This year, the three-day Bishwa Ijtema, began on January 12 in Tongi, in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Bishwa Ijtema meaning ‘Global Congregation’ in Bengali is one of the largest peaceful annual gatherings of Muslims in the world that takes place in Tongi, by the banks of the River Turag, in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Ijtema is a prayer meeting spread over three days, during which attending devotees take part in prayers and listen to scholars reciting and explaining verses from the Holy Quran. The number of devotees exceeds 5 million with an estimated 20,000-50,000 foreign devotees.
The Bishwa Ijtema culminates in the Akheri Munajat or the Final Prayer, when millions of participating devotees raise their hands beseeching Allah (God) for world peace.
To help the devotees attending the Biswa Ijtema, the Bangladesh Railway (BR) made arrangements to run special trains on different routes of the country.
The above video shows the Bishwa Ijtema Special Train 2018, one of the most crowded trains in the world operated for Bishwa Ijtema 2018. However, this is not a regular occurrence during the normal train services run by the Bangladesh Railway.
On July 4, 2011, at the invitation of the MCC, Kumar Sangakkara, the former Captain of the Sri Lankan Cricket Team, delivered the Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s titled “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket – A Celebration of Our Uniqueness”.
This video is part 7 of Kumar Sangakkara’s hour-long speech. It is accompanied by its transcript.
Transcript of Kumar Sangakkara’s speech
A Sri Lankan Cricket Team Powered by Talent
But as a Sri Lankan I hope we have the strength to find the answers ourselves.
While the team structure and culture itself was slowly evolving, our on-field success was primarily driven by the sheer talent and spirit of the uniquely talented players unearthed in recent times, players like Murali, Sanath, Aravinda, Mahela and Lasith Malinga.
Although our school cricket structure is extremely strong, our club structure remains archaic. With players diluted among 20 clubs it does not enable the national coaching staff to easily identify and funnel talented players through for further development. The lack of competitiveness of the club tournament does not lend itself to producing hardened first-class professionals.
Various attempts to change this structure to condense and improve have been resisted by the administration and the clubs concerned. The main reason for this being that any elected cricket board that offended these clubs runs the risk of losing their votes come election time. At the same time, the instability of our administration is a huge stumbling block to the rapid face change that we need. Indeed, it is amazing that that despite this system we are able to produce so many world-class cricketers.
The Challenge Ahead for Sri Lankan Cricket
Nevertheless, despite abundant natural talent, we need to change our cricketing structure, we need to be more Sri Lankan rather than selfish, we need to condense our cricketing structure and ensure the that the best players are playing against each other at all times. We need to do this with an open mind, allowing both innovative thinking and free expression. In some respects we are doing that already, especially our coaching department is actively searching for unorthodox talent.
We have recognised and learned that our cricket is stronger when it is free-spirited, and we, therefore, encourage players to express themselves and be open to innovation.
There was a recent case where the national coaches were tipped off. It was a case of a 6-foot tall volleyball player. He apparently when viewed by the district coach of the region ambled up to the wicket in four steps jumped four to five feet high in the air in a smash like leap and delivered the ball while in mid-air. His feet are within the two bowling creases, popping in the bowling crease, but after his delivery he lands quite away down the wicket.
Now the district coach found this very very interesting and unique. So he thought so well let’s have a trial. We’ll take the video camera along and get this volleyball player who had never bowled before for any lengthy period, to bowl for half-an-hour in the district nets. He does quite a good job, half-an-hour of jumping high and delivering a cricket ball, quite well with good direction. And the video sample he sent back to our cricket board.
The national coaches there also find it interesting … Let’s call him to Colombo for a trial. Four days later they make a call, and the volleyball player answers the phone call from a hospital bed. And when invited he said: “I am sorry. I can’t move. I have never bowled for 30 minutes, I strained my back.” So, the search for gold in that particular instance did not come to fruition.
There was another case where there was a letter postmarked from a distant village, where the writer claimed to be the fastest undiscovered bowler in Sri Lanka. Upon further inquiry, it was found that the letter was written by a teenage Buddhist monk who proceeded to give a bowling demonstration dressed in his flowing saffron robe. In Sri Lanka, cricket tempts even the most chaste and holy.
