Saturday, January 7, 2012

India now wants transshipment of bulk cargoes

After the successful trial of transshipment of three cargo vessels, India now wants regular transshipment of bulk cargoes through Ashuganj to Agartala on the land route via Akhaura. It also seeks waiver of bank guarantee as additional facility under the river protocol.

But local experts and foreign ministry advised the government not to throw open the land route facility to India before adequate infrastructure was put in place and to continue with the bank guarantee system until transshipment charges came into force. They apprehend that providing such additional facilities would lead to goods transhipment by India without paying any service charges. India also wants permission to transship its goods through a new route between Ashuganj to Suterkandi and also seeks to transfer goods from deep draft to shallow draft vessels at Ashuganj.

Foreign ministry officials suggested confining Indian cargoes to the routes advised by the Core Committee on Transit and Transshipment.

The Indian High Commission, in a letter to the foreign ministry on December 20, 2011, sought the additional facilities on a regular basis during the lean water flow period that affects the proposed route from Kolkata. It also sought waiver of bank guarantee/bond against goods that are to be transshipped through Ashuganj to Akhaura-Agartala.

The Indian government sought permission to tow pontoon by suitable craft of sufficient draft from Ashuganj to Karimganj.

The foreign ministry was concerned and apprehended that throwing open one additional route to transshipment of Indian goods would lead to opening of many more routes under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT).

“Opening an alternate route from Ashuganj to Suterkandi may result in opening of many more routes,” Kazi Ziaul Hasan, senior assistant secretary, South Asia Wing, wrote in a letter to secretary, ministry of shipping and commerce on December 28 last.

The desk officer of the foreign ministry said the ministry, before it opened the new route, needed to vet whether the road from Ashuganj to Suterkandi would support the additional traffic resulting from transshipment.

The foreign ministry also suggested that the shipping ministry made careful judgement while considering the proposal.

When asked former adviser to the caretaker government M Akber Ali Khan told The Independent that allowing additional facilities beyond the protocol would help India to pass its goods from one place to another through the Bangladesh territory without paying any charges.

The government should not provide any additional facilities beyond the protocol to India until realizing its demands including the deal on Teesta water sharing, removal of non-tariff barriers and opening up of routes to Nepal and Bhutan.

He said if the government allowed India to use its land routes under PIWTT, there would be no requirement for separate transit/transshipment facilities and Bangladesh would lose its bargaining power.

The government last year formed a core committee headed by Tariff Commission chairman Mojibur Rahman, which submitted its report before the government suggesting imposition of charges for many services so that the government can earn substantial revenue. But the commerce ministry last month asked the committee to review the report.

Bangladesh Army: Mid-level Officers of Bangladesh Army are Bringing down Changes Soon

Bangladesh Army, another name of Independence of Bangladesh, is passing a transitional phase. Its sufferings in the recent past from the BDR carnage were the beginning of it. Now, it seems, the transition is coming to a positive end.

The BDR Carnage:

The BDR carnage was a planned massacre on the Army to eliminate many of the bright, upright and capable officers to render it unable to defend the independence of Bangladesh anymore. Some of the corrupt political leaders including few of the Generals and Senior Officers were the local players beside the neighboring foreign Intelligence Agency, RAW. This is an open secret to all ranks of Bangladesh Military Forces and the mass population by this time. The collaborators of BDR massacre are now trying to save its key planners by hiding the real issues, launching mass cases against BDR soldiers, killing those who know the facts. The whole massacre was about a step ahead to make the country a surrogate state of India like ‘Sikkim’. These patriotic martyred officers were one of the major obstacles of this vice plan.

Some of the top brass of Bangladesh Army e.g. present CGS General Moinul, DG DGFI Maj General Mamun Khaled, Logistic Area Commander Maj General Reza Noor, Brigadier General Motiur, ADG, DGFI and many others have sold their loyalty to RAW to serve their purpose in this country. DGFI has become, by this time, an active tool of neighboring Intelligence Organization, RAW to achieve this objective of making this country a surrogate state. Some of the senior officials of DGFI are in fact receiving regular salaries and benefits from RAW for doing the job on their behalf. In fact, DGFI is divided into two parts recently. While the common men and officers of DGFI are little aware of the situation, the RAW controlled part of DGFI has setup separate safe houses and facilities to serve their purpose. In many cases RAW is operating in disguise of DGFI with its full consent. The common men and officers of DGFI are highly dissatisfied as they are being misused for the purpose of betraying the nation. They know for sure that in the times of calamity, they are not going to get shelters in neighboring India like the ‘payroll agents’ who have secured these facilities abroad.

