Govt failing to address rights abuses

Govt failing to address rights abuses

Bangladesh authorities failed to respond to repeated and serious allegations of secret detentions, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings, denying the abuses instead of holding perpetrators accountable, Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2018.

Although the government did not enforce refoulement on Rohingya refugees seeking sanctuary from across the Burmese (Myanmar) border, Bangladeshi citizens themselves saw no reprieve in their quest for justice, the US-based global rights watchdog said in a statement on its website yesterday.

In the 643-page report, its 28th edition, HRW reviewed human rights practices in more than 90 countries.

Starting in late August, Bangladesh saw over 655,000 Rohingya refugees cross the border from Northern Rakhine State in Myanmar fleeing a campaign of rape, arson, and killings by the Burmese military that amounted to crimes against humanity.

While Bangladesh does not officially recognise the majority of the Rohingya as refugees, the government has allowed those seeking shelter to enter the country, the report says.

Bangladesh deserves credit for not forcibly returning Rohingya refugees, and for doing what it can with strained resources to provide safety for them for the time being,” Brad Adams, director of HRW Asia, said in the report.

However, recurring plans to move the refugees to uninhabitable islands or to return them to Burma without key citizenship rights and protections remained a concern.

In domestic rights concerns, scores of Bangladeshis remained victims of enforced disappearances, even as law enforcement authorities continued to target both opposition supporters and militant suspects, the report mentions.

Security forces responsible for serious human rights violations continued to be free and unaccountable, the report says.

Despite evidence of flawed trials and coerced confessions, the High Court upheld the death penalty against nearly 140 members of the Bangladesh Rifles, as the present Border Guard Bangladesh was formerly known, it adds.

Civil society groups and the media continued to face pressure from both state and non-state actors, while dozens of Bangladeshis were arrested for criticising the government or the political leadership on Facebook, it further says.

Although the official government policy is to eliminate child marriage, in February 2017 the government passed a law permitting girls under 18 years of age to marry under special circumstances -- effectively eliminating the minimum age for marriage in this exception.

The government also failed to take steps to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the report says.

Particularly as the country heads into general elections in 2019, it is vital to restore the rule of law, and end all efforts to silence dissent,” said Adams.

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Coach at the centre of BD-SL showdown

Coach at the centre of BD-SL showdown

Although it is all that people outside the two relevant dressing rooms seem to want to talk about, there has been a conscious effort from those inside to avoid making today's tri-series match about Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha taking on Bangladesh, his former charges, for the first time since switching sides.

Bangladesh are not playing against Hathurusingha; they are playing against Sri Lanka,” Sri Lanka batting coach Thilan  Samaraweera, another former Bangladesh support staff who took up a corresponding position in his native country, said yesterday ahead of the match that gets underway from 12:00pm at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur today.

Indeed, it is Sri Lanka taking on Bangladesh and there are things other than the Hathurusingha saga to focus on, such as Sri Lanka badly needing a win to move past an unexpected defeat to Zimbabwe on Wednesday. On the other hand, this tri-series is the first time Bangladesh are favourites in a multi-team international event, not just because they are the home side but because they are the highest ranked team on display. With a handsome eight-wicket win over Zimbabwe to kick off the tri-series on Monday, the Tigers will want to consolidate their unfamiliar position of frontrunner today.

However, it will be hard to look past the Hathurusingha factor if only because his exit from Bangladesh was so recent that, in his first press conference as Sri Lanka coach on Sunday, he absentmindedly used the pronoun 'we' while talking about Bangladesh. Then there is the hint of acrimony surrounding the timing and manner of his resignation -- two years before the end of his contract with the Bangladesh Cricket Board and midway through a disastrous tour of South Africa, without much communication with the board or the players.

Last but not least, it will also be interesting to see which team will benefit from this very recent shift of personnel -- will Hathurusingha's local knowledge gleaned over three years give Sri Lanka the edge, or will the Tigers' insight into the Sri Lankan's strategic proclivities be the difference-maker, or will they cancel each other out?

Before the tournament opener Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and technical director Khaled Mahmud had, like Samaraweera and Hathurusingha himself, sought to play down the Hathurusingha angle, saying that the players and not the coach do the deeds on the field and also that insight into the other camp is a two-way street.

