56 journalists tortured, harassed in January to March: ASK

Ain O Salish Kendra

A total of 56 jouranlists were tortured, harassed, sued, intimidated and obstructed to do their jobs in the first three months of this year.

Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) reveled the information in the human rights report published on Friday.

The report was based information gathered from 10 national dailies, online news portals and the ‘own sources’, said ASK.

The report  said journalists are facing various oppression for discharging their duties. The incident of detention of Prothom Alo journalist Samsuzzaman Shams at night from his home without any charge is oppressive and such an act encourages activities against freedom of press.

ASK said such a cruel and inhuman act by police surfaced while they detained Ragunath Kha, a journalist working in Satkhira, and denied his detention at first. He was later shown arrested after 9 hours. Also, a Kaler Kantho journalist named Jahirul Islam was physically assaulted by a police official while collecting news of a fire at a multistoried building in Gulshan

The ASK report also said the case filed against Prothom Alo editor under Digital Security Act would instigate a clamp down on freedom of press and expression. Such cases would create a culture of fear and insecurity.

ASK report said the law minister and others from government high-ups pledged to practice special caution before taking any case against the Digital Security Act against the journalists but that is not reflected in these cases.

Rather, several comments made by responsible persons seem to encourage over enthusiastic persons to file cases against journalists, ASK observed.

Referring to the home minister’s comment that he heard more cases are being filed, while questioned on the arrest of Samsuzzaman and the case filed against Matiur Rahman, ASK said the comment of the minister is surprising.

ASK demanded withdrawal of all DSA cases filed against journalists and campaigners of free thoughts, saying that the law has already been proven arbitrary to all. 

Violation of human rights

Citing media reports, ASK noted that a total of three people were killed by the law enforcement agencies in the last three months. Of them, two deaths involved the RAB and the remaining one the police. 

“Among the deceased, two died from physical torture by the police and RAB and the rest died in RAB firing,” the report said. 

The report also said that there were three incidents of attack on residences of Hindu community members and one incident of attack on business institution in the first three months of the current year. Also, 15 idols were vandalised.  

On the flip side, the attack on the Ahmadiya community in Panchagarh left one dead and at least 62 injured. At least 259 rooms in 103 houses were vandalised in the presence of law and order forces and 33 businesses came under attack and were set on fire during the period. 

At least three Bangladeshi citizens were shot and tortured to death by the Indian border security force along the border while six sustained injuries. Also, 26 people died in prison custody.