Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 4 Issue 17 | October 15, 2004 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   A Roman Column
   Human Rights
   Straight Talk
   In Retrospect
   Time Out
   On Campus
   Slice of Life
   Book Review
   Dhaka Diary
   New Flicks
   Write to Mita

   SWM Home

Human Rights

Dying for writing the truth

Shamim Ahsan

'The Durjoy Bangla' office was almost empty when he came out a few minutes after 11 pm. As always he caught a Sherpur bound bus at 11.30. It took him about 30 minutes. At the Sherpur bus stand he sat down at a local restaurant to have a cup of tea before heading for home, which was some 200 yards away. When he was within 15 yards of his home an unspecified number of assailants, apparently waiting for him under the cover of darkness, attacked him with a sharp machete. The first blow directed toward the lower part of his neck almost separated his head, which was very loosely joined by the skin of his throat. He hadn't time even to let out a cry for help. A loaf of bread was clasped tightly in his left hand and the handbag in his right. 55-year old Deepankar Chakrabarty, Executive Editor of a Bogra based Bangla daily The Dainik Durjoy, was known as a courageous, unassuming man.

Life had been a constant struggle for him both in the home front as well as in his professional front. The only earning member of his family he employed all his energy and effort to bring up his two sons -- Partha Sarothi Chakrabarty and Anirudha Chakrabarty. But, as luck would have it, he died when their long nourished hope was close to being realised. The elder son had recently completed his Honours and the younger son Anirudha Chakrabarty had been working in a local newspaper for two months. What hurts his wife Anjana and two sons most is that he had never known comfort in his life, and after a life of intense struggle fighting against want and all sorts of adversity when it was time for him to retire, his life was so brutally cut short.

His sudden gruesome death has left this family devastated, in a state great shock. His wife Anjana has fallen sick, her grief is inconsolable: " we have been together struggling and suffering through all these 30 years, but when our good days are near he has left me. How will I be happy without him?" The elder son sobs while talking to newsmen, "I asked him what I would buy him with my first month's salary. A khaddar punjabi was all he wanted," he struggles hard to check his tears, but cannot.

Almost a week since Deepankar's murder the police are still clueless as to who committed this heinous crime. Well behaved, honest and friendly Deepankar had no enemies whatsoever, claims his family members, relatives and colleagues. So, it has to be something with his writing. Some suspect his courageous role as a journalist for recovering the historical Bhabani temple's 500 bigha of land might have made him the target of those who were arbitrarily occupying that land. It is widely believed that his murder was carried out by underground extremist groups who have been active in this area for a long time.

The death of this senior journalist is much more than a family tragedy. He was a fearless journalist who, unlike many other people in the same profession, didn't compromise with the values and ethics he upheld both as a man and as a journalist. He paid the price with his life.

And he is not the only journalist to have been so mercilessly killed for doing his professional duties honestly. In fact he is the last of the seven journalists who have been killed in the different parts of the country over the last three years. The list of journalists who have suffered serious physical tortures is very long -- about 119 journalists only in greater Barisal over the last three years, according to a report of the Bangla daily Bhorer Kagoj.

Unfortunately not a single case has so far been resolved. In many cases the murders were committed by well known local thugs in broad day light, but the perpetrators move around freely. In many cases the investigation has not even taken off, sometimes intentionally delayed and diverted to different directions to save the murderers. Sometimes when the police are somehow forced to pursue a particular case the real criminals are left out of the final chargesheet because the criminals have money or political influence. Things have come to such an impasse that the victim's family members have not lodged any case with the police station because they know they won't get justice.

Journalism has become many times difficult and potentially more dangerous in different district towns than in Dhaka. The hundreds of journalists who work for different local newspapers or as district correspondence of different national dailies are often working in the face of extreme adversities, sometimes risking their lives. And they do this all for a very minimal remuneration. Their committiment to their profession is almost never recognised. The government and society in general must ensure minimum security for these noble individuals so that they may continue the pursuit of truth without fearing for their lives.


Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2004