HC halts DNCC mayoral by-polls

HC halts DNCC mayoral by-polls

The High Court's three-month stay on the process of Dhaka North City Corporation polls yesterday triggered a blame game between the Awami League and the BNP.

The voting was scheduled to take place on February 26.

The BNP held the AL and the Election Commission responsible for the situation while the ruling party claimed that the BNP was "guilty of the same crime".

The HC also questioned the legality of the schedule of the DNCC mayoral by-polls and the elections to 18 new wards under the city corporation on February 26. Besides, it issued two rules asking the authorities concerned of the EC and the government to explain in four weeks why the schedule should not be declared illegal.

The bench of Justice Naima Haider and Justice Zafar Ahmed came up with the order and rules following two writ petitions filed on Tuesday seeking the stay order.

Deputy Attorney General Mokhlesur Rahman told The Daily Star that the HC stayed the polls on the grounds that the ward councillors would be elected for five years while the mayor for over two years. There might be confusions over the fate of those 18 ward councillors when the next DNCC polls would be due after two years, he said.

The court also took into consideration the grounds mentioned in the petitions that the EC did neither publish the voter list of the 18 new wards nor provide the candidates with compact discs, containing the list, he said.

Jahangir Alom, chairman of Beraid union parishad, and Ataur Rahman, chairman of Bhatara union parishad, filed the two writ petitions with the HC.

Concluding hearing the petitions, the HC bench set yesterday for passing orders on them. Advocate Quamrul Haque Siddique appeared for Jahangir and barrister Mustafizur Rahman Khan and barrister Ahsan Habib Bhuiyan argued for Ataur.

Jahangir is also the general secretary of Badda Thana Awami League while Ataur is the treasurer of Dhaka North City BNP.

The BNP yesterday alleged that the EC staged an "election drama" on instructions from the government as the AL feared a defeat in the by-polls.

Party Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the HC stay order proved that the EC was incompetent and irresponsible.

They [EC] announced the election schedule without even consulting anyone and without closing the loopholes," he told reporters.

Rejecting the allegation, AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif told The Daily Star, "If the writ petitioners filed the pleas based on their political identities then both the BNP and the Awami League should be held guilty of the same crime. The allegation from the BNP is baseless.

AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader said his party had nothing to do with the HC order. The government is not involved in this. We don't believe in dirty politics,” he said at a press briefing at the party president Sheikh Hasina's Dhanmondi office.

Soon after the EC announced the polls schedule on January 9, there were rumours that the AL would not want the elections months before the parliamentary polls, scheduled for the end of this year.

It's because the party morale would be down if its candidate faced a defeat, said party insiders, adding that the AL would probably not like to risk that right before the national polls.

The insiders also said although the AL officially said it had nothing to do with the elections, a section of party leaders felt relieved after the HC passed the stay order yesterday.

Those leaders believed the government would have to be in a dilemma over the polls. On one hand, it would have to ensure a free and fair polls and one the other, such an election might put the victory of the party candidate at risk, said the leaders.

Meanwhile, Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain yesterday said the HC order would not have any negative impact on the regular activities of the DNCC.

He said panel mayor Osman Gani, president of Badda Thana AL, would be running the DNCC.

The post of the DNCC mayor fell vacant after Annisul Huq had passed away on November 30 last year. The Local Government Division declared the post vacant on December 1. The EC set January 18 as the deadline for filing nomination, while January 21 and 22 were set for scrutinising the nominations. Deadline to withdraw candidacy is January 29.

The AL-led government had split the Dhaka city corporation into two in November 2011.

In the last election held on April 28, 2015, BNP-backed mayoral candidate Tabith Awal boycotted the polls on the voting day, alleging widespread rigging.

This week, the Awami League named businessman Atiqul Islam while BNP Tabith Awal for contesting the mayoral polls.

Talking to The Daily Star over phone yesterday, Atiqul said, “I was ready to contest the polls and I still am. I will bring some changes to my election strategy now.

I am respectful to the court and the party. So I will abide by the decisions of the court and the party.

Tabith said, “It's painful. The possible candidates and the media had talked about the loopholes but the Election Commission did not take any initiative [to fix them]. I am hopeful that commission will take some steps [in this regard] immediately.

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India mulls nationalising river-linking plan

India mulls nationalising river-linking plan

The idea was discussed at the 14th meeting of the Special Committee for Inter-linking of Rivers held here on Wednesday when the funding issue in connection with the various projects under the inter-linking scheme came up, a senior official of the Water Resources Ministry said after the closed-door meeting.

Our New Delhi correspondent quotes him saying the meeting discussed giving inter-linking of rivers projects the tag of “national” projects would help not only expedite their implementation but also secure speedier flow of funds for them.