The 2nd phase of BDR Carnage:

Joy, Sheikh Hasina’s son making financial scandals in USA, lied when he said: “65 percent soldiers of Bangladesh Army are ‘Madrasha’ passed students”- to keep some of the Western countries happy on their performance against terrorism. In fact, Joy and other key planners were planning to get rid of all the officers with uprightness, honor and dignity from Bangladesh Army to achieve their ultimate aim. The BDR massacre was the start of it. Now the 2nd phase of BDR massacre is taking place by arresting and abducting, officially and un-officially, the bright officers like Lt Col Haseen, Lt Col Zaydee and retired Lt Col Ehsan Yousuf and so on. Even before this, five officers were arrested and sent to jail with a plea which could not be proved at all. It’s an open secret to all that the crime of those five was nothing but their demand of a proper trial of the criminals including the planners of BDR massacre and raising their voice for that purpose. Many other officers had to go for forced retirement, even some with forced ‘voluntary retirement’ in the recent past.

Every week 2/3 officers are being arrested / abducted by DGFI with different plea. Recently, Maj Zia of MIST was arrested and now he is fleeing with his life here and there. On the other hand, some of the serving officers are interviewed by joint team of RAW and DGFI in Chittagong and elsewhere. Nobody knows, how many officers are arrested and abducted in different divisions till now as they have successfully created a mistrust among the officers to not to share these kinds of information.

All these are done with the same aim of rendering the Bangladesh Army ineffective day by day and its ultimate elimination which is a major step to turn Bangladesh into another ‘Sikkim’.

Watering Down the Muslim Identity:
Beside this vice plan about Bangladesh Army, they have a plan to erase the Muslim identity of this Army and the mass population at large. Specially, within Army, the Generals and senior officers who are with the ‘RAW controlled group’ have demonstrated unbecoming attitude towards many of the Muslim practices. Some of those Generals forcefully made young officers to shave their beards.

Officially and unofficially DGFI and other intelligence organizations are making list of personnel who have grown beards. This list is updated and checked almost weekly basis. They portray to all as if growing beard is a crime in this country where as in the neighboring India, many grow beards and put on their turban in all the formal and informal Army gatherings.

They have made separate list of those officers and soldiers who offer five times prayers. These indicate that this wicked group is working as an enemy of Islam and they consider those who offer five times prayer are obstacles to their agenda. Even they have made separate list of those who attend the mosques in Fajr and I’sha prayers. In places, local intelligence staffs attend the five times prayers with their ‘walkie-talkie’ set turned on with high volumes, to let the people at the mosque know that ‘intelligence people are in and around’. Is this possible in an independent Muslim country!!!

Beside the list of officers whose wives adhere to Islamic dress code, Hijab, they have now made a separate list of soldiers whose wives adhere to the same. Slowly and gradually they have created an atmosphere of terror among the adherents of Islamic faith. They have planned to get rid of all practicing Muslim officers and men from this Army for the fear that they will remain as a hindrance to their vice plan. How is it possible that, being fed by the public tax, these culprits openly speak and work against the common religious sentiment of mass population of this country? Some says, it is because “the common officers and men were silent spectators to all these”.

Why this group is doing all these is an also very important. They know from history that if the Muslim identity of this Army and country as a whole remains intact, then their dream of turning this country into another ‘Sikkim’ will never come true. So, their second objective is watering down the Muslim identity of this Army and the country.

