MARCH 1, 2003
Rafiqul Hasan Tuhin, Janakantha
Tuhin, a reporter for the national, Bengali-language daily Janakantha,
was assaulted in the northeastern town of Habiganj by a gang of about
20 men armed with knives and hockey sticks. The journalist was hospitalized
with injuries to his head, hands, and knees, according to local press
accounts. Tuhin says his assailants were members of Islami Chhatra Shibir,
the youth organization of the Jamaat-i-Islami, an Islamist party that
belongs to the country's ruling coalition.
The attack followed reports Tuhin had published in Janakantha about
a rape allegedly committed by a member of Islami Chhatra Shibir. The journalist
received death threats after the articles ran. Though he reported the
threats to police, he received no protection.
MARCH 3, 2003
Dilip Kumar, Prothom Alo
Kumar, local correspondent for the daily Prothom Alo in the town
of Nikli, in the northern Kishoreganj District, was arrested at his home
on charges of violence and vandalism the day after he wrote about post-election
violence for the paper. According to local journalists, Kumar's reporting
on violence and fraud in local elections held on March 2 angered members
of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). In retaliation, BNP
officials filed a complaint against Kumar accusing him of vandalism, and
he was arrested the next day. The court magistrate rejected Kumar's bail
petition and sent him to prison in Kishoreganj on March 3.
A delegation of local journalists met with the Kishoreganj police chief
and demanded Kumar's release. According to the United News of Bangladesh,
the head of the delegation told police that Kumar had been falsely charged,
and that a local member of parliament from the BNP had targeted him. Kumar,
who is also general secretary of the Nikli Press Club, was freed on bail
on March 8 after spending five days in prison.
MARCH 8, 2003
January 30, 2004
Sharif Shahabuddin, The News Today
Shahabuddin, senior correspondent at The News Today, was attacked
by a group of unidentified assailants while driving in his car in the
capital Dhaka, according to local news reports.
Shahabuddin was driving home late at night when a white jeep blocked the
road in front of him. When he tried to drive away from the scene, assailants
from the white jeep attacked his car with heavy objects, damaging his
vehicle. The journalist managed to escape and filed a formal complaint
at Tejgaon Police Station, but no arrests have been made, according to
the daily Observer.
In the days before the attack, Shahabuddin had received several anonymous
threats over the phone. He has written about sensitive topics, including
the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh and official corruption.
A December 2002 article in The News Today about exporting natural
gas to India also angered local fundamentalists, according to Shahabuddin.
Local journalists' groups protested the attack on Shahabuddin. In a statement
issued on March 14, 2003, Dhaka Union of Journalists President Abdul Jalil
Bhuyian and General-Secretary Omar Faruque said that attacks on journalists
had become regular occurrences, making it impossible for journalists to
do their jobs safely, according to The News Today.
MARCH 14, 2003
Shawkat Milton, Janakantha
Milton, a reporter for the Bengali-language daily Janakantha, went
into hiding after learning that police were about to arrest him. The journalist
had been covering campaign abuses committed by officials during the run-up
to local elections in Barisal, a city in southern Bangladesh, scheduled
for that day.
Milton, a Barisal-based correspondent and outspoken press freedom activist,
has been targeted several times for his political reporting. In 2002,
activists associated with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)
filed a series of criminal complaints accusing him of offenses ranging
from criminal defamation to possession of explosives. Local journalists
say that these complaints were part of a harassment campaign by officials
angered by his reporting.
Milton has also been physically assaulted. According to Janakantha,
in January 2002, Kabir Uddin Hannu, a municipal commissioner in Barisal
and the district secretary of the Jatiya Party, assaulted Milton on a
city street. Though police arrested Hannu after local journalists pressured
them, he was released on bail and has not been prosecuted for the attack.
In September 2002, BNP activists assaulted and seriously injured Milton
and other journalists during a public meeting held in Barisal to protest
the government's closure of the private broadcaster Ekushey Television.
When the journalists attempted to file a case against their assailants,
they discovered that police had already filed two false cases against
them in response to complaints lodged by BNP activists. Fearing arrest
or further physical reprisals, Milton went into hiding for several months.
He resumed reporting in Barisal in late November 2002.
