Nation this week
The Birshreshtha Jahangir, a ferry, hit the structure of the Padma Bridge for the second time, this time hitting the span between the second and third pillars of the bridge at the Louhajang end. It was carrying no passengers. The same ferry hit pier 10 of Padma Bridge on August 9, injuring five passengers and causing damage to three vehicles it was carrying. The latest accident occurred as the ferry was heading to Paturia after repairs at Shimulia Ghat.
Fortunately, the damage to the bridge seems to have been negligible this time. There have been five more cases of ferries hitting the pillars of the bridge this year, including twice in the space of a week in July, when the 16th and 17th pillars were hit. General diaries have been filed, inquiry panels have been formed and ferry drivers suspended over these accidents. The government has been beside itself smelling conspiracies yet failed to ensure just basic safety for the structure.
Six members of the banned militant group Ansar al-Islam were sentenced to death for murdering LGBT activist Xulhaz Mannan and his associate Mahbub Rabby Tonoy in 2016. Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal Judge Md Majibur Rahman handed down the verdict amid tight security in and around the courtroom on Tuesday. The six convicts are sacked army Major Syed Md Ziaul Huq, Akram Hossain, Mozammel Hossain alias Saimon, Arafat Rahman, Sheikh Abdullah and Asadullah.
Major Zia and Akram were tried as fugitives, but the other four were in the dock when the court pronounced the verdict. The court in its observation mentioned that the accused in the case had a "common purpose" of creating panic to endanger public safety through the killing, and they killed Xulhaz, who was also in the employ of USAID, and Tonoy to stop them from exercising the right of free speech and engaging in independent activities.
The country's first metro rail in the capital Dhaka had its first performance test this week, on a section of the 20.1-km project, known as Mass Rapid Transit Line-6 (MRT 6). The test run was flagged off by Bangladeshi Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader at its depot in Dhaka. A train, consisting of six carriages, made the trip from its depot and back after crossing three stations without any passengers.
According to the minister, if all trials and inspection go well, the train will be launched for public use towards the end of 2022. The Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL), a state-owned enterprise founded to implement the metro rail lines across Dhaka, is constructing the metro rail line, divided into eight packages, in collaboration with companies from China, Japan and other countries. Line-6 consists of 16 elevated stations and electricity-powered light rail tracks. Once in operation, trains will run every four minutes and the system will carry some 60,000 passengers each hour.
Popular actress Pori Moni was freed on Wednesday (Sep 1) after 27 days in jail, a day after she was granted bail on a Tk 50,000 bond. Her bail came 21 days after she had filed the petition, and the Supreme Court's High Court bench strongly denounced the role of lower court judges in granting multiple remands of the actress in a case under the Narcotics Control Act.
In its observations of the lower courts' remand orders, a bench of Justice Mostafa Zaman Islam and Justices K.M. Zahid Sarwar said: "This cannot happen in any civilised society. Remand is an exceptional matter. What evidence the investigating officer presented with the remand pleas and the reasons why the court granted the remand need to be checked." Out of 27 days in captivity, Pori Moni - real name Shamsunnahar Smrity - spent seven days on remand. After coming out of jail on Wednesday, a smiling Pori Moni was busy with selfies.
The body of Captain Nawshad Ataul Quaiyum, a heroic pilot of the national flag carrier, arrived in Dhaka from India's Nagpur, where he passed away after suffering a massive heart attack mid-air while commandeering a Muscat-Dhaka flight. The pilot was in deep coma with ventilation support soon after he was admitted to the Kingsway Hospital in Nagpur, where his co-pilot had to make an emergency landing of BG-022 on August 27.
Captain Nawshad, who was aged just 44, grabbed headlines in December 2016, when his skill, bravery and professionalism - in one word, genius - helped save the lives of 149 passengers and seven crew members, after one of his landing gears exploded on takeoff from Muscat on a flight bound for Chittagong. But mindful of better emergency support in the capital, Captain Nawshad used extraordinary skill to pull off an emergency landing in Dhaka on literally one tire (which too exploded as the plane hit the tarmac), and without any casualties - an incredible feat of flying that drew praise from the international community of professional pilots. q
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