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The journalist leaders whose bank account details were sought are National Press Club president Farida Yasmin (backed by Awami League) and general secretary Ilias Khan (backed by BNP), president of the Awami League-backed BFUJ, Molla Jalal, and acting secretary general Abdul Majid, president of the BNP-backed BFUJ, M Abdullah, and secretary general Nurul Amin Rokon. The letters, mistakenly, wrote 'Dhaka' instead of 'Bangladesh' when mentioning the names of the two organisations.

The bank account details were also sought of BNP-supported DUJ president Abdul Kader Gani Chowdhury and general secretary Md Shahidul Islam. BFIU also asked for the details of the bank accounts of Awami League-supported DUJ general secretary Sajjad Alam Khan Topu and Dhaka Reporters' Unit (DRU) president Morsalin Nomani and general secretary Mashiur Rahman Khan.

In the letter to the banks it was said that all details of the present and past banks accounts of these 11 journalists including the account opening forms, KYC profiles and updated records of their transactions, be sent by 13 September to the anti-money laundering department.

What the journalist leaders say

Speaking about BFIU summoning the bank account details, National Press Club president Farida Yasmin told Prothom Alo, "I welcome such an initiative. The government can at any time ask for the details of anyone's bank account, if it is felt needed. I do not see anything wrong in this, it is normal. But when the bank account details of elected journalist leaders are summoned, this may give a wrong message to the public."

BFUJ president Molla Jalal says it is rather absurd to ask for the details of the bank accounts of journalist leaders rather than look into the details of those perceived to have massive amounts of wealth. However, he told Prothom Alo, "I still welcome the move, but the exact details of the bank accounts should be made public. It will be dishonest on the part of Bangladesh Bank unless this is done."

BNP-backed DUJ president Abdul Kader Gani Chowdhury said, "This is an initiative to check whether the journalists of the country are free of corruption, are clean. I welcome this initiative. However, I was taken aback to see my name. The 11 names are all of elected journalist leaders and professional journalists. Bangladesh Bank should have first run an internal check to see if there were any unusual transactions in the bank accounts of these persons and then publish their names. It is like a pre-trial verdict in the sense that the people in our country, our friends and relatives, will think there are some unusual transactions, corruption. So I would request Bangladesh Bank to proceed with care in this regard."

DRU general secretary Mashiur Rahman Khan said, "I laud this initiative of the government. We hope the government also carries this out for people of other professions. Many are saying that the state machinery is being used in this regard for ulterior motives, but I do not believe that."

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