If we are able to seize the moment then the future of Sri Lanka’s cricket remains very bright. I pray we do because cricket has such an important role to play in our island’s future. Cricket played a crucial role during the dark days of Sri Lanka’s civil war, a period of enormous suffering for all communities, but the conduct and performance of the team will have even greater importance as we enter a crucial period of reconciliation and recovery, an exciting period where all Sri Lankans aspire to peace and unity. It is also an exciting period for cricket where the re-integration of isolated communities in the north and east open up new talent pools.
Cricket’s importance heightened in Sri Lanka’s New Era
The spirit of cricket can and should remain and guiding force for good within our society, providing entertainment and fun, but also a shining example to all of how we should approach our lives.
The war is now over. Sri Lanka looks towards a new future of peace and prosperity. I am eternally grateful for this. It means that my children will grow up without war and violence being a daily part of their lives. They will learn of its horrors not first-hand, but perhaps in history class or through conversations for it is important that they understand and appreciate the great and terrible price our country and our people paid for the freedom and security they now enjoy.
In our cricket, we display a unique spirit, a spirit enriched by lessons learned from a history spanning over two-and-a-half millennia. In our cricket, you see the character of our people, our history, culture, tradition, our laughter, our joy, our tears, our regrets, and our hopes. It is rich in emotion and talent.
My responsibility as a Sri Lankan cricketer is to further enrich this beautiful sport, to add to it and enhance it and to leave a richer legacy for the cricketers to follow.
I will do that keeping paramount in my mind my Sri Lankan identity. Play the game hard and fair and be a voice with which Sri Lanka can speak proudly to the world. My loyalty will be to the ordinary Sri Lankan fan, their 20 million hearts beating collectively as one to our island rhythm, filled with an undying and ever-loyal love for this our game.
Fans of different races, castes, ethnicities and religions who together celebrate their diversity by uniting for cricket our common national cause. Those fans are my foundation. They are my family. I will play my cricket for them. Their spirit is the true spirit of cricket. With me are all my people.
I, am Tamil, I am Sinhalese, I am Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, I am a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. But, above all, today and always, I will be proudly Sri Lankan.
Mustafa Azim, a director of Imperial Air Salvage, is a Bangladeshi. When Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster The Edge of Tomorrow was being shot at Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden, the Imperial Air Salvage provided planes to be blown up on the set.
Azim and a couple of his friends have tickets for the World Cup final. Many of his football crazy friends from Bangladesh are already in Brazil. Since curry, rice, and fish are the main items in their regular diet, they were disappointed when they realized that there are no Indian restaurants in Brazil and intimated him.
So, Azim approached Mohammed Wahid, the owner of Chilcha, an Award Winning Indian Restaurant in Montague Street, Worthing, West Sussex, to arrange a 12-person delivery to Brazil of some of their favorite dishes. “Chilcha” is the Bengali word for happiness.
Azim was already aware of Wahid’s delicious, appetizing cooking when the latter provided catering on the set of The Edge of Tomorrow at Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden.
Wahid was surprised at first and agreed to cater to him.
Mustafa Azim, will fly into Shoreham Airport on a chartered plane to collect the dishes. He will then head to an airport near Heathrow, before boarding a commercial plane to take him and the food to Brazil.
The overall cost of the delivery is £4200: £1200 for the curry, £1800 for the flight to Brazil, £1000 for a chartered flight to Shoreham to collect the takeaway, £100 landing and parking charges, and £100 for the taxi to the hotel.
Up to now I thought overloading was the major trait of transportation peculiar to India alone. But, now, I am really confused …
I grabbed the above image from a video titled “Indian train in all its (crowded!) glory!“ uploaded on November 10, 2011 by WildFilmsIndia. I do not think anyone in the West would have seen a train crowded like this in their country. But in India, it is a common sight, particularly during the festival seasons.
The regular commuters are mainly laborers coming to New Delhi from neighboring states. They would work for a week and then return home over the weekend. Most of them travel without tickets, and the state-owned Indian railways, are compelled to permit this, else their entire railway system will be debacled by these laborers.
