‘Jhhalmuri’ is a delicious snacks for which I always craved . There were ( I am saying ‘were’ as I don’t see jhhalmuri vendors that visible anymore) no public place you could imagine without a jhhalmuri vendor around. I remember school gates, bus train stations, stadium gallery during football or cricket game or the other corner of the neighborhood—-used to have a permanent fixtute, the jhhalmurui guy with the typical container full jhhalmuri.

However when I was in Dhaka earlier this year, I found jhhalmuri vendors being replaced with popcorn vendors. You hardly can stop in any traffic light without being solicited to buy the pre packed popcorns.

Jhhalmuri-ghoogni vendor>

My friend invited me to have dinner with them, and as ususual popcorn was the starter. My transient comparative discussion about popcorn and jhhalmuri was quickly dismissed by the host as the American vacationeers ultra-romaticism .

Popcorn vendors

Another extinct item in our culinary genre is ‘lebur sharbat’. I very much miss this ‘lebur sharbat’ or lemon serbet. Wasn’t it Bangladesh culture to entertain with lebur sharbat when the surprise guest used to show up? Now a days, I bet, you will definitely be treated with RC Cola, sprite or Tang, not ‘lebur sharbat’.

And talking about the ‘surprise guest’? In this cell phone era, you will definitely get a running commetry of the journey that the guest takes to get to your house.So ‘the surprise guest’ is another extinct breed.

A Question of Time

Aly Zaker

A glorious past travelling through a promising present toward a formidable future.

…………….. I remember having been overwhelmed by his (Neheru) narration of the world chronicle in his “History of the World Civilisation” at the impressionable age of fourteen. The way he took pride in being an Indian–the India that had one of world’s oldest universities–the great university of Nalanda. Incidentally, this university was also graced by a Bangali scholar from Bajrajogini in Bikrampur. A gentleman by the name of Sriggan Atish Dipankar. I remember having seen an almost innocuous road in remote Kamalapur named after him. A road that leads you to the Buddhist monastery there. As if Atish Dipankar was only a monk. As if naming of an inconsequential road was an adequate honour for him.


I read the Aly Zaker piece published in Daily Star several years ago. So this time when I visited Bangladesh, I made sure I visit his birth place, which is located within a stones throw from by ancestral home.

Who is this Atish Dipankar?

Tibetans revere Dipankar, granting him a rank second only to Gautam Buddha and refer to him as Jobo Chhenpo (a great god). The lamas of Tibet, who hold political and religious power, feel proud to be introduced as disciples and heirs of Dipankar. The influence of Dipankar is still felt in the religion and culture of Tibet. Dipankar wrote, translated and edited more than two hundred books, which helped spread Buddhism in Tibet. He discovered several sanskrit manuscripts in Tibet and copied them himself. He translated many books from Sanskrit to Bhot (Tibetan). He also wrote several books on Buddhist scriptures, medical science and technical science in Bhot. Dipankar wrote several books in Sanskrit, but only their Tibetan translations are extant now.
Dipankar was born in a royal family of Guada in Bikramapur of Bengal which is east of Bajrasana. His father’s name was Kalyansri and mother’s name was Prabhabati. His birth place, Bajrayogini reminiscent of a ‘Yogi with Bajra’, a typical Buddhist name with Mahayana traditions still bears the same name across the long stretch of a thousand years despite many ups and downs in history.

Atish Dipankar household was identified to the generations of people in Munshiganj/Bikrampur area as “Nastik Panditer Bhita” (meaning ancestral home of atheist scholar). People of successive generations particularly after decline of Buddhism in Bangladesh in 13th-14th Century may have had forgotten Atish Dipankar. Yet he had lived in public memory with veneration as a remote anonymous atheist scholar till his birth place was identified by scholars working on life of Atish Dipankar.

Anyway, going back to my visit to Dipankar birth place, As we came closer, a signboard of a’ goru chhagoler khamar ‘( Goat and cow farm) greeted us at the entrance of the mud approach road. The khamar has been erected alongside a walled compund. A signboard of ” Atish Dipankar Smriti stamva” is lying upside down in one side. Within the walled area there is a 3 feet tall brick structure with a plaque stating ” Deep Regards For His Immortal Soul. Memorial Stone Laid By“…. followed by two ministers name who apparently came to unveil the memorial(?). People living in the Khamar has hanged clothes for drying on the perimeter fence of the “memorial Stone”. It was after Eid Ul Azha, look like people have used this empty piece of land for cow slaughtering and processing. There was dried blood everywhere.
I looked at the dried blood and tried to remind myself what Atish Dipankar preached all his life.

Detail of Atish will be be found in many websites but this is the most comprehensive I came across so far.

