Govt failing to address rights abuses

Govt failing to address rights abuses

Bangladesh authorities failed to respond to repeated and serious allegations of secret detentions, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings, denying the abuses instead of holding perpetrators accountable, Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2018.

Although the government did not enforce refoulement on Rohingya refugees seeking sanctuary from across the Burmese (Myanmar) border, Bangladeshi citizens themselves saw no reprieve in their quest for justice, the US-based global rights watchdog said in a statement on its website yesterday.

In the 643-page report, its 28th edition, HRW reviewed human rights practices in more than 90 countries.

Starting in late August, Bangladesh saw over 655,000 Rohingya refugees cross the border from Northern Rakhine State in Myanmar fleeing a campaign of rape, arson, and killings by the Burmese military that amounted to crimes against humanity.

While Bangladesh does not officially recognise the majority of the Rohingya as refugees, the government has allowed those seeking shelter to enter the country, the report says.

Bangladesh deserves credit for not forcibly returning Rohingya refugees, and for doing what it can with strained resources to provide safety for them for the time being,” Brad Adams, director of HRW Asia, said in the report.

However, recurring plans to move the refugees to uninhabitable islands or to return them to Burma without key citizenship rights and protections remained a concern.

In domestic rights concerns, scores of Bangladeshis remained victims of enforced disappearances, even as law enforcement authorities continued to target both opposition supporters and militant suspects, the report mentions.

Security forces responsible for serious human rights violations continued to be free and unaccountable, the report says.

Despite evidence of flawed trials and coerced confessions, the High Court upheld the death penalty against nearly 140 members of the Bangladesh Rifles, as the present Border Guard Bangladesh was formerly known, it adds.

Civil society groups and the media continued to face pressure from both state and non-state actors, while dozens of Bangladeshis were arrested for criticising the government or the political leadership on Facebook, it further says.

Although the official government policy is to eliminate child marriage, in February 2017 the government passed a law permitting girls under 18 years of age to marry under special circumstances -- effectively eliminating the minimum age for marriage in this exception.

The government also failed to take steps to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the report says.

Particularly as the country heads into general elections in 2019, it is vital to restore the rule of law, and end all efforts to silence dissent,” said Adams.

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ALTERNATIVE IS THERE

ALTERNATIVE IS THERE

Although there is sufficient government land on both sides of Jessore Road, the local authorities seem to be hell-bent on expanding the historical road by felling more than 2,300 trees, several hundred of them nearly two centuries old.

And the justifications the Jessore Roads and Highways Department is offering for cutting these trees are nothing but “lame excuses”, experts and environmentalists have said, warning of an environmental disaster in the region.

On January 6, the RHD in Jessore made the decision to expand the highway to 10. 6 metres from 7. 3 metres now because of the increasing traffic on the road that connects the country's biggest land port in Benapole with India's Petrapole.

Currently, some 500 goods trucks as well as about 10,000 passengers to and from India use this route. The Benapole Port authorities collect about Tk 12 crore in customs duty every day, said port Director Aminul Islam.

Earlier in July last year, the government shelved a similar plan to fell 2,700 trees for widening the same highway following protests by the public and green activists amid media outcry.

The highway is widely known as a part of around 99km long Jessore Road stretching from Jessore in Bangladesh to Dum Dum in Kolkata.

The stretch on the Bangladesh side is 38km long and 24 feet wide, and on both the south and the north sides of the road there is government land that is at least 50 feet wide, according to the District Council that owns the land of the road.

So if they build a two-lane road along the existing one next to the trees, we can save these trees," said Amirul Alam Khan, an environmentalist from Jessore.

It is “outright foolish” to fell hundreds of trees, particularly those that bear memories of the Liberation War, just to widen the road by three meters, he added.

The RHD can easily construct a completely new road along the trees on either side of the road to facilitate the growing trade through the road between Bangladesh and India, said Aminul, also former chairman of Jessore Education Board.

