Bangladesh vows to demolish Dhaka squats to "fight crime" FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 29 May 1999 15:56:24 -0700 (PDT)


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FWD  Reuters - May 07, 1999

     B'DESH VOWS TO ERASE DHAKA SLUMS IN FIGHT ON CRIME

DHAKA, May 7 (Reuters) - Bangladesh on Friday vowed to step up a drive
against crime by demolishing the slums of one of the world's poorest
capitals.

Dhaka's slums house about a quarter of the city's nine million people.
Extreme poverty forces them from their villages to the city in search of
work, municipal officials say.

``The slums are controlled by criminals' syndicates which grab government
land and steal from city utilities,'' Home Minister Mohammed Nasim told
reporters. ``They rent out the slum shanties to the homeless and make huge
money out of it.''

The slums were also home to criminals and drug dealers, Nasim said, and
they would be demolished in phases.

``Most of the criminals live in there (slums)...protected by musclemen
often backed by political parties and so-called human rights
organisations,'' Nasim said.

``They voice protest whenever the government tries to pull down the slums.
But we must make the city clean and its environment healthy.''

He did not say what would happen to the slum dwellers once their homes had
been destroyed but the government has said before they should be moved
outside the city.

Slums springing up in Dhaka's parks, along the banks of its lakes and
downtown avenues have triggered protests.

Police say they have netted over 15,000 suspected criminals and
``terrorists'' since they began the crackdown on crime in the middle of
April.

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