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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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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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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Tigers cross 250

Tigers cross 250

Bangladesh lose their fourth wicket as Mahmudullah Riyad falls. Mahmudullah c NLTC Perera b Pradeep 24 (23b 2x4 1x6) SR: 104.

43. Mushfiqur swivels well to run two and bring up his fifty in style.

The 44th and the 45th over has seen Bangladesh batsmenn Mushfiqur and Riyad looking to free their arms. Mushfiqur Rahim executed a tricky scoop off Pradeep's slower delivery on the 44th over before running two off the next delivery to reach 50. Mahmudullah hit de Silva over long-on for six as Bangladesh reached 277 for three with five overs remaining.

Bangladesh lose their third wicket as Shakib Al Hasan falls after scoring 67. Shakib Al Hasan c & b Gunaratne 67 (63b 7x4 0x6) SR: 106.

Shakib gets out of a nothing delivery as he slaps the ball straight into the hands of bowler Asela Gunaratne. Frustrating end to Shakib's innigs and Bangladesh would have loved to see him carry on. Mahmudullah Riyad is the new batsman at the crease.

Mushfiqur Rahim is going strongly at the other end as he is on 39 off 32 balls. He is in good form as was showcased by his magnificent six off Thisan Perera in the 36th over, where he danced down the wicket and slapped the bowler over mid-off for six.

Bringing Shakib up the order is paying dividends for the Tigers as he struck a 50 off 50 deliveries. Mushfiqur Rahim is batting on 15.

33. 4: Shakib drives it to mid-off and hurries for a quick single and that brought up his 36th ODI fifty. A run-a ball 50 from the all-rounder.

Bangladesh lose their second wicket as Sri Lanka make the crucial breakthrough. Tamim Iqbal c Dickwella b Dananjaya 84 (102b 7x4 2x6) SR: 82.

Tamim Iqbal falls trying to play Dananjaya without getting to the pitch of the ball. The feet did not move adequately and he adjusted by reaching out for the ball. Got the slightest of nicks and Sri Lanka make the crucial breakthrough. The Tamim-Shakib partnership stops at 99. They put on 99 off just 86 runs and Bangladesh innings as Bangladesh innings gained momentum. Mushfiqur Rahim is the new batsman at the crease.

Tamim Iqbal is really looking to assert dominance now that he has reached his fifty. He went after Gunaratne in the 24th over hitting the bowler for consecutive sixes to pick up 15 runs in that over. In the next over an overpitched Nuwan Pradeep delivery did not go unpunished as Tamim drove it handsomely through the covers for four. The opener is on 73 off 87 deliveries while Shakib  Al Hasan is batiing on  25 off 26 deliveries.

21. Tamim Iqbal knocks the ball to mid on to take a single and bring up his 40th ODI fifty off 72 balls. It is his second successive fifty in the tri-series.

Shakib Al Hasan comes in and along with Tamim Iqbal, carries forward the early impetus provided by Anamul to take the score past 100.

Anamul kept living dangerously as he remained positive but always providing a chance for breakthrough and he was finally gone trying to hook Thisara Perera in the 15th over. Anamul left after scoring 35 runs as Shakib Al Hasan joined Tamim Iqbal at the crease.

Bangladesh reach 50 without loss after 10 overs in their match against Sri Lanka in the third ODI of the tri-nation series.

It has been a shaky start for Anamul Haque as he struck a couple of boundaries but also got lucky when he was dropped in the very first over. He then hit Akila Dananjaya for six in the 10th over and in the very next ball a difficult stumping opportunity was missed.

Anamul survived again as Lakmal found the edge of hid bat in the seventh over. Ball went to slips again and just fell wide of the fielder and ran away for four. Tamim on the other hand is looking pretty solid out there as he drives Nuwan Pradeep through the covers for four.

Tamim has been watchful while Anamul has looked to play his shots after the first five overs of play. Anamul is lucky to be still there after he played away from his body and was dropped at first slip by Kusal Mendis in just the third delivery of the very first over bowled by Suranga Lakmal. Tamim Iqbal followed him with a similar shot in the very next ball. An eventful first over. Tamim and Anamul then played two lovely straight drives for four runs as they presented the full face of the bat in the second and the third over respectively.

Bangladesh have won the toss and elected to bat first against Sri Lanka in the third ODI of the tri-nation series.

Tigers are buoyed by their win against Zimbabwe on the opening game of the tri-nation however Zimbabwe came back strongly with a brilliant win against Sri Lanka in their second game.

Lankan skipper Angelo Matthews is ruled out through an hamstring injury and in his absence Dinesh Chandimal will lead the side. Bangladesh have picked Mohammad Saifuddin to replace Sunzamul Islam in a bid to further strengthen the pace attack.

Upul Tharanga, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal (wk & capt), Nuwan Pradeep, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Wanindu Hasaranga, Niroshan Dickwella.

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Japanese Naval Ship Amagiri Drops Anchor In Mumbai

Japanese Naval Ship Amagiri Drops Anchor In Mumbai

Securing the Sea: The Japanese crew of the naval ship Amagiri that arrived in Mumbai on a three-day visit. Vessel comes calling after completing an anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden

Mumbai: Amagiri, a Japanese maritime self-defence force naval ship, has called on the city after completing an anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden.

On a

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Modi Govt Saddling India’s Military With More Bureaucracy

Modi Govt Saddling India’s Military With More Bureaucracy

by Prakash Katoch

Recent media reports indicate that India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has decided to allow private companies to manage and operate all Army Base Workshops (ABWs) and station workshops in eight cities across six states. The scheme is called GOCO (Government Owned, Contractor Managed).

Ostensibly, the move is part of a major

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NIA Spins The Web Around Terror Mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Syed Salahuddin And Kashmiri Separatists With Sedition, For Waging War Against India

NIA Spins The Web Around Terror Mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Syed Salahuddin And Kashmiri Separatists With Sedition, For Waging War Against India

NIA closes in on Hafiz Saeed as it files charge sheet against him. Hizbul chief Sayed Salahuddin has also been named. NIA produced Kashmiri separatist leaders in NIA court today

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has charge sheeted terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed in a terror funding case. The NIA has also accused Syed Salahuddin in its charge

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