Image by Rezwan

Overcrowded passenger ferry capsized in the Padma River in Munshiganj, Bangladesh

The World Cup Goal-E Project

This street in Bangladesh has a colorful world cup celebration

New Chum Hill Ruins

Remnants of Kiandra gold mine at New Chum Hill, #nsw #australia

December 20, 2013

Are we aware of our actions?

December 15, 2013

The Startup Scene In Dhaka

This is a story about Startup community in Dhaka that uses the power of Internet to create new and exciting businesses.

The film shows some of the people who are working as startup founders, investors and mentors in Dhaka. It asks them about their experiences, listen to what they think the future holds for this brewing Startup community.

Learn more about Startup Dhaka. The film was made by raising fund ($9002) at the Indiegogo platform. It shows if you are willing funding is never a problem. Your action is needed.
“Build and they will come.”
This is the requirement of any startup.
“When you meet any person just say ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’ and ‘Nice to meet you’ because network matters’-Fayaz Taher, CEO Fortuna Group.
And another powerful tool is building networks. There are a lot of Non-Resident-Bangladeshis coming back to their homeland to invest in startup opportunities. All the budding entrepreneurs need is to connect and network with them to find a synergy. Here is an effort to map all the startups in Dhaka. Why not add your one here!

December 14, 2013

Bangladesh Executes Islamist Leader Abdul Quader Mollah for War Crimes

Thousands thronged to Shahbagh to join celebrations after Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Molla was executed for war crimes he committed in 1971. image by Mamunur Rashid, Copyright Demotix (12/12/13)
Thousands thronged to Shahbag to join celebrations after Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Molla was executed for war crimes he committed in 1971. Photo by Mamunur Rashid. Copyright Demotix (12/12/13)
Abdul Quader Mollah, the assistant secretary general of right-wing Islamist party Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami convicted of crimes against humanity during Bangladesh's bloody liberation war from Pakistan in 1971, was executed inside the capital city Dhaka's Central Jail late 12 December 2013.

The hanging sparked a wave of deadly violence from supporters, leaving several dead and a number of homes and businesses torched.

Quadar Mollah was the first to die for war crimes committed during the struggle for independence, in which an estimated 300,000 and three million people were killed and 200,000 women were raped. Jamaat-e-Islami joined forces with Pakistan's secret service to form militia groups such as Razakars & Al-Badr ("the moon") to fight against the nationalist movement and freedom fighters. These forces aided Pakistani forces in the killings.

As a member of Jamaat's student wing Islami Chatra Sangha, Quader Molla joined Al-Badr and, according to charges framed against him, led a mass killing in Mirpur, thus earning the name Butcher of Mirpur among locals. He was also responsible for the shooting of 344 people, the rape of an 11-year-old girl, and the beheading of a poet. 

After the formation of Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal in 2009 to prosecute those who participated in the war's genocide, he was arrested 13 July 2010, and more than a year later on 18 December 2011, he was formally charged with six charges and 344 counts of murder. On 5 February 2013, he was given a life sentence, with an additional 15-year sentence, for his crimes.

But the verdict sparked massive protests demanding his death as well as an end to extremism in politics. Thousands of people joined the demonstrations in Dhaka's central square, which became known as the #2013 Shahbag protests (see Global Voices special coverage page).
An ambulance carrying the body of Abdul Quader Molla leaves the Dhaka Central Jail after his execution for war crimes. Molla was hanged at 10:01am on Thursday night and the ambulance left at around 11:14pm. Image by Anwar Hossain Joy. Copyright Demotix (12/12/2013)
An ambulance carrying the body of Abdul Quader Molla leaves the Dhaka Central Jail after his execution for war crimes. Molla was hanged at 10:01am on Thursday night and the ambulance left at around 11:14pm. Photo by Anwar Hossain Joy. Copyright Demotix (12/12/2013)
In response to the protests, the Bangladeshi Parliament passed a bill on 17 February 2013 amending the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act of 1973, which allowed the government to appeal sentences.

The government appealed against Quader Mollah's first verdict, and on 17 September 2013, the Bangladesh Supreme Court found him guilty of murders and other war crimes and converted his life sentence to a death sentence.

