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Friday, February 7, 2014

Rare headway in the trial of Ramna bomb blast cases A public prosecutor says verdict in the cases may be delivered next month n Md Sanaul Islam Tipu Nearly 13 years after filing, the prosecution yesterday finally finished placing arguments in the 2001 Ramna Batamul bomb blast cases. Earlier, it took the state side nearly five and a half years to finally wrap up the submission of deposition of the 67 out of a total of 84 of its witnesses and move onto argument placement. Additional Public Prosecutor SM Zahid Sarder, who started placing arguments on February 3, told the Dhaka Tribune that the verdict in the cases might be delivered next month. Zahid also said the prosecution had proved all the allegations and would seek capital punishment against the accused. There are allegations that the prosecution has not been sincere enough to produce witnesses before the court on time, resulting in the delay. On the other hand, many witnesses have allegedly not responded to repeated calls for appearing before the court and give their statements. Sources said it was common for prosecutions to take “unnecessarily” long time to move on with sensitive cases like those filed in connection with the Ramna blasts.

The cases also saw investigation officers change six times, the last of whom pressed charge sheets in November 2008, seven years after the deadly bomb blasts in the Bangla new year’s gathering in the capital’s Ramna Park on April 14, 2001. The blasts for which banned Islamist militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami (HuJI) has been largely blamed, killed 10 and injured scores others who had gathered at the city centre for the traditional new year celebrations. Soon after the blasts and the casualties, police filed two cases with the capital’s Ramna police station – one for murder and the other one for illegal possession of explosives. The charge sheet that CID Inspector and the sixth investigator Abu Hena Mohammad Yusuf filed, accused 14 people, including HuJI chief Mufti Abdul Hannan and 13 of his associates. One of them – Moulana Tajuddin – is a brother of BNP leader Abdus Salam Pintu. Tajuddin and four other accused have been absconding. Police have the remaining eight accused in custody including Hannan. Tajuddin’s name was not included in the initial case statements. When asked what took the investigators so long to press charges, assistant PP Zahid told the

Dhaka Tribune that the cases proceeded at snail’s pace during the tenure of the BNP-Jamaat-led government because all the accused had strong connections with the then government ranks. He also said many of the accused had threatened him for his life right in front of the judge when the prosecution witnesses had been deposing over the last five years. “We will deal with you [Zahid] when the BNP comes to power,” Zahid quoted one of the accused as saying. Of the accused, one Moulana Akbar Hossain had been out since 2001 after securing bail from the High Court. Yesterday Dhaka’s Second Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge Ruhul Amin cancelled his bail and ordered for him to be sent to jail following a plea from the prosecution. The prosecution argued that since Akbar was a member of militant group HuJI, it was particularly important to bring him back behind the bars. Yesterday, Akbar’s lawyer began placing argument in his favour after the prosecution finished placing its arguments. The court then fixed February 13 for further hearing of defence arguments. l

A child looks through the pages of a book in the Amar Ekushey Book Fair yesterday

Book lovers pour in defying hartal n Ahmed Zayeef Despite hartal, Ekushey Book Fair was a popular destination for many from different areas of the capital yesterday. Most preferred coming on a hartal day as it saved AMAR EKUSHEY B O O K FA I R 2 0 1 4 them time. Mishkat Noor, a resident of Uttara said: “I wanted to visit the fair a few days back. However, fearing heavy traffic, I changed my mind. But today I took the chance as it is a hartal day and it took me only half an hour to reach here.” Samantha Shehreen came to the fair from Keraniganj with her two children as she thought the crowd would be sparse today in the wake of hartal. However, after coming she found it otherwise. “We thought today we would be able to read our favorite books in a relaxed manner, but now we see a huge number of visitors here,” said Samantha. The insecurity of hartal could not keep the book lovers away from the fair premises, said the publishers with content. To their surprise, most publishers saw a boost in their sales on hartal day, although the trend had been down till just a few days ago. Freedom fighter Abir Ahad, organiser of the stall “Muktijuddher Boi,” said: “Hartal has lost its impact. You can see people are no more confined in their