Yesterday, however, while saying that they had moved past Hathurusingha, Mashrafe let slip a missive towards his former coach, saying that it would have been interesting if the Sri Lankan had stuck around after the South Africa tour to see if the ship could be turned around. But he chose to go to Sri Lanka,” Mashrafe added, the implication being that Hathusuringha took the easy way out in a time of strife.

That is likely to be the overwhelming feeling in the Bangladesh camp in today's blockbuster clash and even though Hathurusingha has wished Bangladesh well publicly, it is a match that both camps will be desperate to win.

There will be a temptation for Bangladesh to retain the team that played so well to beat Zimbabwe, but with Sri Lanka having more left-handers in the top order, left-arm spinner Sunzamul Haque may make way for off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz. For Sri Lanka, the main concern will surround the availability of skipper Angelo Mathews. Samaraweera said yesterday that they were monitoring the all-rounder, who sustained a suspected hamstring injury in Wednesday's game against Zimbabwe, and will decide today whether he is fit to play.

In the context of the tournament, Sri Lanka need to win this match more than Bangladesh, who already have a win in the bag. In a wider context however, Bangladesh's players will want to show that they can thrive in the post-Hathurusingha era.

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Ivy's Poison

Ivy's Poison

The pictures on the front page of practically every major newspaper on Wednesday, January 17, conjure an ugly image of Bangladesh's political scene. Frenzied men with weapons attacking each other, their faces in grotesque contortions representing rage, venom, aggression. This would not be anything out of the ordinary given the current trends of streets looking like battlefields after clashes between opposing political groups or more realistically, between factions of the same political group. Wednesday's images, however, have taken our political image to an all-time low. They are of a woman city mayor, the first of her kind to hold such a position, being shielded by her followers from being attacked by a mob of men—supporters of an MP known for his mysterious and tenacious grasp over Narayanganj.

Despite all their attempts to protect her, Mayor Ivy was injured—a brick hit her leg and in the jostling she fell. Newspapers say around 50 were hurt though none of them can quantify the terror and despair of the people of this city who had to witness these disturbing, shameful scenes. For it is indeed shameful that a city's mayor would be attacked by members of the ruling party because she was trying to do her job.

The entire fiasco centred on the issue of eviction of hawkers from footpaths so that pedestrians could use them. Seems like a regular duty of a diligent mayor. But in Narayanganj, as anywhere else in the country, politics is far from being regular. As expected, when the eviction drive was announced, the hawkers, through their association, protested—where would they go after all?

The mayor was given a memorandum, she announced her decision to free the footpaths, the hawkers staged demonstrations, the city corporation announced a few designated areas where the hawkers could sell their ware till February 27 from 5pm to 9pm, a lawmaker gave a 24-hour ultimatum to revoke the eviction drive and give the footpaths back to the hawkers, and finally in a bizarre confrontation, the mayor and her supporters were attacked by the said lawmaker's men.

If you were a stranger to our special brand of politics, the first logical question would be: Why is this lawmaker interfering with the mayor's work? The second one would be: If the lawmaker was so concerned about the hawkers' wellbeing, couldn't he have had a discussion with the mayor and work out a solution? Thirdly, why did it all turn so violent with someone even brandishing his gun and allegedly firing shots into the air? Fourthly, and most importantly, why would a lawmaker's followers attack the city's mayor? Are they not on the same side—same government, same party?

These questions may seem quite straightforward and resulting from pure common sense. But this is Narayanganj we are talking about—Bangladesh's Gotham City where the Joker reigns with full impunity and Batman is a simply attired woman who has taken on the task of trying to fix a city that seems almost unfixable, being in the grip of one of the most powerful political families in Bangladesh's history. This is the place of the famous “seven-murder case” that involved members of the RAB as well as influential people connected to the political elite. is is where Tanwir Muhammad Taqi, the son of cultural activist Rafiur Rabbi of Narayanganj, was abducted and killed on March 6, 2013. Even after more than three years, the law enforcers have yet to find his killer(s) although Taqi's father has filed cases against certain individuals including the nephew of the lawmaker involved in Tuesday's incident.

But to be fair, having Selina Hayat Ivy as a mayor has been a sliver of hope for this Gotham of a city. Ivy, despite her formidable opponents, has endured, perhaps because of being from a political family—her father, Ali Ahmed Chunka, was a former Narayanganj municipal chairman and an AL leader—and definitely because of sheer grit and determination. 2011, she won the mayoral elections after beating Shamim Osman by one lakh votes. In 2016, despite efforts by MP Shamim Osman to exclude her from nomination from the panel, the prime minister picked her to be mayor.