So far, 12 people excluding Quader Mollah have been arrested and the trials are ongoing in different stages. A number of them have already been awarded with sentences ranging from life imprisonment to death. Members of political party Jamaat have led protests against the trials, alleging that the government is trying to suppress the opposition through the trials.

There have been intense Twitter campaigns from #Shahbag activists (using hashtags like #shahbag & #BanJamaat) in favor of the execution and Jamaat supporters (using hashtags like #FreeQuaderMollah, #WeAreQuaderMollah, #MartyrAbdulQuaderMollah), with some of the hashtags trending on given days. Activist Allan Turing (@turing1010) thanked the #Shahbag movement and tweeted:
Many netizens commented that the nation has cleared the blemish of impunity with this execution. Blogger Ekramul Haque Shamim posted a status on Facebook:
কাদের মোল্লার ফাঁসি কার্যকর। দায়মুক্তির সূচনা এখানেই। জয় বাংলা।
The execution of Quader Mollah Complete. The end to impunity. Joy bangla.
Blogger Avijit Roy mentioned on Facebook that Bangladesh has entered a new phase:
আজ যুদ্ধাপরাধী কাদের মোল্লার ফাঁসির সাথে বাংলাদেশ নতুন দিনে, নতুন যুগে, নতুন জগতে প্রবেশ করলো। অনেক দুঃখ পেয়েছি মা এই বছরটায়, আশা করি বিজয় দিবসটা এবার নতুন আলোয় অন্যরকম একটা ভোর দেখবে।...
Today we entered a new phase, a new day, a new era of Bangladesh. We have suffered through many sorrows this year, hope we will see a new dawn on Victory Day [16 December].
Twitter user Royesoye (@royesoye) reminded readers that Bangladeshis had been waiting for this trial and justice for 42 long years:
Here are more reactions:
UN experts, Human Rights Watch and other organizations urged Bangladesh government not to carry on with the execution over fair trial concerns. However, netizens reacted:
Blogger Kalo Kak (Black Crow) at Choturmatrik wrote:
কাদের মোল্লার ফাঁসির দিনে Jang Song Thaek নামে নর্থ কোরিয়ার একজন সাবেক ক্ষমতাধর ব্যক্তির’ও মৃত্যদন্ড কার্যকর হয়েছে। নর্থ কোরিয়া কাউকে পাত্তা-টাত্তা দেয়না বলে সেখানে গিয়ে নাক গলানো সম্ভব না। কিন্তু মানবাধিকার সংগঠনগুলোর হলো কী? তারা তো একটু শব্দ-টব্দ করতে পারতো? করেছে কেউ? আমার গুগলমতে না। [..] বিশ্ববাসীর সিলেক্টিভ মানবতা দেখছি!
On the day of the execution of Quader Mollah, an influential political leader from North Korea Jang Song Thaek was executed. North Korea doesn't bother any country so it is hard for others to stick their noses in there. But what happened to the human rights organizations? They could have protested. Did anyone do it? I googled and found none. [..] I am witnessing selective concern of human rights amongst the people of the world.
From the opposite camp, Shahnur Begum (@ShahnurBegum) addressed those who were celebrating the execution:
Irony & irony, #WeAreQuaderMollah Those who are celebrating the execution have never seen him murder or rape anyone.
Blogger I am Opimist wrote that the verdict has divided the nation:
আয়রনি হচ্ছে, বেয়াল্লিশ বছর অপেক্ষা করে যেই রায় দেয়া হলো এবং কার্যকর করা হলো, যাতে বেয়াল্লিশ বছর আগের ক্ষত ভুলে আমরা একসাথে সামনে আগাতে পারি, সেই রায়ই দেশের মানুষকে শত ভাগে ভাগ করে দিয়ে গেল। [...]
The irony is that the verdict, which came after 42 years and was executed, was meant to be part of the reconciliation and a way forward, but instead it had divided the nation. [..]
