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Shaikh Azizur Rahman

Kolkata, India
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About Shaikh
Shaikh Azizur Rahman is a journalist based in Kolkata, India. He has produced news stories, features and multimedia reports for several global media outlets, including the Guardian, Voice of America, New York Times, London Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald and Toronto Star.
Content Writing
Current Affairs

Bangladesh Prepping for ‘Unfair’ Election, Say Analysts, Opposition

24 Nov 2023  |  Voice of America
The article discusses the political climate in Bangladesh ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for January 7. It highlights concerns from opposition parties, rights activists, and analysts about the lack of conditions for a free and fair election due to the government's crackdown on opposition members. Human Rights Watch has documented serious human rights abuses, including enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. The opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) has faced mass arrests of its leaders and activists, with many being sentenced by courts. The U.S. has imposed visa restrictions on individuals undermining the democratic process in Bangladesh. Critics argue that the judiciary and law enforcement are being used to facilitate a 'sham' election, and the unilateral announcement of the election schedule by the Election Commission is seen as biased. The article suggests that the upcoming election could be one-sided and not 'genuine,' potentially leading Bangladesh towards a de facto one-party state.

Kota, India's city of coaching centres, grapples with student suicides amid high academic pressure

09 Oct 2023  |  www.theguardian.com
Kota, a city in Rajasthan, India, has become the epicenter for students preparing for competitive exams in medicine and engineering, with a rigorous schedule that often leads to high stress levels. The city's coaching industry is booming, with institutes like the Allen Career Institute offering intensive courses. However, the pressure to succeed has a dark side, with a record number of student suicides reported this year. The Rajasthan state government has introduced guidelines to address this issue, including removing ceiling fans from rooms. The pressure from families desiring a doctor or engineer in the family is immense, and students often link their self-worth to academic success. The article also touches on the sacrifices families from various economic backgrounds make to send their children to Kota for coaching, highlighting the societal value placed on educational achievement in India.

Imprisonment of Top Rights Activists in Bangladesh Triggers Global Outrage

16 Sep 2023  |  Voice of America
In Bangladesh, human rights activists Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan of the organization Odhikar were sentenced to two years in prison for a report on extrajudicial killings by government forces. Their trial has been criticized as politically motivated by international rights groups, including Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and Amnesty International. The Odhikar report contradicted the government's death toll in a 2013 protest, leading to criminal charges against Khan and Elan. Despite the prosecution's failure to prove charges, according to the defense, the activists were convicted and plan to appeal. The verdict comes amid a crackdown on opposition and political tensions ahead of the general election. Global rights organizations have condemned the ruling and called for the activists' release, highlighting the case as part of a broader pattern of repression in Bangladesh.

Rohingya Say No Return to Myanmar Without Guaranteed Citizenship

13 Sep 2023  |  Voice of America
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are resisting repatriation to Myanmar, citing unmet demands for citizenship rights and safety concerns. Myanmar's government plans to repatriate 7,000 Rohingya and build 20 villages for resettlement, but past efforts have failed due to the Rohingya's refusal to return without citizenship rights, which were revoked in 1982. The latest repatriation initiative is backed by China, but Rohingya community leaders and Human Rights Watch argue that without full rights and assurances, refugees will not agree to return. The Myanmar authorities have been slow in verifying refugees for repatriation and have been inconsistent in their stance on allowing the Rohingya to return to their original homes. Bangladesh asserts it is doing its best for a successful repatriation, but the Rohingya remain firm on their demands.

Rohingya women who spoke out on rape, murder 'pursued by Myanmar officials'

17 Feb 2017  |  The Sydney Morning Herald
Rohingya women who spoke out about rape and murder by Myanmar security forces are being pursued by officials, forcing them to flee to Bangladesh. Despite international outcry and investigations by figures like Kofi Annan and Yanghee Lee, the Myanmar government denies the allegations and continues to intimidate those who speak out. The UN and local charities are involved, but the women remain unsupported due to their illegal entry into Bangladesh.

