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ROs could use their powers to send signals for an unbiased election

Faruque Ahmed

An indiscriminate rejection of nomination papers of BNP/OIkyafront candidates for the 11th parliamentary election in scrutiny held earlier last week came as a fatal blow to the opposition vying to throw big challenge to the government bid for easy victory in December 30th election.
Reports said the Election commission received 543 appeals as BNP/Oikyafront candidates and other independent candidates challenging willful cancellation of their nomination papers by Returning Officers in their respective districts.

Full Story

Faruque Ahmed

An indiscriminate rejection of nomination papers of BNP/OIkyafront candidates for the 11th parliamentary election in scrutiny held earlier last week came as a fatal blow to the opposition vying to throw big challenge to the government bid for easy victory in December 30th election.
Reports said the Election commission received 543 appeals as BNP/Oikyafront candidates and other independent candidates challenging willful cancellation of their nomination papers by Returning Officers in their respective districts.

Meanwhile the level playing field is almost totally absent in this election when police and government machinery are reportedly working for the ruling party at all levels to keep control over the election process. Many believe it is going to be yet another mock election if the EC is not using its independent power to make election acceptable to all.
The government leaders now say providing level playing field is the responsibility of the Election Commission, it has nothing to do; but the EC is failing to create such situation at field level.  
Adding to the controversy, Returning Officers, mainly the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) last week visibly used their powers to declare nomination papers of host of BNP/OIkyafront candidates invalid. Awami League led grand alliance candidates made easy sail in those scrutiny without major obstacles.  
Oikyafront decried the massive cancellation of nomination papers of its candidates when BNP saw 141 of its candidates alone were declared invalid including three of the Party chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia as against a total three nomination papers of Awami League candidates were declared invalid.
Election observers believe the RO’s (DC’s) could exercise more restraints in showing their allegiance to the government election plan by knocking out powerful opposition candidates at their very entry point to the electoral race.
It even embarrassed the government and the Election Commission (EC) raising questions about the neutrality of the ROs till to the final phase of the election when they will tally results and announce winners in the pools.
It was not a good at all when the RO of Habigonj district rejected the nomination papers of Reza Kibria, son of former finance minister SAMS Kibria of the Awami League government. Being outmaneuvered by wealthy candidates of his father’s party Reza joined Gnoforum of Dr Kamal Hussain and submitted nomination this time to contest election using BNP’s election symbol – sheaf of paddy.
The RO cited him as a defaulter of not paying fees of his credit card – an amount of Tk 5,500 while announcing his nomination papers invalid that Reza however said he had already paid. He said he was out of the country and was not aware of the non-payment of the fees.
Contrary to it, the RO of Munshigonj accepted the nomination papers of Mahee B Chowdhury — a Joktafront candidate electioneering with Awami League’s boat symbol despite being a huge loan defaulter with a financial organization. He reportedly showed a fictitiouscertificate that the loan has been settled although the company officials raised objection appearing before the scrutiny board.
His father B Chowdhury – a former president and BNP leader and now president of Bikalpadhara joined Awami League led grand alliance recently for election. Awami League gave him two seats against his ghostly demand for 150 seats from BNP/OIkyafront as price to join the anti-government front.  
All big known loan defaulters are now regular bank clients when the sword of selecting clean candidates is flattening most BNP candidates from passing the qualifying test of good citizens.
Many analysts believe most Awami League leaders are owners of private banks and in a position to influence decisions of the government owned banks and the necessity of election politics made it easy for them to collect clean certificates from them without perils.      
Indications suggest a handful BNP/Oikyafront  candidates were declared eligible to contest election by the EC appeal boards to suggest ROs in the districts had misused their power in violation of standing orders. But most BNP candidates remained invalid.  
In most cases the ROs rejected nomination papers of the BNP/OIkyafront candidates for not signing affidavit or not signing such other papers at proper place. ROs also rejected many nomination papers citing the reason that the signature of BNP secretary general was not clear.  
Some candidates claim important papers were mysteriously missing from their nomination dossier that led them to be declared invalid. BNP leaders demanded quick hearing of the appeal of their candidates as time is running out to finalize their candidates. They fear the EC is delaying it at their disadvantage.  
BNP suffered the first major blow with disqualification of party chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia to a candidate for election. Moreover many leading BNP candidates were declared ineligible to run for election by court in the past weeks even after the election schedules were announced on charges old cases.
BNP decries police arrest of its leaders and workers in false cases still continues,  particularly in ghost cases even breaking the promise of the prime minister few weeks before election. It aims at keeping the party men on run at a time when they are required to protect election and vote for the party.
The election is coming closer but how the end drama will be orchestrated is yet to be seen.


