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Bangladesh’s Education Minister orders Reinstatement of Hindu Schoolmaster

“The managing committee’s suspension order is not valid because it was not taken according to the rules. The meeting that suspended him had no agenda. The committee removed him through an unfair way; so the decision was illegal”

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MP Selim Osman addresses a news conference in Narayanganj, Bangladesh, May 19, 2016
MP Selim Osman addresses a news conference in Narayanganj, Bangladesh, May 19, 2016

The Hindu Schoolmaster who was attacked by a Muslim crowd and was suspended by school’s governing body over the allegations of defaming Islam should be reinstalled back to his post, commanded Nurul Islam Nahid, Bangladesh’s Education Minister, on Thursday.

Education Minister announced that an investigation by his ministry found that Shymal Kanti Bhakta, the headmaster at Piyar Sattar Latif High School in central Narayanganj district, had not insulted Bangladesh’s state religion.

Nahid also announced that he dissolved the school’s managing committee, which had suspended Bhakta on Tuesday over allegations of insulting Islam, being corrupt and not showing up to work.

“We have not found anything that may hurt religious sentiment,” Nahid told reporters on Thursday at the International Mother Language Institute in Dhaka.

He called a press conference to publicize the findings of his ministry’s investigation.

“The managing committee’s suspension order is not valid because it was not taken according to the rules. The meeting that suspended him had no agenda. The committee removed him through an unfair way; so the decision was illegal,” Nahid said.

Related Article: Born as a secular state: Why Bangladesh is degenerating into an Islamic country

The case involving the educator from Bangladesh’s small Hindu minority had dominated local headlines in recent days and it centered on an MP from the district, Selim Osman, subjecting the schoolmaster to a public act of humiliation. Osman allegedly forced Bhakta to squat and hold his ears after a crowd had attacked him for allegedly defaming Islam.

The scene was filmed on a witness’s mobile phone and the video of the incident went viral after it was uploaded to social media sites.

Supreme Court of Bangladesh
Supreme Court of Bangladesh in Dhaka, Wikimedia Commons

Nahid’s announcement came a day after Bangladesh’s High Court, amid growing outrage over the incident and solidarity with the Hindu educator, ordered the relevant authorities to explain why they had taken no action against the lawmaker and others who took part in the controversial incident on May 13. Thousands of people of all faiths joined a countrywide protest against the teacher’s humiliation and demanded punishment of the MP and the school committee members.

Unapologetic

On Thursday, however, the MP Osman defended his actions and refused to apologize to Bhakta for what had happened to him on Friday.

“I am a Muslim. I will not tolerate it if anyone insults Islam. I have punished a person who insulted Islam, not a teacher,” Osman told a news conference in Narayanganj, according to local media reports, adding that he would not offer a public apology as demanded by professional groups and social media activists.

He said a mob had telephoned him “to settle the matter” after beating Bhakta and confining the educator to a room .

“There were thousands of people waiting outside. They told me to leave him to the mob. But I rescued him,” Osman said.

“As I asked whether he insulted Islam, he said he could have done so. He then willingly came out and squatted, holding his ears,” the MP added.

Bhakta, for his part, maintained that he had not criticized Islam. He accused Osman of slapping him four times and forcing him to hold his ears – which is considered an act humiliation in Bangladesh.

“I have not insulted the religion. If he [Osman] said this, he could have done so to save himself,” Bhakta told reporters on Thursday, local media reported. (Benarnews)

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Dengue Outbreak Breaks Record in Bangladesh, Hospitals Struggle to Find Space for Patients

Dengue is mostly caused by Aedes aegypti mosquito

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Dengue is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito that typically attacks during day time. Pixabay

In one of the worst outbreak of dengue in Bangladesh, over 1,000 people, majority of them children, have been diagnosed with the disease in the last 24 hours, according to officials on Tuesday. While over 50 districts across the country had been affected, Dhaka, the national capital, home to more than 20 million people, was the worst-hit city with hospitals struggling to find space for patients, reports said.

Dengue is mostly caused by Aedes aegypti mosquito. “Aedes albopictus mosquito can also cause dengue,” Dr ASM Alamgir, a senior scientist at the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told bdnews24.com. “This type of mosquito is common in districts outside Dhaka as well,” he said.

“If the mosquito bites a dengue patient in Dhaka and travels out, the disease can spread to those areas,” he said. Former IEDCR Director Mahmudur Rahman called the situation “a cause for concern”. Eight people have died since January and more than 13,600 patients have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne fever in 2019. Of this, 8,348 cases have been reported in July. In June 1,820 cases had been reported and 184 cases in May, according to official figures.

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Eight people have died since January and more than 13,600 patients have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne fever in 2019. Pixabay

Ayesha Akhter, Assistant Director at the Directorate General of Health Services, called it “the worst dengue outbreak we have seen in Bangladesh”. “We are making sure that all government and private hospitals are equipped to tackle the outbreak. A special section has been opened at Dhaka Medical College Hospital for dengue patients,” said Akhter.

ALSO READ: Mob-Lynching Episodes Owing to Spread of Child Lifting Rumours Back on Whatsapp

The Disease Control Division has sought technical assistance from the WHO to control mosquito population to help curb the spread of the diseases. The Health Ministry has developed national treatment guidelines and aims to raise awareness through advertisement in newspapers.

Several Asian countries are grappling with spread of mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue and malaria with the latter raising fears of a “potential global health emergency”. Multi-drug-resistant strains of malaria is spreading across Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, according to two studies published in the Lancet. (IANS)