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  • New Indian visa centre in Rajshahi opens tomorrow
    (Financial Express-10-12-2012)-The Indian High Commission will open a new Indian Visa Application Centre (IVAC) in Rajshahi tomorrow (Tuesday). The new visa centre will be managed by the State Bank of India. The Centre, located at Morium Ali Tower, Greater Road, Barnali Moor, Barnali, Rajshahi, will receive applications from Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions.The complete visa process and other details are available on websites UNB
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  • Blockade aims to save war criminals: PM
    NEW AGE,Dhaka,,
    (Daily Star-10-12-2012)-She also said the blockade was observed at a time when the nation was in a mood to celebrate the series win over West Indies in ODI cricket. "We achieved another win in the month of victory over the formidable West Indies. Today, the opposition parties are engaged in setting vehicles afire instead of celebrating the victory,” she said. The premier made the remarks while addressing a function marking the distribution of the Begum Rokeya Medal 2012 at Osmani Memorial Auditorium yesterday. Hasina mentioned that the blockade had restricted the people from coming out and holding "jubilant processions" to celebrate Bengal Tigers' win over the one-day international (ODI) series. "It is unfortunate for all of us. One question stirs my mind: what does the opposition want?" she said. The premier also said the road blockade was also enforced on a day when the nation was set to observe the Begum Rokeya Day. “This showed (the opposition's) utter disrespect to her [Begum Rokeya]. I will request all to show their utmost hatred to the opposition and denounce their move," she told her audience. Hasina reiterated her firm commitment to eliminate all kinds of injustices to women, saying that her government is implementing various measures to ensure equal rights for women. She called upon the private organisations and individuals to come forward to supplement the government efforts for improving the lot of women. The premier recalled the supreme sacrifices of two lakh women during the Liberation War, saying that women directly fought against the Pakistani occupation forces, supplied food to the freedom fighters and finally snatched the independence in exchange of their lives. She mentioned that Rajakars and Al-Badr Bahini during the war committed crimes against humanity including the torture and abuse of women. “So, the trial of war criminals will certainly be held in the soil of the country.” Hasina said that despite being born and brought up in a conservative society in the 19th century, Begum Rokeya was the pioneer of women education and their emancipation. “Boldly facing all the obstacles of a conservative society, Begum Rokeya felt that only education could ensure their self-respect, their freedom and ultimately women empowerment.” She said the present government, following the path shown by Begum Rokeya, has been implementing various programmes for women's development. In this context, the premier mentioned the formulation of Women Development Policy, 2011 and enactment of Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2010. The present government has also ensured strong representation of women in the judiciary, executive and parliament as well as in the army, navy, air force and police force, she told her audience. Earlier, the premier distributed Begum Rokeya Medal 2012 to two erudite women for their contributions to establishing women's rights and socioeconomic development. The medal recipients are Syeda Zebunnesa Haq and Prof Mahfuza Khanam. State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, Secretary of the ministry Tariqul Islam, among others, addressed the function in the capital.

  • Bangladeshi picked up by BSF in Cnawabganj
    (Financial Express-11-10-2012)-CHAPAINAWABGANJ, Dec 10 (UNB): Members of Indian Border Security Force (BSF) picked up a Bangladeshi farmer from Chakpara border area in Shibganj upazila on Monday. The victim was identified as Erfan, son of Bhadur of Upa-Chakpara village in the upazila. Locals said the BSF members from Shashani camp picked up Erfan while he was working in his filed along the border at about 8 am. Contacted, commanding officer of Border Guard Bangladesh Battalion-9 Lt Col Manjurul Alam confirmed the incident.

