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February 16 2014

February 13 2014

The Only Pakistani at the Sochi Olympics Taught Himself to Ski on Wooden Planks

This meme uploaded by the See More Facebook page has been liked more than 45,000 times.

This meme uploaded by the See More Facebook page has been liked more than 45,000 times.

While he has growing up in northern Pakistan, close to some of the highest slopes in the world, Mohammad Karim taught himself to ski on home-made equipment made by his uncle from wooden planks.

Now he is his Pakistan’s sole representative at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

More about his journey in this report by Pakistani daily the Express Tribune. 

 

February 12 2014

Controversial Sindh Festival Accused of Risking Ancient Ruins for Flashy Kickoff

Fireworks during the opening ceremony of Sindh Festival held in Moen Jo Daro. Image by Jamal Dawoodpoto. Copyright Demotix (3/2/2014)

Fireworks during the opening ceremony of Sindh Festival held in Moen Jo Daro. Image by Jamal Dawoodpoto. Copyright Demotix (3/2/2014)

The people of Sindh province in the south of Pakistan, the site of one of the oldest civilizations in the world, are currently celebrating a festival to pay tribute to their rich and vast cultural heritage. The brainchild of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the festival aims to revive the history of Sindh, his home province, with a 15-day celebration in various cities showcasing local art, music, sport and more.  However, critics accused him of playing the Sindh card by exploiting the peace loving innocent Sindhi people.

If that was not enough, before the celebrations had even begun, the festival drew ire from some for its decision to hold the theatrical opening ceremony at the ancient ruins of Mohenjo-daro.

Mohenjo-daro, an UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the earliest urban settlements in the world, dating back to 2600 BCE. A stage and other event infrastructure was built nearby the delicate ruins for the opening ceremony of 1 February 2014, to which about 400 or more dignitaries were invited. The federal government and even some leading archaeologists did not give the green light for holding the festival there. However, the organizers of the event and the PPP government in Sindh assured that the ceremony was being planned with painstaking attention to details, ensuring that the ruins were not threatened.

Pakistani writer Bina Shah wrote on her blog that she wasn't convinced:

So the Sindh Festival opened last night at Mohenjodaro, but it didn't remain untouched by controversy: the accusation that the ruins were being damaged by preparations for the festival, including the building of a stage, construction of steel pillars, and other things that shouldn't be happening on or around delicate ruins from a five-thousand year old civilisation. In addition, the vibrations by the construction and the loudspeakers during the concert, and the bright spotlights would possibly degrade the site even further. Furore erupted on social media, petitions were signed, and letters written. The Festival went ahead as planned and by all accounts was successful, but it's still a sensitive subject as we wait to assess the impact of the concert on the site post-event.

Labourers prepare for the Sindh Festival at Moen Jo Daro (Mound of Dead), the location of the remains of an ancient Indus Valley civilization. Image by Jamal Dawoodpoto. Copyright Demotix (

Labourers prepare for the Sindh Festival at Moenjo-daro (Mound of the Dead), the location of the remains of an ancient Indus Valley civilisation. Image by Jamal Dawoodpoto. Copyright Demotix (3/2/2014)

Local journalist and environmental activist Amar Guriro's photographs of the stage being constructed at the ruins first drew the attention of many to the choice of venue when they viral on social media. Debates emerged over the use of wooden and steel scaffolding over and near the ruins, heavy spotlights and lasers for a light show, and sound systems for the ceremony that could possibly damage the area.

While commenting on Amar Guriro's photographs, Shah added on her blog

I was very concerned when I saw the photographs and I retweeted them so that people might pay attention to the issue. The Festival organisers responded by claiming they'd had archeological experts both local and foreign approve the plans and help build the site in a safe way.

Journalist Mohammad Malick wanted someone to inform Bilawal Bhutto Zardari about the importance of the ancient city: 

Senior Editor of The News Talat Aslam tweeted his thoughts about the opening ceremony: 

Environmental communicator and cricket journalist Afia Salam was also against the idea:   

The official Twitter handle for the Sindh Festival was quick to clarify their position:

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari defended the choice: 

The ruins of Mohenjodaro

According to UNESCO, Mohenjodaro is the best-preserved urban ruin on the Indian subcontinent. The ruins, unearthed by a British archaeologist Sir John Marshall in 1922, are already threatened by harsh climatic conditions, floods and saline action of the Indus River water. 

