Dhaka, Jan 4 (UNB) – “Our blood is pure. Our blood is tested. Awami League is not only a party but the name of a feeling,” this is how late Syed Ashraful Islam, one of the brightest stars in Bangladesh’s politics, had encouraged millions of its supporters across the country through his last political speech.
Senior political leaders and followers of the former AL general secretary and Public Administration Minister keep showering their love and respect on him recalling those “encouraging” last words when he said, “If we remain united, no force in the world can stop Awami League.”
“He (Ashraf) was a symbol of mass people’s love and confidence. We’ve lost a broad-minded, honest and patriotic political personality,” said Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu mentioning that the vacuum that has been created in Bangladesh’s political landscape through his demise is irreparable.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said Syed Ashraf had played a very important role in the War of Liberation and various democratic movements.
He said the vacuum of losing such a friendly, dedicated, far-sighted and honest political leader free from greed will never be filled.
Syed Ashraf, the eldest son of national leader and acting president of Mujibnagar Government Syed Nazrul Islam, died of lung cancer at a hospital in Thailand on Thursday night four days after being elected an MP of the 11th parliament.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam said Syed Ashraf, son of Bangabandhu’s close associate Syed Nazrul Islam, is an exemplary political personality for them. “He was a widely respected person and the nation will always remember this patriotic and mass people’s leader with respect.”
Talking to UNB, former Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said Syed Ashraf in his entire life fought for establishing democracy and he demonstrated his prudent leadership during the 1/11 episode.
He said Syed Ashraf had always followed the political principles of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and he did never abuse power despite his presence close to power which will remain exemplary to the new generation of political leaders. “His untimely demise will create a big vacuum in Bangladesh’s political arena.”
Syed Ashraf, in his speech at AL’s 20th national council, said Bangabandhu is the name of a feeling and the feelings that came through sacrifices of the lives of thousands of AL people and through various movements is the Awami League.
“Awami League is marching ahead, Awami League will march ahead. Bangladesh will turn into a Sonar Bangla under the leadership of (Prime Minister) Sheikh Hasina,” he was heard saying in a video clip of AL followers are sharing on social media recalling him with respect.
Newly elected AL MP Prof Dr AK Abdul Momen, who also shared the video clip, said, “He (Syed Ashraf) was a much respected person. I always felt good while talking to him. There was an intellectual flavour in his talks. He was a very realistic and honest politician.”
Momen hoped that other politicians will follow his footsteps saying Syed Ashraf was a very honest politician like his father.
Sharing his memories with Syed Ashraf during their visit to Shanghai, China back in 2014, AL deputy office secretary Barrister Biplob Barua wrote on his Facebook wall, “Syed Ashraf was an authority of different political philosophy in Bangladesh’s politics.”
He said politeness, honesty, courage, ideology and loyalty towards leadership were the main principles Syed Ashraf maintained.
Syed Ashraf was elected MP from Kishoreganj-1 constituency in 1996, 2001, 2008 and 2014 apart from the latest one held on December 30, 2018.
He started his political career during his student life with Chhatra League and became General Secretary of BCL's greater Mymensingh district unit. He was a member of the Mukti Bahini during the Liberation War.
Syed Ashraf left the country for the UK following the killing of his father on November 3, 1975, inside Dhaka Central Jail along with the three other national leaders.
In the UK, he got engaged in various activities with the Bangladeshi community and worked for organising the Awami League there.
He was elected MP and served as the State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry from 1996-2001 upon his return home in 1996.
The leader was inducted as the Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives after the 2008 election win.
He was given the charge of the Public Administration Ministry later in July 2015 the post which he held till his death.
Syed Ashraf together with former President Zillur Rahman ran the party when Sheikh Hasina was in jail during the 1/11 episode.
Bagerhat, Jan 4 (UNB) – Newly elected Member of Parliament Sheikh Sarhan Naser Tonmoy has expressed his restlessness to start working to build a country with boundless possibilities.
Marking the third generation of MPs in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s family and one of nine members of the family who will be part of the 11th Jatiya Sangshad, Tonmoy spoke to UNB shortly after being administered the oath of office on Thursday.
“I’m very happy upon taking the oath...the promises must be kept... the words I uttered while taking the oath must count, there’re many things to learn from this parliament,” he said.
