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June, 2005

 

Kishoreganj Press club president received death threat:
On 30 June, Ruhul Kuddus Selim (m), correspondent of a regional daily 'Ajker Desh', publish from Kishoreganj - northeast of Bangladesh, received death threat over his mobile phone from an anonymous caller at about 7.30pm while sitting at the press club. He is 46.

"You became a journalist leader! You have gone so far! (Will) kill you first than anybody else", the caller threatened journalist Selim, while he was talking to other colleagues at his office. When Alam Sarwar Titu–vice president of Kishoreganj press club took the phone to talk to the caller, he hanged up the phone.

As the call came from another mobile phone, so the number found 0171-516372. Several attempts to reach the phone calling back to that number it were found a telephone-calling centre. Press club president Ruhul Kuddus said to Prothom Alo, “fundamentalist group are very active in the district (Kishoreganj), they might be involved in this threat”.

“I received threats couple of times since I was elected the press club president this January, I also received Shroud by postal mail”, said Ruhul Kuddus Selim. “But I don’t know and I don’t understand – why”, he added.

“I did not pay attention earlier to these threats, but nowadays, number of threats has rose. I feel worries all the time now”, Ruhul Kuddus Selim expressed his fear. Journalists informed police authority about the threat and sought their security. They have paid a visit to the press club, taken the phone number got from the mobile’s incoming calling list to find the culprit.

Earlier, Subir Bashak, correspondent of Daily Ittefaq; A T M Nizam, correspondent of Prothom Alo from the same town also received threat couple of months back. Subir Bashak received a letter that reads to blow off his head. And A T M Nizam received threat over phone.

 

27 June 2005 – first anniversary of murder of journalist Balu approaching:
First anniversary of heinous murder of journalist HUMAYUN KABIR BALU, editor of Dainik Janmabhumi – a regional daily publish from Khulna – one of the major cities of the country in the southwest, is approaching on 27 June. He was also president of Khulna Press Club. Balu was brutally killed on 27 June of 2004 by a handmade bomb when he got off from his car in front of his office-cum-residence in Islampur Road in Khulna. His older son Asif Kabir – present editor of the newspaper also hurt of that attack but escaped narrowly.

In the same city, Balu was killed exactly five months after of another horrific murder of a courageous journalist - Manik Saha. Since Manik Saha killed, Balu was highly outspoken and proactive about arranging protests, lobbying and putting pressure on government for fastest police act on Manik Saha murder. Lutfuzzaman Babar, deputy minister for Home Affairs, identified/flagged Balu’s murder case as “sensational” in the 42nd monthly meeting with his colleagues at his office on 30 March 2005. But till today, the case did not get proper place in Khulna monitoring cell of police.

Police has submitted a charge sheet on 26 April 2005, after ten months of the assassination accusing eight people in connection with the murder. Amongst them, four has been arrested and in jail custody and, the rests gone hiding. The names of accused in the charge sheet are: Abdur Rashid Malitha (Tapan Malitha), Shoeb, Suman, Nozu, Masum, Didarul Islam, Ripon and Jahid. Police included another name ‘Swadhin’ when one of these eight in the charge sheet Didarul Islam died.

There will be a hearing hold with the judges’ court in Khulna on 30 June of the murder case. Abdul Hamid, inspector of Detective Branch (DB) of Police is the investigating officer of Balu murder case since it has been handed over to Detective Branch on 1 July. In honour of journalist Balu, Khulna City Corporation has changed the name of the road where Balu was killed as ‘Humayun Kabir Balu Road’.

Khulna Press Club will arrange a discussion programme, a remembrance rally, and memorial at graveyard in observance of Balu murder. A Humayun Kabir Balu Remembrance Committee formed, which declared eight-day programme to observe the first anniversary of Balu murder.