Ever since the news broke on social media, protests and online petitions signed against the opening ceremony at the Mohenjodaro ruins marred the main event. According to a news report published in Dawn Newspaper, UNESCO was unhappy with the idea of holding an event at the ruins. The report said that a week before the festival at Moenjodaro, the director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites declared the opening ceremony as an “improper” activity.

But here is what the organizers had to say after the opening ceremony of the Sindh Festival at Mohenjodaro:

February 09 2014

An Info-Activism Tool-Kit on Women's Rights Campaigning

Tacticaal Tech's Info-activism Toolkit on Women's Rights Campaigning

Tactical Tech's Info-activism Toolkit on Women's Rights Campaigning

The Women's Rights Campaigning: Info-Activism Toolkit by Tactical Technology Collective is a new guide for women's rights activists, advocates, NGOs and community based organizations who want to use technology tools and practices in their campaigning. This has been developed in collaboration with advocacy organizations from Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Egypt.

This Toolkit has been customized from an updated version of two earlier toolkits: Message in a Box and Mobiles in a Box. The website will soon be translated into Arabic, Swahili, Bengali, and Hindi.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

Tanqeed's Bi-Weekly List of Recommended Readings On Pakistan

Tanqeed, a quarterly magazine on politics and culture on Tumblr, is an experiment in critical reflection on Pakistan. It is a blogzine, a scrapbook and a reporters’ notebook. This year, Tanqeed is accepting recommendations of lectures, essays, articles, videos on a range of subjects including politics, culture and society from Pakistan and beyond and plans to publish them bi-weekly.

India's Solar Vision Promises Clean Energy And Happy Farmers

Solar array pattern captured at Auroville, Pondicherry, India. Image from Flickr by Amaresh Sundaram Kuppuswamy. CC BY

Array of solar panels at Auroville, Pondicherry, India. Image from Flickr by Amaresh Sundaram Kuppuswamy. CC BY-NC-SA

Around 628 million people around the world do not have access to electricity and 290 million of them are from rural India. Many Indian farmers have to rely on archaic power grids and fossil fuels to run water pumps for their irrigation.

The Indian government is aiming to replace 26 million diesel-powered groundwater pumps with more efficient solar-powered irrigation models. This will save about six billion US dollars a year in electricity and diesel subsidies for the country. This will also help tackle the rising demand for coal as two-thirds of the country's electricity is generated by coal. Additionally crowd-sourcing of unused solar power will also add a lot of energy to the national grid.

India nearly doubled its solar capacity in 2013 to a cumulative 2.18 gigawatts of power. The country plans to install 10 GW of solar plants by 2017 and 20 GW by 2022, according to the the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), India’s flagship solar policy. India is also considering to apply to the World Bank for a 500-million-US-dollar solar loan to build the world's largest solar power plant (4GW) in Sambhar in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

Yadav K writes in Indian Public Sector blog details about the 4GW power plant in Sambhar:

The project will spread across 19,000 acres at Sambhar in Rajasthan and will entail an investment of Rs 7,500 crore in the first phase. [..] The solar PV (photo-voltaic) power plant will use PV modules based on crystalline silicon technology and with an estimated life of 25 years, the solar plant can supply 6,400 million units of energy per year. It eco-friendly project will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 4 million tonnes per year.

Katie Fehrenbacher writes in technology blog Gigaom:

As more devices become connected to networks and the Internet — here comes the Internet of Things — more and more of them will seek to have their own power source, and currently solar power is one of the cheapest and most mobile forms of distributed energy available. [..]

If India does reach these numbers of solar-powered water pumps, it would be the largest deployment of this technology in a single country. Reducing the grid electricity usage, and the use of expensive diesel, will not only lower carbon emissions, but it could also help the power grid operators better run their networks and reduce the power costs for the farmers.

Here are more reactions on Twitter:

However, the rapid development requires industrial production of Solar plants which may create new bio-hazard:

Blogger & Solar Energy expert Ritesh Pothan thinks that there are a number of issues that must be resolved if 2014 is to see India make any progress towards its solar ambitions.

More info on India's solar developments can be found in Renewable Energy India and Solar Power India Facebook pages.

