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Sheikh Hasina sworn in as Bangladesh PM

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Dhaka, Jan 7: Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as Bangladesh’s prime minister for a record fourth term Monday after a crushing election victory marred by deadly violence and claims of widespread rigging.

Hasina, 71, has presided over record economic growth in the South Asian country of 165 million people but critics have accused her of creeping authoritarianism.

Her ruling Awami League party and its allies won the December 30 elections by a landslide, securing 288 seats in the 300-seat parliament compared to just seven for the main opposition.

 

The campaign saw mass arrests of opposition activists and candidates and allegations of widespread rigging including ballot stuffing and voter intimidation.

Seventeen people were killed on election day.

The European Union has called for a probe into allegations of irregularities, saying “significant obstacles to a level playing field… tainted the electoral campaign and the vote.”

The United States expressed concern about “credible reports of harassment, intimidation and violence”.

The United Nations on Friday said there were indications that “reprisals” have targeted the opposition since the election, including physical attacks, arbitrary arrests, harassment, disappearances and filing of criminal cases.

The opposition, which last week boycotted the oath taking ceremony of the newly elected MPs, has demanded fresh polls under a neutral caretaker government — something Hasina and the election commission have rejected outright.

President Abdul Hamid administered Hassina’a oath in a ceremony at the presidential palace, Bangabhaban. A 47-member cabinet with many new faces was also sworn in.

To her supporters, Hasina is known as Bangladesh’s “mother of humanity” for allowing in hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing a military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar in 2017.

Opponents accuse her of jailing arch-foe Khaleda Zia on politically motivated charges, of orchestrating mass arrests, enforced disappearances and passing Draconian anti-press freedom laws to try to cling to power.

Hasina was abroad in August 1975 when a group of renegade military officers assassinated her father, Bangladesh’s first president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his wife and three sons.

She started her political career as a hero of the people, returning from exile in 1981 to take over as Awami League leader and beginning a long struggle to restore democracy in Bangladesh.

Hasina joined forces with Zia’s BNP to help oust military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad in 1990 but the pair soon fell out and were branded the “Battling Begums”.

Their rivalry has dominated Bangladeshi politics for the last 30 years.

Hasina was first elected prime minister in 1996 but she struggled to emerge from the shadow of her father during her first term and lost the 2001 contest.

She returned to power after winning the December 2008 polls by landslide, just months after she was imprisoned by a military-backed government on corruption charges.

She has been in power ever since, presiding over economic expansion of more than six percent every year since 2009. GDP growth last year was 7.86 percent and Hasina has promised to take that into double digits.

 


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Address reason forcing youth to take up arms: Mirwaiz to Guv

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Srinagar, Jan 18: On J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik’s statement that the government does not want to ‘kill militants but militancy’, Hurriyat (M) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Friday said if that was the case the Governor should address the cause that forces the young boys to take up the arms.

“If it is so and they (Governor’s administration) are sincere then the government should address the cause that is leading these educated and young boys to take to arms,” Mirwaiz said while addressing the Friday Congregation at Jama Masjid here.

Calling for a political process to resolve the issue, Mirwaiz said: “…start a political process in earnest to address the sentiment behind it and resolve the dispute. It will not only save the lives of our youth but soldiers also, end militarization and the resultant atrocities that governor sahab wants Joint Hurriyat leadership to convey to him, and end the uncertainty and hostility that the region is hostage to for past 71 years.”

 

Mirwaiz also reacted to the army’s statement terming 2018 as ‘remarkable year’ because of militant killings calling the same “extremely unfortunate and inhuman.”

Mirwaiz called it strange that a well-trained armed  force meant to fight another well trained armed force was “celebrating and patting its back on killing young men and boys, some as young as 14, while some budding intellectuals and academics, and calling it remarkable.”

“…army’s boasting of the killings of militants, who are not some hard core armed guerillas and terror mongers, but sentiment driven youth forced to take to arms as a consequence of severe repression due to forcible control,” said the Mirwaiz, according to a statement.

“It is simply the intensity of their passion that drives these young boys, who are poorly trained and starved of ammunition to be able to give a real fight, in this greatly unequal battle to an armed force of a country,” Mirwaiz said.

He said the pain and loss that all of Kashmir feels at the killings of militants only adds to people’s resolve and pushes more young to join in.

