LGRD ministry holds the key

LGRD ministry holds the key

It appears the mayoral by-polls to the DNCC have become uncertain following yesterday's High Court stay order. But the legal complexity can be removed and the LGRD ministry holds the key.

Newly added wards, the root cause for the polls process to grind to a halt, could be excluded from the Dhaka North City Corporation for the time being so that the elections could be held.

This will not be something new.

Sixteen years ago, the LGRD ministry swiftly removed all legal complexities over redrawn boundaries of three city corporations, including Dhaka, clearing the way for the polls.

The same ministry in 1998 increased the number of wards in Dhaka, Rajshahi and Khulna city corporations. In September 1998, the Election Commission redrew the boundaries of the wards issuing a gazette notification and moved for holding the polls.

But it faced legal hurdles. At least 10 writ petitions were filed challenging the new boundaries, five of the petitions were filed in Dhaka.

In response to those petitions, the HC stayed all work related to the elections and the stay order was extended several times. As a result, the polls to the three city corporations could not be held on time.

The first elections in the three corporations were held in January 1994 when the BNP was in power. Fresh elections were supposed to be held in 1999 when the Awami League was in power.

Assuming office on October 10, 2001, the BNP moved to hold the polls to the Dhaka City Corporation quickly, to unseat the then DCC mayor who was an AL leader.

It scrapped the LGRD ministry's circulars on redrawn boundaries of the wards to pave the way for the polls. Elections to Rajshahi and Khulna were also held along with the DCC on April 25, 2002.

After 16 years, the LGRD ministry and the EC are facing almost the same situation.

The ministry in July last year expanded boundaries of Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation by forming 36 wards with 16 union councils adjacent to the two corporations.

In this process, the number of wards in the DNCC increased to 54 from 36.

There was no move to hold the polls in those new wards. But the sudden death of Mayor Annisul Huq changed the situation.

The EC last week announced the schedule of the polls to fill the vacant mayor post and simultaneously declared elections for councillors in the 36 wards newly added to the two corporations.

But the legality of the polls schedule was challenged by two chairmen of union parishads, which have been included in the DNCC area.

In response, a High Court bench yesterday stayed for three months the by-election to the DNCC. It was scheduled to be held on February 26.

This development led the EC to suspend all work related to the polls.

Local government expert, Tofail Ahmed blamed the LGRD ministry and the EC for the situation. He said the EC announced the polls schedule keeping many legal loopholes.

New wards were included in the city corporation in the middle of last year. But the voter list is yet to be finalised. There were problems with boundary demarcations," he told The Daily Star yesterday.

Tofail said union parishad chairmen were elected for five years and their tenure would expire on 2021. The LGRD ministry made no decision regarding them, he said, adding, "So, it was predicted that the election would be stayed.

EC acting secretary Helaluddin Ahmed seemed to be putting the blame on the LGRD ministry.

After being requested by the LGRD ministry, we made preparation for holding the polls. We found no legal complexities," he told reporters yesterday.

LGRD Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, however, held the EC responsible for the situation. He said his ministry's job was to declare the mayor post vacant after the death of Annisul. The EC is responsible for preparing the voter list and redrawing the boundaries of the wards, he said talking to reporters at his office at the secretariat.

He said he feels the necessity of electing a mayor as it is not possible to run a large city corporation without a mayor. He said the ministry would do whatever is necessary for holding the by-polls.

A major difference between the situation 16 years ago and now is that there is no mayor for the DNCC. Back then, the three mayors carried out the responsibilities until their successors were elected.

If the LGRD ministry considered the mayoral polls urgent, it might follow previous instances to clear the way for the election. For this, the circular, through which 18 new wards were added to the DNCC, has to be scrapped, making the writ petitions to lose effect.

Excluding the newly added wards would also get rid of another legal complexity the DNCC is facing. According to the law, at least 75 percent councillors (39, if the new wards are included) are need to form the corporation. The DNCC currently has 36 councillors.

Now, all depends on the LGRD ministry.

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They tried to kill me

They tried to kill me

Narayanganj city Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy yesterday alleged that an attempt was made to kill her from just “two yards away” during Tuesday's mayhem on Bangabandhu Road in Chashara.

I will take legal steps. 100 to 150 people were wounded. I suffered injuries in my leg. I was unarmed and so were my people," she told reporters at her Nagar Bhaban office.