Veteran Sri Lankan Journalist Murdered in Her Home

The Home of murdered former Sri Lankan Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalist Mel Gunasekera is probed by police investigators at the capital Colombo on February 2, 2014. Gunasekera was stabbed to death after a break-in at her family's home. Image by Tharaka Basnayaka. Copyright Demotix (2/2/2014)

The home of murdered former Sri Lankan Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalist Mel Gunasekera is probed by police investigators at the capital Colombo on February 2, 2014. Gunasekera was stabbed to death after a break-in at her family's home. Image by Tharaka Basnayaka. Copyright Demotix (2/2/2014)

Melicia “Mel” Gunasekera, one of Sri Lanka's prominent journalists, was stabbed to death in her house in Battaramulla, a suburb of the city of Colombo on February 2, 2014. She was the assistant vice president at Fitch Ratings Lanka and the founding editor of the Lanka Business Online, an online financial news service website. She was a former reporter for French news agency Agence France-Presse and also worked as a freelance journalist.

D. B. S. Jeyaraj notes that Gunasekera was very popular and was loved by her colleagues in the media. A construction worker was arrested within the same day and preliminary investigation indicates burglary may have been the motive. But her fans and followers think otherwise.

Nalaka Gunawardene questioned “Who Really Killed Mel Gunasekera?” on Groundviews blog:

According to police, the killer stole just LKR 1,200 (USD 10) and her mobile phone. No other motive is suspected.

Any death is a tragedy, but what do we make of a killing done for small change and a piece of metal?

The reactions in Sri Lanka after her murder include reflections on how this country has become brutalized. Policy entrepreneur Rohan Samarajiva noted in a eulogy in Lanka Business Online:

She should be writing my eulogy, not me hers. The young should not predecease the old. We should have built a country where a young journalist could take the bus with no fear and spend a Sunday morning in her own house without getting murdered. The war brutalized us. Killing became nothing.

Others mourned the journalist on Twitter:

February 08 2014

Legalizing And Regulating The Sex workers in Sri Lanka

Shilpa Samaratunge, a development worker, discusses in Groundviews about the problems surrounding the sex workers in Sri Lanka. Instead of abolishing and criminalizing them, which is the path Sri Lanka currently is on, she suggests to legalize the profession and impose regulation and provide health-services for the sex workers.

A Video That Made 50 Schools Safe

Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Amit Topno from Torpa Block, Jharkhand talks about making a video that brought about a positive change that had potentially saved the lives of 5000 people across 35 villages in his state. When his video explaining the problem of lightning strikes and the inaction of the authorities was screened to villagers, journalists and local government officials, the rest was easy. They pressurized to secure permissions to install lightning conductors in 50 schools across Torpa Block.

February 07 2014

Pakistani Superhero Ms. Marvel

It's a comic book. And yet, while I did a lot of laughing [it's got a lot of funny moments] I also couldn't stop the tears. Because I was so happy to see a version of myself reflected before me, not sensationalized or stereotyped.

Blogger Aisha Saeed posts a review of the Pakistani American comic hero Ms. Marvel, who was featured in the latest book of Marvel Comics.

Anniversary of The Shahbag Movement

February 5th marks the one year of the Shahbag Movement in Bangladesh. A three day long event (5-7 of February) was celebrated in the country and abroad to mark this movement. Images and information of the celebration can be found in the Gonojagoron Moncho Facebook page.

February 05 2014

Pakistani Journalists on Taliban Hit-List

Journalists of Hyderabad held a protest against the killing of 3 Media organization workers in Karachi. The Tehrik Taliban accepted responsibility for the killings. Image by Rajput Yasir. Copyright Demotix (18/1/2014)

Journalists of Hyderabad held a protest against the killing of 3 Media organization workers in Karachi. The Tehrik Taliban accepted responsibility for the killings. Image by Rajput Yasir. Copyright Demotix (18/1/2014)

Violent militant organization Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has officially declared the country’s media as fair game in their war against the Pakistani state. The TTP issued a religious decree or fatwa against some Pakistani media houses and prepared a hit list with names of two dozen journalists and publishers.

This comes as the Pakistani government has decided to pursue ‘peace talks’ instead of a ‘military operation’ against the banned outfit.

