Saturday, February 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

‘Ethnic cleansing’ of Hindus in B’desh
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bangladesh former Prime Minister
Bangladesh former Prime Minister and leader of the country's main Opposition Sheikh Hasina consoles a minority Hindu girl, Purnima, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Thursday, during a convention on "Crime Against Humanity." — AP photo

New Delhi, February 15
Shahriar Kabir, a prominent Bangladeshi journalist and film-maker, has accused the regime of President Khaleda Zia of “Talibanising” the poverty-stricken South Asian country and alleged that the Hindus were being systematically killed there.

In a four-page communication, a copy of which was obtained by this newspaper today, Kabir says: “What is happening in Bangladesh over the past six months can be compared with ethnic cleansing by the Nazis in Germany before World War II. In this case it is the Hindus instead of the Jews...

“It is the government which has tarnished the image of the country by allowing Talibanising Bangladesh’s politics and society and by being lenient with militant fundamentalist and communal groups who have been carrying out repression on the minority Hindu community.”

Kabir was picked up by the Dhaka police on November 22 last on his return from Kolkata and was incarcerated in for 59 days. The Dhaka High Court came to his rescue and he was released on interim bail on January 20 this year.

Kabir cited two main causes for his harassment and torture at the hands of the Bangladeshi authorities. First, he interviewed some Hindu refugee families in India who narrated the reason for fleeing their homeland and forced to take shelter in another country. Secondly, he spoke about torture on the minorities in Bangladesh in an interview with the BBC.

Complaining against the “fascist attitude” of the Bangladesh Government, Kabir said: “My work is aimed at uprooting communal and fundamentalist elements from the soil of this country... It is indeed a tragedy that those who opposed the birth of Bangladesh, described freedom fighters as traitors or Indian agents, are now in power. They still want to turn Bangladesh into Pakistan.”Back


Pilgrims lynch Afghan Aviation Minister

Afghan Civil Aviation and Transport Minister Abdul Rahman waves as he boards the Ariana Airlines Flight for New Delhi
Afghan Civil Aviation and Transport Minister Abdul Rahman (file photo) waves as he boards the Ariana Airlines Flight for New Delhi and (right) heightened security around Kabul Airport on Friday, after the angry crowd of Haj pilgrims dragged out Abdul Rahman and beat him to death on Thursday. — Reuters photo

Kabul, February 15
International troops were today patrolling Kabul airport in armoured vehicles after Afghanistan’s Aviation Minister was lynched by angry Muslim pilgrims.

As the Afghan Government investigated the mob killing, the US Congress began probing the intelligence failure that led to the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The Afghan Cabinet set up a five-minister commission to investigate the murder of Aviation and Tourism Minister Abdul Rahman and “report as soon as possible,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Omar Samad said.

“It was an extremely tragic event. The interim administration is saddened by it,” he said.

Rahman was set upon by the furious mob of “haj” pilgrims, who had been waiting for days for a flight to Mecca, as he was about to leave for New Delhi on a plane owned by state carrier Ariana.

“This upset some people who obviously thought that they deserved some priority,” Samad said.

“And the fact that the minister was on board led to outrage and rising emotion. Tension had been rising over the past 48 hours.”

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops were deployed at Kabul airport to maintain order following the killing, as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw arrived to visit the ISAF headquarters.

A US military delegation is also due to arrive in Kabul on Sunday.

In the USA, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees will appoint former CIA Inspector-General Britt Snider to oversee the probe of the intelligence services’ activities before and after the September 11 attacks. AFPBack

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