Atish Dipankar foundation has established ADUST , the atishdipankaruniversity in Dhaka.

Ash of his body is well preserved in Kamlapur Buddhabihar in Dhaka. Late president of Bangladesh Ziaur Rahman arranged the transfer of the ash-casket from China in 1978.





Telegram used to be a both very important and dreaded word in out communities as late as 80s. With increasing availability of telephone, early 90s probably first saw a decline in telegram usage in BD . Sickness, death news as well as important binding business documents used to be transmitted via telegram. Somebody is sick used to mean he or she has already died.

Probably there was a similar scenerio in USA too. Western Union used to be the provider of telegraph service in USA starting from the early decades of this century.

Western Union Sends Its Last Telegram

The era of the telegram, an icon of communication dating back 150 years, came to a quiet end last week. Western Union says it delivered its final telegram on Friday.

In truth, the telegram long ago succumbed to long distance telephones, faxes, e-mail and instant messaging. Even deliverers who sang them couldn’t save telegrams from the dustbin of history. The fact that one final telegram was sent last Friday is a tribute not to the telegram’s endurance, but to the glacial tediousness of extinction itself.

What will we remember of the telegram? Probably the prose style the economic of telegraphy engendered. Punctuation cost extra, so the word STOP substituted for a period. Otherwise, it was brevity in the extreme — pronouns, verbs omitted.

It was probably early 80s I had to use telegraph service in Dhaka. Bangladesh telegrapg and telephone board still has this service. Sending a telex in USA will cost you Taka 70/minute. I don’t know in this age of e mail, fax, mobile phones is there anybody left to use the telegram service anymore.

Bishwa Ijtema was a major news out of all Bangladeshi media outlet. Even international press covered the event with due importance.

Millions gather for Islamic prayer

Muslim gathering closes in Dhaka
At least four million Muslims are estimated to have attended a three-day gathering in Bangladesh.

I was going through the Bangladesh related blogs over the internet during these days. Young Bangladeshi bloggers are ever vigilant against any negative, sad, bad news coming out of Bangladesh. Any slightest flicker related to Jihad, violent islam gets magnified in the Bangladeshi blogs and keeps on Banging the blogs like 10.0 richter scale apocalyptic event.

But except for a childlish negative write up, bloggers were mostly dead silent about the successful management of Ijtema.

But it should have been the other way. While we are ever hellbent against Islamism, vigilant against rise of violent islam, we could cease the opportunity and show the muslim population of the country that Islam can be non-violent, non-political also. Compared to violent political Islam, Ijtema host Tablig Jamaat has come up as a good alternative movement of nonviolent, non political Islam. Tablig jamaat, born in our subcontinent, has shown this. Rather than importing wahhabism from Saudi Arabia, we have a peaceful movement to export to those Islamic countries which are the breedig ground of violent Islam.

In fact, I feel the the way, esp without any major incident, mishap, rather with relative efficiency, this huge gathering is being hosted annually, is commendable. Comparing the consistent catastrophies during Hajj in Mecca, Ijtema organizers as well as Bangladesh administrations over the years are doing a superb job in handling the crowd.

Not only for Muslims, Bangladesh has been arraging the mass crowd of the ‘Langalband snan’ of Hinduism followers for hundreds of years.

Langalband is a holy bathing river bank for the hindus since the Vedic time. It is situated on the right bank of Old Brahmaputra river, 12 km to the South East of Dhaka, on Dhaka Chittagong highway. Every year Over 50,000 Hindus gather here on the 8th lunar day during the Bangla month of Falgoon (April-May) to bathe in the holy water of the old Brahmaputra, purifying the soul and mind, driving the evil out.

A fairness while blogging— will it be too much to ask?

I went to see the new Spielberg movie “Munich” today. My pre-movie intention was to write on my observations of Hollywood’s changing tone on politics, especially middle east politics. But a dialogue of a movie character gave me a new question to think on.

In a scene, a character, referring to the plenty amount of food in dinner table, makes a comment, that is something like ” There is Enough food here to feed Bangladesh..”…

Well, the movie was based on events of early 70s. Bangladesh has just came out of the famine of 1974. The infamous comment, international basket case, is already well circulated. What Sub saharan Africa is now a days, Bangladesh, in 70s, was indeed an example of extreme poverty, misery, hunger, strife etc.

We would hope that we have moved on. That sort of stereotyping, hopefully, will not happen with Bangladesh again. Although Bangladesh is no longer the example of the most extreme, hunger, poverty are still there. In fact in international and lately in Indian media also, I see referrences like, ‘a desperately poor and impoverished country’, ‘very impoverished’, ‘hopelessly poor’ , ‘One of the poorest countries in the world’ etc when Bangladesh need to be mentioned for any reason.