After the execution of Quader Mollah, violence led by supporters of Jamaat left several people dead. Activists also vandalized and burnt minority Hindu homes and shops, and the home of one judge working in the war crimes tribunal was attacked with a petrol bomb. The party has maintained that the execution was politically motivated and has called for a dawn to dusk strike on 15 December 2013.
Jamat e Islami activists in Bangladesh set four vehicles on fire in response to Abdul Quader Mullah's execution. The activists vandalized, and set fire to the trucks at Ponchoboti Fatulla in Narayanganj. Image by Mahbubur Rahman Khoka. Copyright demotix (13/12/2013)
Jamat e Islami activists in Bangladesh set four vehicles on fire in response to Abdul Quader Mullah's execution. Photo by Mahbubur Rahman Khoka. Copyright Demotix (13/12/2013)
Ishtiaq Al Mahmud (@iamahmud) provided an update on the Jamaat violence after the execution of Quader Mollah:
Blogger and online activist Kallol Mustafa wrote that it is important to arrest the people involved in the Jamaat mayhem as soon as possible:
কুখ্যাত রাজাকার কাদের মোল্লার ফাঁসিকে কেন্দ্র করে বরাবরের মতোই জামাত সারা দেশে পরিকল্পিত ভাবে তান্ডব চালাচ্ছে- হিন্দু পল্লী,সরকারি প্রতিষ্ঠান, দোকান-পাট, ব্যাবসা প্রতিষ্ঠান, জানবাহন ইত্যাদি এই জামাতি তান্ডবের লক্ষ বস্তু । শুধু জামাতি সেন্ট্রাল কমান্ড নয়, গ্রাম-থানা-উপজেলা-জেলা-বিভাগ পর্যায়ের জামাত-শিবিরের ‘তান্ডব সংগঠকদের’ সমন্বিত প্রচেষ্টা ছাড়া এটা সম্ভব নয়। তাৎক্ষণিক ভাবে তান্ডব ঠেকানোর পাশাপাশি এই ‘তান্ডব সংঠকদের’ দ্রুত সানাক্ত করে গ্রেফতার ও বিচারের আওতায় আনা এখন সবচেয়ে জরুরী কাজ।
Jamaat has unleashed a wave of planned violence stemming from the execution of Quader Mollah. Hindu installations, government offices, private commercial premises, transport are the focus of their destruction. This requires a massive coordination between Jamaat central command and the arms of violence. So it is mandatory to resist the violence and rampage and arrest the masterminds.
Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, torched four private cars and five motorcycles including two of police personnel at Motijheel in the capital after the Juma prayer. image by Reaz Sumon. Copyright Demotix (13/12/13)
Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, torched four private cars and five motorcycles including two of police personnel at Motijheel in the capital after the Juma prayer. Photo by Reaz Sumon. Copyright Demotix (13/12/13)
The international mainstream media had provided wide coverage on the execution of Quader Mollah. Many of them termed him as an Islamist leader, which journalist Pallab Muhaimen protested on Facebook:
কাদের মোল্লাকে Islamist leader বলা হচ্ছে দুই জায়গায়। এক. জামাত বলছে। আর দুই. পশ্চিমা গণমাধ্যম। পশ্চিমা গণমাধ্যমের শিরোনামে war criminal লিখতে কেন এত কষ্ট? ব্যতিক্রম হিসেবে রয়টার্স ও এএফপি তবুও কিছুটা যুদ্ধপরাধের কথা যুক্ত হয়েছে।
Quader Mollah is being named as an "islamist leader" on two fronts. One: Jamaat is propagating this. And two: the Western mainstream media. Why is it too hard to write "war criminal"? Only exceptions are Reuters and AFP who had mentioned about his war crimes.