The move to fell the trees sparked protests in Dhaka and elsewhere, with green activists asking the government not to take up any project without considering the ecological balance of the area and historic values of the trees.

In 1840, a Jessore landlord called Kali Poddar Babu took the initiative to build the road so that his mother could travel to take a bath in the Ganges river.

Later, as advised by his mother, a lot of saplings were planted on both sides of the road, then named Kali Poddar road, to make people's journeys pleasant ones, according to "Jessore-Khulnar Itihas" (History of Jessore and Khulna), written by Satish Chandra Mitra.

During the 1971 war, tens of thousands of Bangalees fled to India through this road. Freedom fighters and journalists from around the world also used this road to enter Bangladesh from India and the vice versa.

The name of the road has been immortalised by the American poet Allen Ginsberg, who visited the area in 1971 and wrote the famous poem, "September on Jessore Road" about the plight of millions of scared Bangladeshis heading towards India during the war. He recited the poem on November 20, 1971, at Saint George Church, New York.

At the January 6 meeting at the the Jessore District Commissioner's office, three local lawmakers, district administration officials, R&H officials and the district council chairman were present.

Jahangir Alam, executive engineer of Jessore RHD who was present at the meeting, said they sent a proposal to the roads and bridges ministry for the expansion and reconstruction of the road by felling the trees.

Asked why, he said, "The roots of the trees and the water dripping from the leaves during rain damage the road. So we decided to cut down around 2,300 trees along the road for the sake of development.

It will take at least one year just for the approval of a new project to build another road along the trees. But the existing road needs immediate repair and it cannot wait any longer.

Six firms took part in the tender for the Tk 329-crore project in November last, and the tenders were now being evaluated. The construction is likely to begin next month, he said.

Saifuzzaman Pikul, chairman of Jessore District Council, which has a long-standing dispute with the RHD over the ownership of assets along the road, said he too had no objection if trees needed to be felled for the “sake of development”.

As the trees are century old, sometimes their branches fall off, injuring people, he said, adding, "If the government orders us, we have nothing to do but to cut down the trees.

Dr Mohammad Mahfuzur Rahman, a professor of environmental science and technology at Jessore University of Science and Technology, said there was plenty of scope to build a road leaving the rain trees intact, but the authorities were not considering those options.

They want to cut down the trees," he said, sounding frustrated.

If there is a risk of branches falling, it can be stopped by forest management system, meaning by cutting off the dead or risky branches. And engineers should be able to build roads that will not be affected by the tree roots, he said.

The trees along the highway produce a huge shed, which is nearly one-fourth of that produced by the Sundarbans, he pointed out.

The 61-km stretch of the same road on the Indian side is also called Jessore Road. Running from Kolkata airport to Petrapole border via Barasat, this part too has numerous trees on its both sides.

Last year, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) felled 15 of those trees near Bongaon railway station for construction of some flyovers, triggering a huge public protest.

Green activists cited the example of the 2km stretch from Petrapole to Jayantipur on which the NHAI constructed a two-lane road keeping the trees in the middle.

The issue later went to the Calcutta High Court, which on April 17 last year ordered a stay on felling of the trees. The matter is still pending before the court where the next hearing is due today.

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2 detained with foreign currency at Dhaka airport

2 detained with foreign currency at Dhaka airport

Detainees Ariful Islam is resident of Mirpur while Shamim Dhali is resident of Mohammadpur in Dhaka.

When they were heading towards a Kuala Lumpur-bound flight, Customs Intelligence officials acting on a tip off challenged them, searched their bodies and found the currency hidden, said Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) Director General Moinul Khan.

Both of them often used to travel abroad, the official said.

A total of 128,500 Saudi riyals and 556 Malaysian ringgits were recovered from their possession. The foreign currencies were estimated at Tk 27,87,639, he said.

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Bipasha finally breaks silence on pregnancy rumours

Authors: Ecroaker. com Boosters.

