Reacting to threats and physical attacks against four journalists in the space of a week, Reporters Without Borders today condemned the inaction of the Bangladeshi authorities and reiterated its appeal to interior minister Lutfozzaman Babor for concrete measures against those instigating the violence, whether political activists or ordinary criminals.
Waliur Rahman Raju, a correspondent for the Dainik Bogra daily newspaper, was physically attacked by three men on 7 May in the northern district of Lalmonirhat in the presence of a local district official at the district administration office who was able to intervene and protect Raju. The assailants have been identified as Mekar Babu, Mehedi Hasan Jewel and Mainul Haq.
Raju had already been attacked the previous day at the Lalmonirhat bus station by the same men, who at the same time stole 15,000 taka (215 euros) from him. The two attacks are believed to have been linked to Raju’s reports about local prostitution.
Shamsuzzaman Bachchu, the editor of the local weekly Jugo Darpan and president of the local press club, was beaten up the same day in Bhairab (southeast of Dhaka), by three enraged drug dealers identified as Shafaetullah, Bijon and Shwapan, who accused him of meddling in their affairs. Passers-by intervened and subdued one of the assailants, who was handed over to the police. The other two escaped.
Abdul Hai of the Daily Alor Jagat was threatened on 4 May in the Dhaka suburb of Keraniganj by the perpetrators of a rape about which he had written about a few days before. The perpetrators, identified as Latmia, Ghasi Babul, Mitha Sadu, Safar Ali and Komol Dewan, threatened to kill him and throw his body into the river. Hai, who has requested police protection, told Reporters Without Borders he has been receiving threats every day and is very worried.
In the southern city of Khulna, Gauranga Nandi of Dainik Janakantha received a telephone threat on 10 May from Shirajul Haque Nannu, who identified himself as the private secretary of Ashraf Hossain, one of the leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main member of the ruling alliance. He insulted Nandi and demanded an explanation for a recent story he wrote about a row between Hossain and the mayor of Khulna, another BNP leader.
When Nandi refused to give any explanation, Nannu threatened to teach him a "good lesson" and added, "We can blow you up at any time." A member of a BNP student wing, Nannu has been the subject of several complaints filed with the police. Following the phone call, Nandi himself filed a complaint with the police and requested for police protection. As a widely respected journalist, he has been the target of underground groups.
A journalist has already been killed this year in Khulna while another survived a murder attempt.