I came across the above image captioned “Indian Railway…” on IMC – India meets Classic presents… web page hosted on wordpress.com. I doubt whether this photo was taken in India. I think it was most probably, taken somewhere in Pakistan. Also, I wonder whether all these people are genuine passengers or merely clinging on to the train, posing for the photograph to prove a point.
Recently, I viewed several videos on YouTube about railways in Asia. When I saw the following video titled “End of Ramadan rush-hour in Bangladesh” uploaded by No Comment TV on August 8, 2013, I was dumbfounded.
Eid al-Fitr or the Feast of Breaking the Fast, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). On this day all Muslims around the world show a common goal of unity.
This video shows thousands of Bangladeshis getting crammed on ferries and climbing on trains while leaving Dhaka, Bangladesh on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, to return to their home villages and celebrate Eid al-Fitr. This video needs no further comments.
Neither Tony nor Joe knows who the original author of this article is. Obviously he must be a Sri Lankan.
I enjoyed reading every word of this sarcastic, thought-provoking dissertation, and wish to share it with you.
I have used my editorial discretion, to strike out two phrases in the first paragraph which, though hilarious might seem objectionable to a few. Also, I have added images to spruce up the presentation.
There are three things in the world that are of no use to anyone, viz. a man’s breast, a priest’s balls,, and a Sri Lankan passport. The uselessness of the third item becomes absolutely clear when one tries to apply for a visa to go abroad.
Today, international travel for a bona fide traveler from Sri Lanka is fraught with unbelievable red-tape, undesirable paperwork and unforeseeable pitfalls. It is, for example, much easier for the proverbial camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an honest Sri Lankan passport holder to enter the United Kingdom. Everything in life has a price.
Ironically, these days, it is relatively easy for a Sri Lankan illegal immigrant to enter any western country of his choice and claim asylum, become a citizen and sponsor his kith and kin. This way, entire villages from Jaffna peninsula have been uprooted and are now relocated to Scarborough in Toronto, Canada.
A Sri Lankan passport is not unique. Israeli passport is the next most useless document as it is not recognized by 23 countries in the Middle East and also by North Korea and Cuba. Presenting an Israeli passport to an immigration officer in a Muslim country would be the equivalent of waving a red flag at a bull in Spain.
Although the Sri Lankan passport clearly states that “The President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka requests and requires all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary” the document is more often than not treated with total disdain while its possessor is regarded with suspicion by almost all countries including Bangladesh, Benin and Bulgaria.
Although the purpose of the Sri Lankan passport is to promote and facilitate international travel, the way in which its owners are treated at foreign embassies makes one wonder if it was instead designed to dissuade and restrict international travel as much as possible.
Applying for a visa to a western country in Sri Lanka has become such a complex, confusing and complicated activity that some people, especially old men and women, come down with the condition known as “visaitis“. This is a relatively new disease which emerged in Sri Lanka at the end of July 1983.
The symptoms include a certain dryness of the mouth, dizziness, and mild dementia. Patients afflicted with this disease also suffer from outrageously watery diarrhea and are in the habit of passing urine frequently, and in rare cases, may be subject to catatonic schizophrenia. They can be nervous, irritable and immune to therapy. The mere thought of going to a western Embassy or High Commission in Sri Lanka is so traumatic that one or two people have in fact died of a broken heart, following the mandatory medical check-up.
There is a particular Hindu place of worship known affectionately as the “Visa Pillayar Temple” (VPT) in Colombo where people go to break a coconut and offer a silent prayer to ensure success prior to their interview (or interrogation) for a visa at the Embassy. Visa aspirants from places as far away as Valluvettithurai (VVT) in the north come to VPT to collect the vipoothi (holy ash), which when applied on the forehead is supposed to confer divine protection during the inquisition at the Embassy.
The insults start at the gate of an Embassy where you experience the taste of what is in store for you in the country you plan to spend your hard-earned money.
At the French Embassy in Colombo, rated 9.5 in the “Richter Scale of Rude Shocks,” it is the illiterate gatekeeper who functions as Cerberus, the three-headed dog guarding the entrance to Hades, to whom one must give the sop to slip into the Embassy.