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Fogs of uncertainty bottleneck election preparation

Shahid Islam

It’s not as bad as was feared. 3095 candidates of 39 registered parties have submitted their nominations to returning officers across the country, and, the ‘dubious’ rejection procedure adopted by the concerned authorities in assessing qualifications of the candidates notwithstanding, a final list of the contestants will emerge on December 9, according to EC sources. By that date, candidates unwilling to join the electoral race may also decide to withdraw their nomination prayers.

Full Story

Shahid Islam

It’s not as bad as was feared. 3095 candidates of 39 registered parties have submitted their nominations to returning officers across the country, and, the ‘dubious’ rejection procedure adopted by the concerned authorities in assessing qualifications of the candidates notwithstanding, a final list of the contestants will emerge on December 9, according to EC sources. By that date, candidates unwilling to join the electoral race may also decide to withdraw their nomination prayers.

In the meanwhile, legal challenges and appeals relating to the allegation of ‘bias’ by returning officers in disqualifying candidates kept pouring in, while the EC asked major alliances and parties to choose a single candidate for each of the 300 constituencies, from among the qualified applicants, by December 9. These are the positive signs that beacon the plausibility of an election taking place on December 30. The odds staked against such a sunny sojourn, however, are higher.

US to conduct vigorous monitoring
The EC had registered about 120 organizations as election observers in April, while government sponsored observers of many countries have always been at liberty to come and observe Bangladesh election. However, the internal squabbling about the modalities of the election—whether under the incumbency or a caretaker regime—and the opposition parties’ apprehension of vote rigging by the incumbent regime and its agents, prompted the EU to decide not to send observers at a time when the 27-nation - conglomerate will remain engrossed in Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The US, on the other hand, is taking serious interest in seeing election and democracy flourish in Bangladesh. “The United States is sending a dozen teams, each of about two observers, who will fan out to most parts of the country,” said William Moeller, a political officer at the U.S. embassy in Dhaka. The 12 member US team will be aided by thousands of domestic observers already chosen by the team. “The Bangladesh government has emphasized that it plans to hold a free and fair election,” Moeller confirmed.

NDI assessment
Earlier, the U.S. National Democratic Institute (NDI) said in a statement following an October-conducted assessment that “the polls would be held amid a high degree of political polarization, heightened tensions and shrinking political space.” An NDI team of 33 observers from 10 countries in Asia, Europe and North America had already arrived in Dhaka. The team is co-chaired by Howard B. Schaffer, former US ambassador to Bangladesh, and Audrey McLaughlin, former Canadian MP and former leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP). Dr. Kamal Hossain, leader of the opposition United National Front (NDF), has already had a meeting with the NDA team upon their arrival to Dhaka.
Sources confirmed that the Trump administration will fund about 15,000 Bangladeshi observers in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), UK’s Department for International Development, and the Swiss government, while the Bangkok-based Asian Network for Free Elections will send a team of about 30 other observers to monitor the election. Curiously, India is learnt to have decided not to send any observers, unless requested by the Bangladesh government.

Problem with the pudding
Despite the international observers’ seriousness in seeing Bangladesh thrive under a democratic ambiance and skirt off the looming threat of politico-religious extremism, Bangladesh’s domestic political pudding remains stinky and indigestible. The government had ignored all the seven- point demands of the main opposition alliance, the UNF, and no decision has been rendered as yet as to how an army of marauding vote riggers will be reined in and disciplined. The presence of the military, with power to discipline instantly the so called ‘trouble makers’, combined with the presence of enough domestic and international observers, could have removed some of the stinks and bad odours off that rotten political pudding. It’s not too late to right that wrong.