Tuesday's unsavoury incident in which a mayor and her supporters were attacked by goons of a lawmaker, gives an indication of the obstacles she faces. According to Mayor Ivy, she had come to Chashara to tell people that the footpaths would be free for pedestrians to walk on, that the displaced hawkers would be rehabilitated in a proper building, honouring the prime minister's directive. According to news reports, when some of Ivy's supporters tried to evict some hawkers, an altercation erupted. She was then attacked by supporters of the lawmaker.

After the incident a probe committee has been engaged and both the mayor and the lawmaker have been summoned by the PM—no doubt to express her disappointment in two important leaders and favourites from her own party.

But even for the ordinary citizens who have witnessed all kinds of violence in the name of politics over the last few decades, the idea that a mayor—a woman politician who has braved the patriarchal system to attain the trust of the public and the support of the prime minister who happens to be a woman—can be physically attacked and blatantly intimidated by a lawmaker, is shocking. this is a preview of what is to come as we get closer to our national elections, there is little to feel optimistic about.


Aasha Mehreen Amin is Deputy Editor, Editorial and Opinion, The Daily Star.


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ALTERNATIVE IS THERE

ALTERNATIVE IS THERE

Although there is sufficient government land on both sides of Jessore Road, the local authorities seem to be hell-bent on expanding the historical road by felling more than 2,300 trees, several hundred of them nearly two centuries old.

And the justifications the Jessore Roads and Highways Department is offering for cutting these trees are nothing but “lame excuses”, experts and environmentalists have said, warning of an environmental disaster in the region.

On January 6, the RHD in Jessore made the decision to expand the highway to 10. 6 metres from 7. 3 metres now because of the increasing traffic on the road that connects the country's biggest land port in Benapole with India's Petrapole.

Currently, some 500 goods trucks as well as about 10,000 passengers to and from India use this route. The Benapole Port authorities collect about Tk 12 crore in customs duty every day, said port Director Aminul Islam.

Earlier in July last year, the government shelved a similar plan to fell 2,700 trees for widening the same highway following protests by the public and green activists amid media outcry.

The highway is widely known as a part of around 99km long Jessore Road stretching from Jessore in Bangladesh to Dum Dum in Kolkata.

The stretch on the Bangladesh side is 38km long and 24 feet wide, and on both the south and the north sides of the road there is government land that is at least 50 feet wide, according to the District Council that owns the land of the road.

So if they build a two-lane road along the existing one next to the trees, we can save these trees," said Amirul Alam Khan, an environmentalist from Jessore.

It is “outright foolish” to fell hundreds of trees, particularly those that bear memories of the Liberation War, just to widen the road by three meters, he added.

The RHD can easily construct a completely new road along the trees on either side of the road to facilitate the growing trade through the road between Bangladesh and India, said Aminul, also former chairman of Jessore Education Board.

The move to fell the trees sparked protests in Dhaka and elsewhere, with green activists asking the government not to take up any project without considering the ecological balance of the area and historic values of the trees.

In 1840, a Jessore landlord called Kali Poddar Babu took the initiative to build the road so that his mother could travel to take a bath in the Ganges river.

Later, as advised by his mother, a lot of saplings were planted on both sides of the road, then named Kali Poddar road, to make people's journeys pleasant ones, according to "Jessore-Khulnar Itihas" (History of Jessore and Khulna), written by Satish Chandra Mitra.

During the 1971 war, tens of thousands of Bangalees fled to India through this road. Freedom fighters and journalists from around the world also used this road to enter Bangladesh from India and the vice versa.

The name of the road has been immortalised by the American poet Allen Ginsberg, who visited the area in 1971 and wrote the famous poem, "September on Jessore Road" about the plight of millions of scared Bangladeshis heading towards India during the war. He recited the poem on November 20, 1971, at Saint George Church, New York.

At the January 6 meeting at the the Jessore District Commissioner's office, three local lawmakers, district administration officials, R&H officials and the district council chairman were present.

Jahangir Alam, executive engineer of Jessore RHD who was present at the meeting, said they sent a proposal to the roads and bridges ministry for the expansion and reconstruction of the road by felling the trees.