Worsening Situation of the Country:

The signs and symptoms of this vice plan of turning this country into another ‘Sikkim’ at national level are: giving away transit facilities to India without any financial benefits by destroying many of the river channels and road systems, reducing the presence of the Army at the Chittagong Hill Tracts, erasing ‘bismillah’ and ‘reliance upon Allah’ from the constitution, security operations of Indian security forces in Sylhet and elsewhere inside the country denying the rights of an independent state, formulating women and education policies against the religious customs and norms of mass population, saving the culprits of share market scandals, zero resistance against illegal ‘Tipai Mukh’ dam, no resistance against regular killing of innocent Bangladeshi population by Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) and destroying the whole economic system of the country etc. These are not the ends rather these are the introduction of the incoming phases. If they go unchallenged, Bangladesh will witness these kinds of events in manifolds. If these are not attacks on the independence of a state, then what are these? If Bangladesh Army is receiving its salary to defend the independence of the country, then it must act in these kinds of situations.

What’s coming next?

Obviously, all Army Generals are not with this wicked group. So, the RAW controlled group considers those outside them to be obstacles to their vicious plan. So, they are going to sack, forcefully retire those senior Generals who are not with them, just after the Winter Collective Training (WCT). The time line is WCT because those Generals may move against them upon receiving such decisions as they are with troops deployed on the ground and it’s easier to move out from the exercise areas.

After neutralizing these Generals, they will get hold of other senior and mid-level officers whom they consider obstacles to their path. They have a plan about the student officers of MIST, those recently passed or presently studying there, to remove them from the service in any way. They will create an issue against each and every one of them, the way they created false issues against the five officers sent to jail or Lt Col Haseen etc. That is their ultimate tool to manage the naive ones. The declaration of handing over the land documents of Army Officers Housing Society (AOHS) is their trump card to keep everybody satisfied and dreaming till that time.

After dealing with the Army, they are going to eliminate Khaleda Zia, half of the ‘Minus Two Formula’. The next half of the same formula will take place after the 2nd so called ‘1/11’ in the plea of saving the country. Although they would like to do it with the consent of Sheikh Hasina, they want to eliminate her either to have a free run. Indian RAW, by this time, is sure that the present government cannot deliver them their desired fruits by going against the public demands. So, they have chosen their other alternative, the proxies from the Army – this time more decisively then the previous ‘1/11 group’. Major General Mamun khaled is now making a new palace at his Army residence at Dhaka cantonment with a desire to stay there for coming decades and to rule the country.

The Mid-Level Officers’ Plans:

The mid-level officers (Lt Col and below) have decided to rise up in this grave situation of the Army and the motherland itself. Otherwise, the Bangladesh Army and the independence of this country are at a stake.

They will get hold of the planners of BDR mutiny first and bring them to justice and free the BDR soldiers who are not defaulters. Since, this mass-arrest is an obstacle created by this wicked group to deny justice for the original criminals.

They will also free all the illegally detained officers and men at the earliest opportunity. All the officers and men unduly sacked and forcefully retired will be reverted in the Army immediately.

They will stop the present fraud Army Officers Housing Society (AOHS) project in which land is forcefully occupied with the help of criminals. Rather they have decided to convert all the existing ‘Golf Grounds’ to Army Housing Society. For a poor country like Bangladesh, maintaining huge Golf Grounds is a foolish luxury. These are the places where serving Army Generals turn into diplomats and politicians, rather than true soldiers.

All training in the Army will be realistic from now onwards basing on ‘what we have’, not on ‘what we are supposed to have’.

The leadership of the Army will be handed over to the existing Army Generals who are honest, dynamic, non-partisan and true patriotic soldiers.

All diplomatic ties with India will be freeze until they stop killing of innocent Bangladeshi population and hand over the killers of BDR massacre. Furthermore, they will be forced to comply with the International norms and standards regarding sharing of river-water and constructing dams. All transit facilities will be freeze until Bangladesh receives similar facilities from India or proportional financial benefits.

The diplomatic relations with all other friendly nations will remain as usual with mutual benefits and understanding.

All activities against the religious sentiment of mass population in the country as a whole and in the Army are going to be stopped immediately.

‘Bismilla’ and ‘the reliance upon Allah’ will be reinstituted in the constitution with immediate effect. Recent controversial policies regarding women and education etc will be reviewed with competent Islamic scholars to get rid of all the articles against the religious sentiment of mass population of the country.

The culprits of share market scandals will be brought to justice and will be forced to pay back the stolen money of the general mass.