  • WAR CRIMES TRIAL: ICT cautions Ghulam Azam’s defence for absence
    NEW AGE,Dhaka,Staff Correspondent,
    (New Age-10-12-2012)-The International Crimes Tribunal–1 on Sunday asked the defence counsel to appear along with defence witnesses for former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam before it regularly so that they could be examined one after another. ‘If the defence fails to produce witness, then the examination of defence witnesses shall stand stopped,’ the tribunal said. The tribunal passed the order as neither the conducting defence lawyers nor the first defence witness appeared in the tribunal. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-led alliance enforced a countrywide road blockade between 6:00am and 2:00pm and none but one defence counsel appeared in the tribunal. Defence counsel Md Mizanur Rahman, at the outset of the day’s proceedings, sought adjournment for the day saying that defence lawyers Mizanul Islam and Manjur Ahmed Ansari and the first defence witness, Abdullahil Aman Azmi, also the eldest son of Ghulam Azam, could not appear due to unavoidable circumstances. The tribunal adjourned the proceedings till 2:00pm and asked the defence lawyers to come to the tribunal with their witness. Azmi began making his deposition to defend his father on November 12 and the tribunal recorded his statement on November 20 for the fifth day. His deposition is yet to complete and Sunday was fixed for recording his statement. After lunch recess, the tribunal began its proceedings at about 2:30pm, when Mizanur submitted that Mizanul Islam could not come and Ansari was in Chittagong. He mentioned that the defence witness was also not present. Prosecutor Zead-Al Malum argued that the tribunal should stop the examinations of the defence witness, as Azmi did not come up to make his deposition. The tribunal adjourned the proceedings till today.

  • BACHCHU’S WAR CRIMES TRIAL: : Prosecutor pulled up for unprofessional conduct
    NEW AGE,Dhaka,Staff Correspondent,
    (New Age-10-12-2012)-The International Crimes Tribunal-2 on Sunday came down heavily on a prosecutor for passing remarks during cross examination of a witness by the state defence of absconding war crimes accused Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu. The tribunal examined three prosecution witnesses -- freedom fighter Probodh Kumar Sarkar and union parishad member Abdul Mannan and village doctor Sushil Kumar Poddar. Towards the end of the cross-examination of Probodh by state defence counsel Md Abdus Shukur Khan, Judge M Shahinur Islam asked the witness how he knew Bachchu was a Razakar. The witness replied, ‘I am saying it overall.’ ‘How?’ the tribunal asked. At this point prosecutor Md Shahidur Rahman said from his seat, the witness already said ‘overall’. ‘Have I asked you? No, you can’t speak for him,’ the tribunal said, expressing its annoyance. Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, the presiding judge, rebuked the prosecutor, saying he lacked the common sense, one needs to become a lawyer. On completion of cross-examination of the day’s first prosecution witness, the tribunal expressed annoyance at the prosecutor for getting three witnesses examined though the witness register shows the presence of two of them. ‘I thought it was not needed to show the presence of Probodh as he had testified in the tribunal on Thursday and hence I showed only two new witnesses,’ said the prosecutor. The tribunal asked the prosecutor to rectify the mistake in the register for witnesses. The tribunal also demanded to know from the Shahidur Rahman whether he had previous experience of conducting prosecution. ‘No, me lord, I am dong it for the first time,’ he said, and with a pause, added, ‘in the international court.’ ‘From what you say makes me think we cannot distinguish north from south,’ said the prosecutor turning to the judges. The presiding judge warned the prosecutor not to speak like this. Justice Obaidul Hasan snubbed the prosecutor saying, ‘What do you want to say?’ ‘My lord, we cannot speak the way you do,’ the prosecutor said. ‘What do you want to say?’ snubbed Justice Obaidul Hasan. ‘You are doing mockery with the court. Is it an international court?’ Judge Shahinur Islam demanded to know. ‘This is a domestic court dealing with international crimes. If you don’t understand it, you cannot be a prosecutor,’ Justice Obaidul Hasan told him. ‘You cannot speak like this,’ Justice Shahinur Islam reminded the prosecutor. The prosecutor said that he was ‘sorry’ only after the presiding judge reminded the prosecutor to mind his manner in the court. Later, Mannan testified that he saw Bachchu killing Haripada and Puitta at Mayendia-Shreenagar Bazaar. He said that he saw occupation army troops and Razakar Bahini men led by Bachchu looting the bazaar on 2nd Jaistha according to Bangla calendar during the War of Independence. On the same day, he said, he came to know that Bachchu led the killing of seven or eight Hindus at Hasamdia. On the following day, Bachchu abducted Anjali, a Hindu girl, from the village Uzirpur, he said. He said she was set free after a week of captivity. Anjali committed suicide when Bachchu’s men came to abduct her again, said Mannan. During cross-examination, Mannan said that Abul Kalam Azad was locally known as Bachchu before the war. Later, he became infamous as Bachchu Razakar for his killings, setting houses and bazaars ablaze and other atrocities in 1971, Mannan said. Later, 84-year-old Sushil Kumar Podder said in his testimony that Bachchu, accompanied by occupation army troops and 10 to 15 plain clothes men, killed his father Sharat Chandra Podder, brother Suresh Chandra Podder, relative Sachin Saha and neighbours Jatindra Mohon Saha, Shyamapada Saha, Surja Kumar, Nilratan Samaddar and Nepal Chandra Pal in his village Hasamdia under Boyalmari in Faridpur. On November 4, Bachchu was indicted on eight charges of crime against humanity. Examination of the prosecution witnesses began on November 26.

