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Bangladesh Centre for Development, Journalism and Communication (BCDJC)

19/3 Bir Uttam Kazi Nuruzzaman Road
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(East side of Square Hospital)
Dhaka 1205
Tel : +88 02 9126900
Fax : +88 02 9128748
E-mail : [email protected], [email protected]

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May, 2005

 

Journalist physically assaulted:
On 7 May 2005, a group of culprits attacked journalist SHAMSUZZAMAN BACCHU in the afternoon at Chabigarh shopping complex road in Bhairab, Kishoreganj - a southeast district from Dhaka. Journalist Bacchu is the president of Bhairab Press Club and editor of Jugo Darpan - a local weekly in Bhairab.

Drug sellers Shafaetullah, Bojon and Shwapan had stopped the journalist's way to ask him about his interference to their illegal business. They physically strike the journalist. Journalist Bachchu used to warn them to forbade the business otherwise he would write on their illegal drug dealings.

The drug sellers became furious on this and decided to give him exemplary punishment. So they attacked on the journalist. People from nearby rescued the journalist and caught one of the delinquents Shafaet and handed him over to the police. Police finally sent him to the jail. Others could manage to escape.

All journalist of that locality have visited the spot immediate after the incident.Journalist Bacchu has made a primary complaint with the Bhairab police. When tried to contact to the police station on know more about the case, the phone found out of order.

Colleagues of journalist Bacchu demanded to the administration a strong punishment for the perpetrators attacked journalist Bacchu. Bhairab is one of the famous and biggest boat terminals of Bangladesh. So therefore, drug dealing in this place is open secret even to the police administration. Journalists often write about the issue but still the problem is a burning question to the local authority and also to the society of Bangladesh.

 

Journalist assaulted in Lalmonirhat:
On 07 May, WALIUR RAHMAN RAJU, correspondent for the Dainik Bogra in Lalmonirhat - a town in the north of the country, was assaulted physically in front of the deputy commissioner (DC) of the district at his office. The deputy commissioner intervened and rescued the journalist when he sought help from the DC. He (DC) also informed other journalists about the incident. Later, police escorted Raju back to his home.

The deputy commissioner is the top official of the district's administration. This was the second attack on Raju. Earlier, he was assaulted on 6 May at the Lalmonirhat bus terminal. Criminals snatched away his money about Taka15,000/- (Taka Fifteen Thousand), which is equivalent to Euro215/- and US$245/- approximately.

The criminals were identified as Mekar Babu, Mehedi Hasan Jewel and Mainul Haq. All these attacks were due to his reports on illegal prostitution in the locality published in his newspaper 'Dainik Bogra', says a local colleague in Lalmonirhat. However another journalist also said that the editor of the Dainik Bogra have no clear information on the background of the incident. 'Dainik Bogra' is a local Bangla daily published from Bogra -- a city in the north of Bangladesh.

After his 6 May attack, Raju went to the police station to file a case, but police refused to accept it. Raju, however, recorded a primary complaint with the Kaliganj police station in Lalmonirhat on 5 May.

A group of journalists led by Shafiqul Islam Khan, president of Lalmonirhat Journalist Forum met the deputy commissioner Md. Fazlul Haque and Police Super Mezbah Uddin and demanded to take immediate necessary steps to bring the culprits to trial. Journalists group also submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner of the district -- Lalmonirhat.

 

Gauranga Nandi - Khulna journalist threatened to death:
On 10 May, GAURANGA NANDI (m), a veteran journalist and senior staff reporter for Dainik Janakantha in Khulna - a southern city of Bangladesh, received death threat by Shirajul Haque Nannu - an assistant private secretary (APS) of Md. Ashraf Hossain - one of the ruling party Whips in the Bangladesh National Parliament, over phone. Shirajul Haque Nannu phoned journalist Gauranga Nandi at his residence land phone at about 11pm when he was preparing to go sleep and hurled abusive language at him for a news report published in the Dainik Janakantha in its Tuesday issue on personal clash between the Khulna city Mayor and the Whip.

Journalist Nandi's report describes a clash between the two leaders of the same party in a meeting at the city's party office on 8 May - Sunday. Whip Ashraf Hossain, however, left the meeting after that incident.