Ershad factor
Besides that, as of now, all else seems okay, excepting the melodrama surrounding the JP chairperson HM Ershad, who, like in the run up to the 2014 election, had spent days in the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) and is scheduled to leave the country on December 10, according to sources. Despite the likelihood of old-age related illness of the former military dictator, his newly appointed secretary general, Moshiur Rahman Ranga, has a different take on why the JP boss was admitted to the CMH lately. “He has problem sleeping alone at home,” said Mr. Ranga.
The story beneath the surface about why Ershad is given to sudden illness on every election eve is of different vintage, however. Reliable sources confirmed that he had dashed voluntarily to the CMH to avoid the insult meted out to him prior to the 2014 election by ‘forcibly’ taking him out of his residence by a designated intelligence agency officials. He wanted to avoid the repetition of the same this time when the bargaining started to deprive him of the 300 seats he wanted his party to compete in, against the government’s desire to allow only about 55 candidates of his party to contest; that to not as opposition, as Ershad wanted, but as the ruling 14 party coalition partners. A final decision on this thorny matter is likely to be made before December 9, following which Ershad will go for a treatment abroad, according to a JP source.

Fogs of uncertainty
What is more disconcerting to the people within, and the observers abroad, is that the vive, verb and the vivacity of an election ambiance is very much amiss despite the election being only three weeks away. The nomination-deprived AL leaders are creating mayhem across the country; intra-party squabbling robbing two lives in Pabna in the week past and, another AL leader being chopped into pieces in Chittagong. The finalization of nomination on December 9 may unleash much more of such grisly incidents.
In the JP, so far the only reckonable partner of the ruling AL, crisis had hit the crescendo. The chairperson Ershad is ill/curiously incapacitated; the secretary general Ruhul Amin Howlader sacked; Salma Islam of Jamuna group and many others seeking nomination from the BNP; and, hundreds of aspiring contestants across the country searing under the frustration stemmed from not getting nomination if only 50-55 seats are approved by the ruling AL to the JP as its ally, amidst Ershad’s repeated insistence and assurance for months to contesting in all 300 seats, independently.

Post-poll prediction
Assuming that the odds are ameliorated; sun does rise on time on the Election Day; foreign and domestic observers get busy in observing the observables; and, the vote - taking occurs in an ambiance that is interference-free. In all probabilities, based on ground assessment of voters’ proclivities, the UNF will win with a thumping majority; leaving the ruling AL with less than expected seats. Under such a scenario, the JP’s winning candidates will help the AL form a coalition government, provided the combined seats of the AL-JP surpass the 153 or so required threshold.
The caveat is: the UNF may end up with nearly or more than 200 seats in a fairly held election. The JP then will switch its gear and jump into the UNF bandwagon to spare HM Ershad from returning to the prison; a fear psychosis that had bedeviled him during his entire political career since the late 199os.
Fact is: if the UNF doesn’t need the JP’s support to form a government, HM Ershad and his party will be thrown into the wilderness once again, as it was from 1991 to 2006. And, in so far as the AL is concerned, with its solid vote banks amounting 33 per cent of total votes across the country, it can still survive as a political party with more than expected votes lost to the supporters of the deprived candidates, who are now in rebellion. These ‘vote spoilers’ are the AL’s nemesis and the Achilles’ heel for now.

3D vs 1D
For too long, the AL had held onto the mindset to believing that its score in the development arena will overcome its shortcoming in depriving the nation of the desired bounty of an inclusive democracy. This perspective is already proving to be in the wrong, wobbly footing. Voters want three Ds from a party in power: democracy, development and denouement. The way the AL played its governance card, the focus on development alone had drenched away the other two Ds: democracy and denouement.
In the process, the last D – denouement — found itself totally messed up amidst unprovoked repression of political and civil-society dissidents and the hedonic intent to belittle and deprive all other entities from free expression to deserved political dividends. Voters are mindful of that and will respond in kind on December 30.


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No alternative for AL to win: Quader

Special Correspondent

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader on Thursday urged their party leaders and activists to get united and protect the voting centres on December 30 as their party has no alternative to win, reports UNB.
“There’s no alternative for us to win. BNP can’t turn out to be victorious in the polls as it couldn’t win the movement,” he said
Quader further said, “Oikyafront’s conspiracy tool may hit again. If they guard the polling stations, Awami League must protect the voting centres.”