My question, how many years it will take Bangladesh to leave behind the poverty curse? Will this happen in one generation?

Anti-ahmadiyya Demonstration
Bigots clash with cops, 57 injured
Police stop marchers from reaching Ahmadiyya mosque; zealots vow fresh programme.

Read the full report

Jamaat is formidable and the ultimate obstacle to a secular and progressive Bangladesh. But Jamaat does not seem an immediate threat or annoyance.

Our immediate trouble are those madrassa based religious movements. Be it JMB, JMJM or Khatme Nabuwat or Amra Dhaka Bashi.

Time and again, I have been writing, we need to totally exterminate these entities.

I feel, highlighting Jamaat for the bomb blast and related activities is nothing but playing fiddle for the Awami election Politics, and unfortunately most of our progressive media as well as intelligentsia have fallen into this trap.

I am shocked to see these Khatme Nabuwat etc dare take an offensive against Ahamdiyas in a time when the national sentiment is against violence in the name of religion.

Why do they dare to do these? Because government is not as strong against them as they are now against JMB.
Definitely governmnet is to blame. But do the media or opposition share some of the blame who are using the bomb events for making political gains against ruling jote by breaking the jote. I was shocked to see desperate attempts in Prothom-Alo and daily Star to somehow relate the bombings to jamaat and a sympathetic tone in Prothom-Alo for these Amini, Mufti Shahidul Islam or other Muftis of Islami Oikyo Jote.

When will we understand that we are letting this madrassa based Frankenstein grow behind our backs , while our minds and conscience ae being used by a side in Awami league and BNP’s politics of power.

– Rumi

So many good news in a day. Am I dreaming?

JMB military commander Sunny heldHe was behind all suicide attacks; explosives warehouse found at Sabujbagh containing grenades, pistols, bullet dies, bomb-making gel; Ctg militant commander caught with bombs and ingredients

Better late than never.

Babar takes U-turn to term Yadav innocent.
In a U-turn from his earlier knee-jerk reaction, State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar yesterday said that Yadav Das who was killed in December 8 suicide bombing in Netrakona was innocent.

Gobu Montreer Bodhodoy. Qudos to Brave Bangladesh media.

‘The win is for the martyrs’Sports reporter from Karachi.
Everybody was on the edge of their seats as the clock was ticking towards the final whistle. The nervy Bangladesh tent at the People’s Sports Complex Stadium here went for frantic changes to buy precious time. It worked for the holders as they survived a late Pakistan pressure to eke out a 1-0 victory and a place in the final of the SAFF Championship for a second successive time.

Shabash Bangladesh.

Political consensus a must to root out militancy. Speakers tell roundtable.
Civil society members, political leaders and educationists at a roundtable yesterday called for a political consensus to stamp out Islamic militancy, which has threatened the national security and has been destroying the economy and social fibre. They also stressed the need for the unity among political parties and good governance at this critical period.

Al Presidium Member Suranjit Sengupta also wants political consensus.

World Potential EconomyBangladesh on Goldman Sachs ‘Next Eleven’ list
Goldman Sachs, a US-based investment banking and securities firm, in a report on world’s potential economies has placed Bangladesh on its “Next Eleven” list as a key member.
The report said, “Bangladesh, the world’s tiny economy with most corrupt brand, will power the global economy something of the magnitude of the BRICs economies.”
The “Next Eleven” is the second term the Goldman Sachs has coined to describe economies with high growth potential, such as the “BRICs” economies encompassing Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Probably Goldman Sach’s is positively impressed about the potentials of Bangladesh after observing the work ethics of some of its Bangladeshi origin leadership.

The New Nation. Bid to deny duty-free access Bangladesh warns of veto at WTO conference, By BSS, Dhaka, Wed, 14 Dec 2005, 11:00:00
There are indications that some developing countries are trying to figure out Bangladesh as an advanced LDC, not similar to other LDCs to deny it the duty-free and quota-free trade access to some of its products, more precisely to RMG products to the markets of the developed countries. It appears Bangladesh is being singled out to be punished for its success in global trading as an emerging exporter from the LDC group, experts here in Hong Kong said in their initial reaction to such an exclusion possibility.

Advanced LDC!! Doesn’t sound bad at all.

Sakib alone sufficesBangladesh clinch U-19 title beating Lanka
Sakib Al Hasan struck a swashbuckling hundred as Bangladesh clinched the under-19 tri-nation trophy in style with an emphatic six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka at BKSP yesterday.

Please keep up the form as you grow, dear kids.

ADB transport and energy proposalBangladesh as regional hubIn our opinion there is a great deal of merit in the proposal that has been put forth by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help build up South Asia’s transport and energy infrastructure by means of developing Bangladesh as the sub-regional hub around which these sectors can pivot.