Asked why, he said, "The roots of the trees and the water dripping from the leaves during rain damage the road. So we decided to cut down around 2,300 trees along the road for the sake of development.

It will take at least one year just for the approval of a new project to build another road along the trees. But the existing road needs immediate repair and it cannot wait any longer.

Six firms took part in the tender for the Tk 329-crore project in November last, and the tenders were now being evaluated. The construction is likely to begin next month, he said.

Saifuzzaman Pikul, chairman of Jessore District Council, which has a long-standing dispute with the RHD over the ownership of assets along the road, said he too had no objection if trees needed to be felled for the “sake of development”.

As the trees are century old, sometimes their branches fall off, injuring people, he said, adding, "If the government orders us, we have nothing to do but to cut down the trees.

Dr Mohammad Mahfuzur Rahman, a professor of environmental science and technology at Jessore University of Science and Technology, said there was plenty of scope to build a road leaving the rain trees intact, but the authorities were not considering those options.

They want to cut down the trees," he said, sounding frustrated.

If there is a risk of branches falling, it can be stopped by forest management system, meaning by cutting off the dead or risky branches. And engineers should be able to build roads that will not be affected by the tree roots, he said.

The trees along the highway produce a huge shed, which is nearly one-fourth of that produced by the Sundarbans, he pointed out.

The 61-km stretch of the same road on the Indian side is also called Jessore Road. Running from Kolkata airport to Petrapole border via Barasat, this part too has numerous trees on its both sides.

Last year, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) felled 15 of those trees near Bongaon railway station for construction of some flyovers, triggering a huge public protest.

Green activists cited the example of the 2km stretch from Petrapole to Jayantipur on which the NHAI constructed a two-lane road keeping the trees in the middle.

The issue later went to the Calcutta High Court, which on April 17 last year ordered a stay on felling of the trees. The matter is still pending before the court where the next hearing is due today.

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It's all for money

It's all for money

Tuesday's mayhem in Narayanganj was all about money.

A section of ruling party leaders loyal to local MP Shamim Osman and some unscrupulous police officials control the footpaths and collect tolls from the hawkers, generating around Tk 1. 35 crore a month, claimed about 20 hawkers of Narayanganj city who talked to The Daily Star.

The feud between NCC Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy and AL MP Shamim Osman over the eviction of hawkers had nothing to do with politics; it is totally about the money paid by around 4,500 hawkers, they said.

The money collected is shared among the leaders of AL, AL-affiliate organisations and Chhatra League of Narayanganj and police officials of Chasara Police Camp and Narayanganj Sadar Police Station, the hawkers claimed.

The money is collected by 25 linemen on Bangabandhu Road alone, they said.

Talking to The Daily Star, a number of hawkers said they have to pay from Tk 20 to Tk 300 every day to “police and a section of local influential AL leaders who get a portion of the money”.

The amount depends on the size and location of their makeshift stalls.

Hawker Narayan Chandra said the hawkers who sit around Zia Hall intersection, Shaheed Minar, in front of Khaja Market and on Bangabandhu Road have to pay from Tk 100 to Tk 300 per day.

Just paying the toll is not enough. He said the hawkers are forced to join rallies and processions of Shamim Osman in Narayanganj and Dhaka.

You will see no hawkers or only a few hawkers on Narayanganj footpaths the day Shamim Osman holds a rally,” Oli Ahmed, a hawker who sits on Bangabandhu Road, told The Daily Star.

A tea vendor on Bangabandhu Road said either a policeman or a lineman takes Tk 20 from him every day.

The plainclothes policemen kicked me on several occasions when I failed to pay or haggled with them,” he said, adding, “Even the homeless and beggars cannot escape the police and the linemen. saw police take Tk 10 from them many times.

If they fail to pay, they are slapped,” he said, requesting not to be named and declining to name the police personnel and linemen fearing repercussions.

Asad Mia, convener of Hawkers Sangram Parishad, said there were around 4,500 small cots or tables on city footpaths and three quarters of them were on Bangabandhu Road.

Several hawkers claimed that for placing a two by three feet cot or table on the pavement, they have to pay Tk 5,000 to Tk 7,000 to local leaders close to Shamim Osman.

Narayanganj City Jubo League President Shahadat Hossain Bhuiyan Shajnu and Convener of Narayanganj City Chhatra League Habibur Rahman Riad, who are close to Shamim Osman, dealt with the hawkers, they claimed.