Burmese military killed seven of my children, says Rohingya refugee

10 Dec 2016  |  the Guardian
The article details harrowing accounts of violence and atrocities committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya community in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Noor Ayesha, a Rohingya refugee, recounts the brutal killing of her family and the destruction of her village. The UN and Human Rights Watch have expressed concern over the situation, with satellite images showing widespread destruction. Despite government denials, reports of mass killings, rapes, and village clearings continue to emerge. The article highlights the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the international community's response.

Bangladesh Blogger Killing Verdict Fails to Satisfy Community

01 Jan 2016  |  www.voanews.com
The verdict sentencing two students to death and six others to prison for the murder of atheist blogger Rajib Haider in Bangladesh has been largely rejected by his relatives and the blogger community. The court sentenced Faisal bin Nayeem and Rezwanul Azad Rana to death, while others received varying prison terms. The cleric Jasimuddin Rahmani, who inspired the killers, received a five-year sentence, which has been criticized as too lenient. The blogger community and Haider's family plan to appeal the verdict, seeking stricter punishments. The case has highlighted concerns about the legal system and the government's commitment to punishing those responsible for attacks on freethinkers.

In India, Surplus Drugs Reach the Neediest Through ‘Medicine Baba’

31 Dec 2015  |  voanews.com
In India, only 40% of the population has access to modern medicine, largely due to affordability issues. One individual, referred to as 'Medicine Baba', is on a mission to deliver affordable medical care to the country's most impoverished citizens by distributing surplus medications.

Suspected Suicide Bomber Attacks Bangladesh Mosque

26 Dec 2015  |  voanews.com
A suspected suicide bomber detonated explosives during Friday prayers at an Ahmadiyya mosque in Bagmara, Bangladesh, killing himself and injuring about a dozen people. No group claimed responsibility, but the incident adds to concerns about rising Islamist violence against non-Sunni sects and non-Muslims in Bangladesh. Recent attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State and the local militant group Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, despite government denials of IS presence. Security forces have arrested several JMB militants and recovered a suicide vest and grenades from a JMB hideout. Security has been increased for religious minority groups, and Ahmadiyya leaders plan to extend security to all their mosques in response to the violence.

Bangladesh Muslim Leaders Move to Counter Islamist Militants

25 Dec 2015  |  www.voanews.com
Bangladesh's police are collaborating with Islamic scholars and clerics to combat rising Islamist militancy. A fatwa condemning the activities of the Islamic State and local militant groups as un-Islamic is being drafted and will be signed by 100,000 scholars. The Bangladesh Jamiatul Ulama is leading this initiative, training mosque leaders to spread the message through sermons. The strategy has received approval from the police and support from various community leaders, including Christian organizations. The government attributes the surge in militancy to domestic Islamist groups backed by opposition parties, while the fatwa aims to educate the public on the true teachings of Islam to counteract radicalization.

Bangladeshi Christians Skip Traditional Christmas Midnight Mass

24 Dec 2015  |  www.voanews.com
Churches in Bangladesh, including those in Dinajpur, skipped traditional Christmas midnight mass services due to threats from Muslim extremists. The decision followed death threats to several church leaders and an attack on an Italian priest. The Bangladeshi Christian community, which constitutes less than one percent of the population, has been living in fear after receiving threats from groups claiming to be Islamic State and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal assured increased security for churches. Despite these measures, the festive spirit was notably absent among Christians, who celebrated Christmas with panic and fear.

Churches in Bangladesh Face New Islamist Threats

07 Dec 2015  |  www.voanews.com
More than two dozen priests and aid workers in Bangladesh have received death threats from groups claiming to be Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Islamic State (IS). The threats, delivered via text messages, phone calls, and letters, have led to increased security measures at churches. Recent attacks include an attempt on Father Dominic Rozario's life and the shooting of Italian priest Piero Parolari. The violence marks a shift from previous peaceful relations between Muslims and Christians in Bangladesh. Authorities are investigating the threats and providing security to the targeted individuals.