  • Resist those who want to save war criminals, says Dipu Moni
    (Independent-10-12-2012)-CHANDPUR, DEC 9: Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni called upon the people of all walks of life to resist those who want to save the war criminals of 1971. She was addressing a cross section of people after formally inaugurating the month-long Victory Fair-12 being held from December 1 at Hasan Ali High School ground, amid much enthusiasm as chief guest. The Rajakars actively collaborated the Pak army in 1971 in committing dreadful crimes like rape, genocide, arson and looting and were engaged in crimes against humanity in the soil of Bangladesh. They were also engaged in killing the nation’s intellectuals and left their bodies in the lurch. The trial of these identified foes (war criminals) would be held on the soil of Bangladesh -Inshallah. She blasted the opposition party and Jamaat for trying to thwart the transparent trial and trying to save the killers and war criminals now under trial, in the name of various political programmes. She called upon the freedom loving people to resist the evil design of the opposition BNP-Jamaat parties. They held the 2008 election with false voters, that numbered 1.30 crore during the alliance government. She posed a question, how dare they planned to oust this democratically elected government ? She, however, appreciated the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s four years rule and for keeping her election pledges. She urged the people and the new generation to elect Awami League government again so that the country might go forward with glory and progress again keeping the flag of the country high. She urged the new generation to know the true history of the country. Victory Fair-12 Convener Advocate Sk Abdul Latif presided while veteran politician, an associate of Bangabandhu and now district unit of JP’s President, Md Nurul Huque Bachchu Miaji (JP leader), Liberation War’s injured freedom fighter and President of the district unit of Muktijoddha Command Council M A Wadud, DC Md Ismail Hossain, SP Md Amir Jafar, Swadhinota Padak Winner and female freedom fighter Dr Syeda Badrunnahar Chowdhury were the special guests on the occasion. District Awami League President Dr Shamsul Huque Bhuiyan, General Secretary Abu Nayeem Dulal Patwary, Adv Jahirul Islam, Advocate Selim Akbar, Advocate B Zaman Kiron, among others, spoke on the occasion. Earlier, Sector Commander (Rtd) Abu Osman Chowdhury formally hoisted the national flag while Foreign Minister released pigeons and led the Victory Day procession.

  • China ready to settle border issues with India
    NEW DELHI, DEC 9: With National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo recording the 18 points of bilateral agreement on the vexed border issue this week, Beijing has conveyed its readiness to India to move forward on settling the 3,488 kilometre of Line of Actual Control (LAC) and comprehensively engage New Delhi on all outstanding issues. Top government sources said Menon during his meetings with Li Keqiang, ranking member of Poliburo Standing Committee and tipped to succeed Wen Jiabao as Premier of China in March 2013, and Wu Bangguo, chairman of National Peoples' Congress and member of the standing committee, was conveyed that new leadership under party general secretary and present vice president Xi Jinping wanted to positively engage India. While the NSA was hosted by outgoing State Councillor Dai Bingguo in Beijing this week, he met Xi Jinping in November 2010. Sources said while it is still not clear who is going to succeed Dai as Special Representative (SR) in the Indo-China Boundary dialogue in the new dispensation, top diplomat Wang Yi, presently heading Taiwan desk, or Wang Jia Rui, head of international liaison department, are the frontrunners for the job. “Five out of seven members of apex standing committee in China have been to India and understand that the only way to move bilateral relations forward is to set aside the boundary dispute on a priority,” said a senior official. With the two SRs summing up the boundary talks since 2003 in a document form, the Manmohan Singh government is going to take the Opposition parties into confidence soon before engaging the new Chinese leadership on finally resolving the boundary dispute. The UPA approach is going to be similar to what Prime Minister Narasimha Rao did before signing the 1993 Peace and Tranquility Agreement with China with the then joint secretary Menon bringing all the Opposition leaders in loop beforehand. Faced with a crisis with neighbours on South China Sea, Beijing has indicated that it wants to cement bilateral ties with both India and Russia in order to avoid any ganging up of forces against a rising China. Sources said the new leadership has conveyed that it wants to dramatically improve relations with India in the next decade and understands New Delhi’s red lines on ties between Beijing and Islamabad. PTI report adds: "Positive" talks are on with China over the border dispute, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid has said, hoping that desired results would be achieved. "Positive talks are going on over the border dispute with China and we hope that desired results would come from them," Khurshid, who was here in his parliamentary constituency, told reporters on Saturday evening. He hoped that the new leadership in China will facilitate bilateral talks. Meanwhile, members from the BJP and other opposition parties Sunday created uproar during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha when External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid claimed that the understanding of India and China on the exact contours of the LAC differs. Lalji Tandon (BJP) told Speaker Meira Kumar that his question on the infiltrations by Chinese army into the Indian territory in the last three years has not been answered in the written reply given to him. "There is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the border areas between India and China...There is no clear agreement on it between us. Our understanding of where the border is differs from theirs," Khurshid said. BJP members were on their feet and alleged that the government is bowing to China and is not able to man the India-China border or install watch towers there.