APRIL 30, 2003
Atahar Siddik Khasru, Ittefaq
Khasru, a correspondent for the national daily Ittefaq and president
of the local press club in Sitakunda, an industrial town in southeastern
Bangladesh, disappeared during the evening. Family members and colleagues
said he had received threats for protesting the harassment of Mahmudul
Haq, a local editor whose reporting had angered police and politicians
Police had attempted to arrest Haq on April 29 after Nurul Islam, general-secretary
of the Sitakunda branch of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP),
filed a criminal complaint accusing the journalist of extortion. Haq,
who was not at home at the time of the raid, had written critically about
local corruption in Sitakunda.
On April 30, Khasru visited Haq's home. According to family members and
colleagues who spoke to Khasru that afternoon, he received a call on his
mobile phone from Islam during this visit. Khasru said the BNP leader
threatened to "teach him a lesson" if he continued to support Haq. Several
sources told CPJ that Islam warned Khasru, who had been kidnapped and
tortured for his reporting in June 2001 during the rule of the Awami League
party, which is now in the opposition, that, "You escaped last time during
the Awami League period. This time we won't make that mistake." That same
evening, Khasru disappeared. Journalists suspect that he was kidnapped,
but there were no witnesses to the reporter's abduction. Khasru was last
seen in the busy Dewanhut area of Chittagong, a major city near Sitakunda,
where a friend dropped him off at around 9:30 p.m.
On May 6, Khasru's brother filed a case with Sitakunda police accusing
Islam and his followers of kidnapping the journalist. On May 7, Osman
Ghani Mansur, the Chittagong bureau chief for Ittefaq and a relative
of Khasru's, received an anonymous threatening call on his mobile phone
saying that if the family does not drop the case against Islam, they will
find Khasru's dead body. Mansur immediately alerted local police, reporting
that the call came shortly after 3 p.m. from a Dhaka-based phone.
Local journalists in Sitakunda have also received anonymous calls threatening
them not to report on the case. In addition, on May 6, a group of men
assaulted about 15 journalists in Sitakunda after they had delivered a
petition to the town's chief administrative officer protesting Khasru's
On May 21, Khasru was found by a village roadside, his hands and feet
bound by chains, and his body covered with small cuts. Before being admitted
to the hospital, he made statements to police and to the Metropolitan
Magistrate's Court in the nearby city of Chittagong, identifying eight
people as accomplices to his kidnapping, including Islam.
MAY 6, 2003
Mahmudul Haq, Upanagar
Police in the capital, Dhaka, arrested Haq, a veteran journalist and editor
with the magazine Upanagar, based in the southeastern town of Sitakunda.
A local politician in Sitakunda had registered a criminal complaint against
Haq, accusing the journalist of extortion. Haq had published several articles
in Upanagar about corruption committed by politicians and police
in Sitakunda, in Chittagong District.
The case against Haq was filed by Nurul Islam, general secretary of the
Sitakunda branch of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). On
April 29, BNP activists accompanied Sitakunda police in a raid on Haq's
home. Haq was not there at the time and went to Dhaka to appeal for pre-arrest
Dhaka police arrested Haq on May 6 and took him to Chittagong the next
morning. On May 7, a magistrate in Chittagong authorized police to detain
Haq for three days pending an investigation into the extortion charges
filed against him. Haq was later released from prison.
Earlier, another local journalist, Atahar Siddik Khasru, was kidnapped
after protesting Haq's harassment. Khasru, who is president of the Sitakunda
Press Club and a correspondent for the national daily Ittefaq,
disappeared on the night of April 30 and was found on May 21 by a village
roadside, his hands and feet bound by chains, and his body covered with
small cuts. Before being admitted to the hospital, Khasru made statements
to police and to the Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in the nearby city
of Chittagong, identifying eight people as accomplices to his kidnapping,
JUNE 19, 2003
Abul Bashar, Janakantha
Members of the Jatiyatabadi Chattra Dal (JCD), a student group associated
with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), kidnapped and violently
attacked Bashar, the local correspondent for the Bengali-language national
daily newspaper Janakantha in the southern district of Shariatpur.
According to local sources and Bashar, the JCD members forcibly took him
from his office in Shariatpur to the district BNP headquarters, where
armed party members shot at him with guns and brutally beat him, injuring
his backbone, skull, and eyes.
Prior to this incident, Janakantha, which is known for its critical
coverage of the BNP, ran an article detailing attacks on Shariatpur residents
by the JCD. CPJ has documented several other cases of threats and attacks
by various groups on journalists working at Janakantha, including
the murder of senior correspondent Shamsur Rahman three years ago.