It’s snowing allover midwest. Let it snow. Leet it snow. Let it snow.

Because our gobu montri came up with a statement of a “new dimension in terror attacks”, the ‘shepai santree’ of the gobu montree are out to somehow have Jadab Das and family put on the “shul ” at any cost.

Yadav Controversy; His father, brother still in custody; Cops give contradictory statements.
The superintendent of police (SP) of Netrakona and an officer-in-charge (OC) have given contradictory statements about picking up the father and brother of Yadav Das after they had spent over 36 hours in police custody.
The town was rife with rumours yesterday that police are pressing them to admit Yadab embraced Islam to substantiate the claim of the state minister for home that he was a suicide bomber.

Another example how inept and irresponsible our government is. Does our home minister understand what the implications of his comments are when he impulsively says something without really investigating it, double checking it.
Shame on us, shame on the people of Bangladesh. This sort of irresponsible inefficient people can reach the top leadership in our country.

1. My main fear, bombing will not simply keep on going, it will rapidly become more devastating. The pattern of recent attacks clearly depicts a picture of improving sophistication and lethality of the attacks. Today in Netrokona, first bomb attracted law enforcement people and then the suicide bomber did his job when many people gathered. An eerie resemblance of recent Iraq bombings.
2. Strong political will is needed to work together and make a concerted effort to quell the attacks. Awami League and supporters will strongly resist any sort of unified movement as long as their main focus remains the short political gain against BNP and Jamaat in the aftermath of these bombings.
3. BNP and AL both are to blame for the current rise of fundamentalism. After last Udichi blast, AL preferred to use the matter more for political gain than looking for the real culprits. Now it is getting increasingly clear that JMB and gong were involved in all those bombings, but AL charge sheeted their local political opponent, Toriqul Islam. Toriqul Islam, a very senior BNP leader, who is from a leftist political background and known to be an alcoholic, is highly unlikely to belong to any pro Islamic fundamentalist fraction in BNP.
4. I feel that a powerful section of our media is sort of resorting to the same strategy, i.e. the strategy of using this national calamity for their own agenda. To the progressive and secular forces, Jamaat is probably the enemy number one, I don’t disagree. However these bombings are, most likely not done by Jamaat. Along with government, they are probably the most disadvantageous situation at this time. But I see that our media, are seriously trying to relate every single militant with jamaat, by any means. Silly and ridiculous stretching came in news reports, like, Militants uncle’s wife’s brother in law’s friend was a jamaat supporter, or militant himself used to be a jamaat supporter etc. This sort of journalism is not good journalism. However, what sounds more alarming to me is to the trend promote or sympathize with Islamic fundamentalists like Amini or Mufti Wakkas only to have them say something against jamaat. These entities, Amini, Wakkas etc are, by all means, closer to the madrassa based militant Islam in Bangladesh than anybody else. Sometimes, I feel they are representative of the political wing of JMB, JMJB etc. I believe a well thought plan of action against these militant Islamic outfits and a successful eradication will create an environmnet in the country that will eventually help the secular forces device a strategy to challenge Jamaat politics.
5. One suicide bomber (Or a victim?) of today’s attack at Netrokona was identified by locals as Jadab Biswas, visibly a Hindu name. While I suspect foulplay in government’s intensified efforts to bring a new dimension to the militancy, I hope it does not divert are national attention from JMB/JMJB.

