Vol. 5 Num 670 Tue. April 18, 2006  
Front Page

Police Attack on Journalists
CMP DC (Port) closed, sergeant suspended
Victims demand arrest, dismissal

Amid countrywide protests against Sunday's police attack on journalists during Bangladesh-Australia test match at the Chittagong stadium, the authorities yesterday suspended a police sergeant and closed the deputy commissioner (port), who led the attack.

Journalists, political leaders, artists, intellectuals and sports organisers yesterday staged angry protests in the capital, Chittagong and elsewhere in the country against the police attack in which at least 20 journalists were injured.

They demanded that the government dismisses and arrests DC (Port) of Chittagong Metropolitan Police Ali Akbar Khan and other policemen involved in the assault on journalists within the next 24 hours.

Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) decided to observe a token work stoppage in all newspapers and news agencies from 10:00am to 2:00pm on Wednesday if their demands are not met by today.

The programmes were announced from a protest rally organised by BFUJ and DUJ outside the National Press Club yesterday.

Chaired by BFUJ President Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, the rally was addressed by political leaders including Abdur Razzak MP, Tofail Ahmed, Rashed Khan Menon and Hasanul Haq Inu. Different sports personalities also addressed the rally.

Bangladesh Photojournalists Association suspended for four days their sit-in for an indefinite period after Deputy Minister for Information Abdus Salam Pintu assured the demonstrating photojournalists last evening of fulfilling their four-point charter of demands.

The demands are, dismissal of the policemen involved in the attack including DC Akbar, arrest of and punishment for them, free medical treatment for the injured journalists, compensation to those whose cameras and other equipment were damaged, and reforms in the police so that such incidents never happen again.

Pintu went to the Purana Paltan office of the striking photojournalists and said they have decided to fulfil all the demands in a meeting with other ministers. He however said they need a probe committee report to dismiss the policemen who attacked the journalists. They will be dismissed after the probe body report is published in four days, he said.

Earlier, journalists and different political party leaders expressed solidarity with the demonstrating photojournalists.

Meanwhile, journalists in Chittagong at a rally yesterday demanded arrest of and punishment for the guilty police personnel including DC Ali Akbar within the next 24 hours and announced agitation programmes.

The programmes include wearing black ribbons from today, three-hour work stoppage from 11.00am to 2.00pm tomorrow and holding of another rally in front of Chittagong Press Club (CPC).

State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar told journalists at his office yesterday afternoon that the DC (Port) has already been closed to the police headquarters and the assaulting police sergeant has been suspended.

Sergeant Anwar Sattar is the man responsible for beating up photojournalist Shamsul Haq Tenku, which led to Sunday's incident.

Regretting the police assault on journalists Babar said, "It is unfortunate and undesirable."

Replying to newsmen's questions, the state minister said, "It was an unexpected incident and senior police officials should have kept their calm during the incident."

He said if the victim newsmen want to file cases against the law enforcers, those will proceed as per the law.

He also said a one-member inquiry committee headed by Deputy Inspector General (Headquarter) of Police Aminul Islam has been formed and the committee has been directed to submit its report within three days.

Babar also said the government will bear all expenses for treatment of the injured journalists.

Meanwhile, State Minister for Youth and Sports Fazlur Rahman expressed his deep regrets over the police attack.

A press release said the state minister talked to higher authorities concerned and gave assurance that a proper investigation will be carried out.

National Press Club President Riazuddin Ahmed and General Secretary Shawkat Mahmood in a joint statement yesterday demanded immediate punitive measures against the responsible officials and members of the police, apology to the tortured journalists, and compensation and proper medical treatment for them.

"Otherwise, journalists will be compelled to launch a tough movement," the club leadership threatened.

Our staff correspondent in Chittagong reports: Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP) authorities yesterday sent a proposal to Chittagong Press Club (CPC) and Chittagong Union of Journalists (CUJ) leaders to sit in a meeting in the afternoon to discuss the issue.

CPC and CUJ leadership on behalf of the journalists rejected outright the proposal and said they will not sit for any sort of negotiation until their demand to arrest and punish the police personnel is met.

Photojournalist Anurup Titu of the daily Purbokone, who was beaten mercilessly by police and later underwent a surgery for serious head injury, was still kept under observation in the post-operative room of Royal Hospital yesterday.

Hospital sources said he would be kept there for 48 hours before the hospital authorities comment on his condition.

The hospital authorities put restrictions on visitors yesterday for the sake of Titu's safety.

Bangladesh Photojournalists Association stages a sit-in demonstration in front of its office at Paltan in the capital yesterday, protesting police excesses on its members at Chittagong Divisional Stadium on Sunday during the Australia-Bangladesh second Test match. PHOTO: STAR