The mayor was briefing journalists a day after supporters of local Awami League lawmaker Shamim Osman allegedly attacked Ivy and her followers over eviction of street hawkers, leading to a fierce clash. Ivy and around 50 others were injured.

Meanwhile, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the party high command summoned Ivy and Osman for explanation over Tuesday's incident.

Giving an account of the incident, Ivy said she did not go there to fight, rather she wanted to tell hawkers to clear the street and sell goods at the hawkers' market built by the city corporation.

We walked down the footpath to the press club to hold a press conference there. But we came under attack before we could reach there. Brickbats started raining down on us. An attempt was made to kill me from two yards away," she said.

A three-member body, led by Additional Deputy Commissioner (revenue) Jashim Uddin Haider, has been formed to probe the incident. It will submit a report within a week.

No case was filed as of last night. However, a general diary was lodged with Narayanganj Sadar Model Police Station over the brandishing of a firearm by Jubo League leader Niazul Islam, allegedly loyal to Osman.

Tension still ran high in the city yesterday with a large number of law enforcers deployed at various points. Hawkers were not spotted on the footpaths in Chashara.

At the press conference, Ivy said, "He [Osman] made an announcement the day before [Monday] and told police that 'this is my order, not a request, that hawkers will be on footpaths from 4:00pm'. And this man can do anything if he wants.

I am the mayor and he is my party lawmaker. He did this on his own and I don't know why he had done this.

Ivy further said she wanted to free Bangabandhu Road from hawkers as the city corporation built a hawkers' market that can accommodate 1,500 to 2,000 hawkers.

Footpaths and roads -- everything belongs to people. Don't I have the right to keep the footpaths clear for pedestrians? Why hawkers will sit there on the MP's order? Then why did I build the market for them? she added.

At a separate press conference at the Rifle Club yesterday, Osman claimed that shots had been fired from Ivy's procession on Tuesday.

It was not a fight between Ivy and I, rather it was a clash between the hawkers and Ivy. Some people were trying to distort the facts. No one is telling the truth. The shots were fired from Ivy's procession," he claimed.

The AL lawmaker said he stood by the hawkers because Ivy's decision to evict them would affect them and also the AL that gave her nomination for the 2016 mayoral elections.

I will work for the poor even if I have to leave my party," he said.

Defending Niazul who brandished a firearm during the clash, Osman said it was being reported that Niazul is his supporter.

But the truth is he [Niazul] is our party activist. He was beaten thrice while he was walking on the Bangabandhu Road. He had no choice but to pull out his pistol as he was being beaten for the fourth time. His pistol was lost during the incident.

The AL lawmaker, however, said that if Niazul had opened fire, there should be a probe into the matter.

Obaidul Quader yesterday warned of taking organisational action against the party men who were involved in Tuesday's incident.

I have talked to the prime minister [also the AL chief] in this regard. She said organisational steps will be taken against those involved in the incident,” Quader said at a press conference at the AL president's political office in Dhanmondi.

The AL general secretary said he requested the home minister to launch a probe into the incident and take legal action against the agitators if they had used firearms.

Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain said jealousy and rivalry between Osman and Ivy led to Tuesday's clash, reports UNB.

Referring to the two Narayanganj leaders, the minister said, "Both of you are in power. What can we do if you fight each other?

About the eviction drive in Narayanganj, he said, "The person who launched the eviction drive is an elected mayor while the person who opposed it is also an elected public representative. But it is not right to do something using muscle power. Why will hawkers occupy footpaths?

The Narayanganj deputy commissioner issued a directive that the hawkers would be allowed to run business today on footpaths except for that on Bangabandhu Road.

Hawkers, however, refused to comply with the directive.

The hawkers will do business on the footpaths of Bangabandhu Road. Most of them sell goods there," said Asadul Islam Asad, convener of Narayanganj Zila Hawkers' Sangram Parishad.

Members of Narayanganj Press Club and Narayanganj District Journalists' Union yesterday formed a human chain and held a rally in front of Narayanganj Press Club in Chashara, protesting the attacks on journalists during Tuesday's mayhem.

At least 12 journalists, including Narayanganj Press Club General Secretary Sharifuddin Sabuj, were injured that day.

Yesterday, they demanded that Niazul and others responsible for this be arrested within 24 hours. Otherwise, they will boycott all programmes of the administration and politicians in Narayanganj city.