“Instead of admitting this, the armed force of a country that prides itself in the history of its freedom struggle by honoring the likes of Subhash Chander Bose who raised  Indian National Army to fight the British colonial rule , sells the killing of these armed youth as a great achievement to people of India,” he said.

The chief cleric said many in Indian army have in their write ups and lectures admitted that Jammu and Kashmir is a political problem that has to be resolved as such.

“Those who are using militarization to prolong the status quo should understand that it comes with a cost and keeps increasing complexities,” said the Mirwaiz, adding that the whole world has said that there can be no military solution to the dispute.

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Drug Abuse in Kashmir: Over 300 cases registered, 482 peddlers arrested in 2018

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Jan 18: Kashmir has emerged as one of the major consumers of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances with police registering over 300 cases against drug peddlers in the region during 2018.

As per the official figures of the police department, at least 312 cases were registered against the drug peddlers in the valley during the year.

Police arrested 482 persons involved in these cases. In 221 cases, the charge sheets have been filed while 91 are still being investigated.

 

Of the cases, 123 have been registered in south Kashmir followed by 108 in north and 81 in Central parts of the valley.

Police have also seized a huge quantity of contraband substances including poppy straw, fukki, brown sugar, charas, heroin, ganja, bhung putri, and opium straw from various parts of Kashmir.

As per official data, the drugs seized include poppy straw (1734.7 kg), fukki (850.61 kg), brown sugar (6.88 kg) and charas (73.27 kg), apart from other seizures of opioids.

Another disturbing trend has been the increased use of narcotic drugs including heroin, sedatives and painkillers.

“Use of these substances increases the intensity of addiction and hastens the process of complete subjugation to the narcotic dependence,” a police official said, adding that heroin is often considered as a “status symbol” among the drug addicts.

Last year, the report by Narcotics Control Bureau of Union Ministry of Home Affairs’ said J&K was among the top states in India in the cultivation of illicit crops.

The former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti too had directed police to use Public Safety Act (PSA)–a law under which a person can be detained without trial for up to two years–against those involved in the cultivation and smuggling of drugs.

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RKFC vs Shillong Lajong FC: Snow Leopards aim repeating history

Firdous Hassan

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Shillong (Meghalaya), Jan 18: Real Kashmir FC head coach David Robertson Friday said the team’s five- day stay in Shillong has helped his players to prepare themselves “mentally as well as physically” for a “bigger” game against Shillong Lajong FC.

Before resuming their home leg, RKFC will Saturday face Shillong Lajong FC, which currently is rooted to the bottom with just four points from 12 games.

Last month, RKFC played dominating football against Shillong defeating it 6:1 at Srinagar’s Astro-Turf ground.

 

Coach Robertson, in a pre-match conference on Friday, said his players understood the technicalities of the venue, Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, which is very similar to the visitor’s home turf.

“The Shillong playground is similar to that of Astro-Turf, which too has a synthetic turf.  Currently, there is good spirit within the team and players are ready for the match,” he said.

Coach Robertson said his team is confident enough for the upcoming match as all eight foreigner players are declared fit for the game.

“We are enjoying the season as we haven’t faced any defeat since March 2017 in away games. So, in tomorrow’s match, we are expecting some good results to get three points before our home matches resume,” he said.

The RKFC head coach said the pressure will be more on the host team but quickly added that Shillong Lajong’s ability to bounce back can’t be underestimated.

“It will be premature to predict about the upcoming game. There are chances that the game can be difficult for us but we have to continue our momentum to get good results tomorrow,” he said.

“There is great enthusiasm in my team and every game, irrespective of the team’s rank, is challenging for us,” Robertson added.

Shillong Lajong FC so far scored almost at a rate of a goal every match but has conceded at a rate of three goals a game, highlighting a rickety defensive line.

RKFC, on the other hand, is on an unbeaten run of eight games that has helped them accumulate 22 points after 12 rounds.

Shillong Lajong FC coach Alison Kharsyngtiew said the physical stature of RKFC players can give a tough competition to any team.

“Considering the physicality of the RKFC team, the game can be tough. But we are ready to give our best,” he said.

Asked about the reasons behind featuring at the bottom, he said his players are very young.

“This is the future of our national team and entire north-east. We have to guide them and encourage them to do better in future,” he said.

He said two of his players including defender Rakesh Pradhan and midfielder Hardy Nongbri are injured and won’t play the upcoming match.

 

 

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