At the Japanese Embassy in Colombo, you cannot see the visa officer through the one-way opaque glass window when you submit your application. He can see you, but you cannot see him. The experience can be quite unnerving. It is a bit like speaking to an Oracle in Greece.
The application for a Canadian tourist visa is 10 pages long and has more than 60 questions, including the names, places and dates of birth of yourself, your wife, your siblings, parents, grandparents, your wife’s relatives, your in-laws and outlaws! All these details have to be submitted first electronically before you are given a date for the interview.
Once I went to the Bangladesh Embassy in Colombo to apply for a visa. The Embassy looked more like a tuck shop and I was the only applicant. Even then that bored consular officer rudely told me that it would take five working days to issue a visa!
In the Indian Embassy, one would witness the death of common sense. However, much you gather the required documents you need to substantiate your application for a visa, the officer will ask for the one that you forgot to bring.
By contrast, the US Embassy in Colombo offers one of the best services in the world. The US staff are extremely kind, helpful and patient and they genuinely try to assist the potential visa applicant to the best of their ability. The US evaluation process is very fair, thorough and proper. If you are a genuine visitor to the USA, you need not worry. You will get a fair hearing. All the US immigration officers are trained well to be civil and polite to the visitor. They would often engage you in small talk just to find out if you were a genuine visitor or not to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.
Today, many embassies have subcontracted the TT Services to deal with the initial stages of processing the visa.
More recently, on arrival in Christchurch, New Zealand (the Land of the Long White Cloud), the immigration officer asked me, very politely and with a pleasant smile, what the purpose of my visit was? When I told him that I had come to deliver a talk on elephants at the University of Canterbury, the bewildered officer exclaimed, “But we do not have elephants!” and stamped my passport and wished me a pleasant stay. It spoke so well about the country of just 4.5 million people and 60 million sheep.
Once when I worked for WWF-International, I was a member of a small working committee planning the next International Theriological (= Mammal) Congress. Two countries, Australia and Colombia, were interested in hosting the event. The Australian delegate was interested in moving the Congress to Sydney, but cautioned us that the only requirement for the visa was that none of the foreign participants had any criminal record. On hearing this, the Colombian delegate jumped up in sheer joy and informed us that on the contrary, his Government would welcome delegates with a criminal record! The Congress was held in Sydney.
In the unlikely event of a visa being issued, it does not automatically guarantee that you’d be allowed to enter the country at the other end. That depends on the mood and the maturity of the immigration officer.
One of the most traumatic experiences one could have on arrival is at the Heathrow airport in London. You had been travelling 16 hours from Colombo and the flight lands at 9 am. It is supposed to be summer, but the sun is nowhere to be seen in the Land of Ceaseless Fog and Drizzle. Thus, even before the plane comes to a complete stop, you would get an idea of the weather that awaits you on arrival. Sometimes it appears that the plane had been taxiing through ginger beer or syrup. That’s the colour of the atmosphere outside.
On arrival I have to join the cattle class and then go to the queue reserved for aliens. No wonder I am often treated as if I am an extraterrestrial phenomenon!
Almost all British immigration officers are most unfriendly to non-Caucasian visitors, and often act liketinpotHitlers. They are as hard as nails and bored as the people who serve you at McDonalds. They look miserable knowing they are stuck in dead end jobs.
Right behind his shoulder you can read in letters big, bright and bold, the banner that reads, “Welcome to Heathrow”. The welcome you receive is frostier than the weather outside.
The first question the bored and grumpy immigration officer with a smirk on his face asks the hapless visitor is: “When are you getting back?”
If you ask for a three-month stay in England, you are more likely to be given just a month. On the other hand, if you were to request for only a week, just to attend a conference and get back home, you may be granted a stay for six months. More disturbing is the recent news from the UK that in the future, visitors to Britain from ‘high risk’ countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ghana coming to Britain on a six-month visit visa will have to put up a 3,000 pound (equivalent to Rs. 594,000 in Sri Lankan currency) bond as security, according to the Home Secretary Theresa May.
Sometimes things can go wrong. During myfirst visit to Australia in 1990, I flew into Sydney from Jakarta. Before the plane landed, we were given immigration forms to be filled. There was an additional yellow card that had to be filled as well, and one of the questions on it was: “Are you carrying live semen?” to which I promptly ticked the yes box, given that I had already fathered two kids.