All the public sectors of Bangladesh will be run with the views and recommendations of a body of experts of the concerned fields.

What Now?

Interestingly, some of the Army Generals are already taking sides with mid-level officers sensing the impending changes. They have vowed their help and support to the mid-level officers in this grave situation of the Army and the country.

Since, the hypocrites are always afraid and weak; the mid-level officers think that they can bring down all necessary changes to put Bangladesh Army and the country at the right track. The mid-level officers have requested all ranks and files of Bangladesh Armed Forces and the patriotic population of the country to join them in this ‘call of duty’, similar to the Liberation War.

They have requested all the common officers and men to ensure that none of the culprits can flee away once they move out. They have vowed to get hold of the agents of the wicked group at first to stop any kind of betrayal in between the process.

May Allah bless Bangladesh.

Bangladesh-India border: "Wall of Death"

“If they see me talking to you, they’re going to give me a lot of trouble,” says Abdul Rahim. 

Standing at the very edge of his property on the Bangladesh-India border, the 48-year-old Indian farmer is half a step away from illegally crossing into the Bangladeshi village of Chander Haat. But it’s not the possibility of getting caught trespassing by Bangladeshi border guards that worries him.

Behind Rahim, a couple hundred meters into the Indian side of the border, is the world’s longest — and bloodiest — barbed wire fence.

Dubbed the “wall of death” by locals, the 4,000 km barrier spans the length of the fifth-longest border in the world, and is manned by India’s Border Security Force (BSF), whose guards kill both Bangladeshis and Indians with impunity. 

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Rahim claims the BSF routinely harasses him and has occasionally beaten him on suspicion of aiding or sheltering illegal Bangladeshi migrants and smugglers.

It's a tense border. Despite India helping Bangladesh gain independence in 1971, relations between the two countries have remained strained since the 1947 partition of India, when the subcontinent was split along religious lines, creating East Pakistan where present-day Bangladesh is. Partition resulted in a bloodbath, with over 1 million killed in the space of a few months and more than 10 million Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs displaced in one of the largest mass migrations in human history.

Little progress has been made over decades between the two countries on hot-button issues like smuggling, supplying arms and refuge to Indian insurgents, and control of the numerous rivers that flow through both countries.

Targeting undocumented migrants

But the standout crisis dominating Indian discourse is undocumented migrants.
Official estimates are that there are 2 million undocumented Bangladeshi migrants in India. A number frequently reported in India media is 20 million.

Like Mexican undocumented migrants in the United States, their Bangladeshi counterparts are the favored scapegoats of the Indian right — blamed for unemployment, crime, terrorism, "low-key Talibanization," and "disturbing our indian sex-ratio statistics."

This has created a situation where many say India’s border guards are trigger-happy. 

On Jan. 7, 2011, Felani Khatun and her father arrived at the barbed wire a little after the early morning call to prayer had rung out from a nearby mosque. Dressed up in traditional bridal wear and wedding jewelry, the drowsy 15 year old had fallen asleep several times during their overnight journey to the border and could barely keep her eyes open.

Felani, born in India to parents who were undocumented migrants there, was returning to Bangladesh to get married. But it was daylight now, and Felani’s father Nurul Islam was afraid.

The local smugglers he had paid Rs 3000 ($70) to help him and his daughter across insisted however that everything was fine, and the two began to climb up the ladder that had been arranged for them.

Nurul Islam made it over successfully. Moments later, as Felani reached the top of the 2.5m high fence, Indian border guards who had spotted them came running out and shot her dead from close range.

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“[The BSF shot] without any warning. I don’t understand why they didn’t shout anything,” remembers Nurul Islam, who has been relocated with the rest of his family to the Bangladeshi village of Ramkhana, near where his daughter died. “I wish they’d said ‘stop.’ If they’d just said ‘stop’ she would’ve been saved.”

Felani’s lifeless body hung from the fence for five hours, in full view of Bangladeshi and Indian farmers living nearby. Eventually, the BSF slung her hands and feet onto a bamboo pole and took her away.

It was over 30 hours before her body was handed over to Bangladeshi authorities and returned to her father. “They took her jewelry,” Nurul Islam said, sardonically.