Full Story

Special Correspondent

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader on Thursday urged their party leaders and activists to get united and protect the voting centres on December 30 as their party has no alternative to win, reports UNB.
“There’s no alternative for us to win. BNP can’t turn out to be victorious in the polls as it couldn’t win the movement,” he said
Quader further said, “Oikyafront’s conspiracy tool may hit again. If they guard the polling stations, Awami League must protect the voting centres.”

Obaidul Quader. — File photo

Quader, also the Road Transport and Bridges Minister,came up with the comment while speaking at a joint meeting of Swechchhasebak League at Bangabandhu Avenue.
He urged their party leaders and workers not to be complacent about coming back to power in the next election. “Work together for ensuring the victory of all the candidates of our party and alliance partners.”
The ruling party leader also warned that a terrible situation will be created like 2001 one if Awami League gets defeated in the election. “If we want to avoid such awful situation, we all must remain united.”
He said they are going to start giving the final nomination letters to their candidates today (Thursday) and the process will be completed by Friday.
Quader claimed that they have already reached an understating with their alliance partners over the seat sharing issue.
He urged their party and alliance leaders and workers to accept the final nominations of the alliance for the sake of their greater interests.
The ruling party leader also said there is no reason for having any misunderstand among their alliance partners. “We sat in talks repeatedly, and we could nominate the good candidates from the alliance.”
Quader also hoped that those who will get nominations from the Grand Alliance will come out successful in most of the seats.

 


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EC retains 81 nominations on first day of appeal

Special Correspondent

A total of 160 contestant   rejected by the returning officials have gone through the first phase of the appeal-hearing process on Thursday.
The Election Commission has reinstated the nominations of 81 nominees—after hearing their appeal petitions.
They are now allowed to contest the upcoming 11th general election.
The decisions resulted from the appeal hearings being conducted at the Election Commission building in Agargaon, Dhaka on Thursday.

Full Story

Special Correspondent

A total of 160 contestant   rejected by the returning officials have gone through the first phase of the appeal-hearing process on Thursday.
The Election Commission has reinstated the nominations of 81 nominees—after hearing their appeal petitions.
They are now allowed to contest the upcoming 11th general election.
The decisions resulted from the appeal hearings being conducted at the Election Commission building in Agargaon, Dhaka on Thursday.

As of 5:30pm, the commission had heard 160 petitions. The decision on a number of candidates’ appeals remains pending.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda led the hearing process.
A total of 160 rejected candidates was scheduled to go through the first phase of the appeal hearing process.
Cleared BNP nominees include: Golam Maula Rony of Patuakhali 3, Morshed Milton of Bogra 7, Khandakar Abu Ashfaq of Dhaka 1, Tamizuddin of Dhaka 20, Maj (Rtd) Akhtaruzzaman of Kishoreganj 2, Abdul Majid of Jhenaidah 2, Faridul Kabir Talukder (Shamim) of Jamalpur 4, Mohammad Shahjahan of Patuakhali 3, Abdul Kaiyum Chowdhury of Sylhet 3, Fazlur Rahman of Joypurhat 1, Hasadul Islam of Pabna 3, Abidur Rahman Khan of Manikganj 2, Ainul Haque of Sirajganj 3, AKM Mukhlesur Rahman Ripon of Sherpur 2, Selim Bhuiyan of Dhaka 5, M Tozzammel Haque of Manikganj 1, Ahmed Taibur Rahman of Mymensingh 3, Abu Asif Ahmed of Brahmanbaria 2, Syed Abu Bakar Siddique of Dhaka 14,Abdul Khalek of Kurigram 3, Nurul Amin of Chittagong 1, Mostafa Kamal Pasha of Chittagong 3, and Mohammad Yunus of Comilla 5.
BNP has regained its nominees in four constituencies – Bogra 7, Jamalpur 4, Manikganj 2 and Dhaka 1– after the commission cleared the candidates to run for the election.
Other candidates whose nominations were approved are: Sumon Sanyamat of Patuakhali 1, Afsar Ali ofSatkhira 2, Jahirul Islam Mintu of Madaripur 1, Mahbub Alam and Joynal Abedin of Gazipur 2, Jasmine Noor Baby of Brahmanbaria 6, Mustafa Selim of Rangpur 4, and SM Shafiqul Alam of Khulna 6.
Additionally: Jubair Ahmed of Habiganj 1, Abdullah Al Helal of Brahmanbaria 3, Abu Bakar Siddique of Mymensingh 2, Sulaiman Khan Rabbani of Habiganj 4, Alauddin Mridha of Natore 4, Yunus Ali of Kurigram 4, and Anisuzzaman of Barisal 2, saw their nominations accepted.
The following were also approved: Kamruzzaman Swaddhin of Jhenaidah 3, KM Mujibul Haque of Comilla 3, Foyzul Munir Chowdhury of Sylhet 5, Abdul Mannan of Jhinaidah 4, Syed Anwar Ahmed Liton of Brahmanbaria 3, Mamunur Rashid of Brahmanbaria 5,  Zakir Hossain of Dhaka 14,Mahfuza Rahman of Kurigram 4, M Mokhlesur Rahman of Brahmanbaria 2, Mahbub Alam of Lakshmipur 1, Mohammad Niamul Bashir of Chandpur  5, and M Ashraf Uddin of Brahmanbaria 4.
BNP candidates Mir Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan for Khagrachhari, Towhidul Islam for Panchagarh 1, Mid Mohammad Nasiruddin for Chittagong 5, and AKM Mahbubur Rahman for Bogra 6 are still waiting for the commission’s decision.


