Cell-phone use by prisoners angers cabinet committee

Mustafizur Rahman

Appointment of a new taskforce is under the government’s consideration to unearth the sources of financing domestic militancy and terrorism, officials said Thursday.
The taskforce could include officials from the home ministry, the police, the intelligence agencies and Bangladesh Bank, they said.
‘The cabinet committee on law and order on Thursday asked the home ministry to send the proposal for appointing the  taskforce, exclusively for tracking down the sources of funding militant groups involved in ‘terrorist activities’, a committee member told New Age.
Inspector general of police Hassan Mahmood Khandker mooted the proposal in the first meeting of the cabinet committee of the new coalition government led by Awami League.
Industries minister Amir Hossain Amu, who heads the committee chaired the meeting at the home ministry.
Later, Amu told reporters, ‘We asked for unearthing the source of funding the terrorist activities in the country.’
The cabinet committee, he said, thanked the police and other law enforcement agencies for law and order maintenance during the January 5 polls.
Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed, health minister Mohammad Nasim and civil aviation minister Rashed Khan Menon, and state minister for home ministry Asaduzzaman Khan, attended the meeting, besides the chiefs of law enforcement agencies.
The finance minister heads a coordination committee for the review of anti-money laundering and anti terror financing steps.
The issue of militancy was taken up in the committee meeting in the backdrop of the recent incident of an armed terror group snatching away three convicted militants of Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh from a prison van.
In the incident a police constable was killed at Trishal on Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway on February 23.
The three convicted members of the banned militant outfit, JMB, were being taken to a Mymensingh court in the prison van from Kashimpur Central Jail in Gazipur.
Only three policemen, were assigned to guard the three convicts in the prison van.
Tangail police arrested convict Raquibul Hasan from Taktarchala, Shakhipur, six hours after his escape from the prison van and on the following day he was killed while in custody allegedly in a ‘shootout’ with the police.
According to newspaper reports the mobile phone recovered from Raquibul belonged to a police constable assigned to guard prisoners.
Replying to a question, Amu described it  as a stray incident.
Drives are on to hunt down the convicted militants, he added.
At the meeting which lasted for over two hours several committee members expressed concern over illegal use of cell phones by prisoners in jails as well as on court premises allegedly with support from prison authorities and the police.
The cabinet committee asked the authorities concerned to look into the allegations and take deterrent actions.
They said these illegal practices posed threats to the overall security system.
Amir Hossain said that the district administrations and the police had been asked to conduct drives at weekly highway side bazaars across the country.
The health minister asked the police to take steps immediately to remove all illegal establishments around government hospitals in Dhaka and the district towns to ensure that no patients were harassed by mushrooming operators.

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