Gauranga Nandi says that someone phoned and introduced himself as Nannu - the assistant private secretary of the Whip of the parliament - with rude, impolite, discourteous voice and seek explanation on the report. Nandi refused to give any explanation saying that he is not bound to give any explanation of the report. When Nannu forced him to reply, the journalist said, ' if you or Whip have any objection on the report, you please send rejoinder to the newspaper'. But, the caller Nannu threatened to give the journalist a 'good lesson'. 'We can blow you off in a moment, I will see how you live in Khulna', the APS to Whip threatened Gauranga Nandi.

Journalist Nandi also said, 'I have a very good relationship with the Whip, and he did not call me'. Nandi could not talk to Whip on phone as he was out of town. A number of cases are lying with Khalishpur Police Station against Shirajul Haque Nannu, a leader of the Chatra Dal, student-wing of the ruling party BNP. Some of his cases were dropped when BNP sworn in power. The post 'assistant private secretary' is a political appointment to assist member of parliaments and ministers.

Meantime, Gauranga Nandi contacted his newspaper Dainik Janakantha in Dhaka and recorded a primary complaint with the Sonadanga police and requested for police protection according to the suggestion from his newspaper management.

Shirajul Haque Nannu sounded very polite when contacted at his residence. He said he was not rude during the conversation with journalist Nandi on that day. 'Gauranga Nandi misunderstood me, I was just telling him to try to know the truth behind the incident before writing any news on any senior political leader. I told nothing more than this', Nannu said.

Nandi, also local coordinator for the media organisation BCDJC, is one of the journalists in Khulna whose name has been included in the hit list of outlawed Purba Bangla Communist Party. Khulna is a city in Bangladesh where one journalist was killed and the other survived narrowly from a bomb attack this year. Two other veteran journalists were killed in 2004 in separate bomb attacks in the same town.

 

A fortnightly editor stabbed in the city:
On 17 May, SYED MONJUR MORSHED, editor and publisher of English fortnightly 'The Horizon' stabbed with sharp knife by four unidentified assailants at 10.30pm, while he was returning home in Goran of the capital Dhaka.

The assailants were in a dark place hiding themselves on the journalist's way home and kept waiting for the journalist to attempt to kill him. They stabbed him in his abdomen and he experienced huge bleeding. He rushed to the hospital immediately. Journalist Morshed had undergone a surgery at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital on 19 May - Tuesday.

He has been receiving threats for last couple of days due to publish news reports in daily newspapers on some wrongdoing of a real estate entrepreneur Mr. Iqbal of the city.

Journalist Morshed refused to make any complain with police or file any case as the street security police did nothing but set eyes on the whole incident. The local police station was also near by. When noticed, one junior police officer arranged a police van to get journalist Morshed to the hospital.

The injured journalist describes that Iqbal Sazzad is a real estate fraud and he disclosed all Sazzad's crimes to his reporter colleagues working in the major national dailies. When news report published exposing Sazzad's misdeeds in the newspapers, police arrested him. So Sazzad became furious on Morshed. Morshed has been receiving threats since Sazzad is detained about two months ago. Journalist Morshed is recovering slowly and now he can move by himself. It will take couple of weeks to back in normal movement.

 

Police beaten six press photographer:
On 28 May, Police has beaten and injured six press photographer of different dailies during their job in the city’s street in Shahbagh. Press photographers were snapping of chaos instigated by Dhaka University students with the police due to a student’s death by a public transport.

A public bus ran over a Dhaka University student while crossing the street in the morning. She died when she was rushed to the hospital. All the students of the university came out of their classes in protest the accident and demanding arrest and punishment of the bus driver. Riot police approached to stop student’s agitation with batons.

When Press photographers reached the campus for taking photographs of the mess, police also started beating them with batons. Injured press photographers are: Wahid Hassan Raja of daily Bhorer Kagoj, Nayeem Parvez of daily Amar Desh, Shamim Mansur of daily Jugantor, Kajol Hazra of daily Samakal, Julhas of daily The Independent and Tarikul Islam Pintu of ATN Bangla television.

Police also disregarded the press identity card of those press photographers during the anarchy in the Dhaka University campus. When contacted one of the top police official (ADC-South) Shahriar Rahman, he said whatever occurred was a mistake, nothing happened intentionally. But he had no precise answer when the point rose about showing the press identity card to the police.