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Kashmir crackdown shows why youth pick up arms

Workers of Hurriyat (M) staged a candlelight vigil at Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area of downtown Srinagar protesting killings in Kashmir.

Online Agencies

Accusing the authorities of launching a mass crackdown on resistance leaders, the Kasmiri separatist leaders on Wednesday said the police have created a situation in the Valley in which even a candlelight march poses a threat to peace and in such an atmosphere youth are deliberately pushed to adopt violent means.
The separatist groups including Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Hurriyat Conference (G) and Hurriyat Conference (M), said that ever since the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) urged the people to observe the human rights week by holding

Full Story
Workers of Hurriyat (M) staged a candlelight vigil at Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area of downtown Srinagar protesting killings in Kashmir.

Online Agencies

Accusing the authorities of launching a mass crackdown on resistance leaders, the Kasmiri separatist leaders on Wednesday said the police have created a situation in the Valley in which even a candlelight march poses a threat to peace and in such an atmosphere youth are deliberately pushed to adopt violent means.
The separatist groups including Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Hurriyat Conference (G) and Hurriyat Conference (M), said that ever since the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) urged the people to observe the human rights week by holding

peaceful protests—December 3 to December 9—the police launched a massive crackdown on the pro-freedom leadership.
JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik was detained days before the commencement of ongoing Panchayat polls, Syed Ali Geelani continues to remain confined to his Hyderpora residence and Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was also caged.
A JRL spokesman said that at least 30 pro-freedom leaders and activists are under detention apart from the top leadership.
“The JKLF chief’s health deteriorated in police custody and he was hospitalised and is under observation of doctors at the SKIMS, Soura,” he said.
The JRL had asked people to follow its programs in a bid to attract the world community’s attention towards “Kashmir’s grim human rights situation”.
A source in the JRL said that the peaceful means of protests, which include torch and candle light marches during evening hours, wearing black badges on shoulders, and fixing black flags atop vehicles and shops was also a move to “check how far alternate means to strikes would work”.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Mirwaiz Umar, who has been under house detention for the past several days, said the rulers have already snatched all the rights from the resistance leaders, be it political, social and religious.
“Now the right to protest too stands snatched,” he said.
“At present, Kashmir is witnessing the ultimate form of oppression where human values stand trampled under the boots of military might with the result every single citizen of Kashmir is feeling insecure due to the fear that looms large in every corner of the Valley,” he added.
Mirwaiz said that since every other avenue for dissent for the youth “has been squeezed”, they have been pushed to the wall and forced to pick up arms to fight the “worst form of state terrorism and oppression”.
He said even the Governor SP Malik-led administration disallowed a peaceful candle light procession.
A JKLF spokesman said that those who participated in the peaceful candle light protest have either been detained or placed under house arrest.
“From JKLF alone at least a dozen leaders have been detained by the police for participating in the candle light protest,” he said.
“An atmosphere of fear is being created in Kashmir and every space is being choked where in even peaceful means of protest aren’t allowed. In such an atmosphere, the youth are left with no choice other than to express their anger by picking up arms. So it is amply clear that it is the government that is responsible for pushing youth to the wall.”
He said a “gradual process” of disallowing peaceful protests in Kashmir started from 2008 after the then mass participation of people in peaceful street protests unnerved New Delhi.
“We want to ask the Governor Malik what should he expect the Kashmiri youth to do when even holding a candle in hands poses a big threat?” he said.
Engineer Hilal War, whose Peoples Political Party (PPP) is a constituent of Hurriyat (M), said that December 10 is observed as the World Human Rights Day and it is a practice across the globe that peaceful rallies because they are guaranteed by the UN charter.
