Vol. 5 Num 670 Tue. April 18, 2006  

Journalist bashing in a pattern
For how long will journalists get beaten by police?
The police assault on journalists at Chittagong stadium, which left 20 of them injured, is the latest example of their long arm getting a bit too long for anyone's comfort. The audacity and cruelty that were evident in the excesses perpetrated on journalists covering the second Test match between Australia and Bangladesh have left us dumbfounded and outraged. We condemn it. The sight of a senior police official manhandling a veteran photo journalist in his sixties without an iota of compunction was abhorrent. Disgraceful!

Law enforcers have apparently developed the dangerous habit of settling any dispute, however minor and insignificant, through arrogant application of force. We have seen them pouncing on women during the opposition's programmes and everybody knows what happened in Kansat. In most cases the option of an amicable solution is thrown overboard in savage fury.

In this case they nearly marred the Test match itself. And even though it got started, our image has been sullied by the otherwise entirely avoidable fracas.

Those policemen failed to demonstrate any understanding of the journalists' job. The latter have to keep pace with events and, as such, cannot afford to lose time. The job is demanding and it is always expected that those in charge of security will cooperate with the newsmen. But what we observed in Chittagong was the complete abandoning of the age-old practice of controlling a situation with courtesy and tactful persuasion; mind you, journalists were not armed, the police were, calling for sobriety on the part of the latter.

The government must immediately find out the culprits responsible for the incident and bring them to justice. Police cannot beat up journalists and the government get away with the talk of press freedom.