 

Ninth anniversary of murder of S M Alauddin observed:
On 19 June was the ninth anniversary of the brutal murder of S M Alauddin, editor of the Dainik Patradoot, a regional Bangla daily publish from Satkhira, a southwest coastal district of Bangladesh.

On this day in 1996, some killers shot him at his newspaper office at 10.30pm while working at his desk. He died on the spot. At the age of 51, he left five daughters, one son and his wife behind him.

In observance of his vicious murder anniversary, different social organisations along with Satkhira Press Club and Satkhira Reporters’ Club organised several programmes. People gathered at his graveyard and prayed for peace of his soul. Dainik Patradoot has published a special supplementary issue of 12 pages in colour in remembrance of its late editor.

Speakers in memorial meetings demanded speedy trial of the murder of the journalist. His widow Lutfunnesa Begum says, ‘how more days should we wait for justice, its been nine long years but the trial is yet to be started’. It is notable that a group of criminals confined judges around the court building as long as nine hours when the court ordered to arrest four accused of this murder case appeared before court on 26 July 1999.

The whole trial was suspended since the day. ‘The trial was shrewdly suspended by the defendants’, says Abul Kalam Azad, the acting editor of Dainik Patradoot and also a practicing lawyer. Abul Kalam Azad is happens to be the son-in-law of late editor S M Alauddin. ‘But the Supreme Court ordered to the lower court to finish the case as soon as possible, now we expect hearing will start so soon’, says Azad.

Since the Supreme Court passed the order for speedy trial, Abul Kalam Azad feels threat from anonymity. On 8 June, Azad received a death threat from outlaw Purba Bangla Communist Party (Janajuddha) along with four other colleagues through a signed letter sent to Satkhira reporters club and Dainik Satkhira Chitra office. No prompt police action is found other than deploying a three policemen group at the Dainik Patradoot, Dainik Satkhira Chitra and Satkhira reporters club office.

 

Journalist of Jugantor received threat from MP:
On 16th June 2005, Dr. Rustom Ali Faraji, Member of Parliament, threatened Kamran Reza Chowdhury, staff reporter of Daily Jugantor for a printing mistake at the National Parliament. Rustom Ali Faraji rebuked to journalist and threatened to never allow his entry into the parliament. Rustom Ali says that, in his speech on budget in a session of the parliament, he proposed to the government to declare Mathbaria as a district. But Dainik Jugantor had published the name of proposed district as ‘Pirojpur’ instead of Mathbaria.

Rustam Ali Faraji, a BNP leader and MP said, “you journalist have no responsibility, you write whatever you wish. You all are the supporters of Awami League”. He also asked the chief of public relation unit of parliament to take action against that journalist. He also ordered him to hold the journalist until his return from a meeting with the Speaker.

When contacted, journalist Kamran Reza Chowdhury said that any member of parliament has no right to threat a journalist for any news reports published. If he has anything to say he could send rejoinder to the newspaper office. This is not democratic to threat a journalist for his writings or any print mistake. Bangladesh Parliament Journalist Association expressed their concern over that incident.

 

Two suspects of Balu murder sent to jail:
On 17 June, two arrested suspects in connection with Humayun Kabir Balu murder case were sent to jail. Police arrested this two outlaw henchmen, Monir (30) and Ripon (28) from Shahnewaz Shrimp Processing Factory in Rupsha, a sub-district of Khulna on 13 June. Another source from Khulna said that these two arrestees are not involved with Balu murder but they have shown arrests by police. The arrested outlaw member Ripon is not the same Ripon whose name came into light in connection with Balu murder.

Humayun Kabir Balu, editor of Dainik Janmabhumi was killed by a bomb attack on 25 June 2004 just in front of his office when he gets off his car. Repeated try failed to reach the police super of Khulna, the southwest city of Bangladesh. But the officer of the Rupsha police station refused to talk on this issue.