They mentioned a few other names of similar post holders in AL and Chhatra League but this paper could not get in touch with those leaders.

Refuting the allegations, Shahadat Hossain told The Daily Star that he had heard that some AL leaders took money from hawkers. Several times I have pressed hawkers to know the names but they told me that no Awami League leaders took money from them.

Habibur Rahman Riad said they had asked the administration and the city corporation to take actions if anyone took money from the hawkers in the name of Chhatra League.

Several witnesses of Tuesday's mayhem claimed that these AL, AL-affiliate and Chhatra League men were in the front line during the attack on NCC Mayor Ivy. The Daily Star could not verify their claims.

Chashara Police Camp In-charge Gazi Mizanur Rahman said, “Hawkers' trade on footpaths had been stopped several weeks ago. So, the allegations of taking money against police personnel are not right.

Asked whether the policemen collected toll before, he said he had no idea about the matter.

Acting officer-in-charge Abdur Razzaq of Narayanganj Sadar Police Station told The Daily Star that the allegation against police was nothing but exaggeration.

Asked to elaborate what he meant by exaggeration, Razzaq said after he took charge as the OC, he did not get any complaint that policemen collected tolls from hawkers.

He, however, said his predecessor was closed to the police lines as he had not taken proper steps to evict hawkers.

We have taken a hard line against hawkers after sir [his predecessor] was closed,” Razzaq added.

On January 15, Shamim Osman at a rally of hawkers at Chashara said he had ordered, not requested, that hawkers would sit on footpaths from 5:00pm from January 16, if the city corporation did not take any measures for their rehabilitation.

Mayor Ivy had said that she would not allow hawkers to occupy footpaths causing city dwellers to suffer. She also said she would make alternative arrangements for the hawkers at the hawkers' markets.

Many city dwellers hailed the city corporation's move to free the footpaths from illegal occupation. They told The Daily Star yesterday that despite repeated attempts over the last one year, the authorities failed to evict the hawkers due to local influential Awami League leaders and a section of police officials who take money from them.

On Tuesday, NCC Mayor Ivy and around 50 others were injured as supporters of local AL lawmaker Shamim Osman attacked Ivy and her followers, leading to a clash on Bangabandhu Road.

No case was filed over the clash as of last night and police could not arrest Jubo League leader Niazul Islam, who was seen brandishing a firearm during the clash, even though he himself filed a general diary with Narayanganj Sadar Model Police Station in connection with attempt on his life and attempted snatching of his arms.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday said action would be taken against those who had brandished firearms during Tuesday's clash.

I give you assurance that no one will be spared. Those who have broken laws, will face the music,” the home minister told journalists in Tejgaon.

We are doing what is required. We have footages. We are looking into those who brandished firearms and took the law into their own hands,” Asaduzzaman said, adding that they were enquiring into the “unfortunate incident”.

The home minister said he personally talked to Shamim Osman and Selina Hayat Ivy after the incident on Tuesday and told them that the prime minister did not like what had happened.

I told them if you don't stop, we have to take action,” he added.

Ivy was admitted to LabAid Hospital in Dhaka after her blood pressure dropped yesterday afternoon. She is in the Coronary Care Unit of the hospital.

Ivy became sick when she was at the city corporation office around 4:00pm, reports our Narayanganj correspondent.

She had trouble breathing and had cardiac complications, said Narayanganj General Hospital Medical Officer Asaduzzaman.

Abul Hossain, Ivy's personal secretary, said Ivy visited the injured of Tuesday's clash at Narayanganj General Hospital after lunch yesterday.

She became sick around 20 minutes after she had returned to her office.

A doctor of LabAid said, “She will be kept under observation for the next 24 hours. Her condition is stable now.

Lawmaker Shamim Osman neither received phone calls nor texts of this paper.

Some hawkers yesterday opened up shops at Chashara on Bangabandhu Road defying the local administration. Police evicted the hawkers a few hours after they had sat there.

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A bad mix of teens and power

A bad mix of teens and power

Police yesterday morning arrested five alleged killers of Adnan Ispar, a teenager who was chased down and stabbed to death on Tuesday in Jamal Khan area of Chittagong city.

The sharp weapon used in the killing was also recovered by police during a raid.