Over the last two to three years, while there have been a plethora of international print media reporting on possible violent Islamic militancy in Bangladesh, many of us protested. I, living in USA for almost ten years, did not believe it was possible in Bangladesh. I thought some of these as media exaggeration; some thought these were all planted materials of Indian propaganda agencies. Our government, from grass root supporters of ruling party to the top leadership, believed in the same line.
I feel that the government leadership genuinely believed what they said during that time. I don’t believe they knew what they now know. Or probably, they could not imagine the danger of the frankenstine they are nurturing.
Now all government leaders, including the prime minister, home minister, police high ups, are saying in a chorus, the culprits are JMB or JMJB.
I agree with them.
But the question, what Alex Perry, sitting in his Hong Kong office, could know why the government leadership didn’t have any clue about this?
Who to blame?
While it is true there has been a systemic indifference towards rise of militancy by the ruling party, a sense of patronization of certain entities, I won’t blame one single person or party, department or any political conspiracy or any political bias.
The reasons I feel are as follows.
1. I feel this whole undercover rise of Islamic militancy, is a representative sample of a grim picture of the inefficiency of the government machinery. I don’t like to believe it, but it is probably true, government employees in Bangladesh, starting from the top most officials to the lowest paid workers, go to work every morning with an agenda. This is not the agenda of their job responsibility. This is their personal agenda. Everyone spends all their concentration, intellect, skill, time and effort to make a gain in their personal fortune. A police CID or Special branch officer goes to work daily and spends most of their thought on how to make some money or some other kind. A DC or magistrate or government attorney do their official job as a mere formality, they have to keep more focused on keeping ruling party leaders happy or other doing political financial staff. A minister, today with one portfolio, tomorrow with the other, keep worrying about fetching enough money for next election, or spends all his creativity in devising how to keep the prime minister or her son happy. I believe, few, if any, in the government are really doing the job they are supposed to do.
2. Secondly, there is an inherent attitude among the people in our country is to think of people in religious outfits as benign ‘good’ people. A thought prevails everywhere, “Oh, he is ‘Huzur manush’,” as if no serious harm is possible with him. Until recently, we were not used to suspecting a man in religious outfit as a harmful entity. There used to be a deep sentiment in Bangladesh against prosecuting these orthodox Islamic entities in Bangladesh. They were kind of beyond the law. They could go by doing whatever they wanted to do.
3. This is probably why, ruling party have been sympathetic to Jamaat, JMB, JMJB-Bangla vai etc
I see a silver lining in the big black cloud of Islamic militancy in Bangladesh. That is, the attitude is changing, and is changing very rapidly.
We are fortunate, time and again. In 1971, Jamaat-e-Islami acted against popular pro-independence movement in East Pakistan. That stand still kept them handicapped in Bangladesh politics. They are still political pariahs to the majority of the people in Bangladesh.
Now this militancy by the madrassa based religious extremists took away the immunity, they used to enjoy so far. A ‘huzur’ in typical outfit is no longer the respected, adored figures in Bangladesh, rather they, now a day, are immediate suspects.

While I agree, mostly, with Asif Saleh’s recent commentary on the key responsibility of ruling BNP for the rise of Islamic Militancy in Bangladesh and I support the demands laid forward by Saleh to the government, lets take a ride around the Bangladesh democracy.
By all basic political science rulings, democracy is always a joint venture of both the ruling and the opposition party. In Bangladesh democracy, while ruling party, whoever they are, are not used to the idea of respecting and listening to the opposition, the opposition, I believe , have been doing a much worse job as the responsible partner.
Since the day after the election, the opposition has been demanding immediate resignation of the government. Now, in the aftermath of the attacks of the militants, apparently the only thing our opposition have to say, ‘ the government has to resign’.
Do our previous and possibly future prime minister and other ex-ministers and national leaders understand the implication of their demand? Don’t they understand what an irresponsible piece of demand is it? Or, responsibility is something that you can’t live with in Bangladesh politics.
Who will be the ultimate winner if the government has to fall after the militant bombing campaign? Why Awami League is so blinded by the lust of power that they simply don’t see that, in the face of fledgling islamic militancy, fall of the current government is the worst thing to happen to Bangladesh at current time. Resignation of government will reward the militants and encourage them to keep on doing their militancy. At the same time, uncertainty after the fall of government, lack of political authority will seriously hamper current anti militant campaign in Bangladesh. And is there any guarantee that fall of BNP will stop the bombing campaign? If AL say so, won’t it justify the BNP-Jamaat allegation that AL is behind the bombings?
There has been a lot of spin with the demands for government-opposition talk. Writer Humayun Ahmed also came under fire for such demand. Let’s put the spin aside, why don’t we understand the real meaning of this demand? When general people ask for such a discussion, they probably don’t mean any dialogue per se. People probably mean a national consensus, a unified effort to tackle a formidable enemy. We had a unified nation in 1971 and same unification paved the way to democracy in 1990 also. With a nation, undivided, i.e BNP not blaming AL for the bombings and AL not blaming Khaleda Zia for the same, there will be real opportunity to focus on the real perpetrators. I wasn’t there to take part in the war of 1971, but I was very much present during 1990s movements. I know what energy can come from a unified political front. If we can regain the energy, in this close-knit society, we will easily be able to identify and root out the extremists from all aspects of the society.It is true that ruling party has 90% or more responsibility to create the environment towards a unified nation. It is true that the ruling party, so far, did nothing, in fact did the opposite, to create such an environment.But, it is also true, we need to get united. Divided, our nation, never gained anything. United, we got our independence, we got our democracy, we will be able to eradicate islamic militancy from the soil of Bangladesh if we are united again.
I returned from Bangladesh last week. I was updating myself with all the messages of the last month. I feel the flurry of emotion regarding Humayun Azad incident.
Friends, are we missing the forest while searching for the tree?
1. The day H Azad was attacked; two of my friends were mugged. Both of them dare not bring their car as they planned to spend the evening with me in boi mela. One of them is still in bed because he was temporarily blinded by rubbing of some chemical in the eye by the muggers. The taxi cab driver teamed up with the muggers, so he didn’t want the victim to see the car number plate. Other friend was stopped near Shahbag, robbed on gun point. ___ two separate incidents, same day, involving two of four of us.
2. The infrastructure of this country, including all aspects, moral, legal, law enforcement, cultural— are in shambles.
3. DU teachers are not taking classes in DU because some one assaulted Azad. They are enjoying all the benefits of DU, including housing, salary, but not doing the job they are supposed to do. At the same time they are not boycotting the classes they take in private universities. Who will be looser at the end? Why punish students for some one else’s crime? Why use the students? Why push them to be used as a pawn in the game of power politics?
4. We, the liberals are hell-bent in punishing Jamat/shibir for this crime. Government on the other hand is confident that AL did it. Reminds me of Rashed khan Menon stab incident, same blame game! same CMH!
5. Nero fiddles while Rome burns.
6. We, romantic liberals make the loudest hue and cry for one Humayun Azad, but nobody notices when my whole country is being chopped mercilessly, all over her body, again and again.
7. I saw the same “student power” when police lathi-charged a group DU dorm girls. But alas!! Nobody comes to street when dozens of garment working girls burn alive each year while escaping inferno in their faulty designed factory.
8. Just yesterday I read in prothom_alo, 50 mothers are dying every day, while giving birth. Maternal mortality Rate is the most sensitive indicator of a nations well being. Despite all efforts, Bangladesh is still near the bottom of the list.
9. Our politicians are focused on power clinging or grabbing, liberals are focused on Humayun Azad and poor students are dancing on the streets when they are told to do so.
10. Continent Africa is getting deserted with the curse of this century, the AIDS epidemic. Bangladesh is silently inching closer to that curse. “With the number of injecting drug users (IDUs) more than doubling in 2002, Bangladesh is now just one percent short of becoming a country with HIV epidemic among IDUs,” http://www.thedailystar.net/2004/03/11/d40311060160.htm
11. I believe, not the Humayun Azad mancha, a more important mancha need to be built in DU campus, it could be AIDS mancha, it could me anti-terror/anti-corruption or even an anti-strike mancha.