A photo, first published in Indian newspaper Anandabazaar, of Felani’s corpse hanging from the fence sparked a huge uproar in Bangladeshi media. The Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced during a visit to Dhaka in July that the BSF would use non-lethal weapons, and that they would no longer shoot at civilians under any circumstances.

Stemming the cattle trade
Six months later the deaths on the border continue to pile up.

Except now they come about in more creative ways. Shootings are rarer, but Bangladeshi border guards report recent incidents of fatal beatings, strangling, stoning, and poisonous injections.

Human rights group Odhikar accuses the BSF of killing over 1,000 Bangladeshis in the past decade. The BSF themselves admit responsibility for the deaths of 364 Bangladeshis and 164 Indians since 2006.

That was when their government began constructing the fence, inspired by Israel’s West Bank barrier.
But neither the barbed wire nor the extrajudicial murders have been successful in stopping a lucrative, illicit trade in cattle.

Cows in Bangladesh sell for three to four times what they fetch in India, and resourceful traffickers have devised new, brutal ways to get around the obstacle.

Rahim, the Indian farmer who witnesses this happen almost nightly, describes the procedure: “They use ramps to get the cows up to the middle part of the wire fence. The wires here are a little bit further apart than the rest of the fence. They loosen the wires a little bit more, then they bind the legs and the mouth of the cow, haul it up the ramp and pass it through to the other side.”

“It takes 10 minutes to get 50 cows through,” says Rahim, “But it’s not easy to get 10 minutes. The smugglers always follow the BSF, keeping an eye on them, waiting for an opportunity.”

The BSF guards aren’t cartoon villains, and Rahim is aware that they are doing a dangerous job.

“The smugglers are reckless people,” he says, “they don’t hesitate to attack the BSF. They are armed with sickles, knives, and they threaten the BSF. They say ‘leave us alone if you fear for your life, we’re here to die anyway’.”

Though the anti-smuggling and anti-immigration efficacy of South Asia’s Berlin Wall is debatable, its impact on those living nearby is not.

Bangladeshis have predictably bristled at the prospect of being corralled in by their giant neighbor, which surrounds them on the west, north, and east, and which they have always been a little bit paranoid about.
With a growing population of 150 million packed into an area smaller than Iowa, the fence is also making many Bangladeshis claustrophobic.

“A barbed wire fence is a psychological expression of hegemony. They have surrounded the people of Bangladesh on three sides with barbed wire,” said Adilur Rahman, the general secretary of Dhaka based rights group Odhikar, “High powered floodlights, barb wire… it looks like a World War II concentration camp.”

The floodlights beam directly into the home of 9-year-old Anis Ahmed, who complains that they are so bright he has trouble sleeping at night.

Hostilities run deep
Anis works on his family’s farm every day on the Bangladesh side of the border near the northern village of Amgaon. Their land goes right up to the border, where lush green rows of rice plants imperceptibly switch from Bangladeshi to Indian.

According to international regulations, the fence cannot be closer than 150 meters to the actual border, so the actual fence falls behind rows of Indian crops.

There are no clearly visible signs demarcating the exact point where Bangladeshi soil becomes Indian. Locals are simply expected to know where the line is.

Most of them do, and they stay away. But the precocious Anis and his 11-year-old cousin Shohir Jamal often walk across it to examine what lies beyond the fence.

“We go up to see the barbed wire fence,” says Anis, “When we go up to it they [the BSF guards] mock us, scold us. They say ‘Ei Bengali admi, bhago giya, bhago giya [hey Bengali, go away].’ They swear a lot at us, but things we don’t understand really.”

The children here are growing up surrounded by an atmosphere of hostility and suspicion. Everyone in their village is viewed as a potential smuggler or an accomplice of smugglers.

Many are. People here are very poor, and supplementary income is precious.

Manik, the local schoolteacher, was recently arrested and given three years detention by the BSF during his first foray into cattle smuggling. Akbar Ali, an elected member of the local government here, has just returned having completed his own three-year term for trafficking cows.

Suspicions run deep. During the day Anis and Shohir work side by side with the Indian farmers like Rahim, whose crops fall between the border with Bangladesh and the barbed wire fence. The proximity, however, does not imply interaction.

