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Print Edition: January 4, 2014

Print Edition: January 4, 2014

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Published by Dhaka Tribune
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Tension, fear mark build-upto the polls
Voters are undecided about going to the polling centres fearing violence
n
Mohammad Al-Masum Molla
The country is heading into the 10th Parliamentary Polls tomorrow amid opposition’s boycott and threat to re-sist the polls, with tension, disappoint-ment and fear of violence marring any chance of a festive mood.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led polls-time government is all set to hold the voting after the two major political parties – Awami League and BNP – have failed to reach a consensus over the mode of the administration that would oversee the polls.The BNPJamaat-led 18-party oppo-sition alliance have already announced resisting the polls and are in the middle of enforcing a non-stop blockade. Yes-terday, the opposition combine also an-nounced a 48-hour hartal for today and tomorrow protesting the polls.“We have already instructed our leaders and activists to discourage the voters to not go to the polling centres [tomorrow],” said Osman Farruk, ad-viser to BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, while making the hartal announce-ment yesterday.Meanwhile, opposition leader and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia issued a statement yesterday terming the polls “farcical” and urging people to boycott the polls.Khaleda said in the statement: “None from inside and outside the country will endorse this farce.”When the Hasina-led interim gov-ernment is all set to hold the polls, Khaleda Zia and HM Ershad, the lead-ers of the two other major political par-ties of the country, are living in virtual confinements.Khaleda Zia has not been allowed to come out of her Gulshan residence while Ershad has been spending days in a hospital in the capital.Voting will be held in 147 constitu-encies out of a total of 300, as candi-dates in 153 seats have already been elected unopposed. A total of five districts – Chandpur, Shariatpur, Rajbari, Madaripur and Joy-purhat – will not be seeing any voting  because the candidates in their seats
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Khaleda calls for polls boycott
n
Mohammad Al-Masum Molla
Just two days before the 10th parlia-mentary elections BNP Chairperson and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia on Friday urged people of the country to boycott the “farcical” January 5 polls.The former premier allegedly con-fined to her house, said the ruling Awa-mi League had arranged a “discredita- ble and farcical polls” snatching away people’s fundamental rights to cling to state power.Khaleda alleged that the ruling party was going to unfold a black episode of ruining democracy with the assistance of subservient election commission and by misusing law enforcers. “I am calling upon the people of the country to boycott the January 5 polls. No one from inside and outside the country will give it the legitimacy,” she said in a press statement.The BNP chief said the Awami League killed democracy in 1975 in the name of second revolution and they are doing the same thing today.“Today they are saying that their programme is more important than the democracy and voting rights. This tone is fascists tone. I am urging the leaders and activists and people of the country to go ahead with the ongoing move-ment,” she urged.Khaleda says she fears none and not scared of imprisonment.“People of Bangladesh have sup-ported me repeatedly to serve them.
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Ruling allies ‘compromised’ to avoid massive violence
n
Kamran Reza Chowdhury
and
 Emran Hossain Shaikh
The ruling Awami League’s consensus with its allies for getting 153 candidates uncontested is basically a strategy to hold the 10th general elections with minimum violence in the pre- and post-election days, said party leaders.The party leadership forced many of its leaders to withdraw their nomination papers to get the alliance candidates elected unopposed as polling in 300 constituencies without the main oppo-sition would certainly result in a severe  bloodshed. Its allies have reciprocated.Party leaders anticipate that the BNPJamaat will be more aggressive against the Awami League candidates during the elections.The ruling party has left seats for HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party (JaPa), Ja-tiya Party (Manju), Workers’ Party, Ja-tiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) and Tariqat Federation in BNPJamaat strongholds including Bogra, Feni and Laxmipur, places where voting is not taking place on Sunday.In other BNP-dominated areas like Noakhali, Joypurhat and Chandpur, the Awami League has convinced allies to withdraw their candidates so that the party candidates could get elected unopposed.Allegations are there that the law enforcers have threatened many candi-dates, including of the Awami League, to withdraw their candidature or face consequences.Voting will take place in some Awa-mi League and JaPa strongholds such as party chief’s home town Gopalganj and the greater Rangpur districts.Bogra, Joypurhat, Chapainawab-ganj and the greater Noakhali districts saw huge violence against the Awami League government recently. On Friday, the BNPJamaat supporters torched four schools selected as polling centres.In BNPJamaat-dominated Chapa-inawabganj, Awami League candidate
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Kolaroa turns ‘Jamaat den’ with police support
n
Emran Hossain,
back from Satkhira
