Shahidul Alam Talukder
Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the action of a parliamentary representative of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in beating Manjur Morshed, the correspondent of a national daily, with a cane on 9 August in the southern city of Baufal, leaving him seriously injured. The legislator’s supporters also attacked and threatened other journalists in Baufal.
"It is shocking to see a ruling party legislator beat and threaten a journalist and behave like a gangster, and we call for an investigation and swift sanctions," the organisation said in a letter to home affairs minister Lutfozzaman Babor, adding: "As long as he is not punished by the courts and his party, his name will stay on our press freedom violators blacklist of those responsible for physical attacks and censorship."
The legislator concerned was Shahidul Alam Talukder (photo), a local BNP leader in Baufal. Ten of his thugs kidnapped Morshed from his place of work on 9 August and took him before Talukder, who personally administered the beating, which was prompted by an article in the national daily Jugantor the previous day implicating him in a corruption scandal.
The president and general secretary of the local press club were also beaten when they tried to intervene. Covered with bruises, Morshed was released during the night. He used to be the correspondent of the daily Ajker Kagoj and is currently in the process of becoming Jugantor’s correspondent.
Talukder denied using any violence when reached by phone. "I never beat him," he said to Reporters Without Borders. But his supporters have continued to threaten journalists in Baufal, parading outside the press club. Many terrified journalists have fled the city. Jubilant BNP activities slaughtered a goat at the home of one of Talukder’s friends to celebrate their victory.
The police did not intervene to protect the journalists. One police officer, Nur Muhammad, went to the home of several correspondents and threatened to bring false charges against them if they continued to protest about Talukder.
Two days before Morshed’s beating, Daily Ajker Barta reporter Shimul Chowdhury was assaulted by a businessmen linked to Hafiz Hibrahim, a local BNP leader and parliamentary representative for the southern city.
demonstration of journalists in Baufal