“I believe Kashmir is the only place where even a small peaceful activity poses a threat to peace. Pro-freedom leadership is caged and youth are subjected to harassment or confinement if they raise voice. When the right to protest guaranteed by the UN stands choked, what is the option?” War said.
“In such a situation, young lot can start exploring violent means of resistance and gun is the first choice that strikes their minds. It is high time for New Delhi to understand the gravity of the situation and take steps to resolve the conflict rather than flexing muscles by banking on its military might.”
Javid Ahmed Mir, who heads the JKLF (H), said that the authorities with the direct support from the various security agencies are creating such an atmosphere in Kashmir where youth feel that “picking up arms is the only way out”.
“The situation is deteriorating by the day. The youth are picking up guns knowing very well they would get killed. We are losing young boys just because there is no space for them to register their anger or to lodge their protest in a peaceful way,” said Mir, who is also under house arrest.
“If any youth tries to protest in a peaceful manner he is booked under draconian Public Safety Act,” he said.
A police official said that there is no ban on the peaceful activity in Kashmir. “We don’t disallow any peaceful protest. As far as holding candle light processions in Lal Chowk, there is a proper procedure that needs be followed which includes seeking permission from the deputy commissioner,” the official said.

Candle light protest
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and Hurriyat (M) leaders and activists on Monday evening lit candles and torchlights as part of the programmer announced by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) to protest against human rights violations in Kashmir.
“JKLF leaders and activists gathered at Koker Bazaar, Budshah Chowk and Khankah-I-Maula and held candle light protests against ongoing Indian onslaught in Kashmir,” said a spokesman of the amalgam.
He said similar protests were held in Anantnag district of south Kashmir.
Several workers of Hurriyat (M) staged a candlelight vigil at Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area of downtown Srinagar.
The protesters were carrying banners with messages like “Stop killing Kashmiris” and “Killings and subjugation norm in Kashmir”.

Two army soldiers killed
Two Army soldiers were killed and as many wounded in an explosion along the Line of Control (LoC) in Akhnoor area of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.
“Two army soldiers died and two others were injured, one of them critically, in a landmine blast in Pallanwala sector of Khour in Jammu district,” said an official.

Civilian injured in firing
A civilian was wounded in a firing incident during a cordon-and-search-operation in a village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday.
Quoting an unnamed police official, news agency GNS reported that a civilian, identified as Bashir Ahmad Mir, was hit by a bullet during a CASO launched by the forces in Nilora village.
The official, according to the report, said that Mir recieved bullet wound in leg during CASO when some exchange of firing took place between militants and the army.
The injured civilian, he said, was shifted to a nearby hospital where his condition is said to be stable.
The officer said that cordon and search operation is in progress in Nilora.

Protest over killing of 2 Hizb militants
Earlier, Parts of Pulwama district on Friday observed a complete shutdown over the killing of two Hizb militants by the forces on Thursday.
Two Hizb militants including district commander for Pulwama, Adnan Lone and his associate Adil Bhat were killed in a gunfight with forces in Shershali area of Khrew in a pre-dawn encounter on Thursday. The slain duo was considered to be close to outfits chief operational commander, Riyaz Naikoo.
Meanwhile, people in huge numbers, local sources said, continued to throng the residences of the slain duo for the second running day to express solidarity with their families. A local said that hundreds of people through-out the day kept visiting the residences of Adnan and Adil for condolences.
Besides the common people, representatives of various religious and resistance groups visited the families and paid tributes to the slain militants in their speeches.
Meanwhile, classwork in Islamic University of Science and Technology remained suspended for the second running day on Friday as the authorities had feared protests by the students.