Police made the arrests in separate raids in Fatikhhari upazila and the city's Bahaddarhat area in early hours.

The arrestees are Moin Khan, 18, son of Nurul Islam; Sabbir Khan, 18, son of Mohammad Osman; Abdullah Al Sayed, 18, son of Abdus Sattar; Ekhlas Uddin Arman, 18, son of Mohammad Moktar; and Muntasir Mostafa, 18, son of Mostafa Kamal, said police.

Speaking with The Daily Star, Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) (south) Shah Mohammad Abdur Rauf said the arrestees during primary interrogation admitted that they used a firearm to threaten Adnan before killing him and they had received it from three local political “Boro Bhai” for establishing supremacy in the area.

Police insiders and locals requesting anonymity said the five arrestees are members of a juvenile gang that is involved in extortion and other criminal activities in Chandanpura and Goni Bakery area.

The gang gets political backing from Chawk Bazar thana Awami League leader Abdur Rauf, they also alleged.

During primary interrogation following the arrests, it was found that Adnan, a ninth grader at Chittagong Collegiate School, was murdered following a brawl between two juvenile groups over playing games at a playground, said investigators.

SM Mostain Hossain, deputy commissioner (DC) of Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP) south zone, at a press briefing said, “The knife was also recovered from the school bag of arrestee Moin who stabbed Adnan over a game-related feud.

The police were yet to recover a firearm that the killers brandished before stabbing Adnan, the DC also said.

Regarding the AL leader's alleged involvement with the killers, DC Mostain during the press briefing said the police are yet to find any connection of AL leader Abdur Rauf in the murder. However, they would not spare anyone if the person is found to be involved in the killing of Adnan.

After scrutinising CCTV footage collected from around the murder scene, the “police arrested Moin, Nurul, Sabbir, and Sayed from Samitir Haat area in Fatikhhari upazila while Muntasir was arrested from his house in the city's Bahaddarhat area,” he said.

The police are now working on to identify the person who supplied the gun to them, added the DC.

Of the five arrestees, Moin, Sabbir and Muntasir are HSC second-year students at Hazera-Taju Degree College, Ekhlas is a tenth grade student at Holy Flower School and Sayed has appeared in HSC examination from Islamia College.

Sabbir and Sayed are accused in a case filed with Chawkbazar Police Station on December 12, 2017.

Police insiders said Moin, Nurul, Sabbir, and Sayed took shelter at the house of a local top leader of Bangladesh Chhatra League at Samitir Hat in Fatikchhari.

Describing the incident, ADC Rauf said to The Daily Star, “There was a long-standing rivalry between Adnan's group and a group of students at Ideal School and College [ISC] over playing games at the playground of Mohsin College.

On the day of the killing, being chased out by Adnan and two of his friends, two tenth graders of ISC took the shelter of their senior brothers -- Moin, Sabbir and three others -- at Mejban Khaile Aiyun restaurant.

The five seniors including Moin and Sabbir later came out of the restaurant and chased down Adnan and his two friends. After they caught up with Adnan a few yards away, Sabbir pointed a gun to Adnan's head while Arman and Sayed kept beating him with sticks, he said.

At one stage Adnan was hit by a CNG-run auto rickshaw in front of ISC where Moin stabbed him from behind. Adnan then ran for his life, but collapsed in front of Dr Khastogir Government Girls' High School and College.

The killers later went inside a room on the third floor of the restaurant and left the place one by one after receiving the news of Adnan's death around 3:30pm.

Around 8:30pm, the five went to Badurtala area of Bahaddarhat and four of them boarded a Fatikchhari-bound bus around 9:00pm, said ADC Rauf.

Adnan's father Adnan Aktarul Azam -- an LGED engineer in Khagrachhari -- on Wednesday night filed a murder case with Kotwali Police Station accusing the five arrestees and six unnamed others. Meanwhile, Adnan's friends and students at Chittagong Collegiate School yesterday staged a demonstration in front of Chittagong Press Club demanding capital punishment to his killers.

This correspondent made several attempts to speak with AL's Chawk Bazar thana unit leader Abdur Rauf for his comments over his alleged involvement with Adnan's killers, but his cell phone was found unreachable till the filing of this report around 10:00pm last night. He did not respond to the text message sent to the same number either.

