Reporters Without Borders condemns journalist Jamal Uddin’s murder in Sharsha, a subdistrict of the southwestern district of Jessore, on 15 June. A reporter for the Jessore-based Bengali-language newspaper Gramer Kagoj, he was stabbed and hacked to death by a group of men in a market.
“It seems highly likely that Uddin’s murder was linked to his coverage of local drug rings,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities should investigate this probability with the aim of identifying those responsible and bringing them to justice without delay. We wonder why the police were not already protecting him as he had told them he had received death threats.
“This is the latest in a series of particularly brutal attacks on journalists in Bangladesh. Samakal journalist A.B.M. Fazlur Rahman and several BDnews24.com reporters were the victims of violence last month but instead of responding to the attacks, the authorities contribute to the threats against journalists by attacking them, arresting them and prosecuting them. We urge the international community to press the Bangladeshi government to end the growing harassment and to comply with their obligation to protect freedom of information.”
Aged about 32, Uddin was abducted from his home at around 11 p.m. on 15 June by individuals who took him to Kashipur Bazar, mutilated him with knives and machetes and then abandoned him there. Residents rushed him to Jessore Medical College Hospital, where he died of injuries to the legs, hands and eyes.
His murder was probably prompted by his coverage of a local drug trafficking ring, which had already threatened to kill him. The Daily Star newspaper reported that police found a bloodstained machete and towel at the home of local drug baron Tota Miah and arrested his wife, Lata Begum. Miah managed to escape arrest.
The local media community demonstrated in Sharsha on 16 June to demand the arrest of those responsible for Uddin’s murder.
In an unrelated development, a tribunal investigating crimes committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war yesterday issued a warrant for the arrest of Mir Quasem Ali, the head of the Diganta Media Corporation. Two of the group’s media, the newspaper Naya Diganta and Diganta TV, have been criticizing the tribunal.
Violence against the media has been on the rise since the start of the year in Bangladesh, which is ranked 129th out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.