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Bangladesh 9 August 2006

Indian journalist badly beaten in Dhaka with complete impunity

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at an attack on Indian journalist D.N. Mohanty, who was beaten unconscious in his home in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on 31 July, and at the attempts of both Bangladeshi and Indian authorities to hush up the case.

“In view of the repeated attacks against journalists in Bangladesh, the authorities ought to seriously consider the possibility that the attack on Mohanty was linked to his work,” the press freedom organisation said. “The Bangladeshi authorities should stop spreading lies about this case and order an investigation with the aim of identifying and punishing those responsible.”

Mohanty, who is the correspondent of All India Radio, was attacked when he returned home in the evening after attending a briefing by Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran in a nearby Dhaka hotel. Two men were waiting for him in his building’s lift. They followed him to his apartment, where they gave him a beating that lasted several minutes.

Hearing noises, his neighbour’s maid called the apartment complex’s security. After taking 10 minutes to arrive, the security guards found Mohanty unconscious. They refused to notify the Indian High Commission, although it was staying in a hotel on the other side of the street. And the maid had to use all her persuasive powers to ensure that Mohanty was taken to Dhaka’s Apollo hospital, where he spent nearly two days in a coma before regaining consciousness.

The attack took place in a district that was under high security at the time because the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers were meeting there that evening. Despite the marks of many blows to Mohanty’s head, torso and right arm, doctors at the hospital said he had food poisoning. They appeared to have issued this statement under pressure from the authorities.

Although told of the attack, the Indian foreign secretary made no comment, thereby helping to hush up the case.

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