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Yaba drug smuggling, addiction rates record alarming rise in Bangladesh

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Dhaka (Bangladesh), April 23: Smuggling of the highly-addictive drug yaba — and its soaring acceptance among the youth and even celebrities — is a challenge Bangladesh faces increasingly as Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar are suspected to be peddling it as a means of survival, say border guard officials.

On a recent trip to the border areas of Bangladesh, an Indian media group was told that a wave of yaba use has swept over the country as young people from the middle and upper income classes are experimenting with this “crazy medicine” and fuelling an alarming surge in addiction rates.

Officials of the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) said they have seized 5,297,234 pieces of yaba pills this year up to March and arrested 151 smugglers, including 15 Myanmar nationals, as a massive influx of Rohingya refugees brought increased smuggling from that country. The number of seized pills was around 14,997,570 in 2017 when 649 people, including 15 Myanmar nationals, were held.

Raids on fishing boats on the Naff river– which divides Bangladesh and Myanmar, countries that share a 271-km boundary — have reaped a massive haul of yaba pills, which is a rage among Bangladeshi youth.

“In one raid on March 15, we seized 1.8 million yaba pills abandoned in four sacks in the Naff river,” Brigadier General S.M. Rakibullah told IANS.

Rakibullah, Additional Director General and Regional Commander of BGB’s Adhoc Region Headquarters in Cox’s Bazar, said: “It is the biggest ever yaba seizure by the BGB. The guards arrested 11 smugglers in March, including seven Rohingyas.”

Shahidur Rahman, Director, BGB Battalion, Feni region, said yaba pills have become an easy source of income for the Rohingyas who have poured across the border since the Myanmar military launched a crackdown in their native Rakhine state on August 24-25 night last year.

Rohingya refugees act as carriers of yaba, which is known as “crazy medicine”, and hand over the pills to dealers on the Bangladesh side of the border who then take them to the country’s main cities, Rahman said.

Three young Rohingya refugees — identified as Mohammed Saddam, Masud Talukder and Jamil Hossein — were arrested last week in separate drives and over 100,000 yaba pills (worth in crores) were recovered from their possession in the Cox Bazar area, the official said.

He said “it is a way to make easy money as one tablet is sold illegally for 300 Taka”.

A BGB official, on condition of anonymity, said the force has been facing tough times to stop the yaba smuggling because of the difficulty in patrolling the 54 km of the Naff river.

“Smuggling of yaba came to light some time towards the end of 2015, but the menace has grown since the influx of Rohingyas who are lured by Myanmar crime syndicate as carriers. The internal carriers have increased. Some of them are desperate just for survival,” the official said.

The Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh has called for “zero tolerance” on smuggling of yaba, which has one too many nicknames and was outlawed in Thailand in the early 1970s.

Another BGB official said Thailand is one of the largest sources of yaba while Myanmar is one of the biggest producers of it. “Yaba pills are produced in labs on the Myanmar side.”

He said Yaba is mostly popular among those who suffer from sexual or mental problems. “Some unscrupulous doctors and chemists prescribe and sell pills laced with yaba for immediate relief.”

The drug is believed to have led to organised crime rackets, official corruption, street violence and broken families, said the official.

Many syndicates are bringing yaba pills from Teknaf to Dhaka through new routes after the contraband tablets are smuggled from Myanmar. From Teknaf, the pills first reach Patuakhali’s Kuakata in fishing boats and then make their way through different modes of transport.

Acting regional commander of south east region of BGB, Colonel Gazi Md Ahsanuzzaman, said that yaba smuggling had gone up since last year.

“Tablets worth Taka 1.25 crore are smuggled per day into Bangladesh. Earlier the number was in a few lakhs. The tablets are smuggled through the Naff river via no-man’s land near Gumdhum village in the Cox region of Bangladesh.”

Yaba is spreading from urban to rural areas with drug abuse particularly increasing among street children, he said.

According to drug control authorities, from 2007 to 2010, illicit trafficking and abuse of yaba has increased almost 40 times in Bangladesh.

(Rajnish Singh visited Bangladesh between April 15 and 18 as part of BSF-sponsored Indian media group. He can be contacted at [email protected] )

World

There’s no God: Stephen Hawking in his last book

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Stephen Hawking

New Delhi, Oct 18: In “Brief Answers To The Big Questions”, the last book published in renowned physicist Stephen Hawkings name, he has reached the conclusion that there is no God.

“There is no God. No one directs the universe,” he writes in “Brief Answers to the Big Questions, a copy of which is with IANS.

“For centuries, it was believed that disabled people like me were living under a curse that was inflicted by God,” he adds. “I prefer to think that everything can be explained another way, by the laws of nature,” Hawking writes.

The book was released in the West on Tuesday and arrived at Indian bookstores on Wednesday.

It has been completed by Hawking’s family after his death, and features answers to several pertinent questions that were put to the physicist during his illustrious life.

Among Hawking’s other important assertions and findings, sequences concerning extraterrestrial life and artificial intelligence will interest readers.

Hawking has concluded that there is alien life in existence and has anticipated that artificial intelligence, for all that it is worth, may outsmart humans.

“There are forms of intelligent life out there,” he writes. “We need to be wary of answering back until we have developed a bit further.”