The committee operating the Maulana Mosque on KB Ghosh Street in Old Dhaka’s Armanitola demolishes the Mughal era establishment, defying a request from the Department of Archaeology. The photo was taken yesterday. Story on Page 3


homes fearing hartal.” He added that sales had peaked today, which is a sign of hartal losing its impact. Monirul Hoque, publisher of Anonna Prokashoni, was busy attending customers. He said: “You can see how busy we are today. I was rather surprised to see such a huge number of visitors as we thought hartal would discourage people from coming to the fair.” Deputy Director of Department of Co-ordination and Public Relations of Bangla Academy Murshid Uddin Ahmed said: “The academy has declared the hours from 11am to 3pm on Saturdays as “Shishu prohor,” (children hour) to attract children to the fair. It has set up a children’s book corner with 25 stalls.” According to Bangla Academy authorities, 97 new books came to the fair yesterday including Serajul Islam Choudhury’s “Rashtro o shomajer majhkhane” which will be available at the Pearl Publications, and Anish Das Opu’s “Mrittuchumbon” which will be available at the Jagriti Prokashoni. A discussion titled “Bhasha andolon ebong Amanul Haque er kirti” was held at the central stage with eminent photographer Nasir Ali Mamun as the keynote speaker. Professor Ahsanul Haque presided over the programme while Faridur Reza Sagor, managing director of Impress Telefilm Ltd, and celebrated author Lutfur Rahman Riton attended the discussion, among others. l


Government to seek Saudi accreditation for post-grad doctors n Moniruzzaman Uzzal Health Minister Mohammed Nasim is set to visit Saudi Arabia and Switzerland in the upcoming days, with key issues on the agenda during his first trip abroad since taking office last month. Sources said the minister would first fly to Saudi Arabia today on a two-day visit, where he will meet with his Saudi counterpart and other senior officials.

Existing limitations bar post-graduate doctors from being accepted as specialists Nasim is also scheduled to travel to Geneva in Switzerland to attend a two-day meeting (February 10-11) on e-health standardisation at the World Health Organization (WHO). Health Secretary MM Niazuddin told the Dhaka Tribune that both the trips by the minister are very important for Bangladesh. He said the main agenda for the Saudi Arabia visit was to secure accreditation of different post-graduate medical education degrees (MD, MS, and FCPS) awarded by Bangladesh, which are yet to be recognised by the Saudi government. The existing limitations bar the Bangladeshi post-graduate doctors from being accepted as specialist doctors, and force them to accept lower salaries than doctors with similar qualifications from other countries. The health secretary expressed hopes that the Saudi government would respond positively in providing accreditation to Bangladeshi

post-graduate certificates. The Saudi government would also be requested to employ more doctors and nurses from Bangladesh, he added. Sayedul Islam, a deputy secretary (WHO section) of health ministry, told the Dhaka Tribune that necessary information regarding the quality of international standard education in Bangladesh would be provided for the Saudi authority’s consideration. He added that on the first day of his visit, health minister Nasim would meet with senior officials of the commission that decides on the accreditation of post-graduate degrees; while holding talks with his counterpart Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Rabiah on the following day. The agenda of the discussions would include cooperation in health sector and in medical education, sources said. Bangladesh is also expected to request for expediting loan disbursement of cancer and ophthalmology hospital projects in the country. Meanwhile, about the minister’s visit to the WHO meeting in Geneva, Deputy Health Secretary Sayedul said Bangladesh would highlight the successful introduction of e-health services in the country. Bangladesh has been successfully using different software to collect use and store data, Sayedul said, adding that WHO officials will be shown how the Bangladeshi system would be helpful for other countries to exchange data between each other. Seeking anonymity, a ministry official said Bangladesh would get a prize and official recognition from the WHO for successfully introducing e-health in the country. l

Current Indian visa application system remains n Sheikh Shahariar Zaman

India has not changed its visa processing system and the current online procedure for all visa applications will continue. The Indian High Commission through a visa advisory advised the potential travellers to India to continue to follow the current procedures. “In response to reports in the Indian media about changes in the visa regime for foreigners visiting India the spokesperson of the Indian High Commission has clarified that there is no change in the current visa procedures in so far as Bangladesh is concerned,” the advisory said. The spokesperson further added that as and when there are changes in the existing system these will be formally announced. Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Pankaj Saran told the Dhaka tribune they had no official information about new visa processing system. “Actually it is only in the media right now,” he said. Bangladesh Press Minister to New Delhi Enamul Hoque Chowdhury told the Dhaka Tribune that the government is in touch with the Indian authorities over the issue. Meanwhile, the BBC reported that Indian government had taken a decision to provide limited visa-on-arrival facility to tourists from 180 countries. “We have decided to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to tourists from 180 nations. It will take five to six months for the respective departments to put the required infrastructure in place. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October,” Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla said. The electronic visa service would be available at 26 major airports and would be valid for 30 days from the date of the tourist’s arrival in India, Shukla said. Indian media reported that tourists from eight countries – Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Sri Lanka – had been exempted from the facilities. India has the biggest visa processing operation and issues over 0.3 million visa every year. Dhaka and New Delhi agreed on a revised travel arrangement [RTA] under which both the countries reciprocate flexible visa facility to provide better service to visitors. Under the RTA, tourists would get one-year multiple visas while official passport holders will not need visa to travel the countries. Students and businessmen would get visa for up to five years while multiple medical visa would be provided for one year with a provision for extension of another year. l

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07 February 2014  

07 February 2014