Three hours after war criminal Abdul Quader Molla had been executed on December 12, Jubo League leader Me-hedi Hasan alias Joj Miah frantically ran to the rooftop of his Sharashkati residence to call police for protection.He had been tense since afternoon as activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir an-nounced from a rally in the Sharashkati market that Joj would be slaughtered if Quader Molla was executed.Now around 1am activists of Ja-maat-e-Islami and its student wing Is-lami Chhatra Shibir were calling out his name and were trying to break into his three-storey house.Joj called Liakot Ali, the in-charge of Sharashkati police outpost in Joynagar of Kolaroa, among others.“Please, save me!” pleaded Joj.His elder brother Abdur Rahman and nephew Abdus Salam were also calling people, making similar pleas. Joj’s nephew called a constable named Hasan at the outpost. They requested the police to at least fire a couple of  blank shots to drive away the attackers.Joj lived in a compound of close-ly-knit houses inhabited by his rela-tives, who cried for help with all possi- ble dispatches, informing their contacts about the news of Jamaat-Shibir attack.One of the attackers shouted: “Joj Miah, either you come out, or we will shoot your relatives dead and burn their houses!” The attackers were car-rying machetes, iron bars and torches. Joj kept flashing his torch in the di-rection of the police outpost in a des-perate bid to draw attention of the law enforcers, who had advised him to find
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EC fears poor voter turnout tomorrow
n
Mohammad Zakaria
The Election Commission anticipates a poor voter turnout in the January5 polls.They fear that people may refrain from going to the polling centres to cast votes because of the hostile environ-ment created by the major opposition alliance all over the country.Since the Constitution was amended for the 15th time in 2011, when the care-taker government system was annulled, BNP has continued to assert that credi- ble elections would not be possible un-der any partisan arrangement. The commission also fears that the turnout of voters may be less than the controversial February 15, 1996 elec-tions, EC offi cials said yesterday.So far, a total of five national polls have been held under partisan govern-ments: 1973, 1979, 1986, 1988 and 1996.Among them, the 1988 and the 1996 elections are said to be the most con-troversial because the major opposi-tion parties boycotted them.In the sixth parliamentary elections held on February 15 in 1996, some 49 candidates of BNP were elected as MP uncontested. BNP won 279 seats out of 290. Elections to 10 parliamentary con-stituencies were not held because of unavoidable circumstances. In 1996 polls, 26% votes were cast while in the ninth parliamentary polls in 2008, 87% votes were cast that set a record.Awami League and Jatiya Par-ty achieved 47% and 7.5% votes
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Unusual pre-polls inactivity hits rural economies
n
Asif Showkat Kallol
The season of national elections have always been happy times for the rural nuclear economies of the country with candidates spending a lot of money for development works in the area and also to woo people to vote for them.However, in the 153 parliamentary constituencies, where there will be no election this year, the rural economies, which are already reeling from the fall-outs of the prolonged political turmoil, have seen no such pre-election inflow of money.Apparently, chances of any mean-ingful competition in the remaining seats are also slim, and hence the can-didates in those constituencies are not spending too much either for pre-elec-tion activities.Dr Zaid Bakht, development analyst and research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, told the Dhaka Tribune: “The political tur-moil has already seriously affected the rural economy. The absence of money
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16 pages | Price: Tk10
Poush 21, 1420Rabiul Awal 2, 1435Regd. No. DA 6238Vol 1 No 281
SATURDAY, JANUARY 4, 2014  www.dhakatribune.com  SECOND EDITION
News
4
 The government has started distrib-uting free textbooks among studentsfrom the first day of the year, but it ap-pears not everything labelled ‘free’ may always come for free.
Feature
6
 History does a remarkable job of downplaying the role of women, so it is no surprise that few people have heard of Anjali Lahiri.
INSIDE
5
 MINORITY VOTERS UNSURE
Mohammad Nasim said: ‘People in areas without polls will get relief from violence as the BNPJamaat has resorted to destruction and bloodshed in the pretext of movement against the election’
7
 THE TWAIN SHALL MEET
9
 ANOTHER TERM DOUBTFUL
14
ATLETICO VIE FOR POSITION
Rickshaw-pullers look on at a burning bus after pro-blockade activists torch the vehicle in the city’s Gulistan yesterday
DHAKA TRIBUNE
 
News
2
DHAKA TRIBUNESaturday, January 4, 2014
EC fears poor
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PAGE 1 COLUMN 6
respectively while BNP achieved 32% votes in the polls. Seeking anonymity, a deputy secre-tary of the EC told the Dhaka Tribune that this election season, the candi-dates did not provide voter slips to the voters in their respective zones which had been a usual scenario ahead of polls in the past years. The commission has expressed con-cern over the matter upon receiving the field level reports, he said.Some field level offi cials said gener-ally the election candidates distribute the voter slips door to door in their re-spective areas that include the name of the voter, name of the polling centre and a voter number.But this time, the candidates showed no interest in doing so. As a result more time may be needed for searching the voter number during the polls, said the offi cials.In tomorrow’s polls 389 candidates from 12 registered political parties will  be contesting.As the main opposition BNP and some other parties are not taking part in the election, a total of 153 candidates have no competitors. Consequently out of 43,862,908 voters, 48,280,620 can-not exercise their franchises this time, shows the EC statistics.A total of 91,213 polling booths will  be set up inside 18,209 polling centres across the country for holding polls in 147 constituencies.EC Secretary Muhammed Sadique said the commission would ensure maximum security for the voters.