December 05, 2013

Facebook Refused to Delete a Video on How to Make a Petrol Bomb

During the recent political violence in Bangladesh there were many instances of petrol bomb attacks on public transport full of passengers which killed and injured many.

A video emerged in Facebook [bn] last May posted by a radical person on how to make a petrol bomb and throw it to political opposition and policemen.

The video also included violent messages (in Bengali) which was widely shared. A snapshot of the narrative:
পেট্রোল বোমা বানানোর সহজ টিপস । জামাত, শিবির, হেফাজত সহ সকল ইসলামী আন্দোলনের কর্মীদের বলছি: অবশ্যই, অবশ্যয়ে, অবশ্যই অস্ত্র হাতে নেয়া মুসলমানের জন্য অবধারিত হয়ে পরেছে.
An easy tip to make a petrol bomb. Calling Jamaat, Shibir, Hefazat and other Islami movement activists: It has become a must for the Muslims to pick up weapon and hit back.. 
Journalist Tasneem Khalil tried to report this video to Facebook. But Facebook refused to remove it and replied with this message:
First Published in Global Voices Online.

December 04, 2013

‘How Many Burning Bodies Will Satisfy Them?': Political Violence in Bangladesh

[All links lead to Bangla-language webpages unless otherwise noted.]

The violent political crisis currently plaguing Bangladesh is having deadly consequences [en] for the country's people, who have borne the brunt of a series of politically motivated attacks in the last few weeks, such as the November 28 petrol bombing of a bus [en] full of passengers in Shahbag [en], near the center of capital Dhaka.

That attack killed three people, including a 10-year-old, and severely injured 15 others. Several others have died in similar incidents around the country.

The rash of violence began after Bangladesh's election commission declared at the end of November that parliamentary elections will be held on January 5, 2014. The opposition parties - Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party - have rejected [en] the timetable, and are calling for the country's prime Minister to resign and for elections to be held under a neutral caretaker government.

The resulting protests and road blockades have at times turned violence, with activists hurling crude bombs at vehicles full of passengers or derailing trains [en] killing a number of innocent people. The violence in recent weeks has claimed more than 50 lives and left 2,000 people injured [en]. Several opposition leaders have been arrested during the protests on different charges, and a number of party activists have died during violent clashes with the police.

And everyday citizens continue to pay dearly for the discontent. In past weeks, people like MonirSumiMontu Paul, Asad GaziNasima Begum, Abul Quashem and others have lost their lives.

[Warning: Graphic images below]

A patient being taken for treatment at the Dhaka Medical College who sustained burn injuries after an unidentified attacker threw a petrol bomb inside a moving bus in Dhaka. Image by Naveed Ishtyak. Copyright Demotix (28/11/2013)
A patient being taken for treatment at the Dhaka Medical College who sustained burn injuries after an unidentified attacker threw a petrol bomb inside a moving bus in Dhaka. Image by Naveed Ishtyak. Copyright Demotix (28/11/2013)
One day of political violence is described in this Daily Prothom Alo report:

  • শুক্রবার ভোররাত। ঢাকা-বগুড়া মহাসড়ক। যানজটে স্থবির পাঁচ শতাধিক গাড়ি। স্থানে স্থানে ককটেল, ইটপাথর নিয়ে নির্বিচার হামলা। নারকীয় তাণ্ডব। নারী-শিশু-বৃদ্ধ—কারও রেহাই নেই। আহত শতাধিক যাত্রী। 
  • শুক্রবার ভোররাত। ফেনীর দাগন-ভূঞায় নৈশকোচে হামলা। যাত্রীদের মারধর। টাকাপয়সা, মালামাল লুট। পেট্রল ঢেলে বাসে আগুন। 
  • শুক্রবার রাত একটা। রাজশাহী-নওগাঁ সড়কের দেওয়ানপাড়া। ধানবোঝাই চারটি ট্রাকে আগুন। আগুন ওষুধের গাড়িতেও। 
বিএনপি-জামায়াতের নেতৃত্বাধীন ১৮-দলীয় জোটের হঠাৎ ৭২ ঘণ্টা অবরোধের খণ্ডচিত্র এটি। অবরোধের আগপাছ বিবেচনায় নেই। হামলা যেন অনিবার্য। 
চট্টগ্রামের সীতাকুণ্ড, কুমিল্লা, চাঁদপুর—অবরোধের ডাক দেওয়ার আগে রাস্তায় নামা যাত্রীবাহী বাস, মালবাহী ট্রাকের ওপর হামলে পড়ার একই চিত্র সবখানে। 
অপ্রস্তুত মানুষের ওপর পরিকল্পিত হামলা। মহাসড়কজুড়ে এক অবিশ্বাস্য রাজনৈতিক বর্বরতা।

  • Friday [29 November, 2013] early morning. Dhaka-Bogura Highway. Around 500 vehicles were stuck in a traffic jam due to a protesting road blockade. Suddenly, they were attacked by small explosive devices and bricks. Massive violence. No respite for women and children. More than 100 passengers hurt. 
  • Friday early morning. Feni-Dagonbhuiyan night coach attacked. The passengers were beaten, robbed. The bus was torched after pouring petrol. 

