Even as the new Election Commission took the oath of office, the main opposition party BNP has cried foul and claimed that never before was the poll panel formed ‘so unconstitutionally’ as in the present case. The BNP continues to maintain that there was no provision in the constitution for a Search Committee to suggest names for appointment to the EC and as such both the Search Committee and consequently the manner in which the Election Commissioners were appointed was unlawful and unconstitutional. Opposition leader and BNP chief Khaleda Zia has rejected the new EC, calling it unacceptable for the party. She has alleged that the government wanted a subservient EC so that it could pre-fix the results of elections. But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has dismissed these allegations and pointed to the success of the BNP unofficial candidate in the Comilla City Corporation election which the BNP had boycotted after casting doubts over the fairness of the Electronic Voting Machines. She has also stuck to her guns on the issue of not restoring the Caretaker Government system for holding elections and insisted that if the BNP believed in democracy it would participate in the next elections.
The brutal murder of a journalist couple in Dhaka created quite a flutter on the political scene in Bangladesh last week. While the BNP pointed to the incident as an example of the dismal state of law and order, the government expressed its firm commitment to nab the culprits. Even though investigations into the double murder were underway, rumours were flying thick and fast regarding who could have been responsible for the crime. So far however there is no political angle attached to the murders. The journalist community however is incensed and not only demanded security for themselves but also gave an ultimatum to the government to nab the murderers or else be ready for a movement of media personnel for the resignation of the Home Minister.
Relations with India
The remarks of the Director General of BSF, UK Bansal, who in an interview to BBC Bangla said that it was not possible to completely stop incidents of firing along the Indo-Bangla border as long as criminal activity continued came in for sharp criticism in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh foreign office issued a statement decrying the remarks and expressing its ‘serious disappointment’ as these remarks were “markedly at variance with the assurances given to Bangladesh at various levels, including at the highest level, on several occasions”. Foreign Minister Dipu Moni called the ‘killing and torture’ of Bangladeshi citizens by the BSF ‘unacceptable’. Adding his voice to the position taken by the foreign minister, the head of the Border Guards Bangladesh, Maj Gen Anwar Hossain said that his force scrupulously followed international human rights conventions in dealing with border incidents. He claimed that instead of firing at Indian trespassers, the BGB arrested them and tried them under the law.
The Indian government has agreed to double the annual maintenance fees it pays to the Bangladesh government for the upkeep and maintenance of the waterways used by India for purposes of trade and transit. Until now India was paying Bangladesh around Tk 5.5 Crore which will now be raised to Tk 10 Crore.
A top Indian tyre manufacturer, CEAT, has announced plans to set up a tyre factory in Bangladesh. CEAT will invest about Rs. 250 Crore in the factory which is expected to provide employment to around 550 people.
Despite the last minute failure to sign an agreement on the sharing of Teesta river waters during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka, India and Bangladesh have for the first time shared data of water flow in the Teesta river at the Joint Rivers Commission meeting in Kolkata last week.
While the governments of India and Bangladesh are making progress in the long standing issues between them, computer hackers from the two countries battled it out in cyberspace last week. An Indian hacker group first broke into six Bangladesh government websites and posted messages on them. Bangladeshi hackers were quick to respond and made claims of having hacked over 20,000 Indian websites till now, including the website of the BSF which the hackers accused of killing hundreds of Bangladeshis.