The 29-page fatwa accuses the media of continuously lying about the TTP and their objectives and attributing terrorist attacks to them that they had nothing to do with. Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan explained to Pakistani daily Dawn:

For a long time, we have been asking the media to be impartial. We are not forcing it to change beliefs. We are simply asking the media to be fair in coverage …Despite the tall claims of truth and nothing but the truth, the media has been acting as propagandists.

Three people associated with the TV channel Express News were killed when their company car came under attack in Karachi on January 17, 2014. Following the attack, Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed that the TTP was responsible:

The reason of the attack is that in the war of ideologies all media channels… are acting as propagandist and as rival party.. We will attack all the media houses that are involved in carrying out propaganda against us.

Media caught in the line of fire

Dawn columnist Cyril Almeida shared the views of a popular Urdu language current affairs show host Mushtaq Minhas in this piece:

“If the focus was on news before, now it’s on views,” Mushtaq Minhas, co-anchor of Bolta Pakistan on Aaj News, said. “(The Taliban) want to dilute the growing state and society narrative against them and want to impose their own narrative.”Minhas claimed that the growing sophistication of the Taliban’s media operations – both in terms of putting out their own message and closely monitoring the electronic and print media in Urdu, English and regional languages – has meant that the Taliban are alert to growing public and media criticism of the TTP and the possibility of an impending military response by the state against the TTP. 

Malik Siraj Akbar, Washington DC-based editor of the banned news site The Baloch Hal, which reports on Pakistan's restive Balochistan region, worried that such attacks can lead to paralysis of the media. He wrote in Huffington Post:

The Taliban do not only justify their attacks but they also demand equal air time for propagation of their extremist ideology in the news media. This is a bizarre expectation but completely snubbing their demand is likely to endanger the lives of several other journalists in the future. If one media group concedes to the Taliban wishes out of fear of being attacked, the free media will ultimately end up compromising its integrity and reliability among the masses.

Ayesha Siddiqa, author of ‘Military Inc: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy', explained the divided state of the country after attacks of this nature in an opinion piece for Al Jazeera:

Such statements, followed by attacks, tend to divide the country and society into two camps. While there are those who are frustrated by the government's inaction against the Taliban, others have a similar feeling but for a different reason. A number of young men and women I spoke with in urban centers of South Punjab sympathise with the TTP rather than their own soldiers. Their reason, as one young woman stated: “What's wrong with the Taliban asking for implementation of Sharia? If fighting is the only way they force the government to do what people want, then so be it.”

According to the official Twitter account of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), (@PTIofficial), a political party in Pakistan that advocates peace talks with the Taliban: 

Ever since media liberalization legislation passed in 2002, the Pakistani media, especially the broadcast industry, has become a powerful and independent institution. According to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, the number of private television channels has grown to 89, dozens of which are news channels. 

February 03 2014

Taliban Play Trump with Peace Talks in Pakistan

The Pakistani government finally announced their negotiating team for peace talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The banned militant outfit responded with their own team, which includes politicians from the very parties that were backing the government's peace talks, including cricketer-turned- politician Imran Khan, who declined the role.

In an analysis piece written for the daily Dawn, Peshawar-based journalist Ismail Khan writes:

It’s a win-win situation – tail, I win, head, you lose! Like-minded people on both sides. As one commentator put it, it was a case of Liverpool playing against Liverpool.

Lahore-based tweeter Faisal Sherjan tweets:

Peace talk committees

While speaking to parliament on January 29, 2014 Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that regardless of the recent deadly attacks by the Taliban, Pakistan hopes that its talks-first approach will help end violence in the country.

Sharif's four-member committee to pursue talks “immediately”, includes well-known journalists Rahimullah Yousufzai and Irfan Siddique, former ambassador Rustam Shah Mohmand (who is also a member of Imran Khan's party); former Intelligence official Major (Retired) Amir Shah.

The Taliban announced team to facilitate talks with the government, includes three top Islamist party leaders Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, Mufti Kifayatullah and Prof Ibrahim Khan, the controversial former chief cleric of Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz, and former cricketer turned Chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) party Imran Khan.

Imran Khan's nomination resulted in lots of buzz on Twitter, from his critics who call with “Taliban Khan” for his pro-talks stance and his supporters who defend him vociferously. 

On his official Twitter account, Imran Khan distanced himself from the Taliban nomination:

Former Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman believed that the Taliban were trying to exert power over the talks: 

Taliban attacks throughout Pakistan

Following the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike in November last year, newly elected TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah shunned the negotiation table and swore to avenge the death of his predecessor. The group has since carried out attacks in Pakistan's major cities.

