After a relatively normal - or what should be normal among two apparently friendly states - 2018, when border killings of Bangladeshis by India’s trigger-happy Border Security Force reduced appreciably, 2019 already hazards a return to the bad old days, as two such killings in the space of just five days last week give us pause to rethink and even refrain from imbibing the brotherly ethos in our own attitude.
The murdered Bangladeshis have been identified as Jenarul, 30, of Taldangi village in Thakurgaon district's Haripur upazila. Jahangir Alam Raju ,21, son of Badsha Mia, a resident of Shahanabad village in the Rani upazila. Meanwhile over at another spot of the almost 4100-km border, India took back 31 stranded Rohingyas from the no-man's land near the Kaziatali border along Brahmanbaria's Kasba upazila and Tripura's Sipahijala district. They were handed over to Tripura police, said BSF Deputy Inspector General Brijesh Kumar.
“The BSF opened the pocket gate of the barbed wire fencing around 10:30am and took them inside their border without informing us,” said Lt Col Gulam Kabir, commanding officer of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) 25 Battalion. Being pushed by the BSF, the 31 refugees, including women and children, were stuck in the no man's land for almost 5 days in the face of strong resistance from the BGB, sparking a tension in the bordering areas, he added.
A top official at an observer group that monitored Bangladesh's 11th parliamentary election, as well as one of its foreign volunteers, expressed their regret at participating in the process, casting doubt on the credibility of a vote won overwhelmingly by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling alliance. The president of the Saarc Human Rights Foundation told international newsagency Reuters that he now believed there should be a fresh vote after hearing accounts from voters and officials presiding over polling booths that activists from Awami League stuffed ballot boxes the night before the poll and intimidated voters.
"Now I have come to know everything, and can say that the election was not free and fair," said Mohammad Abdus Salam, a 75-year-old former high court division justice. A Canadian observer who was brought in by the foundation also said she now wishes she had not been involved.
Though the initials and logo it uses closely resemble those of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the SAARC Human Rights Foundation has no affiliation with that inter-governmental body.
A spokesman for the Kathmandu-based SAARC told Reuters it had never heard of Ali or his group. The SAARC Human Rights Foundation’s website says it is based in Dhaka and its initials stand for South Asian Association for Research Council.
The by-polls to Dhaka North City Corporation's mayoral post will be held on February 28. Election Commission Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed announced the election schedule while briefing reporters after a meeting at the Nirbachan Bhaban this evening. Elections to the councillor posts in the 36 new wards -- 18 under Dhaka North City Corporation and 18 under Dhaka South City Corporation -- will be held on the same day.
As per the schedule, the last date for submission of nomination paper has been fixed as January 30, while nomination scrutiny would be completed on February 2 and last date for nomination withdrawal will be February 9. On January 16, the High Court cleared the way for holding elections to the city corporation mayoral post and polls in the 36 new wards under the two Dhaka city corporations.
The Film Censor Board of Bangladesh has banned a film based on a 2016 cafe attack that left 22 people dead, saying it would damage the country's reputation. The censor board denied the theatrical release of "Shonibar Bikel", a decision the movie's director criticised as "unhealthy for artistic expression".
The title of the film translates to "Saturday Afternoon" and dramatises the July 2016 attack on an upmarket cafe by militants who killed 22 of their hostages, including 18 foreigners. The state's censor board said the film -- a Bangladesh-German co-production -- could incite religious fervour in the Muslim-majority nation of 165 million.