Dear Mr Miller

When you write your roving reports from Dhaka, as a member of the media entourage, you represent your team as well as your nation.
No doubt, as you see it, Bangladesh is a poor dirty corrupt messy third world country.
What else you expect from an impoverished country, when all her wealth had been systematically looted during the two hundred years of British Raj.
However, the British civilization also gave a lot of things to that part of the world, they spread education, they tought humanity, humility, modesty to the ill educated majority of the then India.
Now when you visit Bangladesh, and keep on acting exactly the opposite what your forefathers tought us hundreds of years ago, it is shocking to us.
Things may be bad or dirty in Bangladesh, you don’t have to write such stories with such vitreolic hate about those bad things in Bangladesh. You wrote about the fantasy kingdom. Did you have to? A history making test match is going to be started soon between the two countries. Lets make a good media gesture. Let me give you an example, rather than writing about the Fantasy KIngdom, you could write about Curzon Hall, named after the British Lord Curzon. This is a building in Dhaka university. You could write about this campus life, that represents Bangladesh youth who are playing and watching cricket. In your article about the fantasy kingdom, you guessed the hotel owner lied to you when he asserted about the Jaguar dealership. Do you know that just months ago, the BMW dealerships in Bangladesh were all sold out of their stock?
Rumi Ahmed.

Andrew Miller wrote:

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 03:11:58 +0100 (BST)
From: Andrew Miller
Subject: Re: Your reporting from Dhaka
To: Rumi

Dear Rumi
Thank you for your email. I’m sorry if you think that all I see in Bangladesh is dirt and squalor. Believe me, that is far from being the case. As many people have acknowledged in their feedback, I have been blown away by the warmth of my reception in this country, and have gone out of my way to put it across. Unfortunately, I am still a journalist, and as such I cannot sugar the pill – the fact remains that Bangladesh is a very poor country. My writings might seem like mockery, but really they are painting a picture for those people who have never been, and never will come, to the country.
Writing about fantasy kingdom was one of those things that happened because I happened to pass it. It was such an unusual place to find that I had to go and see it. I don’t regret what I said, but perhaps it was easily misconstrued. I have since been rather more selective in my writings. Last week I went to see the house where Bangabandhu was assassinated, and my article was deemed good enough and sensitive enough for reproduction in a bengali-language newspaper.
As for going to see Lord Curzon’s house. Nice idea, but surely that would lay me open to the (unfair) charge that I am only interested in researching my country’s colonial past!
All the best
Andrew Miller