  • Friday 1 a.m. in the morning. Dewanpara at Rajshahi-Naoga Road. Four trucks containing rice were torched. A van carrying medicine was not spared. 
These are the snapshots of the 72-hour blockade undertaken by the [Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami] 18-party coalition. There is no innovation in the nature of protest. Seems violence and attacks are the norm. 
In places like Sitakunda, Comilla and Chandpur, it's a common scene during the blockade that a passenger bus or delivery truck are attacked indiscriminately. 
Planned attacks on unprepared citizens. Political barbarism on the highways.
That's only one day. Since January 1, 2013, political violence has claimed 348 lives.

There have been uproar and condemnation across the country over the bloodshed. Blogger Fatema Johra wrote on Bangla blogging platform Amarblog:
মৃত্যুর মিছিল শুরু হয়েছে আমাদের দেশে।একটার পর একটা নিরীহ মানুষ যুক্ত হচ্ছে সেই মৃত্যুর মিছিলে। মাঝে মাঝে মনেহয় এই বুঝি আমিও যুক্ত হলাম সেই মিছিলে, এই বুঝি আমার স্কুল পড়ুয়া ভাইটা সেই মিছিলে হেঁটে যাচ্ছে।যতক্ষণ পর্যন্ত ভাইটা না ফেরে ততক্ষণ পর্যন্ত কান পেতে রাখি দরজায়, অপেক্ষায় থাকি কখন ও এসে বলবে- আপু, দরজা খোলো।আর অস্থির হয়ে ভাবতে থাকি ঠিক মতো ফিরবে তো ভাইটা! নাকি মনিরের মতো....আবার, হঠাৎ বাবার ফোন আসলে মনেহয়- বাবাই তো! নাকি অন্য কেউ বাবার মিছিলে যাবার খবর দিতে ফোন করল! কিন্তু যখন ফোনটা ধরে শুনতে পাই-"হ্যালো মামুনি" তখন মনটা শান্ত হয় এই ভেবে- নাহ, বাবা ভালোই আছে। কিন্তু তারপরও এক অসহ্য আতঙ্ক নিয়ে কাটাতে হয় সারাদিন,বাবা সুস্থভাবে বাড়ি ফিরবে তো!
A procession of death is marching through our country. One by one, innocent people are joining that procession. It occurs to me that I may be included in that at anytime, or my school-age brother. I anxiously wait for his return every day, wait for the call... "sister, please open the door". I hope that he would not end up... like Monir. Again... the phone rings and I think... is it Dad... or someone else has a bad news regarding Dad.
The activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir go on the rampage as they hurled numbers of crude bombs and vandalized several vehicles at Dhanmondi in Dhaka. Image by Sk Hasan Ali. Copyright Demotix (1/12/2013)
Violence during protests organized by Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir left several vehicles damaged at Dhanmondi in Dhaka. Image by Sk Hasan Ali. Copyright Demotix (1/12/2013)
Left-wing political leader and economist Anu Mohammad questioned how much innocent passersby should be forced to bear:
[...] দেশে জমিদারী নিয়ে রক্তারক্তি চলছে। চলছে নানা নিষ্ঠুর খেলা। প্রতিদিন মানুষ মরছে, পুড়ছে! বেশিরভাগ মানুষ শুধু বেঁচে থাকার তাগিদেই বের হয়েছিলেন রাস্তায়। কতজন পঙ্গু হচ্ছেন তার হিসাবও পাওয়া যাবে না। এতো তুচ্ছ মানুষের জীবন! এতো উচ্চ লাটসাহেবদের খাই!!
Bloody violence to secure who will rule this land. A brutal conspiracy is being played. Every day people are being burnt, being killed! Most of these people were out on the streets during the blockade to earn their bread. There is no statistics for how many are losing their limbs due to injuries. How insignificant are these lives? The powerful are so greedy!
