Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) protested today to Bangladesh home minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury against a physical attack on two journalists by a leader of the country’s ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in the central town of Rupganj.
He called for those responsible to be punished and expressed concern about the erosion of press freedom when provincial journalists reporting on ruling party politicians were threatened for it. National press journalists who reported the 10 January attack on A. Hye Milon and S. A. Sohel, correspondents for the newspapers Dainik Jugantor and Dainik Manavzamin, also received threats.
The two journalists were stopped when returning home on a motor-bike and beaten by Aminul Islam, head of the local branch of the BNP. Police were alerted by their cries and rescued them, according to the daily Prothom Alo. Islam, who was reportedly angry at press articles about his extensive love life, was arrested and jailed and the journalists filed a complaint against him.
Since reports of the attack appeared in the press, the journalists have been threatened by a gang of thugs demanding that the prosecution of Islam be dropped. Five correspondents for major national dailies were also threatened on 12 January, apparently with the support of a police officer in the town of Bhulta, Abu Bakkar Siddiqi, who is a friend of Islam. Nineteen local journalists have appealed to the prime minister and the Narayanganj district police chief for protection.