Views after deadly suicidal attack on Chief of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Sindh Police Chaudhry Muhammad who killed in attack. Image by ppiimages. Copyright Demotix (9/1/2014)

Views after deadly suicidal attack on Chief of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Sindh Police Chaudhry Muhammad who killed in attack. Image by ppiimages. Copyright Demotix (9/1/2014)

In some of the major attacks of 2014, a senior police officer Chaudhry Aslam was assassinated on January 9 in an IED blast in Karachi. Aslam was highly critical of TTP activities in the city and had either arrested or killed several TTP members in recent years. The TTP Mohmand Agency group claimed responsibility for that attack.

Later on January 19, Taliban militants hit a security convoy in the Bannu area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and killed 20 people. The next day, at least 13 more people were killed in a bomb explosion in Rawalpindi.

With this violence in mind, some are skeptical of the prudence of peace talks. According to an article published by the Asian Human Rights Commission:

“It is madness for sheep to talk peace with a wolf,” said British historian and clergyman Thomas Fuller. In other words, we cannot change the nature of wild creatures. We cannot predict when snakes, lions, wolves or any other wild animals will attack, and without protecting ourselves we cannot sit calmly. In the context of Pakistan, the sheep is the government, and the wolf is the Taliban. It is madness on the part of the government to want peace talks with the Taliban, who only understand the language of weapons and violence.

Yet another report called the “Pakistan Security Report 2013” compiled by the Pak Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS) showed that in 2013, TTP remained the reason behind unrest in the country:

Compared to 2012, the number of reported terrorist attacks in Pakistan posted a nine per cent increase while the number of people killed and injured in these attacks increased by 19 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively. Despite the killing of its top brass in drone attacks and military operations by Pakistani security forces, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) remained the major actor of instability in the country in 2013 through its alliance with numerous militant groups. It carried out 645 terrorist attacks in 50 districts, claiming the lives of 732 civilians and 425 security forces personnel.

Split opinions on peace talks

Pakistan first proposed negotiations with the Taliban in 2004, but talks have not been successful. According to Prime Minister Sharif, this is the Taliban's final chance to come to the negotiation table and halt their violent activities in the country. 

The country's major political parties have split down the middle on the issue: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) have hailed the government’s decision, while Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) are not so hopeful about the talks and wanted a full force, comprehensive military action against the TTP. 

The selection of the negotiators has also raised some eyebrows when it comes to their credentials. 

Pakistan Peoples Party Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari delivers a speech at a public gathering to commemorate the 6th anniversary of the death of Benazir Bhutto. Image by Jamal Dawoodpoto. Copyright Demotix (27/12/2014)

Pakistan Peoples Party Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Image by Jamal Dawoodpoto. Copyright Demotix (27/12/2014)

After Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's announcement of more talks with the TTP, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari reacted in utter disappointment on Twitter:

For senior anchor and political analyst Syed Talat Hussain, the committee is just for distraction and nothing more:

February 02 2014

Hollywood-Style Bank Heist in Bangladesh Ends in Arrest

Rapid Action Battalion personnel produce the mastermind of Kishoreganj Sonali Bank heist, Sohel (In red-white shirt) and his assistant along with recovered 165 million taka before the press at the elite force's headquarters in Dhaka. Image by Reza Sumon. Copyright Demotix (28/1/2014)

Rapid Action Battalion personnel pose with the mastermind of the Kishoreganj Sonali bank heist, Sohel (in red-white shirt), and his assistant along with the recovered 165 million taka before the press at the elite force's headquarters in Dhaka. Image by Reza Sumon. Copyright Demotix (28/1/2014)

The mastermind behind the biggest bank robbery in Bangladesh history has been arrested. 

“Sohel” along with accomplice “Idris” pulled off a Hollywood-style bank heist of 169 million Bangladeshi taka (about 2.2 million US dollars) from Sonali Bank [bn] in Kishoreganj, 130 kilometers north of the capital Dhaka, by digging an underground tunnel 30 feet long to reach the bank's vault. 