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Students' demo shuts Nilkhet

Students' demo shuts Nilkhet

Students of seven colleges took to the streets at 11:30 am yesterday, blocking the capital's Nilkhet intersection for more than two hours. This resulted in lot of suffering for commuters who were stuck in long tailbacks because of the demonstration.

The agitated students roped off the intersection, halting traffic movement for more than two hours, causing severe traffic congestion in the area.

They barred every vehicle and even pedestrians from crossing the intersection till noon. Some of the students sat in the middle of the road and chanted slogans.

Demonstrating students of the seven DU-affiliated colleges yesterday gave ultimatum to the university authorities for publishing their 2nd year final result by this month.

On information, DU VC Prof Akhtaruzzaman reached the spot at around 1:45pm and assured them of publishing the results by February 25.

Rejecting the vice-chancellor's assurances, the students of 2014-2015 sessions threatened to go for tougher movement from February if the authorities fail to publish the results by January.

The VC later said that they would take necessary measures to publish the result within the shortest possible time and if possible, they would do it by this month.

The students placed a five-points demand which included publication of the results of 2nd year final exam by this month, beginning the honours third year final examination by March, immediate publication of their academic calendar, immediately finishing final exams of all sessions, including the 2012-2013, one holding examinations of all sessions of degree courses and publication of their results within the shortest possible time.

Following further assurances by the DU VC, the students ended their demonstration with a threat to wage tougher movement from February if the authorities fail fulfil their promises.

We are calling off our protest upon assurance of the VC but we would go for tough movement if our demands are not met within the given timeframe,” Toufiq Mahmud, a third year student of Dhaka College 2014-15 session, told The Daily Star.

The second year final exam of 2014-2015 session was held on January 7, 2017 under the National University (NU). As the colleges gained affiliation with DU on February 17 last year, the university took their viva-voce and the responsibility of preparing and publishing their result now falls on them.

Earlier on November 25 of last year, the DU authorities published the honours final year result of 2011-2012 session after the students demonstrated for several times in the capital demanding its publication.

Yesteryday's protest follows other demonstrations by a section of Dhaka University (DU) students demanding scrapping of the affiliation with the seven colleges.

Leaders and activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League yet again barred some students from joining yesterday's movement, by threatening to evict them from the halls and harassing them verbally and physically.

As the two colleges-- Eden Mohila College and Dhaka College-- are nearest to where the demonstrations took place, their students played a key role in yesterday's demonstration and, thus, faced the brunt of the harassment.

BCL leaders of Eden Mohila College on Wednesday night directed the students not to join the protest citing instructions from the student body's top brass, said one of the victims, on condition of anonymity.

Some BCL leaders, including Joint Convener Tasleema, along with others, started hurling abusive words towards the protestors when they joined the protest defying the command, one of the assaulted female students alleged.

They also punched two female students, leaving one injured.

Contacted, Tasleema rejected the allegations saying that she only instructed the students to form the human chain peacefully without blocking the roads.

The BCL leaders of Dhaka College also tried to bar their fellow classmates from continuing the protest but later allowed it after failing to stop them, alleged one of the protestors from the college.

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New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern pregnant

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern pregnant

Ardern said she planned to work until the end of her pregnancy in June and then take six-weeks leave, during which time Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters would run the country.

Speaking to reporters outside her Auckland home, Ardern said her partner Clarke Gayford would care for the "surprise" addition full-time and that the whole family would travel together when necessary.

I am not the first woman to work and have a baby. I know these are special circumstances but there are many women who have done it well before I have," she said.

The popular 37-year-old politician's pregnancy is one of the very few examples of an elected leader holding office while pregnant and the first in New Zealand's history. Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto gave birth while she was prime minister in 1990.

Ardern, who came to power through a coalition deal after a closely fought election last year, has experienced a meteoric rise to power as New Zealand's youngest prime minister in more than a century, and its third female leader.

Ardern's rise to power has generated intense interest in her personal life and drew comparisons with other youthful leaders such as France's Emmanuel Macron and Canada's Justin Trudeau.

Ardern was quick to assure the public that she would only take six weeks off, during which time she would still be contactable, so that the country would run as usual.

The short period contrasts with her party's parental leave policies, with the Labour-led coalition expanding paid parental leave from 18 to 22 weeks in one of its first legislative changes. That is set to rise again to 26 weeks in 2020.

Ardern acknowledged that she was "lucky" that her partner, a well-known television fishing show presenter, could take time off to travel with her while he cared for the baby full-time.

