Bangladesh Centre for Development, Journalism and Communication (BCDJC)

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

State of Press Freedom, 2008

MARCH 2008
APRIL 2008
MAY 2008
JUNE 2008
JULY 2008

March, 2008
In March 10 journalists were harassed and assaulted in five different incidents. Six journalists received death threat in three incidents while one was arrested in another case. Police harassed two newsmen in another incident. Former chairman of Technical Education Board M Idris Ali apologized to journalists for assaulting two reporters and confining them to the board office at Agargaon in Dhaka in May last year. Meanwhile, the chief adviser has approved the long awaited Right to Information Ordinance, 2008. Anyone found guilty of refusing to provide information or of giving misinformation can be awarded imprisonment up to three months and fined Tk 25,000. Police arrested Abdul Awal Rubel, Chandpur correspondent of RTV and the daily Amader Shomoy on charge of extortion. Another good news came on March 16, while the caretaker government announced the Community Radio Installation, Broadcast and Operation Policy 2008. A Dhaka court discharged former Prothom Alo cartoonist Arifur Rahman. A case was filed against him for a cartoon "hurting religious sentiments" published in the daily's satirical magazine "Aalpin" on September 17 last year.

Death Threat:
On March 2, miscreants threatened to kill Abu Jafar Shabu, Gaibanda Correspondent of Daily Janakantha, Shahabul Shahin Tota of Prothom Alo, Syed Nurul Alam Jahangir of Daliy Karotoya and Hedayetul Islam Babu of Shishu Prokash for publishing report of corruption. Local sources said that Mosaddek-Sadekul group, an identified terrorist group of Sadar upazila of Gaibanda gave the threat while the journalists published news on land grabbing of a female farmer of village Bhapara of the district. A General Diary (GD) was recorded with the concerned police station in connection with the incident.

On March 12, Mohammad Gias Uddin, President of Goura Nodi Press Club and local Correspondent of the daily Samakal was given death threat for publishing a report on corruption. Sources said that Sarkar Alam, a meter reader of Titas Gas limited has given life threat to the journalist from the cell phone number - 01716398857. It is learnt that a corruption report was published in the daily Samakal where the alleged criminal Sakar Alam's name was mentioned as the mastermind of demolishing the building that was used by the freedom fighter during liberation war in 1971.

On March 29, miscreants threatened Mahbubur Rahman, Satkhira Correspondent of daily Sangbad to kill. ABM Mostakim, a listed terrorist of law enforcing organizations threatened the newsman for publishing a report of his arrest by the joint force.

On March 5, police arrested Abdul Awal Rubel, Chandpur correspondent of RTV and the Daily Amader Shomoy on charge of extortion. Investigation Officer of the case, Sub-Inspector Monir said that Rubel and Manowar Kanon, district correspondent of the daily Manab Jameen demanded Taka 50 thousand to Jafar Iqbal Munna, a construction contractor of Chandpur. Police arrested the newsman Rubel when the construction contractor Munna informs the nearby police station in this regard. Another case was also filed against Manab Jameen reporter Manowar Kanon in same incident.

On March 24, Journalists of different electronic and print media staged a sit-in in front of the office of Nilphamari deputy commissioner (DC) protesting alleged harassment by officials during professional work. The officials arrested local correspondents of The Daily Star and ATN Bangla when they went to the examination venue of Nilphamari Homeopathy Medical College to carry out professional duties. Being informed of widespread cheating in the homeopathic examination, EZM Asaduzzaman Tipu, local correspondent of The Daily Star, went to the examination venue at Kalibari intersection will his camera at 11:00am. On-duty magistrates Rashidul Mannaf Kabir and Ashraf Hossen instantly ordered police to arrest him. He was detained in a room of the homeopathic college and police took his camera and mobile set. As ATN Bangla reporter Ratan Sarker went to enquire into the matter, the magistrates ordered police to arrest him too. Magistrate Ashraf Hossen uttered abusing words at the two newsmen and ordered police to take them to police station. Other journalists rushed to the spot and wanted to know from the magistrates the reason of their arrest but the magistrates ignored them. Later police released the journalists at about 11:30am. Local journalists staged sit-in on the DC office premises. They withdrew the sit-in when Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Tajul Islam on behalf of the deputy commissioner assured the journalists of taking departmental procedure.

Follow up:
On March 2, former Technical Education Board chairman M Idris Ali apologized to journalists for assaulting two reporters and confining them to the board office at Agargaon in Dhaka on May 14, 2007. ‘I am so sorry for assaulting two journalists — Mostaq Ahmed of Janakantha and Siddiqur Rahman Khan of New Age. I offer an apology,’ Idris Ali said in the presence of some senior journalists at the Dhaka Reporters Unity where he went to offer an apology. Idirs Ali reportedly invited Mostaq to his office on May 14 to discuss a report on corruption published on the day against him. Idris also requested the Janakantha news editor to send Mostaq to him. Mostaq along with Siddiqur Rahman Khan, a senior staff correspondent of New Age, went to meet Idris in his office at about 1:30pm on that day. At one point, a group of people led by Shajahan, Mamun, Barek, and Asadul attacked Mostaq and Siddiq for publishing the report. They snatched the identity cards and mobiles of the reporters. Mostaq then lodged an attempt-to-murder case against Idris and Mohammad Shajahan, then secretary of the board, Mamun-Or-Rashid, private secretary to the chairman, Barek, an employee of the board, and Asadul, an Ansars member on duty at the office. The government on May 16, 2007 removed Idris Ali on charge of assaulting the reporters. He requested the journalists to withdraw the case filed against him.

On March 18, the Additional Chief Judicial Megistrate of Chandpur Md. Shelim Mian has approved bail of Abdul Awal Rubel, Chandpur correspondent of Rtv and the daily Amader Shomoy who was arrested on charge of extortion on March 5.

On 20 March, a Dhaka court discharged former Prothom Alo cartoonist Arifur Rahman in connection with a case filed against him for a cartoon "hurting religious sentiments" published in the daily's satire magazine "Aalpin" on September 17 last year. Metropolitan Magistrate Mosammat Ismat Ara passed the order, as the complainant of the case Jane Alam Khan, the then officer-in-charge (OC) of Tejgaon police, did not appear before the court on several consecutive dates. The court had earlier summoned the complainant to appear before the court repeatedly, but he failed to comply with the court order. On September 20 last year, OC Jane Alam filed the case against Arif with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court for committing the offences. Before filing the case, Arif was arrested under Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) on September 18 and later he was shown arrested in the regular case. He was also given detention order under the special Powers Act 1974 that had earlier made illegal by the High Court (HC) following a writ petition challenging the legality of the detention order by the government. Following that day's order, there remains no bar to his release from the jail.

On 25 March, a Chandpur court approved bail of Manowar Kanon, Chandpur town correspondent of the daily Manabzameen while he surrendered to court. The journalist was accused of an extortion case of Taka 50 thousand.  Jafar Iqbal Munna, a construction contractor of Chandpur has filed the case saying that the Kanon and his colleague Rubel demanded the money as extortion.

On March 27, a court of Barishal has granted bail to Md. Gias Uddin, Gouranadi Correspondent of daily Samakal and Abdul Matin, Editor of daily Dakkhinanchal. They were accused of a defamation case of Taka 70 lakh filed by a sacked schoolteacher Sardar Alauddin. After the investigation, police submitted the report to court on August 2007. The Additional Chief Judicial Megistrate of Barishal Khademul Islam has approved the bail, as the police ingestion did not find them guilty.

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