Journal from July – Wrath of the night

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Photo: Saad Hammadi

A man who escaped with his life from the restaurant was himself a kitchen staff. He was working when he heard gunshots. He ran off from the kitchen and was hiding on the second floor of the restaurant before he managed to escape. Inside, there were 50 to 60 restaurant staffs and another 25 to 30 customers dining, he said. That’s a lot of people held hostage but there was no way to verify except sources like him who were direct witnesses.

 

I walk a little further and find an anxious guardian who has a nephew-in-law among the hostages. The nephew went there with his girlfriend. His girlfriend had communicated with her father saying they were safe inside the restaurant but advised him not to call them. Since then they have been incommunicado.

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Journal from July – Into the dark

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Photo: Saad Hammadi

At the hospital gate I hear one person saying his brother, a ranking police official was injured in the attack. I took down his information. He would not be let inside until another police official heard his pleading and ordered the gatekeepers to allow him inside.

 

I spent a few minutes recceing the place. The place was empty except a few pressmen and cops in the area. I have to dodge the crowd to make my way in. With the waiting journalists at the front gate, it would not be possible to exploit an entry from there.

 

If there were any possibility it would have to be an entry from the OPD. The OPD gate was wide open. A couple of security guards were there who did not bother stopping me because they knew it was only the first layer of security. At the glass door leading inside the hospital building, there were more guards. Expectedly, one of the guards at the glass door resisted.

Continue reading Journal from July – Into the dark

Breeding ground of terror

In the complex web of militancy, Bangladesh is a victim of international terrorism as foreign terrorist organisations patronise local outfits, to thrive in their transnational operations. Saad Hammadi investigates how Pakistan based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba instigated terrorist attacks in Bangladesh, in the past, conniving with Harkat ul Jihad al Islami-Bangladesh

The mujahideens (jihadists) of the subcontinent share a strong link between each other, especially since many of them participated alongside each other in the Afghan war of the late 1970s. Many Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis joined the mujahideen resistance of the pro-Soviet Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. In 1989, although the Soviet Union pulled itself out of the conflict, a civil war continued between the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the mujahideens. Three years down the line, the latter defeated the DRA and established the Islamic State of Afghanistan. A lot of the mujahideens returned to their respective home countries with victorious memory of their fight in Afghanistan.

Two decades later, their relationship is still visible on an even larger scale, with deadly missions being carried out in different parts of the world.

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40-hour mutiny

An eyewitness account of the two-day uprising staged by the Bangladesh Rifles.

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Tanks roll on to the streets --photographed by Prito Reza

It is 11:00 am on 25 February. Halfway down Road 2 in the posh Dhanmondi area of Dhaka, all traffic has been restricted. Police officers are busy emptying the area, themselves clueless as to why they are not allowing vehicles to pass. With my press card, I am allowed to walk into the area that would hold the attention of the entire Bangladeshi nation for days to come.

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Kidnapped

Saad Hammadi looks into recent cases of kidnapping, a crime that has increased exponentially over the years

THE February 2002 abduction and murder of the 13-year-old Khandker Shihab Ahmed heralded the start of a new trend in crime in Bangladesh. On his way back home from Motijheel Model School and College on the afternoon of February 7, Shihab was abducted by kidnappers after luring him in with a bicycle. He was eventually strangled; his body was cut into twelve pieces and dumped in different parts of the city.

In August the same year, an eight-year old and a six-year old were kidnapped and killed. In both cases the kidnappers were known to the victims.

Rubayet Ahmed Bappi, a student of class III at Armanitola Government High School, was kidnapped by his cousin Shipon and some of his friends. Shipon demanded Tk 20 lakh from Rubayet’s father Alfu Mia in ransom. However, as Shipon and his friends realised that Rubayet might disclose their identity, they killed him and dumped the body into the river Sitalakhya. At Dhala, Rubel was kidnapped and killed by his brother-in-law Ripon. Ripon wanted to use the kidnapping to get dowry and property from his in-laws.

In Dhaka city, between January and October 2007, at least 143 kidnappings have been reported, with some cases involving multiple victims. According to official sources, as of December 2006, there were 1,367 cases awaiting investigation. While the police have traced the involvement of professional criminals in many cases, the majority of the ransom-related kidnappings were perpetrated by members of the victims’ family; in most cases, land dispute, drug addiction, family dispute and revenge were the motive.

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From Thailand, Myanmar to Gulshan, Banani

Saad Hammadi traces the route through which yaba is smuggled in to Bangladesh and how it is also produced here copy-of-251007-yabavoippress-122.jpgBetween midnight and early morning, the safest hours of the day, Burmese drug dealers land inside the Bangladesh territory through the unfenced parts of the Myanmar border to deliver the widely-circulating pink pills known as yaba to their Bangladeshi counterparts based in Teknaf. Their arrivals are scheduled, and deals for the next delivery are settled in the last meeting. Manufactured in Burma, yaba’s invasion into Bangladesh was greatly possible because of the unrestricted border passages and the low cost for the drugs. Inside the closed doors of hotel rooms, booked in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong, more often, the tablets are sold in thousands, at unit price of between Tk 40 and Tk 50. Zipped in small blue packets, the tablets are packed in usually 200 pieces per bag. From the point of delivery at Teknaf, the tablets mostly targeted for the Dhaka based customers, several hands change in the chain, until its final consumption, when a user buys a piece for Tk 450 to Tk 550.

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50 AMK Ltd buses up for auction for Tk 10cr loan default

Saad Hammadi

The Industrial Promotion and Development Company of Bangladesh Ltd is auctioning off 50 buses belonging to AMK Ltd after that company defaulted on a loan worth Tk 10 crore.
Six prominent Dhaka transport companies, however, claim that they had paid AMK Ltd over Tk 1.5 crore as advance against these very same buses, which the company did not hand over to them.
The six bus companies include Dul Dul Paribahan, BEVCO and four others from which Ajmal received partial payments in 2004 and 2005.
Ajmal Kabir, the managing director of AMK Ltd, has been accused of cheating the transport companies by taking advances against more than 100 buses and then refusing to deliver, using his political muscle in the last BNP-Jamaat government’s tenure to evade arrest.
New Age has learnt that the Rapid Action Battalion in Dhaka detained Ajmal Kabir on February 26 but mysteriously released him some hours later without filing any charges against him. Sources in RAB admitted to New Age that Ajmal was detained by them, but refused to divulge why they released him without charges.

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