A work plan has already been prepared for the development of his constituency (Bagerhat Sadar and Kachua) as he wants to work for changing the fate of the people of his area, he said.
“I want to learn from the senior leaders of parliament. All together we’ll have to build Bangladesh, a country of possibilities. A pressure to work for the welfare of people has been built after taking oath. Now we just have to start the work of serving people,” he said.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has showed us the dream that we see for a Bangladesh with unlimited potentials. Lakhs of youths, like me, have seen this dream and have brought victory for Boat by casting their votes for Awami league,” said 31-year-old Tonmoy.
Tonmoy, the Awami League’s youngest candidate in the 11th national election, secured victory by bagging 221,212 votes from Bagerhat-2 constituency. He also gained popularity nationwide for his good looks and youthful campaign style – for example, insisting on being recognised not as a leader, but as a worker.
In his electoral rallies, Tonmoy promised a Bagerhat without drugs, corruption, extortion and terrorism.
Meanwhile, the people of Bagerhat -2 constituency want to see Tonmoy inducted in the cabinet.
By way of education, after completing his third standard in his homeland, Tonmoy left for boarding school in India in 1987. He then completed O and A levels in Dhaka.
During the emergency regime in 2007, again he went to India and returned in 2012. He went to London in 2015 for higher studies.
A married man, Tonmoy also worked for a company in Singapore.
He formally joined party politics in 2017 and secured a landmark victory in the election.
Dhaka, Jan 3 (UNB) – Many think public universities are meant for only providing education. Not exactly! These days, students come up with their basic health needs and university medical centres are supposed to address those.
A few days back, a female student of Dhaka University shared in social media what she experienced at the institution’s medical centre. She recently visited the facility thrice with an eye problem but was denied treatment every time, she alleged.
Her Facebook post mostly drew negative and angry comments, lambasting the poor treatment at DU’s lone medical treatment facility, set up in 1922.
Thirty-six doctors, including six part-timers and six homeopaths, are there to treat more than 39,000 students, 2,012 teachers, over 4,000 staff and their families. The centre only has 30 beds and four ambulances.
It does not have a separate ward for female patients.
Over 400 patients visit the centre every day but many complain about poor services and the absence of physicians.
Students alleged that the centre advised them to get treated at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) – even for common diseases or minor injuries – most of the time.
Dr Sarawer Jahan Muktafi, the chief medical officer (acting) of the centre, turned down the allegations. “We’re always trying our best to serve the patients despite our limitations,” he said.
Staff at the medical centre claimed that 140,320 people were treated at the centre in 2016-17 fiscal.
A source at the university said the medical centre was supposed to provide free medicines for some common diseases but most of the time, it offers only painkillers and Napa.
The facility is also supposed to supply fresh bed sheets and mosquito nets to patients but it rarely does, the source said. More worrying is that its toilets are not cleaned regularly.
DU Proctor Prof AKM Golam Rabbani said they are expanding the medical centre and would hire more people. “We can open the extension after a few months. That will solve the problems,” he hoped.
But those assurances are hardly enough to pacify the disgruntled students.
“The physicians and staff are not friendly and doctors remain absent most of the time,” said Shimul Shahriar, an MA student. “They don’t take us seriously even if we suffer from serious illnesses.”
“They offer us painkillers or Napa and tell us to go to the DMCH or other hospitals for treatment. This medical centre is good for nothing,” he said.
Khulna, Jan 3 (UNB) – The tin-shed houses are easily flooded in the rainy season. At times, even the kitchens are inundated, rendering the residents unable to cook meals.
The situation sometimes forces them to spend sleepless nights on the beds with family members.
With years of negligence, the residents of the government’s Asrayan Project for sheltering the homeless in Terkhada’s Harikhali are now left with dilapidated and damp households.
Apart from waterlogging and crumbling homes, unemployment is also forcing residents to leave the project homestead.
The government initiated the project in 2002 to provide housing for the poor and homeless. There are 24 homes for 240 impoverished families.
Most of the houses have gone rusty and become unlivable in absence of proper supervision and repair works.
Many families, who had originally moved here, had left the place, leaving some of the homes empty. Constantly fighting nature and poverty are parts of lives of those who are still here.