Facebook user Shariful Hasan urged the political parties to end the animosity and leave the people out of it:
ঘেন্না হচ্ছে তাদের প্রতি যারা জনগনের নাম ভাঙ্গিয়ে ক্ষমতায় যাওয়ার কিংবা টিকে থাকার নোংরা রাজনীতি করেন। ঘেন্না তাদের প্রতি যারা নিজ দেশের মানুষকে আগুনে পুড়িয়ে মারেন। ঘেন্না তাদের প্রতি যারা আমার এই দেশটাকে অশান্তির আগুনে পোড়াচ্ছে। মাননীয় দেশপ্রেমিক রাজনীতিবিদদের কাছে আকুতি আপনারা ক্ষমতায় যাওয়ার জন্য নিজেরা কামড়াকামড়ি করেন, কিন্তু সাধারণ জনগনকে দয়া করে মুক্তি দিন। আমরা একটু শান্তিতে থাকতে চাই।
I loathe those who play dirty politics with the voters to stay in power. I despise those who burn their own countrymen. I reject those who are destroying peace in our country. My petition to the patriotic politicians: Please free the citizens from your war for power. We want to live in peace.
Sardar Faruk wrote how fear now grips people on their daily commutes to work:
মৃত্যুর ঝুঁকি নিয়েও অফিসে যেতে হয়। আজ সকালে বাসে উঠে সহযাত্রীদের দেখছিলাম। কারো মুখে কোনো কথা নেই, কী এক আশঙ্কায় জানালাপথে তাকিয়ে আছে। নিজেকে প্রিজনভ্যানের এক ফাঁসির আসামী বলে মনে হচ্ছিলো।
We have to run the risk of death to go to the office. I was observing my fellow passengers on the public bus this morning. Nobody was talking, but were rather looking out the window in anticipation of an unknown fear. It felt like I was a death penalty convict in a prison van.
Blogger Arif Jebtik also reiterated the fear of a bomb being hurled by the protesters:
বউয়ের কাজ ঢাকা ভার্সিটিতে, আমি যাব ঢাকা রিপোটার্স ইউনিটির নির্বাচন দেখতে। একই রাস্তায় এরকম পড়লে একটু সময় এডজাস্ট করে দুজনে একসঙ্গেই যাই। আজকে সকালেও ওভাবেই রেডি হচ্ছিলাম। বের হওয়ার ঠিক আগে বিছানায় ঘুমন্ত বাচ্চাটাকে দেখলাম। আমি বললাম, 'তুমি আলাদা যাও, আমি আলাদা যাই।' এই দাহকালে দুজনেই একসঙ্গে শিককাবাব হয়ে গেলে চলবে না। আলাদা আলাদা গেলে অন্তত একজন টিকে থাকতে পারবে আগামী প্রজন্মের জন্য।
My wife would go to Dhaka University campus; I would go to watch the election of the Dhaka Reporters Union. We usually go together when we have to go in the same direction. This morning was no different. But our sleeping child caught our eyes while we were leaving. I said "let's go separately." In this crazy time, it's not a good idea to risk being killed together. If we go separately, worst case scenario at least one of us would survive to take care of the next generation.
Blogger Lina Ferdous accused politicians of scheming to climb over dead bodies in order to hold on to power:
আর কত মানুষ পূড়লে সফল হবে এই অবরোধ...আর কত মানুষ মরলে জেগে উঠবে মনূষত্য বোধ... এভাবে ধুকে ধুকে মরার চেয়ে আসেন সবাই একসাথে পুড়ে মরি...আমাদের চিতায় তারা সিংহাসন সাজাক...
How many men would die to make this blockade a success.. How many would die to awaken humanity?.. Instead of being burnt one-by-one, let's burn together.. Let them decorate their throne with our cremation fire...
On Twitter, Falguni Mitu ‏asked:
Dipon Mitra and Anulikhon tweeted:
RT @AnuLikhon A bus in Dhaka has been torched http://t.co/dSyGUmWeQ1 You can also torch an empty bus, why the assault on passengers?
Blogger Sohail Jafar (@banglapress) asked the politicians to self-immolate rather than burn others:
The opposition leaders can self-immolate to get what they want..... http://t.co/BPRQK6f1Et
The opposition leaders have said in their political speechs that they are undertaking steps like blockades and strikes to establish democracy. Mahbubul Alam Shohag (@Mahaburs) criticized this point:
No time for pseudo-democracy. Let us save ourselves first
Journalist J. E Mamun (@mamunzi) asked:
Is this a democratic right? The political parties which derail trains by damaging tracks, torching buses...
Shima is six years old, she was burnt when the bus she was traveling on was attacked by protesters angry that people were working during a strike. Image by Mamunur Rashid. Copyrght Demotix (18/11/2013)
Shima, who is six-years-old, suffered burns when the bus she was traveling on was attacked by protesters angry that people were working during a strike. Image by Mamunur Rashid. Copyrght Demotix (18/11/2013)
The authorities have so far failed to arrest anyone for these subversive acts which caused many people burn to death. Journalist Shaugat Ali Sagor blames the government, writing on Facebook:
বাসে আগুন দিয়ে মানুষ পুড়িয়ে,রেল লাইন উপড়ে ফেলে সারা দেশে যারা নৈরাজ্য সৃষ্টি করছে, তাদের ধরতে পারছে না কেন সরকার? মানুষের জানমালের নিরাপত্তাই যদি দিতে না পারে তাহলে সরকারের অস্তিত্ব থাকে কোথায়? সন্ত্রাসীদের ধরতে না পারলে সরকারের উচিত জনগনের কাছে ক্ষমা চেয়ে ক্ষমতা থেকে সরে যাওয়া। রাজনীতির নামে এই ধরনের পৈশাচিকতা চলতে দেওয়া যায় না, চলতে দেওয়া উচিত না।
Those who are creating anarchy by burning people, uprooting railway tracks, why is the government failing to nab them? If they cannot provide the security, then what is the purpose of the government? If they cannot catch the terrorists, they should apologize and resign from power. The barbarism in the name of politics cannot continue.
Suman Kaisar asked everyday people to start protesting:
মানুষের তরে কি কেউ নেই ? সবাই কী পশুত্ববরণ করেছে? কোন দল বা প্রতিষ্ঠানের কাছে না। শুধু মানুষের কাছে দাবি জানাচ্ছি রুখে দাঁড়ান। প্রতিরোধ করুন যারা মানুষ পোড়ানোকে রাজনৈতিক কর্মসূচি বলে চালিয়ে দিতে চায়। আপনার যতটুকু সামার্থ্য তা দিয়ে প্রতিবাদ করুন। যারা আমাদের মা-বাবা-ভাই-বোন বা স্বজনকে পোড়াচ্ছে তাদের বিরুদ্ধে কিছু না কিছু করুন। নিজেকে আর কত লুকিয়ে রাখবেন? আর কিছু না পারেন ওদের বিরুদ্ধে অন্তত ঘৃণার একদলা থুথু ছিটিয়ে দিন। না কি তাও পারবেন না????
Is their no one for humanity? Have we all become animals? No groups or organizations? I urge people to take back the country. Resist those who endorse burning innocent people as a political act. Please resist them with all your might. Those who are burning our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers or relatives, please do something against them. How long will you be running away? If you cannot do anything, just spit on them. Can't you even do that?
Different groups and organization are arranging small protests against these attack on innocent people. A Facebook event has been created titled "Stop burning people in your war for power" by a group called Citizens Resisting Violence. They arranged a protest rally in Shahbag area on December 3, 2013.

