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.
Tribunal serves notice to Jamaat-e-Islami
Srinagar, Apr 19: The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal, constituted by the Centre, has issued a show cause notice to Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu Kashmir (JeI), which was banned by the government in February, asking it why the organisation cannot be declared as an unlawful association.
“A notice is hereby given under sub-section (2) of Section 4 of the Act (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) and you are hereby called upon to show cause, within 30 days from the date of service of this notice, as to why your Association, declared as unlawful, be not adjudicated to be so and why an order confirming such declaration be not made under Section 4(3) of the Act,” said the notice issued by Registrar, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal, Lorren Bamniyal, to the JeI.
The notice was issued on April 5.
The Tribunal asked the Jamaat to file objections or reply affidavits, if any, before the next date of hearing of the Tribunal at the office of the Registrar.
“In case the objections/reply and the documents are in regional language, true English translation thereof be also attached. You may appear through a duly authorised person before the Tribunal on 20 May, 2019 at 3 PM in Court Room number 26 for further proceedings,” the notice said.
The Centre had constituted the tribunal headed by a Delhi High Court judge to decide whether there is sufficient cause for declaring the JeI as an unlawful association.
The Ministry of Home Affairs on March 23 had issued a notification which states that Justice Mukta Gupta would head the tribunal set up under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The government in its February 28 notification had banned the JeI, saying it was of the opinion that the Jamaat is “in close touch with militant outfits” and is supporting “extremism and militancy” in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere.
It said the outfit claims “secession of a part of the Indian territory from the Union” and supporting terrorist and separatist groups fighting for this purpose.
The action came following the February 14 attack in Pulwama that killed over 40 CRPF personnel.
Two militants killed in Rafiabad gunfight:Reports
Srinagar, Apr 19: Multiple gunshots were heard in Malpora Watergam area of Rafiabad in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Friday evening.
Sources said that at around 8:55 pm, unknown persons fired a volley of bullets in paddy fields in Malpora Watergam village of Rafiabad.
Sources said that a joint team of Army’s 32RR and Jammu and Kashmir Police’s SOG cordoned off the area in Malpora Watergam after credible inputs about presence of militants.
They said that as the forces laid the siege, gunshots were heard from the area.
SP Sopore Javid Iqbal said that “we are verifying the incident.”
He said that a cordon has been launched in the area.
Unconfirmed reports at the time of filing this report said that two militants were killed during the gunfight that ensued soon after.
Budgam: NC worker of 4 decades stays away from polls
Srinagar, Apr 18: Outside a two-storey Government Girls Higher Secondary High School in Ichigam village of Budgam, a man donning a chequered pheran loudly quipped at every person entering the polling booth to cast his or her vote on Thursday.
He argued with them over the performance of their elected leaders in the past as agents of political parties tried hard to convince him to cast his vote or stay away from others who wanted to.
Ghulam Hassan, in his 60s, has been an avid supporter of National Conference (NC) at Ichigam for the last 40 years.
Having worked hard over the years to lure voters for NC, Hassan, Thursday, was one among those who sidelined from the party and preferred not to vote.
He said the previous regimes failed to develop his area due to which he had decided to boycott and also not to “befool” people in this Lok Sabha election.
“It was the only option available with me. I have been supporting the party (NC) ever since I became eligible to caste vote. But it didn’t benefit me nor people of my area,” he said.
Hassan, who as per locals, would often engage himself in heated arguments with political rivals during elections, was dejected over the state of roads and growing unemployment in his village.
“I have two sons, who are sitting idle at home. Many students here have completed their higher studies and haven’t got a job. These politicians appear only during elections and forget their promises once they are elected,” he said.
Hassan said the idea of boycotting the election was way better than living with a hope of some relief from the politicians.
“Under these circumstances, it is better that you vote for a candidate who is trustworthy. But we are short of such candidates,” he said.
When agents attempted “tricking” him by saying his vote would secure Article 370 and 35-A, he replied, “Many among you have voted and let us see how your vote will benefit Kashmir,” he said.
Few metres away in another polling booth in Ichigam, Ghulam Muhammad Dar voiced similar concerns but said he voted after trusting the candidate for one last time.
“I have been casting my vote for the last 50 years and have seen how these politicians befool people. But this is going to be my last vote if the candidate didn’t work for the development and safeguarding special position of Kashmir,” he said.