Gadkari said time has come for looking at new funding mechanisms, including loans from foreign agencies at low interest, for inter-linking projects and assured the states that his ministry will provide all help to the states for this.

Gadkari also called upon state governments to cooperate with one another and with the federal government to expedite the ambitious projects for interlinking of rivers aimed at transferring water from surplus to deficit areas, and to explore low-interest loans from foreign agencies for the same.

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Students of 7 DU affiliated colleges block Nilkhet intersection

Students of 7 DU affiliated colleges block Nilkhet intersection

Vehicular movement through Nilkhet intersection in Dhaka came to a complete standstill as hundreds of students of seven Dhaka University affiliated colleges blocked the road since this morning demanding publication of second-year exam results by this month.

Around three hundred students of 2014-15 sessiontook position in the middle of the intersection around 11:30am blocking all sorts of traffic movement in the area, our DU correspondent reports from the spot.

The second-year final examination for the session was held on January 7 last year.

A huge traffic jam has been created on the all four connecting roads of the intersection due to the student protest, he said.

The protesters are also seen blocking pedestrians from their way crossing the intersection when this report was updated at 1:09pm.

In a five-point demand, the protesting students demanded the publication of the second-year result by January.

  • Third-year honours final year examination for 2014-15 session should be held by March.
  • Publication of an academic calendar for the seven affiliated colleges.
  • All examinations of 2012-13 sessions should be held as soon as possible.
  • All the examinations of the sessions under degree pass course should be held and its results published as early as possible.

A huge traffic jam has been created on the all four connecting roads of the intersection due to the student protest, he said.

The protesters are also seen blocking pedestrians from their way crossing the intersection.

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NKorea prepares grand military parade on eve of Olympics

NKorea prepares grand military parade on eve of Olympics

Pyongyang, which has rattled the international community with its nuclear and missile tests in recent months, has agreed to send athletes to the Games and march with the South under one flag at the opening ceremony.

But the North has also vowed to press ahead with commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of its military, with the South's Yonhap news agency reporting that it is planning a major parade on February 8 -- a day before the Olympic opening ceremony.

Some 12,000 soldiers, artillery and other weapons will feature at the spectacle in an airfield near Pyongyang, Yonhap said, quoting an unidentified South Korean government source.

We believe the North will hold a military parade on February 8th to mark the anniversary of the birth of its regular forces", the source was quoted as saying.

A South Korean defence ministry spokesman said the ministry does not comment on "any matters of military intelligence".

While North Korea often holds military parades to mark a variety of anniversaries, the country varies the dates it marks from year to year.

In 2017, leader Kim Jong-Un staged a giant spectacle showcasing a range of weaponry, including what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), in an event on April 15 marking the 105th anniversary of the North's founder.

Kim, who launched a flurry of missiles and the North's sixth and largest nuclear test last year, mentioned plans for a large celebration of the army's 70th anniversary in his 2018 new year address, urging the military to "organise combat drills like real battles".

He also used the speech to offer to take part in the South's Pyeongchang Games, billed by Seoul as a "Peace Olympics", which will be held some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the heavily fortified border.

The outlook for the sporting extravaganza has brightened since North Korea confirmed its participation, easing security concerns over nuclear-armed Pyongyang.

The neighbours, which opened long-dormant communications to organise the North's participation, have agreed to field a united team in the women's ice hockey.

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New Rangpur city mayor takes oath

New Rangpur city mayor takes oath

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina administered the oath at a ceremony held at her office today.

LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Engineer Khondkar Mosharraf Hossain, Prime Minister's Special Envoy and Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad, State Minister for the Ministry of LGRD and Cooperatives Mashiur Rahman Ranga were present.

LGRD and Cooperatives Secretary Abdul Malek conducted the oath-taking ceremony.

Later, the newly elected 33 councillors of general wards as well as 11 female councillors of the reserved seats of Rangpur City Corporation were also sworn-in at the same venue.

LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Engineer Khondkar Mosharraf Hossain administered the oath to the councillors.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister urged the newly elected Mayor and councillors to render desired services to people of their locality.

Hasina said her government not only established Rangpur City Corporation but also declared Rangpur as a division and has been implementing various programmes to ensure overall development of the region.

She mentioned that Monga had been in the northern region in the past as the misery of people which her government has been able to remove.

The Prime Minister said once the poor people had to go to relief centres and that will never be seen in the future.

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PAK SCAN: India Being Rewarded For Serving US Interests

PAK SCAN: India Being Rewarded For Serving US Interests

The continued violations of the ceasefire agreement 2003 by India, which last year claimed 54 civilian lives and inflicted injuries on 254 of them besides a number of casualties of the Pakistan army personnel, is a calculated attempt to achieve two objectives. One is in the context of Indo-Pak relations premised on the conflict in Kashmir and the

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