As I cleared the immigration and moved to the customs, I was stopped and taken to a small room where I was interrogated by a big, bespectacled, Wagnerian white woman with a pair of enormous Bristols and a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp. She waved a yellow card at me and exploded, “Is this a joke?”
I was genuinely clueless as to why she blew her top and asked her what was it all about, to which she pointed the box I had ticked off to say that I was indeed carrying live semen. I told her that I believed so, to which the human volcano erupted once more and thundered in no uncertain terms that it referred to livestock and warned me not to make a joke of it ever again! It was literally a seminal experience for me. The yellow card is no longer issued.
In the 1960s, we had a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) member from the United States who became friends with us while we were doing research on wildlife in Wilpattu national park with Dr. John F. Eisenberg from the Smithsonian Institution and his assistant Melvyn Lockhart. The VSO chap was a hippie who loved smoking ganja (marijuana). In his lucid moments he managed to learn a few words in Sinhala which Melvyn taught.
When he left Colombo, he was in fact carrying some ganja with him, and given his long hair and hippie demeanor, he was promptly stopped by a vigilant customs officer who wanted to see the contents of his handbag. In a flash of brilliance, despite the perspiration which had commenced its journey down his spine, he began to engage the customs officer in small talk, and told him that he had lived in Ceylon for a month and that he could even speak the local language a bit.
When the customs officer asked him to say something in Sinhala, he promptly remembered what Melvyn had taught him, and blurted out in a loud voice “මගේ පුක්කෙ මයිල් නෑ” (Transliterated: “Magey pukkay mayil naa“) meaning “my arse has no hair” in his native Texan drawl.
All the customs officers who heard him burst out in uncontrollable laughter and began to dance (a few even had tears of joy streaming down their cheeks). They complimented him on his language skill and wished him “bon voyage“. It was the hippie who had the last laugh.
Melvyn later received a “Thank you” note from Amarillo, TX.
As a Sri Lankan, I feel that we are treated abroad as if we do not matter, despite our education, ancient culture and proud heritage. We may be short on geography, but we are long on history. We deserve better treatment in the western countries. Unlike the ASEAN countries where citizens of the member states enjoy a 14-day visa free entry to each other’s country, we who belong to the SAARC cannot go to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, or Bhutan even for a short stay without a visa!
In the final analysis, given the limitations of our Sri Lankan passport, it is far better for us to enjoy a local holiday than be subject to untold indignities and interrogations at the hands of immigration officers. As Blaise Pascal once remarked, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.“
The consort of the king of the Vanga (a seafaring nation, in the eastern part of the Indian Subcontinent, comprising today’s politically divided Bengal region comprising West Bengal and Bangladesh), was Queen Mayavati, a princess from Kalinga. The royal couple had a daughter named Suppadevi, of whom at birth the court astrologers and soothsayers foretold evil falling upon her. They prophesied that the princess would be wilful and would have union with the king of beasts and lead a wild and unbecoming life.
So, princess Suppadevi was jealously guarded. She was very fair and grew up as the loveliest maiden in the Vanga kingdom. However, she was amorous and exuded uncontrollable sexuality. The king and the queen were not able to tolerate her defiance of parental authority and social norms.
One fine day, desiring the joy of an independent life, Princess Suppadevi eluding the vigilant royal attendants left her royal abode. She joined a caravan travelling to the Magadha country.
While camping in the forest of the Lála country the caravan met with disaster.
Scholars identify Lála country with the modern Rarh region of West Bengal, India which is still called Lala/Larh. Sanskrit texts refer to it as Lata-desa. Al-Biruni, a historian, chronologist and linguist of the medieval Islamic era calls it Lardesh at the extreme hilly west of Bengal where Hooghly district and modern Singur is located. Some scholars identify it as modern Gujarat.
According to the Mahavamsa, a lion attacked the caravan. However, the truth seems to be that it was a robber chief named Sinha, who with his men plundered the caravan).
While the other folk fled this way and that, Suppadevi ran along the path by which the lion had come.