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Khaleda calls
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I am grateful to them. Power is not a big deal to me. I am ready to do any sort of sacrifice in this stage of my life to re-es-tablish people’s rights and their free-dom, not to return to power,” she said. “After my announcement of march for democracy programme, the scared government cordoned off my residence using law enforcers and detectives. I was barred from going out. The govern-ment has virtually put me under house arrest. My offi ce and BNP central offi ce are also cordoned off,” she said.Thousands of people converged to the capital to join the programme but they were barred from going there and it was proved that: “Our programme was peaceful and the government’s publicity was untrue.Just after the day of the premier’s allegation that dialogue process was foiled due to the opposition party, the opposition chief counter-alleged that they repeatedly urged for dialogue to resolve the crisis but due to the ruling party’s stubbornness the dialogue pro-cess failed.About one of the ruling party lead-er’s instruction of vote rigging Khaleda said the ruling Awami League had al-ready instructed its leaders and activ-ists to rig vote.
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Ruling allies ‘compromised’ to avoid massive violence
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PAGE 1 COLUMN 3
Md Golam Rabbani who has been elect-ed uncontested came under attack re-cently.Awami League nominee Ragibul Ah-san Ripu filed his nomination paper for Bogra 6 constituency, but later had to withdraw in line with the party’s deci-sion. His withdrawal paved the way for JaPa candidate Md Nurul Islam Omor.“The party leadership instructed me to withdraw my candidature because of the Jatiya Party candidate’s refusal to do so,” he said.AL Presidium member Matia Chow-dhury is more candid about the inter-nal arrangement for withdrawal of the candidature.“We played no hide and seek game. We reached a consensus with our allies on withdrawing candidates. At some places, we have withdrawn our candi-dates while the allies followed the suit in other places,” Matia told the Dhaka Tribune.Mujibul Haque Chunnu, a JaPa Pre-sidium member, told the Dhaka Tri- bune that the Awami League had asked its nominees to lift their candidature so that more Jatiya Party candidates could  be elected unopposed. The JaPa did the same in many areas, he said.“People in areas without polls will get relief from violence as the BNPJa-maat has resorted to destruction and  bloodshed in the pretext of movement against the election,” Mohammad Na-sim, an AL Presidium member and spokesperson of the 14-party alliance, told the Dhaka Tribune.Nasim has also been elected MP un-contested.Voting in BograOut of the seven seats in Bogra dis-trict, the Awami League candidates have fielded only two candidates. They have been elected unopposed in Bogra 1 and Bogra 5 constituencies. The JaPa candidates have been elected unop-posed in three seats (Bogra 2, 3 and 6).Voting will take place in two seats. In Bogra 4, AKM Rezaul Karim Tanshen of the JSD and Md Nurul Amin Bachchu of JaPa are contesting the polls. The Bogra 7 election is an all-Jatiya Party show - ATM Aminul Islam (Man- ju) and Muhammad Altaf Ali (Ershad).In Joypurhat, AL candidates Sham-sul Alam Dudu (Joypurhat 1) and Abu Sayeed Al Mahmud Swapan (Joypurhat 2) have been elected unopposed as the JaPa and the Workers’ Party candidates withdrew their candidatures.The AL candidates have been elect-ed unopposed in five out of the six seats in Noakhali where the JaPa and the JSD candidates withdrew.Voting takes place only in Noakhali 6 constituency where the Awami League has nominated Ayesha Ferdous, whom its leaders consider as a week candi-date. Her contender is a JaPa candidate.The Awami League has nominated only one candidate for the three seats of Feni district, known as a stronghold of the BNP-led opposition. Nizam Ud-din Hazari has been elected unopposed from Feni 2.Shirin Akhter of the JSD has been elected uncontested from Feni 1 seat, which is currently held by opposition chief Khaleda Zia, as the Awami League withdrew its candidate. The AL left Feni 2 to JaPa nominee Anwarul Karim, popularly known as Rintu Anwar.Out of four constituencies in Laksh-mipur, the AL gave its ally Tariqat Fed-eration the Laxmipur 1 seat. JaPa’s Md Noman (Laxmipur 2) and AL’s AKM Shahjahan Kamal (Laxmipur 3) have  been elected unopposed. Tariqat candidate MA Awal and Ja-Pa’s Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman Mahmud are vying for the Laxmipur 1 seat. Awal told the Dhaka Tribune that he had been facing security threats in his constituency. In Laxmipur 4, Awami League can-didate Md Abdullah faces JaPa’ Md Be-lal Hossain and two other independent candidates.Another BNP-dominated district Chandpur sees no election as all the five Awami League candidates have  been elected unopposed.
