Sunday, April 22, 2007

British Airways refuses to fly Hasina to Dhaka:

British Airways refuses to fly Hasina to Dhaka

Dhaka court issues arrest warrant against her in Paltan killing caseStar ReportThe British Airways (BA) last night refused to fly former prime minister Sheikh Hasina from London to Bangladesh as a Dhaka court ordered her arrest in October 28 Paltan killing case.
A tearful Hasina left the airport at Bangladesh time 8:10pm after intense negotiations with the BA authorities, who told the Awami League (AL) chief that the government would not let the flight land in Dhaka if they carried her, Syed Nahas Pasha, editor of the largest circulated UK-based Bengali newsweekly Janamat, told The Daily Star over the phone.
Hasina, who had two British MPs with her during the negotiations, was also asked by BA authorities to consider the 'safety and security' of the passengers on the flight, who would be facing an uncertain fate with Hasina on board.
As an emotional Hasina was leaving the airport, she told reporters, "I am the daughter of the father of the nation. I will return to the country, for sure."
"Today an arrest warrant has been issued against me. Before that they imposed a ban on my return. I am ready to accept any consequences in the country. I want to be back with my people on my own soil. Whatever be my fate, I will return to Bangladesh," she said.
Asked whether she would stay in London or return to her son and daughter in the United States, Hasina said she will remain in London for now but decide her future soon.
The AL chief entered London's Heathrow airport at 7:15pm and was accompanied by British Labour Party MP Emily Thornberry, who later said that there must be some miscommunication that resulted in Hasina being barred from returning home.
Thornberry, who also engaged in negotiations with the BA authorities, told reporters that she would raise the issue with British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and also in British parliament.
Hasina was accompanied by her younger sister Sheikh Rehana, other family members, and a number of UK-unit AL leaders and activists.
Arrest Warrant Against HasinaA Dhaka court yesterday issued arrest warrants against Awami League (AL) chief and former prime minister Sheikh Hasina and two others after accepting the charge sheet in connection with the Paltan killings on October 28 last year.
The same court accepted the charge sheet submitted against Jamaat-e-Islami chief Matiur Rahman Nizami and nine others for killing a Workers Party activist.
Two others who were issued arrest warrants yesterday are former home minister Mohammad Nasim and another AL activist Kiron alias Abdul Malek. They have been shown absconding in the charge sheet, even though Nasim is now in jail custody.
The investigation officer (IO) prayed to the court for issuance of arrest warrants against the accused 'fugitives' and confiscating their properties.
After scrutinising the case docket and other relevant documents of the case, Metropolitan Magistrate Mir Ali Reza passed the order on the IO's plea for issuance of arrest warrants against them.
But the court did not pass any order on the IO's plea for confiscating their movable properties.
The court directed the authorities concerned to send the copies of arrest warrant to the respective addresses of fugitives Hasina, Naism and Kiron.
Following the order, general recording office (GRO) sent a copy of arrest warrant issued against Hasina to the officer-in-charge (OC) of Dhanmondi Police Station yesterday.
Earlier on April 11, police pressed charges against Hasina, AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil, Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) President Hasanul Haque Inu and 42 others for killing five Jamaat-e-Islami activists and injuring several others.
The IO dropped names of Abdur Razzak, Tofail Ahmed and 14 others from the charge sheet, as the charges brought against them were not proved.
Of them, Roymohon Shil, Omar Faruq and Sumon are now in jail custody.
Forty others including Mofazzel Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Dr HBM Iqbal and Jahangir Kabir Nanak were earlier granted bail from the High Court.
Two sub-inspectors of detective branch (DB) had submitted the charge sheets in both cases to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in Dhaka showing 91 people as prosecution witnesses.
Prior to the takeover of power by the caretaker government on October 28, seven people were killed in a fierce clash between activists of AL-led 14-party coalition and Jamaat-e-Islami in Paltan area. A day later Workers Party and Jamaat filed separate cases in connection with the same incident with Paltan Police Station.
In the case filed by Jamaat, complainant ATM Sirajul Islam, amir of the Paltan unit of the Islamist party, mentioned that on directives from AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil, Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon and JSD President Hasanul Haque Inu, the other accused killed five Jamaat activists and injured several others.
In the first information report the complainant had not named Hasina as an accused but the charge sheet had the AL chief as an accused.
The IO put Hasina's name at number 31 on the list of 46 accused as he claimed that the AL chief had been found to be involved in the incident.
Case Against Jamaat The same court yesterday accepted the charge sheet submitted against Matiur Rahman Nizami and nine others in connection with the killing of a Workers Party activist on October 28 last year.
The court also sent it to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's (CMM) Court for taking next steps, as the case was ready for trial.
The IO of the case, AKM Idris Hossain, sub-inspector of the Detective Branch of police, pressed charges against 10 leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir for the killing of a Workers Party activist Rasel Ahmed Khan.
Nine others are former minister and Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, Senior Secretary General of Jamaat Quamaruzzaman, Central Nayeb-e-Amir Mokbul Ahmed, Assistant Secretary General ATM Azharul Islam, Dhaka City Unit Amir of Jamaat Rafikul Islam, Paltan Unit Amir ATM Sirajul Islam, Islami Chhatra Shibir President Shafikul Islam Masud and its General Secretary Zahid Hossain, and President of Dhaka University Unit of Chhatra Shibir Shishir Monir.
On October 28 last year, activists of Jamaat and its student front Chhatra Shibir gathered in front of the north gate of Baitul Mukarram mosque and launched an attack on the AL-led 14-party coalition activists when they were passing through the area, the prosecution said.
The attack sparked a fierce battle between the rival political activists. During the battle, Shibir activists were found shooting with firearms.
Their rivals also reportedly launched a counter attack with oars and sticks.
Sheikh Hasina talks to newsmen at Heathrow Airport in London yesterday.Courtesy: Syed Nahas Pasha