After having assuaged its hunger, the lion beheld the libidinous princess from afar. It immediately desired her carnally. Waving its tail and ears laid-back, it approached Suppadevi. Seeing the lion, the princess remembered the prophecy of the astrologers and soothsayers. Without fear, she caressed the lion lustily rousing it to a fiery passion by her sensuous touch.
Suppadevi climbed on to the beast’s back. The lion immediately sped to its cave carrying the princess, and there it united with her. From this union, the princess in time bore twins – a son and a daughter. The son’s limbs were formed like a lion’s and Suppadevi named him Sinhabahu or lion-armed and named the daughter Sinhasivali or lion-maiden.
The lion kept them in a cave and covered the entrance with a huge rock.
When Sinhabahu was about sixteen years old, Suppadevi told him about her ancestry. The youth, longing to know more about the civilized world, wanted to leave the lion’s den.
One day, when the lion left the cave in search of prey, Sinhabahu after rolled off the rocky barrier. He carried his mother and sister on his shoulders and left the cave in haste. They clothed themselves with branches of trees and reached a border-village. There they met a son of Suppadevi’s uncle, a commander in the army of the Vanga king who ruled the border-country.
The commander gave them clothing which transformed into splendid garments. He served them food on leaves and by reason of their merit, the leaves turned into dishes of gold. The amazed commander asked Suppadevi who she was. The princess told him about her family and clan. The commander then took his uncle’s daughter with him and went to the capital of the Vangas and married her.
When the lion, returning to its cave missed those three people it loved most. It grieved after its offsprings. It neither ate nor drank. Seeking its children it went to the villages in the border-country and found them deserted.
The border-folk came to the king and told that a ferocious lion ravaged their land and appealed to him to ward off this danger.
The king offered a thousand gold coins for the person who would kill the lion.
When Sinhabahu expressed his intention to kill the lion, twice did his mother restrain him.
Since no one dared to kill the lion, the king raised the bounty to two thousand and then to three thousand gold coins along with his kingdom for whoever killed the ravaging lion.
Without informing his mother, Sinhabahu presented himself before the aged king and volunteered to kill the lion.
The youth went to his former home, the lion’s den. When the beast saw Sinhabahu from afar it came forward, to greet its lost son. Sinhabahu without any remorse shot an arrow to slay his father, the lion. Due to the paternal love of the beast, the arrow struck its forehead, rebounded, and fell at the son’s feet without causing any harm. Sinhabahu shot another arrow and then a third, but neither harmed the lion. The lion became wrathful and growled. The fourth arrow pierced the lion’s body and killed it.
Sinhabahu cut off the head of the lion along with its majestic mane. When he reached the capital he learned that seven days had passed since the death of the king of the Vangas.
The ministers rejoiced over the youth’s valiant deed. When the ministers saw Suppadevi, they were all happy to learn that Sinhabahu was the grandson of the late king. The ministers in unison requested the valiant young man him to be their king. Sinhabahu accepted the kingship. Later when his mother got married he handed the kingdom to his mother’s husband.
Sinhabahu with his twin-sister Sinhasivali left the capital of the Vangas and went back to Lála country, the land of their birth. There he made his twin-sister Sinhasivali his consort. He built a city, and they called it Sinhapura.
Sinhasivali gave birth to twin sons sixteen times. Altogether there were thirty-two sons. King Sinhabahu named his eldest son Vijaya, and the younger twin-brother Sumitta. Sinhabahu consecrated Vijaya as prince-regent.
On Wednesday, April 24, 2013, the eight-storey Rana Plaza factory building in Savar 15 miles (24 Km) to the northwest of Dhaka city, the capital of Bangladesh, collapsed with hundreds of garment workers employed in factories that supplied high-street shops in the west, trapped inside.
Before the fatal accident, workers had repeatedly complained that the building was cracking open, but the management simply ignored their complaints. Sol Rana, the owner of the building was arrested.
On Friday morning (May 10), officials said about 2,500 people were injured in the accident and 2,437 people were rescued. A total of 1,021 bodies have been recovered
from the debris and almost 650 identified so far and handed over to the families of the deceased. Many people are still missing.