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Kolaroa turns ‘Jamaat den’ with police support
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PAGE 1 COLUMN 3
an escape route on his own.The nearby police outpost is only two minutes’ walk.Police later said they could not leave for the spot to protect the outpost al-though at least 16 policemen were at the outpost that night.Joj had to give in, luring the attackers to three houses away by jumping over the adjacent rooftops and then climb-ing down a tree to surrender himself.The Jamaat-Shibir men paraded Joj on the main road of Sarashkati Bazar, hurling abuse at him all the way.“Mind your language. I am a man of honour,” Joj protested. But they did not stop.Joj was taken to a culvert on the main road, less than 500 metres from his house. His groans broke the silence of the night as he was slaughtered. All of Joj’s fingers were cut off, apparently during his fight with them.Joj’s niece Tania Sultana told Abdur Rahman about the place Joj was lying dead. Rahman and several relatives went out around 3am to bring the body.The police did not come until 10am next morning.The murder was not unexpected to anyone in the village. Many, in fact, said it was not even a matter to guess.Just an hour before the killers went to Joj’s house, former Awami League president of Kolaroa ward 6 Azizur Rahman had been chopped to death in his own house around midnight.“What are the police for if they do not protect a person in danger?” said an in-furiated Rita Sultana, Joj’s widow with two children. “Can you please make it sure that we get justice?” she told this correspondent on December 28.Joj’s 10-year-old son Abul Kalam Azad was the first person to begin de-scribing how his father was slaugh-tered like “a cow or a goat.”Locals said at the morgue the su-perintendent of police told Sharashkati police outpost in-charge Liakot: “It is not Jamaat-Shibir, but you who killed Joj Miah.” Local Awami League leader Sarder Mujib echoed the SP.Liakot, however, came up with a dif-ferent version of the incident.“I knew Joj only by his name and never met him. He did not call me that night,” he said. But Sharashkati police outpost’s second-in-command Asad, who was present at the outpost on the night Joj was killed, admitted that Joj had called Liakot.Liakot’s relation with Joj is well known to the locals: Joj was fond of fishing and Liakot would take a good share of his catch.Asad claimed that they had been be-sieged by a large number of Jamaat-Shi- bir activists at the outpost that night and that their high-ups had prioritised protecting the outpost first. Asked if they had sought reinforcement on that night, Asad could not find an answer.The only action taken against Liakot so far was closing him to the Satkhira police lines. He said he was currently performing election duty.This is how things always were with the Sharashkati police outpost throughout 2013. In August, a local Ja-maat leader was freed within two hours of arrest allegedly after Jamaat-Shibir men had held the police hostages.Liakot claimed that he had bailed the Jamaat leader as he had fallen ill.In an apparent publicity stunt, po-lice arrested a Jamaat activist and sus-pected murderer Mukul Hossain on December 27 in connection with Joj’s killing.The Dhaka Tribune investigation found evidence still left at the crime scene as of December 28 – even after two weeks of the murder – such as the nasal drop that fell from Joj’s pocket and the newspaper has a photograph of it. Joj had bought it for her daughter’s cold.The findings of the Dhaka Tribune investigation are substantiated by lo-cals’ suspicion of police’s having a link with influential Jamaat politicians. They accuse Kolaroa police station’s Offi cer-in-Charge Shah Dara Khan of having relations with Jamaat men.They told this correspondent that the local Jamaat activists had often claimed in public that the OC and the SP were their men and so they could do anything.The OC is still posted at Kolaroa al-though a new SP took over on Decem- ber 15.Even after all this the law and order has not improved in Satkhira. The local  journalists cannot yet visit most plac-es outside the district town and those who come from Dhaka to help their lo-cal colleagues have to work in disguise.Statistics of about a dozen murders that took place in the past two months show that half of those had taken place in areas under Kolaroa police station.Kolaroa can be considered a micro-cosm of police performance in main-taining law and order in Satkhira dis-trict where over three dozen people, including 16 ruling party activists, had  been killed since war criminal Dela-war Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death on February 28 last year.OC Shah Dara claimed to have done everything in his capacity to ensure se-curity in the area.“Please evaluate if I am right or wrong. We are dealing with a situation resulting from a political crisis,” he said, adding that Jamaat’s violence had  been widespread on the night Joj was killed and it had taken them a while to move a kilometre removing hundreds of trees felled on the roads.When told that the evidence was still there at the crime scene, the offi cer only said he would look into the matter.The lax security arrangement has strengthened the Jamaat-Shibir men to an extent that they dare even wash the  blood off their body and clothes openly at a local market following a murder.On November 26 just after killing Deyara Union’s Jubo League General Secretary Mahbudur Rahman Babu, 32, in Mirzapur area, they went to a sweet shop at Kolaroa’s Deyara Bazar and washed the blood off their clothes as if it was dirt.Hours later, they killed local Swech-chhasebak League General Secretary Rabiul Islam in Deyara village.These are not the only stories of a weak police performance in Satkhira. In 2012, the police sat idle as Jamaat men burnt houses of Hindus in Fatepur and Chakdah areas.The charge sheets submitted by the police in two cases filed over the incident prompted the district judge court’s public prosecutor to plead “no confidence” against the investigation. The masterminds were let go off in-tentionally in the charge sheet as men-tioned by the prosecutor at the court.Top Satkhira politicians said evi-dence was aplenty now to substantiate a warm “institutionally established” relationship between the police and Jamaat-Shibir men. They said only money could ensure such a sustained relationship for years.“Police offi cers and others in the administration in Satkhira are paid the same amount of their salary by Jamaat every month,” said an anonymous se-nior politician, summing up a discus-sion with a magistrate.When contacted, the new Satkhira SP, Chowdhury Manzurul Kabir, angri-ly refused to make any comment.