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  • Hydrocarbon exploration bids in 12 offshore blocks floated
    (Independent-10-12-2012)-Monday, 10 December 2012 Author / Source: Special Correspondent Dhaka, Dec 9: Petrobangla, a state-owned oil and gas company, has invited offers from international oil companies, to explore hydrocarbon in the Bay of Bengal. The project is called “Bangladesh Offshore Bidding Round-2012". Kicking of the offshore bidding round 2012, energy adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said, “We will try to award bids in June or July, 2013.” Petrobangla’s announcement came up at a crowded press conference in the presence of state minister for power and energy, Muhammed Enamul Huq, energy and mineral resources division secretary, Mohammed Mesbahuddin, Petrobangla chairman Prof. Hossain Monsur, and Petrobangla director (PSC) Muhammed Imaduddin, and top officials of the ministry. Petrobangla chairman Prof. Hossain Monsur said the government has only invited bids for blocks which are dispute-free. “We will be able to invite bids again in 2014, after a verdict on the maritime boundary with India,” he said. Responding to a query as to why the offshore blocks have come down to 23 now, from 28, after the ITLOS verdict, Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said, “You can ask the question to the previous caretaker government.” According to the announcement, Petrobangla will sell and receive bid documents for 12 offshore blocks in the next three months or 90 official days, starting from December 17 till March 18, 2013,” Petrobangla director (PSC) Muhammed Imaduddin told the media. The nine shallow sea (SS) blocks for which bids have been invited are SS-2, SS-03, SS-04, SS-06, SS-07, SS-08, SS-09, SS-10 and SS-11, sized between 4,500-7,700 sq km, up to 200 mts of water depth. Besides, the three deep sea (DS) blocks are: DS-12, DS-16 and DS-21, sized between 3,200 and 3,500 sq km, with 200mts to 2,000 mts water depth, the bid document revealed. The pre-qualification documents will be published in newspapers on Monday. Although the price has increased, the Petrobangla official claimed that the Bangladesh bidding round is more competitive than that of India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand or Trinidad and Tobago. The bidder, whether an individual or a joint venture, must have at least one member holding an offshore acreage as operator, with an offshore daily production of at least 15,000 bbl of oil or 150 mmcfd natural gas, to be considered as technically qualified for bidding, the official said. The official on the production sharing contract desk of the Petrobangla said the government has increased natural gas prices to USD 5 per MCF (1,000 cubic feet), from USD 4.50, in the model production sharing contract (PSC)-2012. He added that the international market price of natural gas is between USD 7 and USD 8 now. The government has excluded export provisions from the latest model PSC and also introduced compensation package for blow-out incidents. The state share of each block is fixed at 10 per cent as “carried stake”, while it would be 15 per cent, if the block is ring-fenced. Responding to a question why Bapex is not being allowed to participate in the offshore bidding round, through a joint venture, he said, “Any company will require financial and technical capability for bidding. But state-owned Bapex is yet to achieve that.” He added that the joint venture by Bapex would be more risky, compared to “carried stake”. According to the model PSC-2012, the contract period for exploration has been fixed at eight years, of which, the initial exploration period is of five years and subsequent exploration time is of three years. Besides, the contractors will be allowed 20 years for an oil field and 25 years for a gas field, from the approval of the development plan. The contractor shall conduct 2D seismic survey (8km x 10km) during the initial exploration period, and must drill an exploration well only for shallow blocks. Within 30 days of signing of the contract and for extension of the exploration period, the contractor shall provi

  • Protests will not stop by filing cases, rally suspended: Mirza Fakhrul
    INDEPENDENT,Dhaka,December 2012 Author / Source: INDEPENDENT,
