1 dead, scores hurt in latest Bangladesh protest

Updated 10 November 2013
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1 dead, scores hurt in latest Bangladesh protest

DHAKA: Opposition activists in Bangladesh clashed with police and ruling party members Sunday on the first day of a four-day general strike amid concerns by businesses that the country will suffer terribly if the ongoing chaos does not immediately stop.
At least one man died and scores were injured across the country as the opposition enforced the strike to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to quit and form a caretaker government made up of people from outside of mainstream political parties to oversee an election next year.
The latest spate of violence came after at least 18 people died during similar protests over the last two weeks as the opposition enforced shutdowns totaling 120 hours.
Television stations said a man died Sunday in the southeastern district of Chittagong after picketers attacked an auto-rickshaw he was traveling in.
The latest developments come at a time of deep tension in Bangladesh, a nation struggling to overcome extreme poverty, rancorous politics and a string of horrific accidents linked to the garment industry.
The situation became further complicated when authorities arrested five prominent leaders of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Friday and Saturday.
After the arrests of Moudud Ahmed, M.K. Anwar, Rafiqul Islam Mia, Abdul Awal Mintoo and an aide to opposition leader Khaleda Zia, the opposition increased an already announced 72-hour strike by 12 hours in reply to the government’s crackdown.
All of those who were arrested were sent to jail by a court on Saturday. They will have to stay there at least until Thursday, when the court will hear police charges against them.
Police said they were arrested in two separate cases involving charges of arson, smashing of vehicles and attacking police.
But the opposition says the charges are politically motivated and has vowed to intensify the protests.
Dhaka’s Bengali-language Prothom Alo newspaper reported Sunday that at least 200 vehicles have either been torched or vandalized across the country since Friday in response to the arrests.
Meanwhile, businesses said Bangladesh’s economy could be hit hard as its manufacturing sector could suffer a big blow, especially the garment industry, which earns more than $20 billion a year from exports.
“We are facing huge trouble. How will we do our business if such chaos continues,” said S.M. Mannan Kochi, a vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
“We have to confirm our shipment, we have to pay our workers, but nobody is caring about that,” he said.
The garment industry employs more than 3 million workers, mostly women, and most factories are located in the capital, Dhaka, and its surrounding areas, as well as in Chittagong. During any strike, businesses are hugely affected in both Dhaka and Chittagong.
Hasina and Zia, a former prime minister, are the most powerful leaders in Bangladesh and they have alternated as prime minister since 1991.
Hasina wants an all-party government to oversee the next elections, but Zia wants her to resign to pave the way for forming a caretaker government with people from outside of political parties.
The government says it is determined to form an election-time government with other parties if Zia’s party continues to refuse to join.
In addition to the election-related chaos, a war crimes tribunal stemming from Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan has become another incendiary political issue.


India says Pakistan must take action against those behind Kashmir attack

Updated 20 min 41 sec ago
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India says Pakistan must take action against those behind Kashmir attack

  • Attack was one of the worst single attack against Indian forces in Kashmir

NEW DELHI: India angrily rejected Imran Khan’s offer of dialogue as tensions continued to increase after a suicide bomber killed more than 40 soldiers in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

India blamed Pakistan for the attack on Thursday in which a militant rammed a van full of explosives in to a bus carrying paramilitary troops. It was the worst single attack against Indian forces in Kashmir.

In a speech to the nation, the Pakistani prime minister on Tuesday offered to hold talks and asked India to show “actionable intelligence that a Pakistani is involved and we will take action.”

New Delhi described Khan’s offer as a “lame excuse.” The foreign ministry asked Khan to “stop misleading the international community” and take credible and visible action against the perpetrators of the attack in Pulwama and “terror groups operating from areas under their control.”

“Disclaiming any link between the terrorist attack and Pakistan is an oft-repeated excuse by Pakistan,” the statement said. “The Pakistani prime minister has ignored claims made by the Jaish-e-Mohammad, as well as by the terrorist who perpetrated this heinous crime. 

“It is a well-known fact that Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leader Masood Azhar are based in Pakistan. These should be sufficient proof for Pakistan to take action," the statement reads.

Militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad said it had carried out the attack.

The statement said Pakistan had failed to take action against those responsible for previous attacks against India, including the 2008 Mumbai massacre that killed 174 people.

“India has repeatedly stated that it is ready to engage in a comprehensive bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence,” the statement said.

The attack has led to calls within in India for a firm response against Pakistan.

In his speech, Khan warned India that in the event of an attack Pakistan would retaliate.