22.
On December 18, Awami League unveiled its 21-point manifesto for the 11th parliamentary elections promising to ensure urban facilities in every village and use the potentials of youths for the progress of the country with the slogan - ‘Bangladesh on the march towards prosperity’.
The promises also include transforming the youth into skilled manpower, creating jobs for them, zero tolerance against corruption, ensuring nutritious and safe food, uprooting terrorism, militancy and drug proliferation, speedy implementation of mega projects, consolidating democracy, eliminating poverty, improving the standard of education, boosting investment, ensuring quality healthcare for all, ensuring increased utilisation of digital technology, power and energy security, modernising agricultural system, efficient and service-oriented public administration, citizen-friendly law enforcement agencies, development of marine resources, ensuring road safety, ensuring welfare of elderly and special people and achieving sustainable development for Bangladesh.
Quader sees challenge
AL General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said implementing their party’s election manifesto is the main challenge for the 47 new cabinet members who were sworn on Monday.
Talking to reporters at Bangabhaban just after the oath-taking ceremony, he said, “Now our main challenge is to implement the manifesto that our party presented before the election. We’ll work at various stages for implementing it.”
Quader said he could have understood through discussions with their party president Sheikh Hasina that the new cabinet would have big surprises. “But, I think nobody is going to lose anything. Nobody is dropped, but there’re changes in responsibilities.”
He said many ministers of the last cabinet were not included in the new one in the interest of the party. “We would like to make our party smarter and stronger further under their leadership.”
Replying to a question, he said though no MP of their party’s alliance partners is inducted in the cabinet, the 14 alliance partners are united and working together with Awami League.
During its five-year tenure, the Awami League general secretary said, the cabinet will witness expansions and reshuffles. “Some leaders may lose their cabinet portfolios halfway through based on their performances and some leaders may be included afresh the same way.”
He also said those cabinet members will not be able to perform well will lose their positions after evaluation.
Earlier, talking to reporters at the Secretariat, Quader said members of the new cabinet must deliver as per the election pledges of the party to retain their positions in the cabinet.
He also said the cabinet involving new and old ones will be more dynamic. “The Prime Minister formed the new cabinet in that way so that the election promises could be implemented,” he said.
Momen eyes economic diplomacy
Newly appointed Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said he will give priority to economic diplomacy, among other important issues, as the government will be working to take the country to higher development trajectory.
“Economic diplomacy will be prioritised. That’s what I can tell you," Dr Momen told UNB over phone after taking oath as Foreign Minister at Bangabhaban on Monday.
The new Foreign Minister, however, did not want to elaborate right now his plans.
Hasan to help credible media
New Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud said he would consider providing state assistance to good media outlets that cannot perform smoothly for various obstacles. “I’ll look into how the state can assist the credible and good media in the truest sense, they either may be newspapers or televisions, that can’t do good works for various barriers,” he said in his immediate reaction with reporters after taking oath as a minister at Bangabhaban.