A few hours after officials had announced the death toll as 1021, the recovery teams who had long given up any hope of finding any more survivors were shocked to hear at 15:15 local time (10:15 GMT), the voice of a woman calling for help from the debris of the second floor of the Rana Plaza. Immediately rescue workers were ordered to stop clearing the site.
The Bangladesh army has confirmed the news, naming the rescued woman as Reshma. The woman was taken to hospital and did not seem to have any significant injuries.
Many powerful photographs have been made in the aftermath of the devastating collapse of a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. But one photo, by Bangladeshi photographer Taslima Akhter, has emerged as the most heart wrenching, capturing an entire country’s grief in a single image.
Shahidul Alam, Bangladeshi photographer, writer and founder of Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography, said of the photo: “This image, while deeply disturbing, is also hauntingly beautiful. An embrace in death, its tenderness rises above the rubble to touch us where we are most vulnerable. By making it personal, it refuses to let go. This is a photograph that will torment us in our dreams. Quietly it tells us. Never again.”
Akhter writes for LightBox about the photograph, which appears in this week’s TIME International alongside an essay by David Von Drehle.
I have been asked many questions about the photograph of the couple embracing in the aftermath of the collapse. I have tried desperately, but have yet to find any clues about them. I don’t know who they are or what their relationship is with each other.
I spent the entire day the building collapsed on the scene, watching as injured garment workers were being rescued from the rubble. I remember the frightened eyes of relatives — I was exhausted both mentally and physically. Around 2 a.m., I found a couple embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were buried under the concrete. The blood from the eyes of the man ran like a tear. When I saw the couple, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I knew them — they felt very close to me. I looked at who they were in their last moments as they stood together and tried to save each other — to save their beloved lives.
Every time I look back to this photo, I feel uncomfortable — it haunts me. It’s as if they are saying to me, we are not a number — not only cheap labor and cheap lives. We are human beings like you. Our life is precious like yours, and our dreams are precious too.
They are witnesses in this cruel history of workers being killed. The death toll is now more than 750. What a harsh situation we are in, where human beings are treated only as numbers.
This photo is haunting me all the time. If the people responsible don’t receive the highest level of punishment, we will see this type of tragedy again. There will be no relief from these horrific feelings. I’ve felt a tremendous pressure and pain over the past two weeks surrounded by dead bodies. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel the urge to share this pain with everyone. That’s why I want this photo to be seen.
The inaugural match between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka would take place on September 18, 2012 at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium, Hambantota. The tournament would conclude on October 7, with the finals played at the Premdasa Stadium, Colombo.
The 12 teams that are participating: Sri Lanka (the host), Zimbabwe, Australia, Ireland, Afghanistan, India, South Africa, New Zealand, Bangladesh, West Indies, Pakistan and England.
In July 2012, ethnic violence in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam erupted between the Bengali-speaking Muslim immigrants and the indigenous Bodos. Nearly 80 people died during last month alone. 400,000 people have been displaced from almost 400 villages, and are sheltered in 270 relief camps.
The Muslim population in the North-East consists of refugees who migrated before the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971 from the erstwhile East Pakistan. Currently, Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh, are infiltrating into the region. This violent outbreak is due in part to the rising ethnic nationalism (most notably Bodo nationalism) and diaspora politics
On 27 July 2012, Assam’s Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi blamed the national government for its delay in sending the army to riot-hit areas. The following day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the relief camps in Kokrajhar and said the recent violence is a blot on the face of India.
On 11 August 2012, a protest was organised by the Raza Academy against the attacks on Muslims in Assam and in Myanmar was held at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. The protest was attended by two other groups, Sunni Jamaitul Ulma and Jamate Raza-e-Mustafa. It ended in violence, leading to two deaths and 54 injured including 45 policemen. The most disturbing images were those of miscreants demolishing the “Amar Jawan Jyoti” a symbol of Indian Valour.
Now, the people from the North-East living in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune are on their guard against aftershocks and repercussions. Thousands of people are fleeing the southern city of Bangalore amid rumours. They said that text messages were circulating, which warned of attacks by Muslims in retaliation for communal violence in their home state.
