Nation this week
In a historic verdict, the High Court ruled that a mother can be the sole legal guardian of her children. The HC delivered the verdict on a writ petition saying all citizens have the right to get an education and job under the constitution. It will be sufficient if students mention their mothers' names when filling out a student information form for examinations, and they cannot be forced to mention their father's names against their will. The High Court ruled saying that forms with the name of the student's mother or any legal guardian instead of the father must be accepted.
In 2009, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, and Naripokkho submitted a petition as public interest litigation to the HC challenging a refusal by boards of education to issue registration cards to SSC and HSC candidates who didn't fill in their father's names. From now on, one can enter the name of the mother or any other legal guardian in all kinds of government documents.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demanded the immediate release of Deepto TV's Satkhira correspondent Raghunath Kha from jail, alleging he was electrocuted and beaten up in police custody. Kha was known for writing and campaigning for the rights of landless people and minority communities for a long time. He was detained by plainclothes police officers on the morning of January 23, after reporting on a land dispute in Khalishakhali area of southwestern Satkhira.
The authorities initially denied that Kha was in their custody. They did not produce him in court until about 5pm the next day, in violation of the code of criminal procedure. In court, Kha was unable to stand properly and said that police severely beat him, electrocuted him, and threatened to kill him if he continued reporting on landless people. He was shown arrested in two cases filed under the Explosive Substances Act and Extortion Act.
The main opposition BNP and its allies announced that they will hold countrywide rallies on February 4 to protest the repression of opposition leaders and activists, as well as to demand a poll-time caretaker government. The announcement came from simultaneous rallies of the BNP and allies on January 25, marking what they called 'democracy killing day' (establishment of BAKSHAL in 1975). BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced their new programme at the rally to press home the party's 10-point demands, including the unconditional release of activists and the slashing of electricity and daily commodity prices.
Fakhrul claimed that having systematically taken away people's rights, it was time for the Awami League government to go. "They [AL] have destroyed our culture, our thinking. This Awami League wants to hold another joke in the name of elections. But the people will decide their own destiny this time. And it is our sacred duty to send this monstrous government away from these people," he said.
Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin sought cooperation from deputy commissioners in protecting the country's environment and forests. He also asked the DCs to take legal action against illegal brick kilns, illegal use of forest wood as fuel, use of banned polythene shopping bags, cutting of illegal hill-dunes, sawmills, forest grabbing, and waterbody encroachment. To maintain the ecological and environmental balance of the Sundarbans, there has been a discussion about creating alternative employment for fishermen and taking initiatives to include social security programmes, he noted.
The minister said the DC of Cox's Bazar has been asked to take necessary steps to ensure that no new establishment is built on St Martin's Island. All the DCs have been instructed to include the agenda related to environmental pollution control in the monthly development meeting of the district.
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