Original in Bangla by Pantha Rahman Reza. Translated by author. First published in Global Voices Online.

December 01, 2013

High-Profile Editor Tarun Tejpal Accused of Sexually Assaulting Young Reporter

The celebrated editor-in-chief of Indian magazine Tehelka, known for its groundbreaking investigative journalism and coverage of issues such as corruption and sexual violence, has been arrested on charges that he sexually assaulted a female colleague.

The allegations against Tarun Tejpal, an iconic figure of Indian journalism who led his media organization Tehelka to popularity, first came to light when an email from the victim, a Tehelka reporter and friend of Tejpal's daughter, written to the magazine's managing editor describing the alleged assault was leaked. The victim later resigned from her post, saying that she was "deeply traumatized" by the magazine's lack of support.

Initially, Tehelka Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury, who has since quit in the wake of the scandal, seemed to defend him and said the organization would undertake internal inquiries. As penance, Tejpal sent an "apology" letter on 20 November 2013 to Tehelka management announcing that he would be stepping down for six months in light of allegations. In the letter, he defended himself, saying that "a bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident."

Editor-In-Chief of Tehelka Magazine Tarun J Tejpal during a session of the Literary Festival in Lalitpur. Image by Sunil Sharma. Copyright Demotix (17/9/2011)
Tarun J. Tejpal. Image by Sunil Sharma.
 Copyright Demotix (17/9/2011)
The accusations have created uproar in mainstream media as well as social media, especially among the Twitterati. His fall from grace has been termed "The Fall Of India's Conscience", and the constant conversation in social media has acted as a catalyst in escalating the debate.

Nayanathara, an India Today Reporter, wrote on Google Plus [malayalam]:
Feel ashamed how that young girl would have idealized Tarun Tejpal. For him, it seems like fun after a couple of drinks. After assaulting a woman half his age and then coming up with excuses is nauseating to say the least. After the Delhi rape case, Tehelka had published excellent stories, now I wonder what exactly was Tehelka's editorial orientation regarding women's rights. Also shocking is the fact that there are less people on this earth whom one can trust.
IT professional KrishnaKumar was worried about the way the matter was hushed up inside Tehelka:
It's despicable and disappointing how sexual harassment towards women is treated among the so-called liberal media and elite. Instead of being a modal in such issues, they are trying to shift the blame. It is a big blow to the public's faith in the fourth estate. Tarun Tejpal has clearly assaulted the woman, it should be treated with all the seriousness of a sexual crime. This is not something which should be dealt with internally in Tehelka.
The larger issue to this debate relates to how safe Indian women are in their workplaces. The Tejpal case has prompted some women to come forward. A former female employee of MY FM has filed a sexual harassment case against the company's CEO Harish Bhatia. Former judge of the Supreme Court, A K Ganguly, have been accused by a law intern of sexual harassment. And these are just the tip of the iceberg. Nivedita Menon wrote at Kafila blog:
The silence around the normalizing of a range of behaviour from the apparently casual to the outrightly violent. The laughing sexual innuendo; the misogynist jokes; the well-known ‘displaced squeeze’ of the upper arm, the shoulders; the repeated, relentless expression of romantic or sexual interest despite clear NO’s; the grabbing of the breast, the unwanted kiss, the out-of-town work trip ending in physical assault, presented as flattering interest; and through it all, the clear invocation of the power relationship. A young woman journalist is told to ‘seduce’ someone to come to a high profile event by her female boss. When she protests at this terminology, the boss tells her not to be so sensitive. To have a sense of humour. And these are just the upper class professionals. The routine sexual violence faced by women on construction sites and inside middle class homes where they work as domestic servants, and in every other kind of working class location is of course, even more normalized.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was promulgated earlier this year by the Indian parliament providing much hope. But the law is not operational as the concerned ministry failed to notify the legislation, a required step before a law is considered to be in effect. Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor), Minister of State for Human Resource Development, wrote that he is against the public vilification of the accused:
Blogger Shivam Vij (@DilliDurAst) tweeted:
Sri Lankan blogger Indrajit Samarajeeva noted that such abuses are natural for men in powerful positions. Commenting on the accusations on Tejpal, the blogger wrote:
What’s sad is this is perfectly normal behavior for a lot of powerful people. I don’t necessarily think a man should be destroyed for abuse like this, but it needs to be punished, they need to be rehabilitated and other men have to know that it’s not OK. The urge and ability are there, but until God-AI makes it an immediate smiting, this type of public condemnation is necessary and far too infrequent.
Shivam VJ noted that despite having strict laws at their disposal, women are afraid of these men in power. Maybe one day cases like these will inspire victims to speak up.

First published in Global Voices. With additional input from Inji Pennu.