 

New Press Council Chairman appointed:
Government has appointed Justice M A Syed as the new Chairman of the Bangladesh Press Council, says a press release by the council on 28 May. President of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh appoints chairman of the council. Justice Sayed was the chief election commissioner before joining the press council. He joined his new office on 26 May.

This appointment has made about four months later of the previous chairman justice Mohammed Mozammel Haque left the council office on 9 February. The Bangladesh Press Council was running inactive without any chairman for last four months. Many cases were pending and left undecided. Bangladesh Press Council is working under the Press Council Act 1978 with the mission to uphold the freedom of the press in the country.

 

Police assaulted Journalist in Narshingdi:
On May 28, ARIFUR RAHMAN (m), senior reporter of Prothom Alo – a vernacular national daily, was physically assaulted by police at Narsingdi – a town close to the capital Dhaka, when he was covering news on re-election for a seat in the national parliament and general strike called by ruling party.

The journalist wanted to enter the office of Returning Officer – an election official, at about 1pm but police stopped him and not letting him in to get news. Arifur Rahman wanted to see how 5-rebel candidates of the same platform - ruling party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) were preparing to submit their application of their candidacy at that office.

Journalist Arifur Rahman asked police why he could not enter to the office, the additional police super Sharifullah Chowdhury Masud started beating and thumping him. The additional police super Masud joins Narshingdi police team as an additional police force coming from neighbour town – Munshiganj to control chaos that day. Journalist Arifur Rahman said to the correspondent that he introduced himself to the police as an assigned reporter from a prestigious daily Prothom Alo and drove there from the capital Dhaka to cover the election chaos transpired by the ruling BNP activists. ‘And there is no official obligation to enter to the office of election official for journalists, so why he (police super Masud) was not allowing me in I didn’t understand’, Arifur Rahman added.

Arifur Rahman had to take primary medical care. Doctor advised him rest for couple of days as he experienced backache due to the physical attack. Other policemen deployed in that office also join Masud beating the journalist saying that journalists pen would be dried out (anytime) but the police baton would always remain. Mir Rezaul Karim, Narshingdi police super felt sorry for the incident when he came to know about that. He also mentioned the incident as shameful.

When contacted, additional police super Masud said with straightforward, clear-cut voice that public never realizes anything without baton use. So police have to use it.

 

Journalist assaulted in Boalmari:
On 29 May, some activist of Jubadal, a wing of ruling party BNP to publish a news report, assaulted KORBAN ALI, editor of a local weekly Boalmari Barta and Boalmari press club president. He is also a practicing lawyer. Local journalist condemned the attack in an urgent meeting and demanded quick punishment of criminals.

The newspaper was publishing reports on corruption of the Boalmari sub-district Jute development office done by an officer. This officer is involved with mishandling of fertilizer and seeds that they are responsible to distribute among farmer free as a government official. The news angered a fertilizer and seed dealer Enamul Haq Bizol who used to getting privilege from the government official.

Enamul Haq Bizol rushed to the newspaper office and assaulted the editor and exercised his power, as his father is a local ruling party leader. Bizol denied the allegation when contacted. But local police officer said that he asked them to settle their entire problem mutually.

 

Government formed a committee to review private TV channels programs:
On May 2, a six-member committee has been formed to review the private TV channels' programmes in the country, says an official notification today. The Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Information will head this committee. The other members in the committee are: Principal Information Officer (PIO), Joint Secretary (transmission) of Information ministry, Managing Director & Chief Editor of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS), Deputy Director General (News) of Bangladesh Television and, Deputy Director General (News) of Bangladesh Betar.

The Press Information Department (PID) will perform the secretarial job for the committee. This committee will monitor whether the private TV channels are fulfilling the conditions under which they got their licenses to telecast their programs. The committee will also review if these channels are maintaining the rules in connection with news bulletins.

They will also sit once a week to review if those channels aired any news that might have damaged the image of the country or was against national interest. The committee will apprise the concerned Minister and Secretary of its activities and place recommendations.