“They don’t talk to us. The BSF don’t want them to have a good relationship with Bangladeshis,” says Anis, “They [the BSF] worry that they’ll end up helping people cross the border.”
Rahim regrets this new distance with once close neighbors.

“When we were children we used to play together every day,” he recalls. “We used to eat at each others’ houses. I went to school in Bangladesh.”

Because the fence had to be built 150 meters within Indian territory, Rahim and more than 100,000 other Indians have found themselves on the wrong side of the barbed wire.

Rahim is cut off from the rest of his country, trapped within a slice of land about as wide as an airport runway.
The gates at the fence open only for three hours: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., noon to 1:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. These are the only times when Rahim and his family can move back and forth to visit relatives, go shopping, or send their kids to school.

Children frequently miss school because they arrive after the gate has been closed. Rahim’s daughter lives with a relative 40 kilometers behind the wire. He estimates that he sees her only once in five months or so.

“If we go to shop at 4:00 p.m., we have to make sure we’re back by 5:00 p.m., otherwise we’re locked out for the night,” he complains.

As he speaks, a woman comes wading through a stream on the Bangladeshi side of the border. She is carrying multiple cell phones in her hands.

“There’s no electricity in our houses,” explains Rahim, “We’re cut off from the electrical grid. So we have to sneak over to Bangladesh when the guards aren’t looking to charge our phones.”

“The wire fence makes us feel like prisoners,” he said.

One day, when he has saved enough, Rahim says he plans to move to the other side of the fence. His expectations aren’t high for what may be in store there, but at least he will have ended his status as collateral damage of a stalemate between nation-states.

Bangladesh government to collect info of social site users

Following massive growth of internet users as well as increased number of users of various social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedln, Google+ etc, Bangladesh government is set to instruct local or overseas offices of the social networking sites to provide detailed information along with photograph of each of the users from Bangladesh. It may be mentioned here that, a university teacher named Ruhul Kabir Khandakar, who is now in Australia for higher studies was convicted to six months in prison by the High Court division of the Bangladesh Supreme Court, as his comments reportedly implied he wanted Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to die. Detail reports. Ruhul Khandakar was found guilty in absentia of contempt of court after he did not return from Australia, where he is studying, in response to a court summons.

Ruhul Khandakar's post in Facebook came on the heels of the death of one of the country's popular film maker Tareq Masud and broadcast personality Mishuk Munier in a tragic road accident in August last year. "Tareq Masud and Mishuk Munier died as a result of government giving license to unqualified drivers. Many die, why does not Sheikh Hasina die," Khandakar's post reportedly read.

Meanwhile, a sensitive intelligence agency in Bangladesh has set up special wing exclusively to monitor comments and other activities in the social networking sites from Bangladesh. It may be mentioned here that, currently the number of users of Facebook from the country exceeds 2.6 million. Comparing these nearest countries by penetration of Facebook users shows that Bangladesh has 0.07% higher FB penetration than Yemen and 0.02% lower FB penetration than Benin.

The largest age group is currently 18 - 24 with total of 1 102 882 users, followed by the users in the age of 25 - 34. There are 76% male users and 24% female users in Bangladesh, compared to 48% and 52% in Bulgaria and 49% and 51% in Denmark.

Seeking anonymity, a source within Bangladeshi intelligence agency told Weekly Blitz that the government is concerned at the increasing trend of anti-government comments and activities within the social networking sites, especially with video uploads by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party activists as well as activists of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, which in most cases are filled with provocative comments against the ruling Bangladesh Awami League. It said, following the consequences of the anti-establishment activities in the social networking sites particularly in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and the Arab countries, Bangladesh's ruling party pays special emphasis on putting "certain level of control and accountability" in the social networking sites. "We cannot let these sites be greatly abused by the users in spreading false propaganda against the government", the source said.

The source further indicated that, on receiving details about the accounts holders with the social networking sites, Bangladesh government may suggest on a time-to-time basis to suspend some accounts, making "offensive comments on the government" as well as may continue taking legal actions against those users. It may be mentioned here that, Bangladesh government earlier blocked YouTube and Facebook for containing "anti government" contents.