Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today urged interior minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury to rescind an arrest warrant issued for Shawkat Milton, the correspondent of the daily Janakantha in the southern city of Barisal, who was forced to go into hiding on 12 March in order to avoid arrest.
"This is not the first time that this courageous journalist had been the target of harassment by the authorities and politicians," Reporters Without Borders said. In the past two years, he has been arrested once and physically attacked or threatened at least five times.
Milton left his home on 12 March after learning that the local police had received an arrest warrant from Dhaka. He confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that he went into hiding for fear that he would be arrested. It was not known what charges Milton was facing.
Janakantha has recently carried several reports by Milton on this week’s mayoral elections in Barisal in which the candidates include Mujibar Rahman Sarwar, a parliamentary leader of the ruling BNP party and associate of the home affairs state minister. One of Milton’s reports raised question about the methods Sarwar has used in the campaign. These reports annoyed Sarwar and other local BNP leaders, who reacted by calling for Milton’s arrest.
On 7 September 2002, Milton was attacked by young BNP activists in Barisal and had to be hospitalised in Dhaka with serious injuries to both arms.