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Tension, fear mark build up to the polls
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have been elected uncontested.Except for these five districts, the government has announced public hol-idays in the remaining 59.A total of 389 candidates are con-testing in the 147 constituencies where 43,93,8931 voters will get the chance to exercise their voting rights. The num- ber of polling centres in these constit-uencies are 18,209 and polling booths 91,213.Only more than half of a total of 9.2 million voters in the country will not  be able to exercise their voting rights in tomorrow’s elections because of the unopposed elections.Twelve out of the 40 parties regis-tered with the Election Commission are contesting in tomorrow’s polls.Even many voters in those constit-uencies, where voting will take place from 8am to 5pm tomorrow, are won-dering whether or not to go to the poll-ing centres sensing violence.Yesterday, opposition activists have set fire to more than a dozen poll cen-tres in a number of constituencies in various districts including Feni, the home district of opposition leader Khaleda Zia. The arson attacks were part of the nationwide violence that has been go-ing on for the last few months centring the mode of the polls-time government and the trial of war criminals.More than a hundred people have  been killed since the opposition stated enforcing the countrywide blockade protesting tomorrow’s polls more than a month ago. Some of those have been killed in violence centring the execu-tion of war criminal Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Molla. To ensure peaceful voting, apart from a huge number of police, Rab and BGB personnel, the Election Commis-sion has also deployed the army for 15 days. The government’s health depart-ment has asked all public medical col-leges, specialised, district and Upazila hospitals around the country to remain alert and take all-out preparations to ensure emergency healthcare services in case there are casualties and inju-ries resulting from violence. All these establishment are also advised to keep their emergency departments ready with special reinforcements.However, while talking to the Dhaka Tribune, voters from a number of con-stituencies in and outside the capital, have expressed concerns about the sit-uation on the Election Day.Many female voters in particular, from a sense of insecurity, have ex-pressed their unwillingness to go to the polling centres tomorrow.In addition to the fear factor, many voters are in a big dilemma in their lo-calities as the ruling Awami League is urging them to go to the polls without fear and the main opposition BNP is telling them to do the opposite. Many have said they are scared that they may be labelled Awami League supporters if they go to cast their votes; while others said they would not want to be labelled as supporters of BNP by not going to the polling centres.Despite the opposition boycott, in many constituencies, local BNP leaders are reportedly working for the candi-dates, who are contesting against Awa-mi League runners.There has been one instance of a similar kind of a polls on February 15, 1996, where the then ruling BNP held “one-sided” polls amid boycotts from the then main opposition Awami League and the other opposition par-ties including HM Ershad’s Jatiya Party and Jamaat. In that election, 49 candi-dates were elected uncontested.
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Unusual pre-polls inactivity hits rural economies
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inflow during the elections will have no positive impact. “A vibrant rural economy is key to the country’s development. As block-ades and strikes have affected it, ru-ral-urban wealth distribution will suffer a severe jolt and Bangladesh’s inclusive growth target will not be at-tained,” he said.According to existing rules, candi-dates are allowed to spend a maximum of Tk25 lakh each for pre-election activ-ities such as printing publicity posters,  banners, festoons, hiring vehicles and other campaign related works. The lim-it was Tk15 lakh in the 2008 elections.In most cases, however, candidates exceeded those limits by spending five to ten times more. The common prac-tice before elections has been to donate money for various local development activities like repairing and construction of mosques and temples, schools and col-leges; even cash incentives for the voters. Although all these expenditures are illegal, they give the rural economies the much-needed boost every time  before elections by creating additional employment opportunities in the areas and enhancing the purchasing power of the rural populace.Subodh Chandra Mandal is a fish-ermen from the Ashtagram upazila in Kishorganj district. He told the Dhaka Tribune: “We are not concerned about the elections because President Abdul Hamid’s son has already been elected [unopposed] a member of parliament  because there is no other candidate.“Our only concern now is that our livelihoods are now at stake because of the opposition’s prolonged blockades.Not only has the elections brought no good news for the struggling rural economies, fears of escalating violence after the elections has also gripped many villages.Abdur Rahim, a paddy grower from the same area, said: “We are worried not about the elections; but about what will happen after the elections. Be-cause of the political turmoil, we have not been able to sell our paddy. The fishermen have not been able to sell their catch either.”Rashed Al Mahmud Titumuir, chair-man of economic think tank Unnayan Onneshan, told the Dhaka Tribune that pre-election boost for the rural economies was much needed this year, especially the  blows that these economies suffered be-cause of the prolonged political turmoil.“Huge amount of funds will not go to the public this year as there will be no elections in a total of 154 constitu-encies,” Titumir said.Zahir Alam, an offi cial of the finance ministry, said the people in the rural ar-eas are not concerned about elections  because of the hardships that they had  been going through in recent times.The fact that there had not been any usual economic activity ahead of the elections, would only add more misery, Zahir said.“Rural people have poor savings. If political violence continues, many peo-ple will slide below the poverty line. Construction work, supply chain and channeling of public funds to the rural areas through development projects will be affected severely. These will have long term adverse impact on the rural economies,” he explained.