    ONLINE REPORT Rapid Action Battalion personnel were seen among other members of different law enforcement agencies cordon off the BNP central office at capital’s Naya Paltan on Monday. INDEPENDENT photo DHAKA: The BNP-led 18 party opposition alliance has called off its planned demonstration rally scheduled to be held in front of the party central office at Naya Paltan in the capital on Monday. "We have cancelled the programme since members of the law enforcement agencies are obstructing us to hold our rally and detaining our leaders and workers, who were coming to join it," BNP acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a press briefing in the afternoon, shortly before his sudden arrest. Alamgir accused the government of harassing the opposition and claimed police picked up around 15 opposition party leaders in a bid to foil the protest rally and to pre-empt Tuesday’s opposition call for nationwide hartal. He also criticised the government for lodging false cases against opposition leaders and workers and asserted that the opposition will continue to mount its on going movement despite police repression. The BNP leader urged the government to sun the path of the politics of killing. Otherwise, a befitting reply will be given, he cautioned. Alamgir earlier visited the under treatment party leaders and workers at the Islami Bank Hospital at Kakrail. They were injured during Sunday’s road blockade programme. BNP leaders Goyeshwar Chandra Roy, Sadeque Hossain Khoka, Amanullah Aman, Abdus Salam, Zainul Abdin Farroque and Ruhul Kabir Rivzi were also present at the press briefing. Meanwhile, while talking to TV journalists in front of the Naya Paltan office, Chief Whip of the opposition Joynul Abdin Farroque said the party also did not get permission to hold the programme, which he explained was another reason for canceling the programme. The agitation programme, however, was continuing in different districts across the country, different TV channels reported. Earlier, police virtually laid a siege in front of BNP central office since early afternoon Monday forcing the 18-party alliance to call off its planned protest rally. Police also snatched away loudspeakers and other equipment installed for the rally. On Sunday, BNP announced a countrywide rally next day to protest killing of four people and injuring over 600 opposition workers by police and pro-government activists during the road blockade programme. BNP sources said police filed at least 38 cases so far against around 300 leaders and activists of the 18-party alliance in connection with Sunday’s blockade violence. They include Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi for their alleged involvement in criminal offences. Five of the 38 cases were lodged under Speedy Trial Act, five others under Explosive Substance Act, 19 for assaulting police, one for murder and eight for other charges with different police stations under DMP.
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  • UN for dialogue among political parties over polls
    Monday, 10 December 2012 Author / Source: UNB Dhaka, Dec 9: Visiting assistant secretary general of the United Nations Oscar Fernandez-Taranco on Sunday said dialogue among the political parties is needed to resolve the dispute over the next general election. “The main and straight and right message is that it’s extremely important to have dialogue...to create a conducive environment… we encourage dialogue, open exchanges between parties for solution,” he told a press conference at a city hotel. Oscar said the UN is a very strong promoter of this notion of dialogue, and against any form of violence. He said the representatives of all the four major political parties that he already met during his visit have expressed their wish to participate in the next national polls. “All the interlocutors that I’ve met aspired to parliamentary elections that are inclusive, peaceful and credible and reaffirmed their commitment to work towards that. The expectation of the Bangladeshi people for elections, with the full participation of major political parties is higher than ever,” Oscar said. Asked about his opinion on the main opposition BNP’s demand for caretaker government, he said, “We as UN don’t have any official position on caretaker government.” He went on: “It depends on the Bangladesh parties to discuss and argue what formula should be adopted for the polls, he said, adding that whatever the formula is it needs to be owned by the people of Bangladesh.” “The elections should be held in a manner that allows the people of Bangladesh to express their free will,” said the UN assistant secretary general. About the role of the Election Commission, he said: “I discussed with the Chief Election Commissioner the ongoing preparations for the elections and note that many of the processes are on track.” “I urge the political parties, civil society and media to engage constructively with the Election Commission to ensure a suitable and enabling environment for it to effectively operate and fulfill its mandated,” he added.
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