Report: IS Claims Bangladesh Mosque Attack

27 Nov 2015  |  www.voanews.com
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shi'ite mosque in Bangladesh's Bogra district, resulting in one death and three injuries. Gunmen opened fire during prayers, and the muezzin, Moazzem Hossain, was among the victims. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina condemned the attack, stating it does not align with Islamic values. The incident raises concerns about rising militancy in Bangladesh, where secular bloggers and foreigners have also been targeted. Authorities attribute the violence to local Islamist groups, including Ansarullah Bangla Team and Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh, rather than the Islamic State. The attacks have sparked fears of sectarian division in the region.

Killings, Death Threats Feed Climate of Fear in Bangladesh

27 Nov 2015  |  www.voanews.com
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a recent attack on an Italian missionary in Bangladesh, part of a series of attacks targeting foreigners and secularists. The Bangladeshi government denies the presence of international terrorist groups, attributing the violence to local Islamist groups and political opposition. A hit list naming 34 secular individuals has been released by Ansar al Islam, causing fear and prompting some to flee the country. Critics argue that a culture of impunity is developing due to the lack of arrests and effective action against the militants.

Bangladesh Executions Over War Crimes Trigger Mixed Reactions

22 Nov 2015  |  www.voanews.com
The executions of two opposition leaders in Bangladesh for war crimes during the 1971 war of independence have elicited mixed reactions domestically and internationally. The International Crime Tribunal convicted Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury of severe crimes, leading to their executions. The ruling Awami League celebrated the verdicts, while opposition parties and human rights groups criticized the trials as politically motivated and flawed. Pakistan condemned the executions, leading to diplomatic tensions. Various international organizations and legal experts highlighted significant concerns about the fairness and speed of the judicial process.

Bangladesh Opposition Denies Foreigner Killings

29 Oct 2015  |  www.voanews.com
Bangladesh's main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), denies accusations from the government that it orchestrated the killing of an Italian aid worker and a Japanese farming expert. The government claims to have evidence implicating BNP leaders in the crimes, while the BNP argues that these accusations are part of a conspiracy to suppress the opposition. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killings, but Bangladeshi officials attribute them to local militants. The political rivalry between the ruling Awami League and the BNP is highlighted, with concerns about the fairness of the investigations and the potential exploitation of the situation by fringe groups.

Bangladesh: No Evidence Links IS, Killing of Foreign Aid Worker

29 Sep 2015  |  voanews.com
Bangladesh's home minister, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, stated there was no evidence linking Islamic State (IS) to the assassination of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in Dhaka. Tavella, a project manager for Innovative Change Collaborative, was shot by unidentified gunmen. The SITE Intelligence Group reported an IS claim of responsibility, which Bangladesh officials are investigating. The attack did not appear to be a robbery, and concerns over security in Bangladesh have been rising, with recent warnings from Western nations and the postponement of Australia's cricket team's trip to Bangladesh.

India Bars Citizens From Aiding Iraq's IS Fight

21 Sep 2015  |  www.voanews.com
The Indian government has barred its citizens from traveling to Iraq to support Baghdad in its fight against Islamic State militants, citing risks of radicalization and potential extremist activities upon their return. The decision, supported by security analysts and Muslim community leaders, aims to prevent sectarian conflict within India. Despite the ruling, some groups continue to advocate for humanitarian missions to Iraq. The Ministry of Home Affairs emphasized that allowing citizens to participate in foreign conflicts could lead to allegations of promoting terrorism and increased tensions at home.