He has also asserted that time travel cannot be ruled out.

“Travel back in time can’t be ruled out according to our present understanding,” he says, predicting that “within the next hundred years we will be able to travel to anywhere in the Solar System.”

For most of his adult life, Hawking suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is a neurodegenerative disorder, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The scientist died while still working on the book, which his family and colleagues finished with the help of his vast personal archives.

His many publications included “The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime” with G F R Ellis, “General Relativity: An Einstein Centenary Survey”, with W Israel, and “300 Years of Gravitation”, with W Israel.

Among the popular books Stephen Hawking published are his best seller “A Brief History of Time”, “Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays”, “The Universe in a Nutshell”, “The Grand Design” and “My Brief History”.

IANS

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India

Sri Lankan President calls Modi, rejects assassination reports

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New Delhi, Oct 17 Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday rejected media reports alleging an Indian hand in a plot to assassinate him and a former Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka during a telephone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena called Prime Minister Modi today,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.

“The President of Sri Lanka stated that he categorically rejected the reports in sections of media about him alluding to the involvement of India in any manner whatsoever in an alleged plot to assassinate the President and a former Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka,” the statement said.

“He mentioned that the mischievous and malafide reports were utterly baseless and false, and seemed intended to create misunderstanding between the two leaders as well as damage the cordial relations between the two friendly neighbours,” it stated.

According to the statement, Sirisena apprised Modi of the “urgent steps taken by him personally and the Sri Lankan government to publicly reject these reports.

“The President also stated that he regards the Prime Minister as a true friend of Sri Lanka, as also a close personal friend,” the statement said.

“He stressed that he greatly valued the mutually beneficial ties between India and Sri Lanka, and remained steadfast to work with the Prime Minister for further strengthening them.”

According to the PMO statement, Modi appreciated the prompt steps taken by Sirisena and the Sri Lankan government to firmly refute the malicious reports by publicly clarifying the matters.

“He (Modi) also reiterated India’s emphasis on ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and the priority the government of India and he personally attach to developing even stronger all-round cooperation between the two countries,” it stated.

This development comes ahead of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India starting on Thursday.

Modi and Wickremesinghe are scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting here on Saturday.

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Nepal-The Roof of the World

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Nepal-wefornews-min

Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia and mainly located in the Himalayas and has a diverse geography including fertile plains, highest point on earth – Mount Everest and that’s why backpackers gave a nickname to Nepal as, “The Roof of the World”. Nepal is a trekker’s paradise and offers a combination of charming hill villages to jungle wildlife to beautiful temples.

Nepal attracts various types of traveller’s from backpacker to Luxury travel. The country is still recovering from the Twin Earthquakes which shattered the Himalayan Kingdom in the year 2015. After a sharp decline in visitors post-earthquake, the numbers are slowly recovering and now it is a great time to go to the mighty mountains.

Kathmandu – Capital city of Nepal also serves as the gateway to the country. Kathmandu is an interesting city to visit, however, tourists will face the crazy traffic of Nepal and poor road conditions. Monuments located at the Durbar Square in Kathmandu were severely damaged or completely ruined during the earthquakes of 2015.

Chitwan National Park is one of the World Heritage listed reserves that protects over 932 sq. km of forests, marshlands and grasslands. The park is considered to be one of the best parks for viewing wildlife in Asia. One-horned rhinos, deer, monkeys and over 500 species of birds are regularly spotted. If you are lucky, you may spot a leopard, wild elephant or sloth bear and if your luck prevails, you may also spot the majestic royal Bengal tiger.

Pokhara offers spectacular scenery, adventure activities and is the getaway for treks to the Annapurna range. The Lakeside of Pokhara is a chilled out version of Kathmandu’s busy Thamel area. From the Lakeside as well from a lot of hotels one can enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains. Pokhara boasts a booming adventure sports industry and is one of the best paragliding venues on the globes.

Annapurna region has been considered one of the best treks in Nepal and known for the world’s classic walks. The walk follows the marsyangdi valley to the north of the main Himalayan range and crosses a 5416 m pass to descend into the upper Kali Gandaki valley. The walk offers spectacular views of the numerous 7000 meters plus Annapurna peaks and boasts some of the great trekking lodges of Nepal.

Breakfast at Everest base camp – This is a new private concept for affluent traveller’s where one can do a short excursion from Kathmandu and enjoy the breakfast near the Mt. Everest base camp with the fascinating Everest in the backdrop.

Travel Tips for Traveller’s to Nepal:

– Avoid drinking tap water, use bottled water

– Where possible avoid intercity road journeys and use local flights. The roads in Nepal are narrow and have traffic; a 200 km journey may take 7-8 hrs.

– Local flights are substantially dependent on weather conditions and there may be delays, so plan accordingly

– If you are doing any trek, do ensure that you have necessary permits to trek in the region

– Indian National enjoy special rates at hotels and for trekking permit at most trekking routes, NRI’s or Foreign nationals will have to pay the regular foreigner rate for the permits

– Be sure to ensure the Nepalese currency prior to leaving, one cannot exchange Nepali currency outside of Nepal

– Indian Nationals can use denominations of Rs 100 or lower very easily. Higher denominations are legally not accepted.

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