However, leaders from the Bangalore’s Muslim community assured students from the North-East with regard to their personal safety in Bangalore. Because panic-stricken men and women from the North-East continue to get out of Bangalore, leaders of the local Muslim community talked with student representatives and assured them that there would be almost nothing to be worried. Akbar Ali, convener of the Muslim welfare association said those people who seriously feel quite unsafe in their home are welcome to come to the homes of Muslims and to the mosques to take shelter. Ali also told the students that there was no need to worry. “We will protect you, but please do not leave the city. It is your city as much as ours,” reassured Ali.
Hundreds of students and workers from Assam thronged Bangalore’s main railway station on Thursday to try to board trains leaving the city, while officials tried to assure them of their safety.
The Central government and the Karnataka State government say emphatically that there is no need for the people from the North-East living in Bangalore to return to their homes as there is no imminent threat to them in the City.
The police are monitoring social-networking sites to find those creating this panic. Though the level of panic has come down as compared to Wednesday, people continue to leave the city. People from the North-East say that as per the messages or rumours being circulated, the attacks could come after the 20th of this month; hence, they did not want to be here at that time. However, the Bangalore police say that no incidents have been reported on any attack on citizens from the North-East in the city. Their message says, “Do not panic or heed to rumours. In case you need help, please call the control room.”
The state administration, on the other hand, is doing all it can to assure the panic-stricken people that they were safe within the city. Law Minister, Suresh Kumar, when contacted informed that he met with most of the people at the railway station and assured them of their safety. Most of the people want to go home to their parents as there have been incidents that prompted them to leave the city.The latest developments:
The Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered monitoring of social networking and online community websites to identify those who are misreporting facts and throe spreading rumours through email messages to trigger communal violence.
Acknowledging that rumours and threatening text messages are fuelling tension, the Prime Minister said, “We must work together to ensure that all people from other states do not feel threatened by rumour-mongering and SMSes. We have to maintain peace at any cost.” He also urged all political parties to “work together to give a feeling of confidence” to all people affected in the recent violence in Assam.
In Bangalore, for the second night in a row, two special trains departed for Guwahati, in addition to the regular train that runs every evening. Officials say the rush is partly because of the long weekend. But some students from states like Assam and Manipur say their parents are worried about their safety and want them back at home.
Bangalore Police Commissioner Jyothiprakash Mirji visited the railway station to reiterate, “No incidents have been reported of attack on North-Eastern citizens in Bangalore. Do not panic or pay heed to rumour.”
Student representatives of Bangalore’s north-eastern community met on Thursday morning with Muslim leaders who have said they will continue to disseminate messages of peace. “Those feeling unsafe may take shelter in our homes and mosques. But please do not leave the city. It is yours as much as it is mine,” said Akbar Ali, Convenor, Bangalore’s Muslim Welfare Association.
Jagadish Shettar, who heads the BJP government in Karnataka, met students from the North-East on Thursday and said, “We are all with you…there is nothing to worry (about).” He also reassured them that nobody has been attacked in the state as a result of the ethnic violence in Assam. A helpline has been set up for the north-eastern community in the city.
Indians from the North-East, living in cities like Bangalore, should stay where they are, said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday afternoon. He phoned the Chief Minister of Karnataka on Wednesday and asked that his administration ensure the safety of students and young professionals in Bangalore.
After reports of new ethnic violence in Assam, the Army will be deployed in the state to help maintain law and order; the state government has formally sought its assistance today. Nine columns of the Army (about 600 personnel) will be stationed in Nalbari, an important town in Lower Assam which has been hit by ethnic violence.
A car was set ablaze on Wednesday night in Baksa, which is in lower Assam, and was one of the districts affected in the recent clashes between Bodo tribal and Bengali-speaking Muslims. Angry locals, in response, torched a bus and a bridge on Thursday morning. Nearly 80 people have died in the last month in the ethnic clashes. Till recently, four lakh people were packed into relief camps.
In New Delhi, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said, “Panic due to rumours in Karnataka is a very serious issue. The Karnataka government will do everything to protect the people from the North-East. It is a case of concerted effort to create a divide among people.” She also urged the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to build confidence among people from the North-East who study or work in cities like Hyderabad and Pune.