She had no plans to stop work until June and would fly to London in April to attend a Commonwealth leader's meeting.

Advocacy groups and politicians from across the political spectrum were quick to offer support.

It's really inspiring. having our prime minister lead by example is a great sign of how far we've come in women's industrial rights in New Zealand," said Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff in an emailed statement to Reuters.

New Zealand has long held a progressive reputation, having been the first country to give women the right to vote in 1893.

It's amazing timing. 125 years later we have a prime minister who's going to give birth in office," said Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter.

Ardern revealed on Friday that she had unexpectedly found out she was pregnant on Oct. 13, just six days before she was propelled into the country's top job when New Zealand First Party leader Peters announced he was siding with Labour in post-election negotiations.

When asked by a reporter how she had managed putting together a government while suffering from morning sickness, she replied, "it's just what ladies do".

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Obesity multiplies risk of cancer disease, especially in women

Obesity multiplies risk of cancer disease, especially in women

New European research has found that being overweight or obese exponentially increases the chance of suffering from heart disease or cancer, with the risk even greater for women than men.

The findings come from the Spanish Risk Function of Coronary and Other Events (FRESCO) study led by researchers from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and doctors from Hospital del Mar, who analyzed 54,446 people over a 10-year period.

Participants were men and women aged 35 to 79, with 46. 5% of participants classed as overweight and 27. 8% classed as obese.

Only 26 percent of the participants were considered to be a normal weight, with a body mass index (BMI) below 25.

The team found that being obese posed the greatest health risks for women, who were five times more likely to suffer a cardiovascular disease, and 12 times more likely to develop cancer than women who were a normal weight.

Women who were classed as overweight but not obese still had twice the risk of heart disease and four times the risk of cancer than those who were normal weight.

Although obesity was found to double a man's likelihood of developing some type of cancer, unlike women it did not appear to have a significant influence on cardiovascular diseases.

proportional increase in the risk of adverse health events," with the team describing the results of the study as "concerning.

It is necessary to find strategies for promoting a healthy diet, doing physical activity, screening for diseases, and establishing prevention policies that affect the entire population in order to decrease the prevalence of obesity," commented Dr. Jaume Marrugat, principal investigator of the study. The improvements in cardiovascular risk factors achieved over the last 20 years are dramatically neutralized by the obesity epidemic.

The researchers added that even small weight reductions can bring huge health benefits. In a country where the average life expectancy is 80 for example, overweight people who lose 5 kilos in their 40s and do not put the weight back on can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by 20 percent. Women would also benefit from a 20 percent reduction in the risk of cancer.

The World Health Organization estimates that obesity affects more than 650 million people across the globe, a number which has tripled since 1975.

As well as cardiovascular disease and cancer obesity is also linked to a variety of other health conditions including diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders.

The findings can be found published online in the journal Preventive Medicine.

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Apple to release software update for iPhone slowdown

Apple to release software update for iPhone slowdown

Apple will release a test version of its iOS software next month that shows users the health of their batteries and will let them turn off a phone-slowing feature meant to prevent sudden shutdowns in iPhones with older batteries, Cook said in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday.

Cook said the phone-slowing software, released last year, was intended to make sure that iPhone users did not get cut off in the middle of an important call or text message because of an old battery.

We will tell somebody we are reducing your performance by some amount in order to not have an unexpected restart, and if you don’t want it, you can turn it off,” Cook said. e don’t recommend it because we think that people’s iPhones are really important to them and you can never tell when something is so urgent. r actions were all in service of the user.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment beyond Cook’s remarks or say when the update would be available to consumers.

Apple confirmed on Dec. 20 that software in iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE models to deal with dangers from ageing batteries could slow down the phone’s performance. Within days, Apple faced lawsuits over the phone slowing.

The issue struck a nerve on social media, where many voiced a theory that Apple intentionally slows down older phones to encourage customers to buy new ones. No credible evidence has emerged that Apple has ever done so. On Dec. 28, Apple issued a public apology to customers over the battery issue and said it has never purposely shortened the life of its products.

Apple also lowered the price of battery replacements for affected models from $79 to $29. The lower price could prod many consumers to replace their battery instead of buying a new phone, which in turn could lead to lower iPhone sales for 2018, Barclays analysts said in a note earlier this month.

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