The feat was short-lived and they were nabbed by police two days later with most of the loot. Sohel confessed to the daring plot, admitting that he had planned [bn] the heist two years ago. Accordingly, he rented a house next to the bank and started digging the three-foot-wide tunnel. After a year and a half, he said could reach the bank's vault. He did all the digging during business hours in broad daylight when there was a lot of noise on the street, so people didn't suspect anything. Sohel even managed to start an affair [bn] with a bank employee to gather information for the theft.

Netizens have been widely discussing the robbery on social media. Many have pointed out this crime's resemblance to Hollywood blockbusters like “Sherlock Holmes”, “The Bank Job”, “Shashank Redemption” and “The Lady Killers” and Bollywood movies like “Dhoom 3″.

A reader commented on the popular Bangla daily Prothom Alo's report:

শারলক হোমস এর একটা গল্পে এমন ছিল। বাড়ী থেকে সুড়ঙ্গ কেটে ব্যাংক লুটের ঘটনা! এই দুঃসাহসিক চুরির ঘটনায় পেশাদার চোর ডাকাতেরাও হতবাক হয়েছেন সম্ভবত! তবে আজব বিষয় হচ্ছে ব্যাংকে টেবিলের ওপর অত টাকা পড়ে থাকে তা জানতাম না। ওই শাখায় কি ভল্ট নেই?

There was a similar story in a Sherlock Homes movie where a tunnel was dug from a nearby home. Perhaps even professional thieves have been astounded by Sohel's feat. I was surprised to learn that so much money was kept open in the bank. Is there no secured drawer in the vault in that branch?

Shihab Shahin commented in the same report:

‘দা ব্যাংক জব’ চলচ্চিত্রের ছায়া অবলম্বনে নির্মিত!

This heist is planned according “The Bank Job” movie.

Mumin Hemin commented on online portal BDNews24.com's report that the thief should have taken a cue from the film “The Italian Job”:

বেশ ধৈর্য নিয়ে মানুষটা কাজটা শেষ করেছে। মাথা অনেক ঠান্ডা এটা বোঝাই যাচ্ছে। এত টাকা এত সহজে দেখার পরেও মাথা ঘুরে পড়ে যাননি, বরং এশার নামাজ (!!) আদায় করে বেশ পাক-পবিত্র (!!) হয়ে এসে টাকাগুলো হাত করেছেন। বাহ, উনাকে মাথা ঠান্ডার জন্য শশ্যাঙ্ক রিডেন্মপশন মুভির সেকেন্ড পার্টে নেয়া যেতে পারে। তবে উনার দ্যা ইটালিয়ান জবটা আর কয়েকবার দেখা উচিৎ ছিল। টাকা চুরিই বড় কথা না, সামলে রাখাটাও অনেক কিছু :D

He completed the job with patience. His head is cool, that is evident. He did not panic seeing a lot of money. He went home, prayed his Isha prayers (!!) and then secured the loot solemnly. With that coolness, he could be an actor in the sequel to “Shashank Redemption“. But he should have watched “The Italian Job” a few times. The heist isn't everything, you have to keep that money. :D

On Facebook, Shahriar Tanvir called this robbery a copycat of “The Lady Killers”:

যারা ”লেডি কিলারস” দেখেননিঃ

সোনালী ব্যাংক ডাকাতির মত একেবারে হুবহু ঘটনা, মাটিতে লম্বা সুড়ঙ্গ খুঁড়ে ডাকাতি। একদম সেইম টু সেইম। যাক, আর স্পয়লার এলার্ট দিলাম নাহ : )

For hose who did not watch “The Lady Killers“:

That movie has a similar story, digging a long tunnel to rob a bank. This is just like the movie. No more spoiler alerts :)

Sohel has become a hero for many and his fate has saddened them. Journalist Provash Amin wrote on Facebook:

‘অপারেশন সোনালী ব্যাংক কিশোরগঞ্জ’ সিনেমার নায়ক হাবিব ওরফে সোহেলকে অসহায়ভাবে rab এর হাতে বন্দী হতে দেখে খুব খারাপ লাগছে। তার মত একজন ক্রিয়েটিভ, প্রতিভাবান, ধৈর্য্যশীল মানুষকে আরো বড় কাজে লাগানো উচিত।

So sad to see Habib alias Sohel, the hero of the “operation Sonali Bank Kishoreganj” movie, being arrested by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Such a creative, talented and patient human being should be employed for a good cause.