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People indifferent, scared to talk about polls
n
Syeda Samira Sadeque
and
 Syed Samiul Basher Anik
In Dakhin Khan, a tinge of indifference, yet a strange sense of fear, lingers in the air regarding the upcoming elec-tions. While many locals expressed an-ger over continuous blockades causing  businesses to deteriorate, others were afraid to talk about the elections. The rest were indifferent. Dakkhin Khan falls under Dhaka 18 constituencies, where the candidates are former minister Shahara Khatun for Awami League, contesting M Ati-kur Rahman of Bangladesh Nationalist Front (BNF). However, the area was rather naked of the usual electoral campaign post-ers, and also lacked the processions or the sound of loudspeakers lauding and promoting the candidates. Only a few black-and-white paper posters strung above some shops were the only sign of Shahara’s campaigning in the area. Any sign of Atikur’s cam-paigning, meanwhile, was nowhere to  be found. Robin Mahmud, 28, who owns a clothing store in the area, said he has only seen two processions campaign-ing for Shahara Khatun, but none for any other candidate. Robin did not know who Shahara’s contender was. Another local, a fruit vendor Mo-hammad Siddique Mia, who has been selling in the area for a few months, said he had seen no campaigning either. Sneha Alamgir, another local, said: “There is of course no excitement or campaigning. Especially now that the country is in a very bad situation, fear lingers in the air and everyone is scared.” Sneha said she was not aware of any of the candidates in her constit-uency. Fearing the consequences, many locals refused to speak to the media about the election. Similar fears were also seen among the voters from Dhaka 5 constituency, where a gloomy scene was observed across all the four unions under the constituency.Although Dhaka 5 had the highest numbers of candidates compared to other Dhaka constituencies, people from all four unions - Demra, Donia, Matuail and Sarulia – expressed reluc-tance to comment on the polls or about their favorite candidate.Locals said the constituency lacked any festive election mood, as there was no campaigning and the main opposi-tion BNP was absent. Only Awami League leader Habibur Rahman Molla had campaigned properly, while the other three candidates were hardly seen seeking votes from over four lakh voters in the constituency.The constituency could have witnessed tough competition  between two former labour leaders - Habibur Rahman Molla and Arju Shah Sayedabadi, as a good number of labourers and garments workers live in the area.Mohammad Shiraj, 45, a tea-stall vendor, said never before had he seen an election like this. “There’s supposed to be some excitement, some noise, some chaos before any election, but I have not seen anything like it this year,” he said, adding that he did not even know who was running.
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BNP men support AL dissident candidate in Mirpur
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Muktasree Chakma Sathi
A section of BNP men are campaigning for Awami League dissident candidate Sardar Mohammad Mannan who is contesting independently from Dhaka 16 constituency in Mirpur.The BNP activists campaigning for Mannan are mostly followers of local BNP leader Ismail Hossain Benu, Ward 2 commissioner of Mirpur. Ilius Uddin Mollah is the Awami League candidate in the constituency.BNP, the main opposition party, is not taking part in tomorrow's polls.Locals of Mirpur 10, 12 and Pallabi told the Dhaka Tribune that activists of BNP were conducting strong campaign for Mannan.A number of locals in the constitu-ency said Benu has had a strong hold in Dhaka 16 as he has been a grassroots BNP leader and ward commissioner for the past 25 years.“He went into hiding after the gov-ernment started crackdown on opposi-tion leaders and activists. Even though he is not present in the area, he has strong clout that matters a lot,” Mu- jibur, a local of Mirpur 10, said.When contacted, Mannan told the Dhaka Tribune that he was not quite sure if BNP activists campaigned for him or not. “Locals are with me; there could  be some BNP activists among them.Mannan said he knew nothing about BNP leader Benu.Moments later, however, he said: “Benu is not in the country.When asked about voting, Raju said: “If I vote for boat, Awami League is go-ing to win and even If I vote for pineap-ple, still the Awami league is winning.”Independent candidate Mannan was allotted the symbol pineapple.
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Similar fears were also seen among the voters from Dhaka 5 constituency, where a  gloomy scene was observed across all the four unions under the constituency
 
28 more human bones unearthedfrom Rana Plaza debris
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Tribune Report
Police retrieved 28 human bones including a broken skull from the debris of Rana Plaza at Savar yes-terday.According to sources, locals and former work-ers of the garment facto-ries housed in Rana Plaza recovered the human re-mains and informed the police.Savar Model Police Station offi cer-in-charge Mostafa Kamal said some miscreants’ had staged the bone recovery drama to embarrass the govern-ment.Mostafa Kamal also said that the recovered  bones were in fact ‘cow bones’.Former workers of Rana Plaza said that the recovered bones were human bones as the recoveries in-cluded a human skull.Later, they brought out a pro-cession in Savar Bus Stand area chanting slogans against the OC. They demanded government steps to recover the bones of work-ers that have been left unnoticed in the debris of Rana Plaza.
