While Bangladesh was hit hard by tragedies and other negativities in 2019, good news and positive initiatives were also there in the country during the period. Some of the major stories the country saw are as follows:
AL Retains Power
In January, 2019, Awami League president Sheikh Hasina took oath as the prime minister of the country for the fourth term, including the third consecutive term, along with her 46 cabinet members following her party’s landslide victory in the 11th national election held on 30 December 2018.
AL formed the government amid main opposition BNP’s claim that the general election was marred by widespread irregularities.
When the nation was preparing to commemorate the language movement martyrs, a devastating fire broke out at Chawkbazar’s Churihatta on 20 February.
Before firefighters extinguished the blaze, it claimed more than 70 lives. The fire was originated from a chemical warehouse and later engulfed the adjacent buildings.
FR Tower Fire
Following the Chawkbazar fire, another part of the city experienced another deadly fire at Banani on 21 March that took the lives of 26 people.
The fire broke out at FR Tower on Kemal Ataturk Avenue in the capital city and swept through the building, engulfing it in thick, black smoke. Some of the people died after jumping off the high rise building. Besides, 73 people suffered burn injuries in the incident.
Overdue DUCSU Polls
Election to the Dhaka University Central Student's Union (DUCSU) was held in March breaking 28 years' deadlock.
Quota reform movement leader Nurul Haque was elected vice-president (VP) of DUCSU defeating Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon, president of the ruling party’s student wing, Bangladesh Chhatra League.
The nation witnessed the cruel murder of Abrar Fahad, a 21-year-old student of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) by the BCL leaders of BUET unit.
He was found dead on the stairs of Sher-e-Bangla Hall of the university on 7 October after some BCL leaders beat him at room-2011 of the dormitory on the night of 6 October suspecting his link to Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir.
The incident triggered protests across the country and authorities were forced to ban politics on BUET campus amid demands from students.
One of the most shocking incidents of the bygone year was the murder of Nusrat Jahan Rafi in Feni on 6 April. Her murder led to a series of protests across the country demanding exemplary punishment of her killers.
On 24 October, a tribunal in Feni sentenced 16 people to death for their roles in killing of the madrasa girl. The trial was one of the quickest in the country where such cases usually take a long time to conclude.
Another incident that triggered widespread public outcry is the murder of Rifat Sharif in Barguna. The 22-old-year boy was attacked with sharp weapons near the main gate of Barguna Government College in the district town on 26 June.
Twenty-four people were accused in the murder case filed by Rifat’s father. Main accused Sabbir Ahmed alias Nayon Bond was killed in a reported gunfight with law enforcers on 2 July.
On 1 September, police pressed charges against 24 people separating them into adult and underage.
Former military ruler HM Ershad, also known as a fallen dictator, passed away on 14 July at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Dhaka at the age of 89. Ershad was ousted in 1990 after his nine years of autocratic rule.
Syed Ashraf’s Demise
AL presidium member and then public administration minister Syed Ashraful Islam died of lung cancer at a hospital in Thailand on 3 January, four days after being elected an MP of the 11th parliament. He was 67.
Syed Ashraf, son of national leader and Bangabandhu’s close associate Syed Nazrul Islam breathed his last at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok.
Fazle Hasan Abed’s Demise
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder of BRAC and chair emeritus of BRAC, passed away on 20 December at the age of 83.
Sir Abed founded BRAC in 1972 with a small relief and rehabilitation project in North-Eastern Bangladesh. Over the years, the organisation grew into one of the largest non-government organisations in the world.
He retired from his role as the chairperson of the governing body of BRAC Bangladesh and BRAC International and transitioned to the role of chair emeritus.
A dreadful dengue outbreak was seen from April this year. According to the Directorate General of Health Services, a total of 148 people have so far died of the disease. Though the mosquito-borne disease was initially identified in the capital city, it gradually spread to other parts of the country.
Although dengue is a common phenomenon in Bangladesh, it broke previous death records this year. Normally, people get infected with the disease from April to October. But this year the outbreak has been lengthier.
The crackdown against casino business was one of the most discussed topics in 2019 that led to the arrest of around 275 people, including Jubo League leaders and ward councilors of Dhaka.
Law enforcement agencies launched the drive after prime minister Sheikh Hasina at a joint meeting of the party on 7 September ordered a purge on her own party.
Ban on Shakib
The International Cricket Council (ICC) banned star Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan from all forms of cricket for two years, with keeping it suspended for one year, as he failed to report corrupt approaches.
In a press release on 29 October, the global cricket governing body stated that Shakib was found to be guilty of breaching three counts of charge of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.
The all-rounder has so far represented Bangladesh in 56 Tests, 206 ODIs and 76 T20Is. He amassed 11,752 runs in international cricket and scalped 562 wickets.
He is one of the few all-rounders who have the double of more than 10,000 runs and more than 500 wickets in international cricket.
The onion market became overheated steaming from an export ban by India. At one stage, the price of the essential kitchen item reached to Tk 260 per kg which led the government to import the bulb by air. The price started falling after local variety hit the market.
Deadly rail accident in Brahmanbaria
A deadly rail accident took place in Brahmanbaria on 12 November that claimed the lives of 16 passengers.
The fatal collision between Dhaka-bound Turna Nishita Express from Chattogram and Chattogram-bound Udayan Express from Sylhet on Dhaka-Chattogram route in Mandbagh Railway Station in Kasba upazila also left 100 passengers injured.
Verdict in Holey Artisan cafe attack case
The verdict in the case filed over the Holey Artisan cafe attack that claimed the lives of 22 people, including 17 foreigners, in 2016 was delivered in the outgoing year of 2019.
Seven militants were sentenced to death on 27 November for their roles in the cafe attack.
On 1 July 2016, armed terrorists barged into the upscale restaurant in the heart of the diplomatic quarter and unleashed an unprecedented carnage that shook the nation.
Twenty-two people -- nine Italians, seven Japanese, an Indian, a Bangladesh-born American and two Bangladeshis along with two police officers -- were killed before commandoes stormed the cafe and neutralised the extremists.
Thirteen others, who were identified to be behind the attack, were killed during raids at various times.
Unsolved Rohingya issue
Bangladesh has taken the Rohingya issue to the international platform even though the country is yet to see a sustainable solution to the problem.
A West African country, The Gambia, took Myanmar to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November to face charges of genocide against its nationals Rohingyas in Rakhine state.