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10 major incidents of 2020

  • Published at 09:41 am December 31st, 2020
Dhaka Anti-rape protest
File photo: Students of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College (VNSC) demonstrating outside the main campus of the institution at the capital’s Baily Road area with anti-rape festoons and placards on Thursday, October 8, 2020, Mehedi Hasan

The most sensational murder of the year was the killing of retired army major Sinha

As the year is about to come to an end, Bangladesh witnessed a number of much talked about events in different fields, with Covid-19 making the headlines almost round the year.

But Dhaka Tribune also identified nine other major events or issues that remained talk of the town in 2020.

Novel coronavirus

The novel coronavirus broke out in China's Wuhan city in late December last year and quickly spread throughout the world, becoming a pandemic in less than three months.

The fast spreading coronavirus claimed 1,796,559 lives and infected 82,328,043 people across the world till Wednesday morning, according to Worldometer.

On March 8, health authorities in Bangladesh reported the first three cases of Covid-19, a severe acute respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus strain which was later named Sars-CoV-2.

On March 23, as a part of preventive measures against the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, the government declared a general holiday in Bangladesh from March 26 and later extended the shutdown in phases till June 30. However, online classes continued in several educational institutes.

As of Tuesday, as many as 511,261 people were infected, 7,509 died and 454, 563 recovered in Bangladesh over the last ten months till December 28.

Khaleda Zia’s release

After more than two years in prison, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was released on March 25.

She was released from jail, following a government decision to stay her conviction for six months and free her on humanitarian grounds considering her age.

Her family said the BNP chairperson's treatment was hampered due to the Covid-19 pandemic and they again urged for an extension to this release period. On September 24, her release period was extended for another 6 months.

Khaleda Zia was serving a 17-year sentence in two corruption cases involving Zia Orphanage Trust and Charitable Trust.  

26 Bangladeshis killed in Libya gun attack

At least 26 Bangladeshis were killed while 12 others injured in a gun attack by some human traffickers in the town of Mizda, which is 180km away from Tripoli, Libya.

According to the UN-backed government in Libya, the family members of a Libyan trafficker killed 30 migrants, in revenge for his death.

Sinha murder

The most sensational murder of the year was the killing of retired army major Sinha Md Rashed Khan.

Major Sinha was shot dead by a suspended police Inspector Liaqat Ali at the Shamlapur APBN check post on Marine Drive Road in Baharchhara union of Teknaf upazila on July 31.

On August 5, Sinha's elder sister Sharmin Shahriar Ferdous filed a murder case against nine policemen in a Cox's Bazar court. On the same night, the court order reached Teknaf police station and arrest warrants were issued against the nine accused.

The next day, seven policemen were arrested in connection with the murder.

RAB filed a charge sheet against 15 people in the murder case on December 13. They received evidence that the murder was pre-planned.

Narayanganj mosque fire

On September 4, a massive explosion took place at Baitus Salah Jame Mosque in Narayanganj’s Fatullah area, where 34 out of 36 people inside the mosque were burnt to death.

Fire officials said the explosion was caused by the accumulation of leaked gas from an underground Titas Gas pipeline that somehow came in contact with an electric spark.

On October 31, the CID finalized charge sheets against 36 members of Titas, DPDC and the mosque management committee. Eight employees of Titas were arrested and later released on bail.

Lalmonirhat lynching 

On October 30, a man named Shahidunnabi Jewel was beaten to death in a mosque in Burimari under Patgram upazila of Lalmonirhat. Locals lynched him and then burned his body over the allegation of hurting religious sentiment.

Three separate cases were filed with Patgram police station, in which hundreds of people were accused.

On November 7, Detective Branch of Police arrested the prime accused of the grisly murder of Jewel in a raid in Kuril Bishwa Road area. He was later handed over to Lalmonirhat police.

So far, a total of 14 accused have been arrested in three phases over this incident.

Babunagari new Ameer of Hefazat-e-Islam

A council meeting of Qawmi madrasa-based radical Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh selected the new Ameer and Secretary General of the party on October 15.

Incumbent Secretary General Junayed Babunagari and the party's Dhaka city unit President Nur Hossain Kasemi were elected the next Ameer and Secretary General, respectively.

It was the first meeting of the council of Hefazat-e-Islam after the death of the platform’s supreme leader Shah Ahmad Shafi.

The post of the Ameer fell vacant after Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi died while undergoing treatment at Asgar Ali Hospital in Died on September 18.  

Meanwhile, the rift within the party resurfaced as a faction of Hefazat-e-Islam announced that it would boycott the forthcoming council.

Bangladesh clears death penalty for rape 

On October 12, The government approved the death penalty as the highest punishment for rape, amid waves of anti-rape demonstrations across the country.

The cabinet gave its approval for the amendment of the Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act 2000 in this regard during the weekly cabinet meeting at the secretariat, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in chair.

Anti-rape demonstrations erupted across Bangladesh after video footage of five men stripping a woman naked and gang-raping her in Noakhali’s Begumganj upazila went viral on social media on October 4.

According to Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), nearly 1,000 rape cases were reported between January and September this year, including 208 gang rapes.

Last span of Padma Bridge installed 

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project (PMBP) authorities installed the 41st and last span of the 6.15km long bridge on December 10.

More than 81% of the total construction work has been done and 91% of the construction work of the main bridge is complete. Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said the Padma Multipurpose Bridge was likely be opened to traffic after being completed by June 2022.

The bridge, which was funded domestically, will connect the capital with 21 southern districts through road and railways.

Bangabandhu's sculpture fiasco

The construction of a sculpture of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stirred up a lot of unwanted debates.

Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh chief Junaid Babunagari issued threats during a rally in Chittagong on November 27 that all sculptures in the country will be removed after Mawlana Mamunul Haque, the joint secretary general of the organization, publicly sparked the controversy over the matter.

Other hardline Islamist organizations of the country also joined the debate saying that Bangladesh cannot have any sculptures as it is “against the religion of Islam.” They even made movements in several stages.

Meanwhile, the ruling party-affiliated organizations took a strict stance against such claims and said that there is no space for “communal differences in a secular Bangladesh.”

The situation reached its climax, when an under-construction sculpture of Bangabandhu was vandalized in Kushtia on December 5.

Police arrested four people on suspicion of involvement in the incident while government officials and wings of Awami League held protests across the country.

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