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News
DHAKA TRIBUNESaturday, January 4, 2014
Mostofa Jalal sues nine aides to Haji Selim
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Kailash Sarkar
Awami League lawmaker Mostofa Jalal Mahiuddin yesterday filed a case against nine associates of rebel candidate and former Awami League lawmaker Haji Mohammad Selim in connection with the bomb attacks on his election cam-paign on Thursday.More than 10 people, including three women and a child, sustained injuries af-ter bombs were hurled at the rally beside Islambagh Eidgah in Lalbagh around 5:30pm. The incident occurred when the rally concluded and participants were preparing to bring out a procession.Mostofa Jalal Mahiuddin is contest-ing in the parliamentary elections from Dhaka 7 constituency, opposing Haji Mo-hammad Selim.The nine associates of Haji Selim, who is a joint secretary of Dhaka city unit Awami League, were identified as Delwar Hossain, Shahidul Islam, Md Selim, Md Mintu, Abul Hossain, Md Ja-hangir Alam, Md Ibrahim, Md Rana and Md Jewel.Sub-Inspector Shakhawat Hossain of Chawkbazar police station said the Awa-mi League lawmaker had filed the case against the nine persons accusing them of conducting the bomb attacks at his rally as per their alleged attempt to kill people and foil the programme.The SI said all the nine accused were locals from Lalbagh and Chawkbazar ar-eas. Local sources said the nine accused were also the co-accused in many other cases filed against Haji Selim as they were close to the former Awami lawmaker. However, none were yet arrested till the filing of this report at 7pm.When asked, Deputy Commissioner Harun-ur-Rashid at Lalbagh Division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police said: “All the nine accused belonged to Haji Moham-mad Selim but we did not arrest or de-tain anybody yet as many mysteries over the incident, apart from the political af-filiations in it, were still shrouded.”The DC said without being sure of the involvement of anybody through inves-tigation, they would not arrest or detain anybody as the matter was also a sensi-tive one.Earlier on Thursday, Mostofa Jalal Mahiuddin had indirectly pointed fin-gers at Haji Selim for the attacks, saying that he had seen many of the latter’s goons present near the rally venue.However, Haji Selim rejected the al-legations and told the Dhaka Tribune on Thursday that he had no interests in such activities.
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Army personnel stand guard at the Kanchpur bus stand in Narayanganj yesterday as part of their election duty
MAHMUD OPU
BNP lawmakers come out from Bangabhaban yesterday after meeting President Abdul Hamid
DHAKA TRIBUNE
48-hour hartal on top of ongoing blockade to resist polls
2 killed, many others hurt in petrol bomb attacks; polling centres set on fire
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Tribune Report
The BNP-led opposition is likely to make an all-out effort from today to resist the January 5 “farcical” election as it has called a countrywide 48-hour shutdown yesterday alongside the ongoing non-stop road-rail-waterways blockade.The opposition alliance, which is not taking part in the “one-sided” polls, announced the nationwide “peaceful strike” from 6am of Saturday to 6am of Monday also to protest the confinement of BNP Chief Khaleda Zia.The least contested election is going to take place in 147 constituencies on January 5 as 153 lawmakers have already  been elected uncontested, thanks to the  boycott by the BNP-led alliance and oth-er political parties.Yesterday, the violence escalated in different parts of the country where two people lost their lives in arson attacks by miscreants in Dinajpur, three truckers received injuries in Chapainawabganj and three more including a woman in the capital on the third day of the non-stop blockade. Six policemen sustained injuries in a clash with blockade campaigners in Gai- bandha.On the day a college unit level lead-er of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat sustained injuries from  blast while making bombs in Bogra. In new dimension of subversion mis-creants set fire to five polling centres set up in four schools and a madrasa in Da-ganbhuiyan upazila of Feni at midnight. There were also incidents of attack and torching vehicles on highways, van-dalism and arson of rival party offi ces, election campaign offi ces and establish-ments in several districts. On the other hand life in Dhaka met-ropolitan was more or less hampered due to continuous isolation from other districts, especially for suspended road communication by the private long-dis-tance bus owners fearing violence.
Target Polling Centers
Miscreants set fire to five polling centres set up in four schools and a madrasa in Daganbhuiyan upazila of Feni with a day in hand for the general election.Two of the institutions were burned  badly while three others damaged par-tially in separate arson attacks carried out between 1:00am and 3:00am. Daganbhuiyan Police Station’s OC Nizam Uddin said miscreants set fire to Omar Sultana Memorial Girls High School in Jaylaskar union and Gazaria Ideal Academy, a kindergarten school, in Purba Chandrapur union by pouring petrol. Besides, Nayanpur Government Pri-mary School and Basiria Madrasa in Pur- ba Chandrapur union and Karim Ullah High School in Matubhuiyan union were partially damaged when miscreants set afire the institutions, the police offi cial said.In the morning students and teach-ers of the fully burnt educational in-stitutions broke down into tears after seeing their dear institution damaged and burnt. They saw only the charred  benches, tables and the rooms where they used to study every day.