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Congress war to keep BJP out in Mizoram

Nava Thakuria in Guwahati

India’s northeastern State of Mizoram, bordering Bangladesh, is waiting for Assembly elections result by next week and the ruling Congress is busy preparing strategies to keep  Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) away from the new government in Aizawl. Though in the first look there is distant possibility for the saffron party to grab power in the Christian dominated State, but a hung Assembly may provide ample scopes for the nationalist  party to be a part of the government.

Full Story

Nava Thakuria in Guwahati

India’s northeastern State of Mizoram, bordering Bangladesh, is waiting for Assembly elections result by next week and the ruling Congress is busy preparing strategies to keep  Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) away from the new government in Aizawl. Though in the first look there is distant possibility for the saffron party to grab power in the Christian dominated State, but a hung Assembly may provide ample scopes for the nationalist  party to be a part of the government.

Congress, which has been in power in Mizoram since 2008, is eyeing a third consecutive term in the state. While the direct contest is between the Congress and Mizo National Front, BJP, National People’s Party and Zoram People’s Movement could play crucial roles in the formation of the next government. After the Congress, Mizo National Front (MNF) remains upbeat with a hope to return to power with or without the support from various other parties including the BJP, which has otherwise hopes for winning at the most five seats in 40-member State Legislative Assembly. It will be clear after the outcome surfaces on 11 December which party was capable of attracting the electorate during the 28 November polling.
The picturesque State has already earned appreciations for the remarkably peaceful elections, where over 80% electorate exercised their franchise through electronic voting machines (EVM) in a free & fair atmosphere. Need not to mention that the State, bordering Myanmar in the east and Bangladesh in the west, is recognized as one of the most peaceful and literate States in the country.
Mostly covered by hilly terrains, Mizoram has around 10 lakh population where 60 percent of them are dependent on agriculture, mostly the Jhum  (slash & burn) cultivation. It is almost a homogenous society as 94 percent of Mizoram residents are tribal and over 80 percent is Christian (most of whom can understand and speak English) only with few minority communities like Chakma, Bru etc.
The State with around 21,087 square kilometers area has over 7,70,000 voters out of which  3,94,897 are women. As per the 2011 Census, the State recorded 976 females per 1,000 males (better  than the national statistic of  943 per 1,000). Even though women voters outnumber their male counterparts, fewer female candidates there preferred to stand for the polls.
Out of over 200 candidates this time, only 15 are women. The BJP nominated highest number (six) of female candidates, where as the Congress forwarded only one candidate. The MNF list was out of any woman candidate. Zoram Thar put five women candidates, where  Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) forwarded two and  NCP nominated only one lady candidate.
Notably, since Mizoram was declared a State in 1972, only four women have so far got elected to the Assembly. The first woman legislator was Ms Thanmawii (elected in 1978). The second one was Ms  K Thanslami (1984) and third legislator  Lalhlimpuii Hmar (1987) became the first woman minister of Mizoram. Vanlalawmpuii Chawngthu, who won a bye-election in 2014 and become the second woman minister of the State.  Ms Chawngthu was the lone woman legislator in the Assembly and trying her luck once again with a Congress ticket.
Mizoram has mostly been ruled by the Congress since the peace accord was signed in 1986 with the Mizo uprising leader Pu Laldenga. Soon his armed outfit (MNF) returned to the mainstream as a registered political party and even ruled the State for some time. After Laldenga, his deputy Zoram Thanga started leading the party. Mr Thanga, 74, ruled the State as a  chief minister for two terms and his party has fielded candidates in all constituencies.
On the other hand, the present chief minister and Congress veteran Pu Lalthanhawla, 76, is also waiting for an astonishing outcome defying the incumbency factors. He claimed that out of 40 Congress nominated candidates not less than 27 nominees would win. In the outgoing Assembly the Congress has 34 legislators, where MNF has five and Mizoram People’s Conference one member.
But in the campaign trail, only national president Rahul Gandhi graced the Congress poll meetings in Mizoram, whereas the most of BJP heavyweights including its national president Amit Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, DoNER minister Jitendra Singh with few others like Assam’s powerful minister Himanta Biswa Sarma participated in various public rallies.