Noim Nizam, news editor of ATN Bangla said that he was not aware of any such notification at all. He also added that the government has no policy or regulations yet on private TV channels and their programmes or news. All the private TV channels in the country air their programmes following their own policy. A source said requesting anonymity that every private TV channel faces pressure from the government on news bulletins in a regular basis or receives repeated threats of imposing high taxes and other obstacles.

 

Editor’s mother sought justice for her son:
On 22 May, Molina Saha, mother of an editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper ‘Shaptahik Alo’ – Dulal Chandra Saha, sought justice of conspiracy against her son in a press conference at the Gaibandha press club in Gaibandha – a northern town of the country. Journalist Dulal Chandra Saha, editor of ‘Shaptahik Alo’, is facing harassment by filing false cases and receiving death threats for last couple of months.

Journalist Dulal’s mother complains that they are experiencing trouble as they are Hindu minority. “My son is absconding, even he is afraid of appearing before court to seek bail”, she added in the press conference. Repeated attempt to reach journalist Dulal Chandra Saha failed to get his view in this connection.

 

Ittefaq reporter received death threat:
On 21 May, SUMIT KUMAR DUTTA, correspondent for Dainik Ittefaq in Golachipa, Patuakhali, a southwest coastal town of Bangladesh, received death threat from a known terrorist Hye Gazi.Sumit Kumar Dutta received the threat due to his writings on extortion in that locality published in Dainik Ittefaq. Hye Gazi also threatened other journalist to experience the same if they write about him or his activity. A primary complaint is made with the police.

Journalist Dutta said in his complains with police that terrorist Hye demanded Taka one hundred thousand to Bishwajit Dutta, brother of Sumit Kumar Dutta. When journalist Sumit protested the incident to the local government chairman, Hye became crazier against the journalist and he threatened Sumit. Journalists in Golachipa have protested the threat to Sumit Kumar Dutta and sought security to the authority.

 

Journalist physically tortured in Rupganj:
On 21 May, a group of local armed cadre kidnapped journalist G M SHAHID, correspondent for the Dainik Khobor Patra and executive editor of the Aparadh Barta, and taken him to a graveyard, hammered his body and forced to bury him alive. When the journalist screamed, the terrorists left him there. About three hours later, local people rescued him and taken him to a doctor. The incident occurs at the village ‘Tarabo’ of Rupashi in Rupganj near Dhaka at about 10.30pm.

Sources said, journalist G M Shahid, was returning home after collecting news from Rapashi by rickshaw – a human howler. Three assailants stopped Shahid on his way and kidnapped him under gunpoint. They also striped his mouth with adhesive tape. The journalist could not scream seeking help. The assailants took him to a graveyard and started hammering him.

Journalist Shahid is back home after getting primary medical care from a local physician. This is still unclear whether the journalist is kidnapped due to his writings news reports or anything in connection with his personal clashes with any quarter.

 

Threat to blow off newspaper office in Dinajpur:
On 20 May, Dinajpur press club, Dinajpur Union of Journalists, Dinajpur Newspapers' Editors Council and Bangladesh Journalists Association-Dinajpur Branch have jointly organised a meeting to protest the recent threat to blow off the daily 'Ajker Protibha' office in the town. In the meeting, speakers said that if any news report goes against any person/organisation, they should send rejoinder to the newspaper in writing. But, threatening the reporter or the newspaper to blow off in spite of sending rejoinder is disturbing, troubling and alarming to newsmen. It distressed journalists to perform their job properly. They also said these muscle powers always a barrier in freedom of press.

Earlier, On 15 May, Abu Sayeed Ahmad, joint editor of local daily 'Ajker Protibha' and senior vice president of Dinajpur press club, received threat over telephone to blow off his newspaper office with bomb at 7.40pm. Abu Sayeed Ahmad could not identify the person threatened, but could understand the reason of the threat.

The daily 'Ajker Protibha' published a news report on 'illegal appointments, biddings and other wrongdoings in the Hazi Danesh Science & Technology University' on the same day issue. The news report had gone against of interest of a group. It has angered them and instigated them to threat the reporter and the newspaper as well.

Immediate after the phone call in the evening, about 10/12 people rushed into the office and threatened again for the published report. They expressed their rebuke against the journalists in the newspaper house. In a joint statement circulated after the protest meeting held at the press club, the speakers have expressed their strong outrage and fears in response to the threat and demanded immediate police action to the administration.



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