They will form a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club in the capital today.

Abdul Jalil Bhuiyan, former secretary general of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), Halim Azad, former president of Narayanganj Press Club, and Abdus Salam, president of Narayanganj District Journalists Union, among others, spoke at the programmes.

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2 killed as covered van hits motorcycle in Dhaka

2 killed as covered van hits motorcycle in Dhaka

The deceased -- Salauddin Rahel, 27, and Rasel Akon, 25, -- were going home from a wedding party at Lalbagh when the incident occurred around 2:00am, Sub-Inspector Bachchu Mia, in-charge of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) police outpost, told The Daily Star.

Soon after the accident, three injured motorbike riders were rushed to the DMCH where doctors declared Salauddin and Rasel dead, the SI said.

Hannan is undergoing treatment at the hospital.

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Snowstorm, deep freeze leaves 4 dead in US South

Snowstorm, deep freeze leaves 4 dead in US South

A winter storm that caused at least four deaths in the US South brought record low temperatures on Wednesday to parts of the region, where it coated roads with ice, snapped power lines and prompted public school closures.

Frigid temperatures and snow were also forecast for the mid-Atlantic region and much of New England through Thursday. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued winter weather advisories and storm warnings for northern Georgia into Virginia and from Massachusetts to Maine.

In Austin, Texas, a vehicle plunged more than 30 feet (9 meters) off a frozen overpass late on Tuesday, killing a man in his 40s, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said on its Twitter feed.

An 82-year-old woman who suffered from dementia was found dead on Wednesday behind her Houston-area home, likely the victim of exposure to the cold, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said.

In Georgia, two people were fatally struck by a car that slid on an ice patch near Macon, local media said.

At Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the nation's busiest with a typical volume of 2,700 arrivals and departures a day, about 470 flights had been canceled by Wednesday afternoon, according to tracking service Flightaware. com.

The sheriff's office in Oconee County, Georgia, east of Atlanta, tried humor to keep people off icy roads.

I know you need cigarettes, beer and wine to get you through having your kids at home. Can you just do without for a day? Stay home," the office said on its Facebook page.

Wednesday's storm was not the first this winter to bring a blast of frosty weather to the South, where parts of Florida and the Louisiana coast saw their first measurable snowfall in decades.

Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories were posted across portions of the Carolinas and southern Virginia.

The governors of Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana declared states of emergency because of severe conditions that made roads treacherous. In North Carolina, where more than 2,000 snow-plow personnel worked to clear roads, the state Highway Patrol reported nearly 1,600 traffic accidents during the first 12 hours of Wednesday.

More than 9 inches (23 cm) of snow has fallen in Durham, North Carolina, since Monday, with 6 inches (15 cm) or more measured at various locations across southern Virginia, the NWS said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned at a news briefing that cold temperatures Wednesday night would make travel conditions even more hazardous.

The snow is pretty but don't be fooled," Cooper said.

In Atlanta, many people appeared to be heeding Georgia Governor Nathan Deal's plea to stay off the roads as only a few cars crept along on typically packed highways.

A few people bundled up to go out in temperatures that were well below freezing in a city known for its sweltering summer heat.

We don't dare try to get the car out of the garage," said teacher Kimberly Hodges, 40, who was walking her puppy in the city's East Atlanta Village neighborhood. It's a mess out here.

The weather in Atlanta is not expected to get above freezing until Thursday afternoon. State government offices and many schools were expected to remain closed until at least then.

Wind chill advisories in the mountains of North Carolina warned that temperatures would feel like they had fallen to 10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

In Houston, the nation's fourth most populous city, most freeways were closed on Wednesday morning after icing over, the city's Office of Emergency Management said.

In storm-hit North and South Carolina, more than 32,000 homes and businesses were without power by Wednesday afternoon, utilities data showed.

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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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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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GSLV Success Fuelled Ascent of K Sivan To Top Job At ISRO

GSLV Success Fuelled Ascent of K Sivan To Top Job At ISRO

K Sivan knew the launch vehicle deeply, and was known among his colleagues as a workaholic who never rested till he finished a project

by Hari Pulakkat

BANGALORE: K Radhakrishnan, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), remembers the end of 2010 as among the most critical period during his tenure at the helm.

Two successive

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