The Bangladesh Hindu Boudhdho Christian Oikyo Porishad, USA chapter and probably HRCBM ( I am not sure) arranged a seminer today at the Midtwon Grand Ramada Plaza at New York, reports The Daily Ittefaq and daily Janakantha.
Bertil Linter of FEER was the key note speaker, while Columnist Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury was the special guest.
Braving the inclement weather and sub-zero temperature, a significant number of expatriate Bangladeshis gathered outside the Ramada Plaza and protested the seminer as they deem it to be anti-Bangladesh in nature, reports Ittefaq.
As per Janakantha, some supporters of BNP gathered outside and gave extra weight to the seminer which was already overflowing with audience.
Bertil Lintner reportedly stated that nobody protested the content of his article, middle east funded hospitals in Coxs Bazar was making Bangladesh an al quida heaven, Bangladesh was a den of ISI activities and Bangladesh should pay for it and he was everwhelmed by the support/love/respect he recieved from people of Bangladesh as shown by the seminer. He also mentioned that Bangladeshi people are threatening to rape his wife and his daughter over email.
Abdul Gaffer Chowdhury declared that if he was healthier, he wouild have taken arms against this fundamentalist and cruel government.
A cross section of mainstream society attended the meet including a local congresswoman (Who apparently didn’t make any speech), a famous poet ( Who protested Gaffar Chowdhury’s call to arms), local humanist/secular organizations, local Jewish community leaders etc.
A notable organizer of this meeting was Mr Bidyut Sarker, who is a leading proponent creating a separate Hindu republic breaking a portion of Bangladesh. He raised that issue again in that seminer.
Some Observations:
1. Bertil Lintner is supposed to be reporter only or a neutral journalist. Why he has to take a side in Bangladesh’s foreign policy towards India and Pakistan?
2. Does Gaffer Chowdhury ( With his close relations to AL and Sheikh Hasina) understand the implication of attending such meeting and make such statements? Forget about Bangladesh, won’t it make him a liability to Sheikh Hasina also?
3. What is Bertil Lintner upto with this hoopla? Why Bidyut Sarker is being patronized by This Bertil Lintner or Gaffer Chowdhury?
4. Grrand Ball room ar Midtown Ramada Plaza is supposedly an extremely costly venture. Oikyo Porishod and HRCBM has a good flow of fund, it seems.
5. With all the recent media campaign, memo to congress to stop importing Bangladesh garments and recent INS registration requirement for Bangladesh are certainly not positive developements for Bangladesh. In this background, How would this seminer help Bangladesh? Can Gaffer Chowdhury, Bertil Lintner or their sympathysers answer this?

We have been reminded zillions of times, how many lives were lost during “operation Clean heart”. Thank God, operation clean heart is, at least for this time being, ceased to function. At least there will no more death at the hand of Army. May be there will be deaths again at the hand of street terrorists with the help of police. Anyway, it doesn’t matter, as long as they are not done by the army, it’s OK.
Saleem Samad hopefully will be released soon. Freedom of speech will again be upheld. He will again be able to continue writing about the grave danger of “Talibanization” and ethnic cleansing in Bangladesh in tehelka dot com. For the sake of a meaningful free Bangladesh, let it be.
Muntassir, Saber and Shahriar all are out of jail finally. It’s a victory of people’s power, victory of human rights activism, victory of our secular humane power against this beastly fundamentalist Bangladesh government. Let activism enjoy complete freedom. Let Mr. Saber Chowdhury continue lobbying with European Union to pass resolutions condemning Bangladesh, to impose export restrictions on Bangladesh. Let our activism get strong and stronger, let us be united behind Shahriar Kabir to fulfill his declared vendetta to topple this Taliban supporting Government.
Priscilla is finally back to normal life. We are still concerned about the psychological strain Priscilla endured. Let our human rights funds be spend to help her recover from all the mental agony she suffered at the hand of this tyrant.
All god news everywhere!
Let this wave of good news get high and higher. Let this wave drown all the injustices in Bangladesh.
While, we, the triumphant non resident Bangladeshi activists celebrate these victories, hundreds, if not thousands of people die as a result of unbearable cold wave and depravity of winter attire.
We know how many souls perished by operation clean heart. But nobody of us in this cyber world, will be able to count the number of death caused by this combination of cold wave and lack of a blanket. Because nobody of us bothered to discuss this issue on this web. We are busy crying for zaiba Malik, priscilla raj; we are concerned at the conspiracy against the ex cricket board president– we don’t have the time to address this “cold” issue of cold wave deaths!
People are still dying. An eleven year old boy says to a journalist, “I better be dead, than suffer from this cold wave without a warm cloth”.
They are dying only because they can’t afford a warm blanket to cover themselves up at night. They are dying because the winter is unusually harsh this year in Bangladesh. These poor people didn’t anticipate this much.
They keep on dying . Nobody sends any ” Urgent Action”, may be they don’t have friends that high up.
“It’s not human rights issue” ;
” Cold Wave is from nature, we can’t create petition at petition online condemning God”,
” We can’t deal with vast issue of poverty”—– Shy away all my human rights activist friends.
Temperature drops further down the thermometer. That eleven year old, who told ” I better be dead, than suffer from this unbearable cold with out a blanket” — finally faces his coveted better life. Death saves him away from this unbearable cold.