Bangladesh Bloggers Fear Threat from State

11 Sep 2015  |  www.voanews.com
Secular bloggers in Bangladesh are expressing fear of persecution from the state following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's warning against hurting religious sentiments. Bloggers, facing death threats from Islamists and now potential targeting by the government, are considering leaving the country. The use of Section 57 of the ICT Act to detain bloggers for up to 14 years is a particular concern, with activists fearing its misuse. International criticism has emerged, with Human Rights Watch and the Center for Inquiry calling for the protection of bloggers' rights to freedom of expression, criticizing the government's failure to safeguard human rights and secular values.

3 Hindu Activists Arrested in Connection with Indian Rationalist’s Killing

02 Sep 2015  |  www.voanews.com
Three activists from the right-wing Hindu militant group Bajrang Dal have been detained in connection with the killing of Indian rationalist Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, who was known for his criticism of idol worship. The killing has drawn comparisons to the murders of other rationalists in India and secular bloggers in Bangladesh. Hindu groups deny involvement, but the incident has raised concerns about increasing threats against rationalists by Hindu extremists. Authorities are investigating potential links between this and other similar killings.

Secular Blogger Hacked to Death in Bangladesh

07 Aug 2015  |  voanews.com
In Bangladesh, secular blogger Niloy Chakrabarti was murdered at his home by a group of men with machetes, marking the fourth such killing this year. Chakrabarti, known for his atheist views, had previously expressed fear for his life. The attack was claimed by a group purporting to be al-Qaida's Bangladesh wing. The government's failure to investigate previous blogger murders has been criticized by activists and organizations, with the Center for Inquiry condemning the government's inaction in protecting its citizens.

Militants Suspected in Death of Bangladesh Blogger

07 Aug 2015  |  www.voanews.com
Suspected militants armed with machetes killed secular blogger Niloy Chakrabarti in Dhaka, marking the fourth such attack this year. Ansar-al-Islam, claiming to be the Bangladesh wing of al-Qaida, took responsibility. The U.S. State Department and United Nations condemned the act, calling for accountability. Activists criticized the Bangladeshi government for failing to protect bloggers, with some bloggers being advised to leave the country. Previous attacks on bloggers have raised concerns about increasing boldness of extremists and inadequate government response.

Census Reveals 182 Tigers Left in World’s Biggest Natural Reserve

27 Jul 2015  |  www.voanews.com
A new census in Bangladesh's Sundarbans forest reveals only about 100 tigers remain, significantly fewer than previously believed. The Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, spans parts of India and Bangladesh. The previous 2004 census, which estimated 440 tigers, is now considered an overcount due to reliance on paw print studies. The latest census used infrared cameras for a more accurate count.

India’s Iodine-Carrying, ‘Life Saving’ Bindis Have Critics

21 Jul 2015  |  www.voanews.com
Colorful bindis, traditionally worn by women in South Asia, are now being used to deliver essential iodine to combat deficiency in India. The 'Jeevan Bindi' project, led by Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Center and funded by Grey Group Singapore, targets women in Maharashtra's tribal areas. While the initiative has been praised for its innovative approach, critics argue that it may hinder the adoption of dietary iodine. Experts like Dr. Chandrakant Pandav and Dr. Sujoy Majumdar call for more research to validate the effectiveness of iodine absorption through the skin.

Indian Attack on Rebels in Myanmar Drew Blank

24 Jun 2015  |  www.voanews.com
The Indian army's operation inside Myanmar, initially claimed to have inflicted significant casualties on Naga rebels, failed to achieve its objectives according to recent intelligence. Despite initial reports of success, subsequent investigations revealed no casualties among the targeted insurgents. The operation, driven by political pressures, was criticized for its lack of efficacy. However, it served as a warning to the rebels about India's resolve. The operation's impact on Myanmar's sovereignty and the broader implications for regional security were also highlighted.

Nun Sexually Assaulted in India

22 Jun 2015  |  www.voanews.com
A 47-year-old nun in Raipur, India, was sexually assaulted, with police calling it an 'attempt to rape.' Christian leaders believe it was part of an anti-Christian hate campaign. The incident follows a similar attack on a 71-year-old nun in West Bengal. Activists accuse Hindu right-wing groups of targeting Christians, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is criticized for not curbing hate speeches and attacks against religious minorities.