Bashar checked into a local hospital following the assault, but the next
day, armed members of the BNP forced his expulsion from the hospital,
said Bashar. On June 23, he filed a case with the local police, but no
one has been arrested, and he left the area for fear of further reprisal.
JULY 9, 2003
Arif Mostafa, Prothom Alo
Muniruzzaman Nasim, Ittefaq
Shafiul Huq Mithu, Janakantha
Fashiul Islam, Manabzamin
Abul Kalam Azad, Dainik Janata
Zahirul Huq, Dainik Dinkal
Golam Kibria, Dainik Purbanchal
Seven journalists in Pirojpur, a district in southern Bangladesh, received
nearly identical anonymous death threats by mail. The handwritten letters,
accompanied by a piece of white cloth that some journalists took to represent
death shrouds, were sent to Mostafa, of the daily Prothom Alo;
Nasim, of the daily Ittefaq; Mithu, of the daily Janakantha;
Islam, of the daily Manabzamin; Azad, of the newspaper Dainik
Janata; Huq, of the newspaper Dainik Dinkal, and Kibria, of
the newspaper Dainik Purbanchal.
"You will have to pay very dearly for causing obstruction to our activities
and forcing us to go into hiding," the letters said, according to the
English-language newspaper The Daily Star. "You have no right to
live for causing damage to the class struggle." Though the message conveyed
in the letters seemed to suggest the involvement of leftist militants,
the reporters believe that the threat may have come from a local businessman
angered by recent articles alleging that he used strong-arm tactics to
secure a road-building contract from the government. Police promised to
investigate the case, and plainclothes officers provided security to the
JULY 19, 2003
Mokter Hossain, Prothom Alo
Unidentified gunmen fired on Hossain, a longtime correspondent for the
national, Bengali-language daily Prothom Alo, at his home in the
in the northern district of Natore. Hossain was not injured, and his assailants
fled the scene. While the motive of the attack remains uncertain, Hossain
and his colleagues believe that it came in retaliation for his journalism.
Before opening fire, the assailants asked Hossain whether he worked for
Prothom Alo. During the last year, the daily has run a number of
Hossain's articles from Natore, including reports that certain local politicians
shelter and even serve as patrons to gang members and other criminals,
according to CPJ sources.
Hossain continues to fear for his safety, and sources told CPJ that family
members have advised him not to leave his house. Police have opened an
inquiry into the shooting, but Prothom Alo is considering sending
one of its own correspondents to the area to conduct an independent investigation.
JULY 20, 2003
Shafiq Shaheen, Manabzamin
Members of a criminal gang in the capital, Dhaka, brutally assaulted Shaheen,
a reporter for the national, Bengali-language daily Manabzamin.
The attack appeared to come in reprisal for an article Shaheen had written
one week earlier about the gang's illegal activities in Dhaka's Dhanmondi
neighborhood. Shaheen lives in Dhanmondi and is the newspaper's regular
stringer in the area.
On July 13, Manabzamin published an article by Shaheen detailing
an extortion scheme carried out by the gang. On July 20, gang members—who
live in Dhanmondi and were easily recognized by the reporter—stopped Shaheen
on the street, slapped and kicked him, and then took him to a house occupied
by a man named Nuruzzaman Ripon, who is believed to be the group's leader,
according to CPJ sources. There, they beat Shaheen with hockey sticks,
hitting his head and body and severely injuring his back and legs.
Shaheen's relatives, who live nearby, summoned the police, who arrived
on the scene and initially arrested Shaheen along with several of the
gangsters. Once police confirmed that Shaheen was a journalist, they released
him, but they also released his assailants. The reporter's relatives took
him to a hospital for treatment.
The journalist's colleagues told CPJ that they were seriously concerned
about Shaheen's safety. Manabzamin filed a criminal complaint identifying
four of Shaheen's assailants, including Ripon. Police arrested Ripon on
July 20 but released him the next day, according to Manabzamin.
Dhanmondi police refused to say why or on whose order he was released,
according to CPJ sources. The whereabouts of the four identified suspects
are currently unknown.
JULY 28, 2003
Bangladeshi government officials banned the July 28 issue of Newsweek
magazine's international edition because of an article deemed offensive
to Islam. On July 23, Pakistan's information minister ordered a similar
nationwide ban on the same issue, according to the Karachi-based Pakistan
Press Foundation (PPF). The article, titled "Challenging the Quran," discusses
the work of a German scholar whose interpretation of Islam's holy book
departs radically from the mainstream, concluding that the original language
of the Quran was not Arabic but something closer to Aramaic and that,
as a result, much of the book has been "mistranscribed" and thus misinterpreted.