[A blanket costs only Five Dollars. If you can spare five dollars, one more blanket can be purchased. Your five dollar can save a life! Today’s prothom-Alo article by Free lancer Kurratul Ain Tahmina
details some contact addresses through whom you can help.
You can call
ASK 011 880 2 8315851, or other NGOs at
011 880 2 8115798, 011 880 2 9565343, 011880 2 8124092,
011 880 2 8322569, 011 880 18 243451, 011 880 2 9112325, 011 880 2 712 5156,
in Rajshahi 011 880 721 770660 ]

There are forty five dead bodies.

While we savor our ever intensifying patriotism over our keyboards in the heated (or chilled) environment of our bedroom,those forty-five dead bodies,already began to decompose, await post mortem.

We discuss humanism over the net.On this cyberworld, we confront Hindutva; we discover neo-Indian imperialism over Bangladesh.Those forty-five bodies, with vivid evidence of disease all over,each a text book of malnutrition,keep on rotting at the hot and humid mortuary floor of Gaibandha District Hospital.

We, on the pages of the web,resent US foreign policy,wage war against Islamism, fundamentalism.We discuss faulty global economic policies,we write up lengthy sophisticated articles on the current autocratic andreligio-fundamentalist state of Bangladesh.Those 45 bodies; children; men—young and old;women—mothers, grandmothers and to be moms;lie naked on the floor of the dark and haunted GaibandhaDistrict Hospital morgue.Now more rotten, infested with maggot, insects. Waiting for Post mortem.

We struggle die hard for the causes of rationalism,we are hell-bent to fight any infringement in freedomof speech,we spend hundreds of web hours to ensure press freedom. And the children of those fathers among the forty-five dead, cry day and night, now in hunger, not in grief anymore.

On this net we are ever vigilant against any blasphemy against our sacred independence and we rally to uphold the spirit of our war of independence.The typical North-Bengal village where those forty five came from, gets poor and poorer.

And, Finally Those forty-five rotten bodies get the post-mortem done.

Cause of death.

Cause of death????????????????????????????????

Cause of death!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We needed post mortem to know the cause of death, Huh!

Will it show the real cause of those forty-five deaths?
Will post mortem reveal Poverty, The unforgiving curse?

We keep on humming on this net. From our suburban study-rooms, from our cubicle work stations.We remain the vanguard of everything noble about Bangladesh.

And yet another forty-five, the child, wife, husband of those already dead forty-five , desperate to relieve the hunger, runs into another stampede,the stampede to flee the curse called poverty.

The stampede grows bigger.

Let’s imagine.Two journalist, one from Bangladesh and the other,suppose, from Pakistan, slips into this country with avisa for visiting a friend or going to school etc.Then they move around this country in search ofcertain exceptions, some injustices. They take thefootage from some vandalized mosque, they interviewthe family member of some people whose members are inINS custody without access to anybody since 9/11 andthey interview people like like Pat Robertson andJerry Fallwell and edit it only containing the veryinflammatory comments against other religion. Theytook the picture of a Sikh in front of a downtownhaunted burnt down house with false bandages on hisarm and other parts of the body.In the meantime Bill O’Riely gets the scoop and letthe whole country know about their activities,different other right wing media gets the news andstart making big hue and cry.And Finally, these two journalists are confronted byINS agents at the US-Canadian border when they triedto leave this country by road with all the material,camera, video etc. What do you think the USauthorities, gripped in this post 9/11 paranoia woulddo? Let them leave uninterrupted, making the govt.vilnerable to right wing media backlash by O’riely etel? Or they would arrest them citing immigrationinfringements initially and later link them withAl-Quida and bring sedition charges against them ?And now think about Bangladesh government, alsogripped with paranoia of western media propagandaafter bad press by Bertill Lintner, Alex Peerry et el.It’s the same knee-jerk reflex my friends, samereaction. Be it the icon of civilization, liberty,democracy-The USA or be it Bangladesh.
[ Still we need to protest the arrest of journalistsin Bangladesh, if it happens in US, it doesn’t meanits OK to happen in Bangladesh.]