 

Satkhira journalists received death threat letter again:
On 8 June, Satkhira journalists received death threat letter, again, for the third time in that area, from underground outlaws banner Purba Bangla Communist Party (Janajuddhya). The letter arrived at the Satkhira Reporters Club and Dainik Satkhira Chitra office in the afternoon.

The name of the journalists mentioned in the letter are: MIZANUR RAHMAN, correspondent of Dainik Janakantha; KALYAN BANERJEE, correspondent of Dainik Prothom Alo, SHUBHASH CHOWDHURY, correspondent of Dainik Jugantor; ABUL KALAM AZAD, editor of Dainik Patrodoot and, ANISUR RAHIM, editor of Dainik Satkhira Chitra.

The letter reveals: "It has been long some journalists in Satkhira became barrier for our work here. They have given time and opportunity to rectify them. But they again started working against us helping our enemies". Journalists of Satkhira Reporters Club arranged an urgent meeting to protest the threat and demand a quick arrest of those criminals. For last two years, Janajuddhyaj has been sending death threat letter to journalists using different names of underground outlaw leader.

Journalists who are working in Satkhira first received such a death threat letter on 20 January in 2004 in recent years. Purba Bangla Communist Party sent the letter signed by Tusher. Again, in 20 January 2005, same letter signed by the same people arrived to the journalists threatening the same. Finally, on 8 June, Satkhira journalists received another letter signed by another name 'Atiar Rahman'.

Police assured to take necessary steps. But no useful police action has seen yet unless deploying of a three policemen group - one group in front of the Dainik Patrodoot and the other one at the Dainik Satkhira Chitra office.

One of the editors received death threat with others- Abul Kalam Azad, acting editor of Dainik Patrodoot, is the son-in-law of slain editor of the same newspaper S M Alauddin who was killed in 1996 in the same newspaper office. On 6 June, Abdul Wajed Kochi, correspondent of Dainik Ittefaq and Selim Reza Mukul, correspondent of Dainik Jessore were physically assaulted and threatened by some criminals in the town. Police action was frustrating although a complaint made on time. Families of journalists are passing days with fear to see this death threat letter.

 

ATN Bangla faces bar to access to Prime Minister’s office to cover:
On 2 June, ATN Bangla, one of the largest private satellite television news and programmes broadcasters in Bangladesh received ‘no access’ notice to prime minister’s office to cover news. ATN Bangla officials told to this correspondent that top government officials of the prime minister’s office is unhappy with the television channel due to cover footage and news on the riot police’s inhuman action on the Dhaka University students in the campus. Dhaka University students were protesting recently the death of a female student when a bus ran over her and she died on the spot.

Any official, however, did not send any official notification or letter to ATN Bangla on this issue. But they informed the TV officials over phone that office of the Prime Minister would contact ATN Bangla if there would anything to cover. Until evening on 6 June, no official contacted ATN Bangla to cover Prime Minister’s activities. ATN Bangla did not contacted Prime Minister’s office either.

ATN Bangla news editor Noim Nizam said, ‘as the prime minister office told us that they would call us to cover if they have anything, so that, we are not initiating any contact’. ‘But, we are covering Prime Minister’s news outside of her office’, the news editor of ATN Bangla added. ATN Bangla’s access to Prime Minister’s office was unofficially banned for couple of weeks since 6 February of this year. They were working under tremendous pressure since the former finance minister ASMS Kibria was killed by a bomb attack. This channel is also under continuous surveillance by intelligence agents.

On February, in connection with this, Prime Minister’s press secretary Tajul Islam said to Dainik Janakantha,” media has the responsibility to help controlling any agitated situation. ATN Bangla was asked to perform a responsible job after contacting the information ministry”.

But Dainik Janakantha wrote at the same time quoting Information Minister M Shamsul Islam that he disagreed on any information about the bar on ATN Bangla.

Noim Nizam, news editor of ATN Bangla also added referring to their bar on February this year that government official some time did not allow them to cover the programmes outside of the PM office also.



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