For example, the scholar, who uses the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg,
called into question the traditional interpretation of Sura 33, a verse
taken to mean that Muhammad is the final and ultimate prophet of God.
The Bangladeshi government banned the edition because the article "might
hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims," according to The Associated
Press. The majority of Bangladesh's 133 million inhabitants are Muslim.
Jahangir Alam Akas, Sangbad
Unidentified assailants beat and kidnapped Akas, a reporter for the Bengali-language
daily Sangbad, in Rajshahi, a city in northwestern Bangladesh.
According to Akas and several local journalists, a group of armed youths
approached the journalist at an intersection at around 10:30 p.m., blindfolded
him at gunpoint, and took him to an unknown location. There, they kicked
and beat him while screaming at him not to publish stories "about us."
Although the reporter repeatedly asked his assailants to identify themselves,
they refused. The assault lasted for 30 minutes before Akas was released.
Although Akas was not severely injured, he fears for his safety. Sangbad
regularly publishes Akas' articles about the criminal activities of smugglers
in Rajshahi and about the protection local politicians often provide them.
JULY 31, 2003
Hasan Jahid Tusher, The Daily Star
Members of the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), a student group associated
with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), attacked Tusher, a
correspondent for the English-language newspaper The Daily Star,
in the middle of the night outside his dorm room at Dhaka University.
Tusher's colleagues, one of whom spoke to Tusher in the hospital, suspect
two JCD leaders—Tanjilur Rahman Tanjil and Shoeb Khondoker—of orchestrating
According to The Daily Star and The Associated Press (AP), about
20 JCD members beat the correspondent with iron rods, severely injuring
his back and shoulders. "You have no right to stay here since you have
written reports against us," shouted one of his assailants, The Daily
Star and the AP reported. The attackers then dragged Tusher down the
stairs from his third-floor room and left him outside the dormitory. Students
later carried him to the hospital.
Tusher, who covers university news for The Daily Star, has written
several articles detailing JCD attacks on students who belong to opposing
political groups. JCD General Secretary Azizul Bari Helal visited Tusher
in the hospital and promised to take action against those responsible.
Reporters at The Daily Star told CPJ that soon after Helal's visit,
four of Tusher's assailants were expelled from the party. However, the
two JCD leaders whom Tusher's colleagues suspect of organizing the attack
are still at large.
Akkas Sikder, Ajker Barta, Bhorer Kagoj
Police in Jhalakati, a district in southern Bangladesh, arrested Sikder,
a correspondent for the local Bengali-language daily Ajker Barta
and the national Bengali-language daily Bhorer Kagoj, and held
him for eight days before releasing him on bail.
Sikder's family told local journalists that he had received a call at
home asking him to report to the Detective Branch of Police in Jhalakati.
There, he was arrested upon arrival and turned over to the local police,
who jailed him the following day.
Sikder was held on accusations of murder relating to a case opened in
May and was twice denied bail. However, local journalists told CPJ they
believe that their colleague was imprisoned because of his reporting.
On July 31, the same day Sikder was arrested, Ajker Barta
ran an article written by the journalist detailing 16 allegations of corruption
against Jhalakati Superintendent of Police Sheikh Hemayet Hossain and
a former officer in charge of the Jhalakati police station, Moslehuddin
(who, like many Bangladeshis, goes by only one name).
Sikder was released on bail after an August 7 hearing and the charges
against him have reportedly been dropped.
AUGUST 8, 2003
Hiramon Mondol, Dainik Prabarttan
Mondol, a correspondent for the daily Dainik Prabarttan, in thesouthwestern
town of Khulna, was attacked and brutally assaulted by police before being
detained and jailed on extortion charges. He was held for six weeks before
being exonerated and freed on September 20.
Fearing reprisal for an August 3 article he wrote accusing police and
security forces of stealing highly prized and valuable fish from local
fishermen, Mondol went into hiding for a few days, said local journalists.
On August 8, after police pressured his family for his whereabouts, the
journalist went to a police and security forces joint task force camp.
