Bangladesh police fire tear gas to scatter opposition protesters

Tear gas is seen while police takes their position in the street Dhaka, Bangladesh, February 8, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Bangladesh police fire tear gas to scatter opposition protesters

DHAKA: Bangladesh police used tear gas on Thursday to disperse thousands of opposition activists who took to the streets of the capital ahead of the verdict in a graft case against a former prime minister.
Protesters swarmed the roads, defying a police ban on rallies, as opposition leader Khaleda Zia headed to the court, set to deliver the verdict in a case about an orphanage trust set up when she was last prime minister, from 2001 to 2006.
“Security has been ramped up in the capital and elsewhere in the country to thwart any untoward incidents,” Dhaka Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia told reporters outside the court.
Television broadcast images of motorcycles set on fire.
Earlier on Thursday, the normally clogged streets of Dhaka were almost bare, after authorities cut off bus and ferry services into the city and thousands of riot police spread out in anticipation of unrest.
Prosecutors have accused Khaleda, her son and aides of stealing 21 million taka ($253,000) in foreign donations received by the trust.
If convicted, Khaleda faces sentences ranging up to life in prison, which would keep her from running in parliamentary polls set for December.
Khaleda and her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) say the charges are part of a plot to keep the leader and her family out of politics. Party leaders said more than 3,500 supporters were detained over the past few days.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda, both related to former national leaders, have nursed a long and bitter rivalry, and have dominated politics in Bangladesh for more than two decades.
The renewed tension between them raises the spectre of a long, destabilising spell of unrest for Bangladesh and its economy.


Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

Updated 20 July 2019
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Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

  • At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week
  • South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season

GAUHATI, India: The death toll in monsoon flooding in South Asia has risen to 152 as millions of people and animals continue to face the brunt in three countries, officials said Saturday.
At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week. A dozen have been killed in Bangladesh.
Shiv Kumar, a government official in Assam, said 10 rare one-horned rhinos have died in Kaziranga National Park since the Brahmaputra River burst its banks, flooding the reserve.
Some 4.8 million people spread over 3,700 villages across the state are still affected by the floods, though the frequency of rains has decreased in the past 24 hours, the Assam Disaster Response Authority said. More than 2.5 million have also been hit by flooding in India’s Bihar state.
Amid the flooding, 20-year-old Imrana Khatoon delivered her first baby on a boat in floodwaters early Friday while on her way to a hospital in Assam’s flooded Gagalmari village, locals said. The woman and the newborn were brought back to their home without getting to the hospital.
Community health worker Parag Jyoti Das, who visited the family, said there were no post-delivery health complications. However, the mother and the child were moved to a hospital on a boat to the nearby town of Jhargaon because of unhygienic conditions due to floodwaters, Das said. The health center in Khatoon’s village was flooded and closed.
“I would have felt happier if the baby’s father was here,” said Khatoon, whose husband works in a hotel in the southern state of Kerala.
More than 147,000 people have taken shelter in 755 government-run camps across Assam, officials said.
Authorities warned they would take action against suppliers who were reported to be distributing poor quality rice and other essentials to marooned people and inmates of temporary shelters at some places.
“We have ordered the arrest of those unscrupulous elements supplying substandard materials and playing with the lives of the affected people,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam’s finance minister.
In Nepal, the Home Ministry said about 36,728 families were affected by the monsoon rains. The flooding and mudslides forced some 13,000 families to flee their homes.
In at least two of Nepal’s districts, helicopters were used to transport emergency food supplies, while other transport means were being used to move tents and other supplies to the victims.
South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season.