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pahela Baishakh Bangla New Year 1414

Bangalees' biggest carnival todayStaff CorrespondentWith the sunrise ushering in Pahela Baishakh, people from all walks of life will welcome Bangla New Year 1414 today all over the country while most residents of the capital will throng Ramna Batomul to take part in the biggest carnival of the Bangalees.
Men in panjabi and pyjama, women in sari, and children in colourful dress--all will gather at traditional Baishakhi Mela (fair)--a major feature of the celebration of the first day of Bangla New Year. The celebrations also feature cultural functions at Ramna Udyan, Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University (DU), and other places in the capital and elsewhere.
The festivity starts off early in the morning with the gathering of thousands of people under the banyan tree at Ramna Udyan where artistes of cultural organisation Chhayanaut will sing the traditional Pahela Baishakh song of Rabindranath Tagore--"Esho hey Baishakh"--to welcome the day.
Mangal Shobhajatra, a procession seeking well-being of all, will start from the Institute of Fine Arts in the morning.
People will be gorging themselves on delicacies--Panta Bhat (rice soaked in water), hilsha fry, lentil and smoked chilli--at home and places of Baishakhi congregations.
Three-layer security measures have been taken to dispel concerns that stemmed from the deadly bomb blasts at the Chhayanaut Pahela Baishakh programme in 2001 killing at least 10 people.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police declared the roads from Shahbagh to Matsya Bhaban and from Teachers-Students Centre (TSC) to Doel Chattar off-limits to vehicles.
The day is a public holiday. Numerous social, political and cultural organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes to celebrate the day.
Bangladesh Betar and all television channels will air special programmes and newspapers will publish special supplements.
The start of Bangla year with Baishakh has its roots in the days of Mughal Emperor Akbar during 1556-1609. According to one of several opinions about the origin of Bangla year, this was the time when peasants used to pay their taxes to the emperor.
When Bangladesh came under the Mughal rule in 1576, Akbar decided to adopt the Hijri year and termed this season "Fasali" (crop). Thus, Pahela Baishakh marked the start of the crop season.
The present form of the Pahela Baishakh celebrations has some political significance and was introduced in 1965 when Chhayanaut organised its celebration programmes in protest against the suppression of Bangalee culture by the then Pakistan government.
After independence in 1971, the festival became a symbol of the country's nationalist movement as well as an integral part of the people's cultural heritage.
Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and its Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, and Liberal Democratic Party President AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury gave separate messages on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh and conveyed New Year's greetings to the people.
CULTURAL PROGRAMMESThe main attraction of the day is Chhayanaut artistes' rendition of Baishakhi welcome songs at Ramna Udyan at sunrise.
The Institute of Fine Arts yesterday started three-day programmes to celebrate the Bangla New Year.
Students and teachers of the institute will bring out the Mangal Shobhajatra at 9:30am. Puppet show and other traditional cultural programmes will be held at the Bakultala of the institute from 11:00am.
The Baishakh Udjapan Council will hold cultural functions at different places in the city.
The DU chalked out a five-day Baishakh Festival at TSC from April 15 to 19.
Dhaka City Corporation will keep open the Shaheed Zia Shishu Park for all on the day from 11:00am.
Sammilito Sangskritik Jote will organise cultural programmes at the Rabindra Sarobar amphitheatre in Dhanmondi and the Central Shaheed Minar at 4:30pm.
The Liberation War Museum organises a cultural programme on its premises from 10:00am.
Cultural organisation Monpala organises its programme at TSC from 9:00am to 1:00pm today.
Wrishiz Shilpi Gosthi organises a cultural programme at the Narkelbithi Chattar on Bhashani Road. Poet Mahbub Ul Alam will be inaugurate the programme.
Bangladesh Shishu Sangathan Oikya Jote will organise a "dress as you like" programme for children at Bangladesh Shishu Academy at 9:00am.
Pink City will organise a celebration programme at East Baridhara in the afternoon. Justice Latifur Rahman, Justice Mohammad Abdur Rouf, Justice Sultan Hossain Khan and other renowned personalities will be present at the programme.
Sonargaon Hotel will also celebrate Pahela Baishakh with "authentic Bangladeshi cuisine" at its restaurants. There will be arrangements for folk songs.
Suryasen Bitarka Dhara will organise an open debate at the DU business studies faculty at 7:00pm.
Publication house Oitijya will sell its books at 40 percent discount from its Banglabazar outlet on the day.
The Dhaka Club will celebrate Pahela Baishakh by holding a session of folk and patriotic songs.
The Bengal Foundation has arranged a three-day music programme at the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts from yesterday.
Sangskritik Jote and Jogsutro will hold a cultural programme at Jahangirnagar University.
Among other organisations, Gulshan Society, Baridhara Society, Bangladesh Chhatra Maitree, Bangladesh Kite Association, Pratibandhi Kalyan Society, Dhakabashi, Benuka Institute of Fine Arts, American International University have chalked out celebration programmes.