While there, the police beat Mondol with rifles and hockey sticks, said
the sources, before taking him into custody. Mondol received medical treatment
for his wounds but was later transferred to the district jail in Khulna
and charged with extortion under the Speedy Trial Act, which denies defendants
Local journalists and Mondol's family say the attack was directly related
to Mondol's article about the police, and that the charges against him
Mondol's trial began on September 1. Although several witnesses testified
against him, local press reports allege that police told the witnesses
to give false testimony against Mondol. Charges against the journalist
were dropped after police failed to make a convincing case against him.
Mondol was released from jail on September 20 by the magistrate of the
Special Tribunal Act in Khulna.
NOVEMBER 1, 2003
Updated: November 12, 2003
Selim Jahangir, Janakantha
Jahangir, a photojournalist for the national Bengali-language daily Janakantha,
in Rajshahi, a city in northwestern Bangladesh, was arrested on the afternoon
of November 1.
Magistrate Abdul Majid arrested Jahangir for taking photos at a busy police
checkpoint in the Shehab Bazaar in Rajshahi, according to Janakantha.
Local journalists report that Jahangir decided to go to the checkpoint
after hearing complaints of harassment from passing motorists. When he
arrived at the checkpoint and started taking pictures, Majid ordered Jahangir
to stop photographing and leave the area. Jahangir refused to leave, and
Majid became enraged, ordering police at the checkpoint to arrest the
photographer, Janakantha reported. Police then dragged Jahangir
into a van and took him into custody at 6 p.m., charging him with obstructing
an official from his duty and threatening an official's life, said local
Jahangir was denied bail. The journalist's arrest has outraged local press
groups in Rajshahi, including the Metropolitan Press Club and the Rajshahi
Photojournalist Association. On November 2, as many as 1,000 people demonstrated
in Rajshahi calling for his release, according to The Associated Press.
At his hearing on November 10, he was released from the Rajshahi Central
Jail. According to local journalists, the charges of obstruction and threatening
an official's life remain. Local journalists remain outraged by Jahangir's
arrest and are demanding that action be taken against Majid.
NOVEMBER 10, 2003
Posted: November 12, 2003
Bakhtiar Islam Munnah, Ittefaq and United News of Bangladesh
Osman Harun Mahmud Dulal, Janakantha
Shahjalal Ratan, Jugantor
Muhammed Jalal Uddin Manabzamin
Asaduzzaman Dara, Bhorer Kagoj
According to local news reports, Munna, the local Feni correspondent
for the daily Ittefaq and for the wire service United News of Bangladesh
(UNB), Dulal, a correspondent for the daily Janakantha; Ratan,
a reporter for the daily Jugantor; Uddin, a reporter for the daily
Manabzamin; and Dara, a correspondent for the daily Bhorer Kagoj
were standing on the street talking on the evening of November 10 when
the assailants threw a homemade bomb at them and fled the scene. None
of the journalists were injured, but the explosion created a panic among
Police suspect that the assailants were specifically targeting Munna because
he is scheduled to testify in an assault case involving journalist Tipu
Sultan, said local news reports. Police are investigating the incident,
but no arrests have been made.
On November 5, the trial of the men accused of assaulting Tipu Sultan
opened in Feni almost three years after Sultan, then a reporter for the
UNB, was abducted and brutally beaten with iron rods and wooden bats.
His assailants crushed the bones in his hands, arms, and legs. Local politician
Joynal Hazari has been charged with ordering the January 25, 2001, attack,
which occurred after Sultan published an article that accused Hazari of
abuse of power. Hazari fled the country soon after the attack and is in
hiding in India, according to local news reports. He was formally indicted
on assault charges with 12 of his associates on October 14, 2003.
On October 24, a close associate of Hazari's, Sukhdev Nath Tapan, was
arrested for plotting to kill witnesses in Sultan's trail, according to
a UNB report. Hazari also called Sultan and threatened him and Munna in
June, according to Sultan, who also said that Hazari phoned him in August
when the journalist was visiting his home in Feni and threatened him again.
Hazari and six of his associates are being tried in absentia for Sultan's
abduction and assault. The other six associates pled not guilty in October,
and will appear in court. The next hearing in the trial is scheduled for
After undergoing numerous surgeries and years of physical therapy, Sultan
is working again as a journalist. In 2002, CPJ honored his courage with
an International Press Freedom Award.
NOVEMBER 29, 2003
Posted: December 3, 2003
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, Blitz
Choudhury, editor of the tabloid weekly Blitz, was arrested
by security personnel at Zia International Airport in the capital, Dhaka.