Science-fiction writer Shezan Mahmud also expressed his sympathy for Sohel:

সোনালী ব্যাংক ডাকাতি এবং ১৬ কোটি টাকাসহ ধরা পরা সোহেল রানা আর সহযোগীর জন্যে আমার মায়াই হচ্ছে। বেচারারা দুই বছর ধরে সুড়ঙ্গ কেটে তারপর টাকা চুরি (ডাকাতি বলবো না) করে উপভোগ করার আগেই ধরা পড়লো (একেই বলে অর্জনের চেয়ে রক্ষা করা কঠিন); অথচ ওরা যদি জানতো তার'চে নষ্ট রাজনীতিবিদ, ঘুষখোর আমলা, নষ্ট ব্যবসায়ী হলে বছরে ১৬ শ কোটি টাকা মারলেও কেউ তাদের ধরতে পারতো না। যাই হোক, দেশে কোন ক্ষেত্রে অধ্যবসায় এর দাম নেই। নিদেন পক্ষে এই অধ্যবসায় এর জন্যে ওদের সাধুবাদ জানাই!

I feel sorry for Sohel and his assistant because they were finally caught with all that money. He dug the tunnel for two years to steal (I won't say rob) the money, but he was caught before enjoying the loot (it is harder to keep than to earn). If only they could learn how corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and unethical businessmen loot more than that and know how to hang on to it. There is no respect for perseverance in this country. We acknowledge Sohel's perseverance at least.

On Facebook, Zico suggested that the thieves’ talents should be employed to complete the design for road construction in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh:

সুড়ঙ্গ বানাইয়া ১৬ কোটি টাকা যে নিসে তারে গ্রেফতার কইরা জেলে রাখার দরকার নাই। ঢাকা শহরের রোডম্যাপ ঠিক করার কাজে তারে দেওয়া হউক। সে একাই কয়েকটা আন্ডারপাস বানায় দিবে।

The guy who could steal 169 million should not be kept behind bars. He should be employed to work on the road map of Dhaka. He could build a number of [much needed] underpasses in the city.

Kazi Prottoy and Apala Sengupta contributed to this post

January 31 2014

Teaching of “Religion and Morality” In Bangladesh Schools

Blogger Bhaskar comments in Mukto Mona Blog about the newly introduced subject ‘religion and morality’ in school curricula of Bangladesh:

In Bangladesh, teaching of ‘religion and morality’ in secular schools, we are talking about, is an extension of Maktab, Madrasa [Muslim religious schools] and dictatorial position held by Ulema in Bangladeshi Muslim society.

Birds Avoiding Bhopal

Bhopal, the capital of the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh, lies in the North-South corridor of the migratory path of birds coming from Northern Asia, Russia, Afghanistan, China, Mongolia etc. Blogger Proloy Bagchi reports that several species of migratory birds which used to congregate in and around the Bhojtal (former Upper Lake) in Bhopal in large numbers, apparently, have avoided this city this winter. Two reasons cited by bird-watchers for the absence of the birds are: 1) human disturbance and 2) pollution in the Lake waters.

January 29 2014

3 Out of The Top 10 Most Inspirational Bangladeshis are Tech-Centric

While commenting on the a list of 10 most inspirational Bangladeshis around the world published by the London-based organization ‘British-Bangladeshi Power and Inspiration’, blogger Aminul Islam Sajib points out that 3 of them had significant contribution in technology field.

January 28 2014

Sri Lanka's Best Bus Terminal

Freelance writer, translator and blogger Nandasiri Wanninayaka writes about the multi-purpose bus terminal-cum shopping and entertainment complex in the resort town of Negombo:

You wouldn’t expect a bus stand in Sri Lanka to be like a mini airport. But if you happen to go to Negombo Bus Stand, renamed as “Negombo Bus Terminal,” it is a little airport. It has almost all the facilities needed in a modern day bus stand. It is considered Sri Lanka’s best bus stand in terms of facilities.

January 26 2014

Outdoor Air pollution in Bhopal

Proloy Bagchi reports that outdoor air pollution in Bhopal, the capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, has risen to an alarming proportion mainly from the emission of the transports. The blogger slams at the inaction of the state government and stresses the importance of reducing this pollution. According to WHO outdoor pollution causes cancer, more so than passive smoking.

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