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Trump, Islam and the clash of civilizations

The pattern of conflict is shown by drawing a diagram:
Source: Wikimedia

Md. Redowanul Karim

Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington (1927-2008) was one of the lions of 20th-century social Science. The hypothesis of ‘the clash of civilizations’ was his brainchild. Mr. Trump’s, the U.S. president, ‘Muslim Ban’ supplemented the fuel in his hypothesis.
After the disintegration of the USSR in 1989, a debate started among the intellectuals as well as policy-makers inthe USA concerning the future form of world politics and the role of the USA in it. In this regard, the early voice was Francis Fukuyama’s ‘The End of the History.’ To him, western liberal democracy has emerged as the final form of government.

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The pattern of conflict is shown by drawing a diagram:
Source: Wikimedia

Md. Redowanul Karim

Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington (1927-2008) was one of the lions of 20th-century social Science. The hypothesis of ‘the clash of civilizations’ was his brainchild. Mr. Trump’s, the U.S. president, ‘Muslim Ban’ supplemented the fuel in his hypothesis.
After the disintegration of the USSR in 1989, a debate started among the intellectuals as well as policy-makers inthe USA concerning the future form of world politics and the role of the USA in it. In this regard, the early voice was Francis Fukuyama’s ‘The End of the History.’ To him, western liberal democracy has emerged as the final form of government.

While participating in this debate, Samuel P. Huntington wrote his illustrious article ‘The Clash of Civilizations’ In ‘Foreign Affairs’ in 1993. Huntington presents an alternative interpretation of the future shape of world politics in the post-cold war era.
Huntington says, “It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great division among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be culture… The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.” (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Penguins Book Ltd, New York, 1997, p.22)
Huntington claimed that Islam is the only religion and civilization as well which is capable to challenge the western world. He says, “The fundamental problem for the west is not Islamic fundamentalism but Islam.” “Islam has boldly bordered and so are its innards”, he added. [Ibid, p.255]
He argues some reasons behind the clash between Islamic and Western Civilizations viz.
1. Islam is a monolithic force.
2. Islam is expansionist.
3. Islam is prone to violence.
4. National feelings are deep among the Muslims.
5. Historic Continuance.
6. Muslims are migrated to the west.
7. The Growth rate of the Muslims.
Nay, he also mentioned that within the 2000s, Muslim young population will cross the Western Young population. In a situation like this, according to him, the clash is inevitable between the mentioned two civilizations.
In addition, Donald J. Trump says, “To implement this policy, I issued an executive order that the people of 7 countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen would not travel to The United States.”(27 Jan 2017, White House Executive Order no-13769, p.2) All of the countries are Muslim majority. Is it a Muslim Ban? Hawaii Federal Judge Derrick Watson answered, “Yes, It is Muslim Ban, It targets Islam.” (16 March 2017, BBC News)
On May 8, 2018, Trump declares the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA is a two year long diplomatic initiative between Iran and a group of countries known as the P5+1 (The US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany). Nay, he imposed economic sanctions over Iran.
After September 11, 2001, the international community has witnessed a lot of debates about Huntington’s thesis regarding a possible clash between Islam and the West. Now, a question is being widely arisen that will Donald Trump start ‘the clash of civilizations’.
The answer is- No, Trump will not start Clash among the civilizations. Because ‘The Clash of Civilizations’ has been written for the USA lobbies who need to sale the US made weapons. They have succeeded in their purpose threatening the world generally and especially the West against Islamic-Confucian civilizational cooperation. In this context, Edward W. Said, writer of a famous masterpiece named ‘Orientalism’, says, “I don’t actually believe in a clash of civilizations. I believe in a clash of the civilized and the non-civilized”. (The clash of Ignorance, The Nation, June 9, 2000)
Recently, the theory of ‘Dialogue Among Civilizations’, a response to Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, has become the centre of international attention. In 2001, Iranian president Mohammad Khatami introduced the thought at the world level.
Though 9/11 tragedy, the emergence of ISIS and Donald J. Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ provides practical validation of Huntington’s viewpoint and seems him the prophet of Trump’s era, he was to be a crusader.
[The author  is the Head of the Department of Islamic History  & Culture BAF Shaheen College Kurmitola]


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