Bipasha Basu Opens Up On Her Pregnancy Rumours!

Bipasha Basu and her husband Karan Singh Grover have been dealing with rumours that suggest Bipasha is pregnant. Recently, through a Twitter post, the actress negated these rumours and said that all these talks are getting irritating for her. Bipasha and Karan tied the knot in 2016 and have worked together in ‘Alone’.

Her Tweet read, “Amused yet again. I kept a bag on my lap while getting into my car and certain media people started my pregnancy speculation again. Guys, I am not pregnant. Kind of getting irritating. Stay calm. It will happen only when we want it”.

Ever since their wedding, both the actors have not been in any new movies. Their last project was ‘Alone’ which came out in 2015 and starred the now couple as the leads. was directed by Bhushan Patel and received generally positive reviews. While not on the big screen, the couple was seen together in an ad for a condom.

Inside Bipasha Basu’s birthday bash: Husband Karan Singh Grover makes it a special night for her: Bipasha Basu celebrated her 39th birthday and her actor-husband Karan Singh Grover organised a grand bash for his wifey dear in the presence of their friends and family. The inside pictures of the birthday party will certainly give you some major party goals, Scroll on.
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Two arrested for abducting, raping woman in moving car in Gurgaon

inside a moving vehicle, Faridabad Police has arrested two persons and seized the vehicle in which the crime was allegedly committed. Two others are still absconding, police said. According to police, the two accused have been identified as Sanjeev and Arshad, both aged around 25 and residents of Mewat’s Punhana.

They had come to Faridabad for their car's servicing and were roaming around in the city when they spotted the girl and abducted her. They were inebriated at the time,” said Sube Singh, PRO, Faridabad Police. The accused were arrested from Jurhera village in Rajasthan and the vehicle used in the crime has also been seized,” he said.

The woman has alleged in her complaint that three men inside the Scorpio took turns to rape her, while the fourth continued to drive the vehicle around the city. Both men arrested on Wednesday had sexually assaulted the woman, police alleged, adding that the arrested are unemployed.

police said. After a case was registered, Faridabad Police had constituted a Special Investigation Team, headed by Pooja Dabla, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Women), to conduct an investigation.

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Innovation Played A Key Role In Bringing India, Israel Closer: PM Modi

Innovation Played A Key Role In Bringing India, Israel Closer: PM Modi

Benjamin Netanyahu is in India for a six-day visit

Ahmedabad: Innovation has played a major role in bringing India and Israel closer, and sentiments of mutual development is crucial for a better future of both countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday.

"Innovation has played a great role in bringing the people of India and Israel

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Coast Guards of India, Japan Hold Joint Naval Exercise

Coast Guards of India, Japan Hold Joint Naval Exercise

Indian Coast Guard's Rani Abbakka Patrol Vessel

The exercise included a scenario in which a cruise vessel was hijacked and the forces of both the countries were engaged in rescue of passengers

CHENNAI: Ships and aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard and its Japanese counterpart conducted a joint naval drill off the coast here today.

As many as nine

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Why Did Rahul And Netanyahu Not Meet?

Why Did Rahul And Netanyahu Not Meet?

Though procedurally correct, this is a short-sighted strategic move and might dent the national consensus vis-à-vis Israel

by P.R. Kumaraswamy

In the closely scrutinised India-Israel relationship, there is little in the public domain that remains unknown, especially between the leaderships on both sides. But one such little-known and unpublicised

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The Netherlands expels top Eritrean diplomat over ‘diaspora tax’

The Netherlands expels top Eritrean diplomat over ‘diaspora tax’

The Netherlands has told Eritrea that its highest diplomatic representative in the Netherlands must leave the country.

Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy, the chargé d’affaires in The Hague is being expelled because of the country’s pressure on Eritreans in the Netherlands to pay a ‘diaspora tax’.

Foreign affairs minister Halbe Zijlstra told parliament that

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