Deaths and causalities in arson attack
Quoting police, our Dinajpur corre-spondent reports, at least two persons were killed and three injured as a truck plunged into a roadside ditch when  blockaders hurled a petrol bomb on the vehicle in Hakimpur upazila in Dinajpur around 1:30am. SM Ahsan Habib, OC of Hakimpur Po-lice Station, said as the truck caught fire, the driver lost control over the steering and the onion-laden vehicle fell into a roadside ditch at Itai-Bawna village. Fire service recovered the charred bodies of the truck owner Shah Newaz Mandal, 30, and trader Adilur Rahman from the driver’s cabin. “Driver Yusuf Ali, his helper Shahja-han and a worker Sumon sustained in- juries but they could go out of the cabin, he said.The truck was heading for Sadullah-pur upazila in Gaibandha from Hili land port located in the upazila.In the capital unidentified assailants hurled petrol bombs at a Gulistan-bound passenger bus of route 3 in front of Borak Tower near Paribagh’s foot-over-bridge around 7:30am that left passengers Md Farid, 50, Shahina Aktar, 40, and the driver Babul, 32, injured.In Shibganj upazila of Jamaat-dom-inated Chapainawabganj a trucker and his two helpers sustained burn injuries as blockaders hurled a patrol bomb at the Dhaka-bound truck at 3:00am. Of the injured, trucker Jamaatul Is-lam, 40, and helper Azizul Islam, 50, were whisked off to Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital. With 30 percent injuries Jamaatul’s condition was criti-cal. Meanwhile, miscreants set fire to an Awami League oce in Comilla Sadar Upazila and in another incident they torched a truck in Chandpur. A human hauler was torched in Narayanganj.President of Bogra Govt Azizul Haque College unit of Shibir Jewel Sarkar, 25, sustained injuries while making bombs, police said.Later, in separate press statements, local Shibir first claimed that Jewel re-ceived injury when he picked up a cock-tail mistaking it for a ball in front of his house but later the central unit of the student organisation said two motor- bike riders hurled bomb at him.Six police personnel including of-ficer-in-charge and inspector were seri-ously injured in a clash between the law enforcers and the blockaders in Sabdin Nayabazar area under Palashbari upazi-la in the afternoon. Blockaders also set alight two police motorbikes.
The Capital
Shibir men locked into mild clashes with police in capital’s Azampur, Mali- bagh, Kolabagan and Kamalapur during processions with indiscriminate blasts when 6 Shibir men were arrested and 5 others injured. The blockaders torched at least four buses at Abdullahpur, Gu-listan and Pribagh.With a few passengers trains service continued but had delays in maintaining schedule. The number of public trans-ports was higher than the previous days  but launches plied with lower number of passengers.At bus stations many passengers were seen trying to arrange alternative vehicles as some small bus companies decided to ply buses on long distance routes.
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KHALEDA’S CONFINEMENT
BNP seeks president Hamid’s intervention
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Mohammad Al-Masum Molla
The main opposition yesterday sought the president’s intervention to make it clear whether the government put BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia under house arrest, arrest or confinement.The opposition lawmakers also sought President Abdul Hamid’s inter-ference in finding a way out to resolve the issue. The government did not make it clear whether the leader of the opposition has  been confined, put under house arrest or arrest, Zainul Abdin Farroque, op-position chief whip, told the journalists yesterday.“We have told the president about the fundamental rights of a citizen and the president assured us that he would talk to the government.A BNP parliamentary delegation went to Bangabhaban and held a 44-min-ute-long meeting with the president.Following the meeting, Farroque alleged that the government confined Khaleda Zia to her house and none was allowed to enter her residence. She was also barred from going to her offi ce.“We demand that the leader of the opposition be allowed to go to her of-fice and barricade and law enforcers be withdrawn from the vicinity of her res-idence.”Asked whether they talked about election and BNP’s position, Farroque dodged the question, saying their move-ment would go on.The BNP leader said they also sub-mitted a memorandum to the president during the meeting.The other delegates were Ashrafud-din Nizam, Nazimuddin Ahmed, Har-unur Rashid, Nilufar Chowdhury Moni, Rehana Akhter Ranu, Syeda Ashifa Ashrafi Papia and Rasheda Begum Hira.UNB adds: President Abdul Hamid yesterday assured the delegation of tak-ing every possible step in this regard in line with the constitution.“The president told the opposition lawmakers to convey their message to the government authorities concerned and he would do everything possible in light with the constitution,” said presi-dent’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.Briefing reporters at Bangabhaban after the meeting between Abdul Hamid and the eight-member delegation, Karim said the lawmakers apprised the presi-dent of the current state of Khaleda Zia.“The president gave the lawmakers a patient hearing and told them he wants peace and normalcy prevail in the coun-try,” the press secretary added.Earlier on Thursday morning, the eight-member delegation of BNP law-makers met Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury at her offi ce and sought her interference in freeing Khaleda Zia from her reported confinement. South Asia Bureau Chief of the New York Times Ellen Barry was barred from meeting BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, claimed the party.According to the party’s press wing, police also barred Khaleda’s adviser Reaz Rahman from meeting the party chief yesterday evening.BNP’s press wing offi cial Syrul Ka- bir Khan told the Dhaka Tribune: “The on-duty police personnel at Khaleda’s Gulshan residence obstructed the journo and the adviser.
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Ershad’s men keep drama rolling
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Manik Miazee
HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party keep drama rolling just a day before the 10th parlia-mentary elections, giving self-contra-dictory statements.JaPa Presidium member Delwar Hos-sain Khan said on Thursday Ershad had not asked anyone to announce its elec-tion manifesto.On the same day, another Presidi-um Member Anisul Islam Mahmud an-nounced JaPa’s manifesto. Mahmud said every word of the manifesto was Ershad’s. Khan said: “The manifesto can nev-er be approved by Ershad because de-clared not to contest the polls.”Khan also said the nation would never forgive those who are creating confusions. He also said 265 candidates of the party withdrew their candidacy as per Ershad’s statement.
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