Rights body Ain o Salish Kendra, or ASK, released two distressing bits of data on the year 2019 as part of its annual review of the human rights situation in the country, launched December 31. In keeping with a trend identified in these pages at the start of 2019, ASK data confirmed there was a sharp rise in border killings throughout the year as 43 Bangladeshis were either shot dead or tortured to death by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) - more than trebling year-on-year. It represents a return to the forties, roughly 1 every week, for the first time since 2015. Since 2000, more than 1,000 Bangladeshis have been killed by BSF along the over 4,000-km border.

At the same time, the number of rape victims in Bangladesh doubled in 2019, year-on-year. A total of 1,413 women were either gang-raped or subjected to rape in the year just concluded. Of them, 76 were killed after rape and 10 others died by suicide, ASK reported. The number of rape victims was 732 in 2018, and 818 in 2017, as reported by the same organisation.

Workers of nine state-owned jute mills in Khulna and Jashore ended the year on a fast-unto-death to try and force the government to accept their 11-point set of demands, including implementation of the wage commission, payment of regular wages, and abolishing public-private ownership of jute mills. As the rest of the nation geared up to usher in the New Year, 50,000 workers from 9 mills spread across the two districts, were completing their third straight day of the agitation program in front of the mills they worked in.

Earlier the workers abstained from work as well as food and drink in a bid to oblige the authorities to heed their demands from December 10-13. They lost a colleague - Abdur Sattar, 55, a worker of Platinum Jute Mills - who fell ill during the fast back then. Later the workers postponed their hunger strike upon assurances from the state minister for labour of fulfilling their demands. But there was no follow up worth speaking of, and nothing materialised to prevent the workers from resuming the strike.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines Limited, the corporate entity behind the national flag carrier, posted a final profit of Tk 218 crore for the 2018-19 fiscal. The adjusted figure was revealed at the company's 12th annual meeting held at its head office Balaka this week. The meeting was chaired by Air Marshal (retd) Muhammad Enamul Bari, chairman of the Board of Directors, where other high ups were also present. The profit figure represents almost a full turnaround on the Tk 201 crore loss that it posted in just the previous fiscal (2017-18).

Earlier in July, Biman had revealed a provisional profit figure of Tk 272 crore. This week's profit figure with the Tk 54 crore reduction from July would have taken account of such expenses as depreciation and other taxes. According to Biman's own records, the airline made annual profits of Tk 276 crore in 2014-15, Tk 236 crore in 2015-16 and Tk 48 crore in 2016-17, before going into the red in 2017-18. The figure tends to fluctuate in sync with movements in the price of oil in the international market.

A total of 22,27,271 students passed the JSC, JDC exams. The number was 22,30,829 last year. In the JSC board alone 87.58 percent passed, increasing by 2.3 percent over last year when the pass rate was 85.28 percent. The total number of GPA 5 recipients from JSC board is 76,787 (66,108 last year). In Madrasah board the pass rate increased by three-quarters of a percent. Last year the pass rate was 89.04 percent and this year it is 89.77 percent.

Barishal Education Board fared the best for the second consecutive year in JSC and JDC examination results with a pass rate of 97.05 percent while the Dhaka Education Board was bottom with a pass rate of 82.92 percent. The overall pass rate of JSC and JDC examination was 2.1 percent higher this year compared to last year, as revealed by Education Minister Dipu Moni at a press briefing after handing over the results to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

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