According to local news reports, Choudhury was on his way to Israel
to participate in a conference with the Hebrew Writers Association when
he was arrested at the airport on charges of espionage. Intelligence agents
interrogated Choudhury at the airport and confiscated his luggage, according
to The Daily Star. Choudhury's home was also raided, according
to The Independent newspaper.
The journalist is accused of having links to an Israeli intelligence agency
and has been under surveillance for the last several months, according
to The Daily Star. Choudhury denies the charges, according to The
Independent, but will be held without bail for seven days.
Bangladesh has no formal relations with Israel, and travel to Israel is
illegal for Bangladeshi citizens. CPJ is investigating the motives behind
Choudhury's detention. He was traveling to address a writers' symposium
in Tel Aviv titled "Bridges Through Culture" and was scheduled to speak
about "the role of media in establishing peace," according to the organizer
of the conference. Choudhury would have been the first journalist from
Bangladesh to address such a group in Israel.
Choudhury recently opened a branch of the Israel-based International Forum
for Literature and Culture of Peace, a nonprofit organization dedicated
to promoting world peace, and is known for his work to improve relations
and understanding between Muslim countries and Israel. He has written
articles against anti-Israeli attitudes in Muslim countries and recently
wrote about the rise of al-Qaeda in Bangladesh.
Police sources told The Daily Star that Choudhury would also be
charged with sedition. Choudhury previously worked as managing director
of Inqilab Television, a privately owned channel.
DECEMBER 28, 2003
Posted: January 29, 2004
Bakhtiar Islam Munnah, Ittefaq
Unidentified assailants threw an explosive device at Munnah, the local
correspondent for the daily Ittefaq, while he was walking home
along the Trunk Road in downtown Feni, in southern Bangladesh. The bomb
narrowly missed Munnah, and he sought refuge at a nearby restaurant until
police arrived, according to local journalists.
Munnah had survived a previous bomb attack on November 10, 2003, according
to local journalist Tipu Sultan. Munnah filed a complaint with the local
police, but no arrests have been made in either case.
Munnah is an eyewitness in the trial of Tipu Sultan, former Feni correspondent
for the United News of Bangladesh who was beaten by thugs in January 2001
because of his reporting about a corrupt local politician named Joynal
Hazari. During the attack, Sultan suffered broken bones in his hand, arms,
and legs and was left for dead on the side of the road.
Hazari and 13 of his associates were charged with the attempted murder
in April 2003. After international outcry in the wake of Sultan's savage
attack, Hazari went into hiding and is reported to be in India. He was
charged in absentia.
The trial began in October 2003 and is ongoing. According to Sultan, he
and Munnah have received repeated phone calls from Hazari, threatening
to harm them. Sultan and Munnah have filed separate complaints with police
about the threats.
DECEMBER 28, 2003
POSTED: March 15, 2004
Shafiul Huq Mithu, Janakantha
Mithu, the local correspondent for the Bengali-language daily Janakantha
in the southwestern town of Pirojpur, was brutally attacked at about 9:30
p.m. by thugs and activists from the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party
(BNP) apparently in reprisal for a recent article about criminal activities
connected to local BNP members.
On his way home from the Pirojpur Press Club that night, Mithu says that
he was tailed by three BNP activists: Akram Ali Molla, Chowra Kamal, and
Reazzudin Rana. The four activists and another member, Moulana Shafiq,
had been following and threatening Mithu since December 17, 2003, when
his article about a group of criminals supported by the local BNP, who
terrorized a local Hindu community in an attempt to oust them from their
valuable land, was published.
At some point, the three activists seemed to disappear, and a group of
men descended upon Mithu and tried to kill him, beating him in the head
repeatedly with pipes, knocking him unconscious, and breaking his right
arm in several places. When local passersby heard his cries and came upon
the scene, Mithu was saved. His assailants tried to flee, but one of them,
a local thug known simply as Russell, was captured. Mithu has identified
two other assailants in the group as Chowra Kamal and Akram Ali Molla-two
of the three men who were following him.
The authorities arrested Russell and charged him with attempted murder
in March. The two activists have not been arrested, even though sources
have seen them in the Pirojpur area.
After the attack, locals brought Mithu to the hospital, where he received
medical treatment, but he still suffers from severe headaches and pain
in his right arm, which has not yet been properly set. He is scheduled
to travel to India for treatment for his arm in the coming months.
Mithu was one of seven journalists in the Pirojpur District who received
death threats last summer. He has written critically about local MP's
from the BNP and the Jammat-i-Islami fundamentalist political party.