Dhaka, Bangladesh—Five days after the attack on the office of Weekly Blitz newspaper by armed hooligans belonging to the ruling party in Bangladesh, members of law enforcing agencies are reluctant to take any action, as it now seems some high ups in the government and police administration instructed the investigation officer not to ‘harass’ any of the accused in this case as they are members of good standing of the ruling party.
On February 22, 35-40 armed ruling party terrorists, led by Ruhul Amin, attacked the office staff of Blitz newspaper. They instructed the caretaker named Anwar of the commercial center named Skylark Point [where the Blitz office is located] to lock the outside gate and continued their notorious actions in broad daylight for hours in the presence of members of law enforcing and various intelligence agencies. The CCTV of the building was also switched off by the management of the building as the attackers were influential and notorious goons belonging to Bangladesh Awami League.
Despite the lodging of a case more than five days ago, [Case No. 65, under section 143, 448, 323, 342, 384, 380, 427 and 506], members of law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh are showing extreme reluctance in arresting any of the attackers, mostly belonging to the ruling party, who attacked the office of Weekly Blitz on Sunday [February 22, 2009]. The attackers physically assaulted the editor and other staff members, abused female staff and looted laptop and other valuables in the presence of One Shamim from DGFI [Directorate General of Forces Intelligence]. Members of law enforcing agencies witnessed the incident silently as the attackers were mostly activists and members of the powerful ruling party in Bangladesh.
Others who were in the gang are identified as Ruhul Amin, Shintu, Liton, Yunus, Anwar, Siraj, Lavlu, and Kajol. According to police sources, most of them were thugs belonging to the ruling party.
At 10 a.m., local time Sunday, internationally-acclaimed journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, was attacked as he was working in the office of his newspaper, by a gang of thugs belonging to Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is now under medical treatment for eye, neck, and other injuries suffered in the attack. The renewed violence marks the first against him since he was abducted by Bangladesh’s dreaded Rapid Action Battalion in March 2008. It should be noted that the military backed interim regime had withdrawn police protection from the residence of the Blitz editor in May last year.
A large group of armed hooligans, led by one Shamim introducing himself to be an official of DGFI stormed Blitz premises and attacked newspaper staff until they found the editor. They locked the editor in a room and continued various forms of physical assaults while accusing him of being a ‘Mossad Agent’, ‘Israeli Agent’ etc.
Meanwhile, one of the leaders of the attacker’s gang named Ruhul Amin is continuing to give threats to the Weekly Blitz editors and other members of the newspaper on threats of immediately withdrawing the case. In a phone call, Ruhul Amin said, ‘I give you people only 24 hours time. Withdraw the case; otherwise our next target is Choudhury’s residence.’
Earlier a person named Advocate Shintu, claiming to be the advisor of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, phoned the Blitz editor and demanded TK. 500,000 [US$ 8,400 approximately] as extortion. Shintu also told the Blitz editor that, he is one of the decision makers helping Sheikh Hasina in appointing her cabinet colleagues.
Weekly Blitz tried to find the reason behind the reluctance of the police in taking any action against the culprits as to why the attackers have yet to be arrested. On condition of anonymity, a police source said, “We have already become captive in the grips of the political government and its cadres. We can watch crime, but cannot take actions. Because, if we take any action against those party activists, then we shall face various forms of departmental harassments and humiliations.”
An official of Weekly Blitz contacted some of the senior officials in Bangladesh Police, including the inspector general as well as Commission of Police [Dhaka] and informed them about lodging of the case on February 22, 2009. A copy of the FIR [First Information Report] was also sent to those officials with the appeal of initiating immediate investigation into the matter and arresting the culprits.
But, none of these senior officials are taking any action in this regard. It is learnt that, several influential leaders belonging to the ruling party are continuing to call the police officers asking checking on any developments in the case. They are also warning the police officers of severe consequence if any of the accused in the case are arrested or interrogated.
When contacted, an officer on duty at Paltan Police Station told Weekly Blitz that they have specific instruction of neither investigating the case nor arresting anyone as the accused are from the ruling party.
Since the installation of a government led by Bangladesh Awami League, the reign of terror was established throughout the country by musclemen and hooligans belonging to student’s wing, youth wing, volunteer’s wing and other pro-ruling party elements in Bangladesh.
The paper’s editor and staff are making an appeal to the international media community for immediate help.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor & publisher of The Weekly Blitz. He is a journalist, columnist, author and Peace activist. He is the recipient of PEN USA Freedom to Write Award 2005, Recipient of American Jewish Committee Moral Courage Award 2006.
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