Road Transport Bill updates punishment lengths
A draft law approved by the cabinet on August 6 proposes a maximum punishment of five years' imprisonment for causing death to a person by reckless driving, drawing strong criticism from road safety campaigners who termed the sentence insufficient to end anarchy on roads. The draft also proposed increasing the punishment for driving unregistered and unfit vehicles and for driving without licence and route permit. It also suggested that the number of vehicles be regulated in certain areas and funds be set up for treatment of the injured in road accidents and compensation for the victims' families.
Photographer Shahidul Alam on 7-day police remand
The celebrated photographer was picked up from his home in Dhanmondi on August 5. Dhaka Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Md Asaduzzaman Noor ordered his remand the next day, after he was produced before his court by Detective Branch (DB) of police's Inspector Arman Ali. Shahidul was picked up from his Dhanmondi home on Sunday night by DB police officials for interrogation. Md Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (DC) (media) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), said that “We have brought him here to interrogate him regarding his student-protest-related Facebook posts.” On Saturday and Sunday, the photographer had gone live on Facebook several times to discuss clashes in the city's Jigatola area between students demonstrating for safer roads and police and allegedly activists of ruling party affiliate organizations.
Journos attacked while covering student protests
A group of helmeted youths carrying sharp weapons, sticks and iron rods have assaulted journalists on August 5 covering the student protests for safe roads in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi. The journalists came under the attack during clashes between the protesters and the police at Science Laboratory intersection, Dhanmondi-1 and Dhanmondi-2 on Sunday afternoon. The police, who fired teargas towards the protesters, did nothing to protect the reporters. They targeted the journalists, especially photojournalists, afterwards in the presence of the police personnel. The attackers assaulted whoever was taking photos of or filming the clashes with cameras or mobile phones. Associated Press photographer AM Ahad was caught at Dhanmondi-1. The attackers beat him up with iron rods. He was treated at the Labaid Hospital with serious injuries.
Japan Tobacco acquires Akij's tobacco business for $1.47 billion
Japan Tobacco Inc., one of the five largest tobacco companies in the world, on August 6 acquired Akij Group's tobacco business for $1.47 billion (about Tk 12,430 crore), in what would be the biggest ever single foreign direct investment in Bangladesh. United Dhaka Tobacco Company Limited, the Akij concern, holds about 20 percent share of Bangladesh's cigarette market, making it the second biggest player after British American Tobacco. Japan Tobacco would buy shares of Dhaka Tobacco at $1.09 billion and pay $386 million for trademarks and design rights. For the last three years, Dhaka Tobacco has been acting as a contract manufacturer and distributor of Japan Tobacco's Winston brand and Philip Morris's Marlboro brand. The purchase is straight out of central casting for Japan Tobacco as it looks to offset shrinking sales in its traditional markets, brought about by tighter smoking regulations and growing awareness of the hazards of tobacco consumption.