Mysterious Killings Rattle Indian-controlled Kashmir

19 Jun 2015  |  www.voanews.com
A series of mysterious targeted killings in Indian-controlled Kashmir, particularly in the town of Sopore, has created fear and panic among locals, especially those involved in mobile phone-related businesses and anti-India activists. The killings, which began in late May, have been attributed to a splinter group of Hizbul Mujahideen called Lashkar-e-Islam, although no group has claimed responsibility for the most recent attacks. Indian authorities deny involvement and blame the killings on militant infighting. The situation has led to significant disruptions, with many residents fleeing and businesses shutting down.

India Claims to Have Hunted Indian Rebels in Myanmar

11 Jun 2015  |  www.voanews.com
Indian special forces commandos attacked two insurgent camps along the India-Myanmar border, inflicting significant casualties. This action was in response to an ambush in Manipur by rebels that killed 18 soldiers. The operation was publicly detailed by Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, which some experts criticized. Myanmar officials and the NSCN-K rebel group denied that the operation occurred on Myanmar soil or that any rebels were killed.

Bangladesh Police Criticized for Lack of Progress on Blogger Murders

01 Jun 2015  |  Voice of America
In Bangladesh, the police are facing criticism for their slow progress in investigating the murders of three bloggers, Ananta Bijoy Das, Washiqur Rahman, and Avijit Roy, who were outspoken against religious fundamentalism. Human rights groups and activists express concern that the government's inaction may lead to further attacks. Despite arrests in some cases, the masterminds behind the killings remain at large, and there is skepticism about the police's willingness to act. The government's muted response to these targeted killings contrasts with its actions against opposition workers and leaders, raising questions about its commitment to protecting free speech.

Bangladeshi Blogger’s Killing Sends Ominous Message

31 Mar 2015  |  voanews.com
The murder of atheist Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman Babu in Dhaka, following the killing of Bangladeshi-American author Avijit Roy, underscores the escalating danger to those opposing religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh. Babu was attacked by three men with meat cleavers, and despite two assailants being apprehended by the public, his death was confirmed at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. The suspects, identified as students from religious schools, admitted to targeting Babu due to his anti-Islam writings, as instructed by their religious teacher. Babu's involvement in Facebook groups critical of religious extremism and his tributes to Roy, who was similarly murdered, may have contributed to his targeting. The attacks on secular bloggers are seen as part of a broader effort by militants to intimidate and silence critics amidst a backdrop of political unrest and violence in Bangladesh. Calls for justice from entities like Amnesty International highlight the government's failure to protect at-risk individuals and to prosecute those responsible for such attacks.

Hindu homecoming? Case of India religious conversions looks bogus.

12 Feb 2015  |  csmonitor.com
In Kharmadanga, India, claims of mass conversions to Hinduism by tribal people following a Hindu temple feast were reported nationally, but investigations revealed these were false. The conversions were purportedly part of a 'ghar wapsi' initiative by Hindu fundamentalist groups associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Sangh Parivar, aiming for a fully Hindu India. Despite the reports, the villagers, including Mangal Murmu, maintained their animist beliefs and denied converting. The incident, following President Obama's visit and comments on religious freedom, sparked controversy and highlighted tensions over religious identity in India.

Religious Minorities in India Hope to Highlight Tensions During Obama Visit

23 Jan 2015  |  www.voanews.com
Hard-line Hindu extremist groups in India have sparked controversy with conversion drives targeting Christians, challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. Religious minorities, including Muslims and Christians, report increasing repression and hope President Barack Obama will address these issues during his visit. Activists have petitioned Obama to urge Modi to protect religious freedoms. Reports of mass conversion ceremonies and violence against Christian communities have heightened tensions. Critics accuse Modi of not taking a firm stand against these groups, potentially exacerbating communal tensions and stalling legislative progress.

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