Mud, excavated during the dredging of nearby Atharobaki River, has been piled up on the southern part of the project, partially blocking the entrances of some of the homes.
“The units (homes) are no longer livable,” one of the residents said.
There is no market nearby or employment opportunities. Many families left the project for safety issues, while many others fled the project area to avoid investigations into illegally securing houses there.
Md Liton Ali, Terkhada Upazila Nirbahi Officer, said uninhabitable houses and unemployment are among key reasons why people are leaving the project.
He said they were “trying to repair” the houses and dredge the nearby river and canal to solve the water scarcity.
“Initiatives have been taken to rehabilitate the destitute, homeless and the poor in the empty units,” the UNO said. “We’ll take actions against those who were allotted houses on political considerations.”
Dhaka, Jan 2 (UNB) – In the wake of Sunday’s drubbing in the national election, BNP policymakers are struggling to find out suitable measures to stay afloat in the post-election politics.
Party senior leaders said they are now in a fix to work out their next course of action as some think the party should now focus on the issue relating to election and force the government to hold a fresh election while others want the party to give priority to strengthening it and revitalising its rank and file.
A BNP standing committee member said most of their colleagues want the party to closely observe the situation and keep in touch with foreign friends and international bodies and rejuvenate party grassroots instead of going for any movement right now.
However, he said, some leaders think BNP should wage a movement to mount pressure on the government and the Election Commission to annul the election and thus give the party grassroots a new hope.
Under the circumstance, the BNP leader said, they have decided to work out their future action plans observing the reactions of the western countries and some important global bodies to the election.
He also said though BNP is against taking oath by seven Jatiya Oikyafront MPs elected in Sunday’s election, some alliance leaders want them to join the parliament. “We still couldn’t finalise our decision on it.”
A BNP vice-chairman thinks their party should now give main focus on getting party’s arrested leaders and activists released and ensuring bail for those who are on the run facing many cases to keep the spirit of the grassroots.
Though Tuesday was the founding anniversary of BNP’s vital wing Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), there was no programme to celebrate it unlike previous years, manifesting the disappointment among its leaders and activists.
Even the JCD office, on the 3rd floor of BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, was found locked until noon and no one of its leaders and activists was seen in and around the office.
JCD used to celebrate its founding anniversary every year with different programmes, including placing wreaths at BNP founder Ziaur Rahman’s grave, cutting big cakes and holding discussions.
Contacted, JCD office secretary Abdus Sattar Patwari said there is a ban on holding any rally and meeting by the Election Commission until three days of the election. “That’s why we decided to celebrate our founding anniversary later.”
He said their president and general secretary issued a message greeting the JCD leaders and activists on the occasion.
BNP standing committee member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said it is usual that millions of BNP leaders and activists across the country have got shell-shocked by the ‘unimaginable and unexpected’ election results, whatever reasons may have behind it.
“We aren’t ready to get such an election results under any circumstance. I alerted the party high-ups six months ago that the 11th parliamentary elections would be farcical one if it was held under a party government, and that’s why I didn’t contest the polls,” he said.
Mahbub said the party should now do some serious soul-searching in the wake of the shocking defeat. “The party should now identify its mistakes and work out effective steps to revitalise its disappointed rank and file.”
He said BNP senior leaders should not remain silent now after such catastrophic election results as it will only demoralise the grassroots further. “BNP should now take some effective and positive programmes to give the party leaders and activists new hopes and keep them busy with some constructive activities so that they can overcome the shock and turn around.”
BNP’s Mohammadpur thana unit president Haji Mohammad Yusuf said party leaders and activists have lost their words and become utterly disappointed over the election results. “They’ve also become worried about their future as most of them are facing numerous cases.”
He said their followers are coming to them to know what they should now do and what will be the future action of the party. “But we’ve no suitable answer except telling them to have patience and observe the situation.”
Bogura district unit BNP joint general secretary Arafatur Rahman Apple said party grassroots got demoralised as the party even could not protect its strongholds like Bogura, Feni and Noakhali. “It’s very tough time for us. Our senior leaders must work out effective strategies and steps to boost the morale of disappointed party activists.”
Under the circumstances, he said, party senior leaders should contact the grassroots leaders and give them necessary directives to tackle the post-election situation.