Veteran journalist brutally murdered by ax-wielding assailants

New York, October 4, 2004—Assailants wielding knives and traditional axes brutally murdered the executive editor of the Bangla-language daily, Durjoy Bangla, late Saturday night in the latest fatal attack on the press in Bangladesh, according to local journalists and press accounts. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating the potential motives behind the slaying to determine whether it was in retaliation for the editor’s work.

Diponkar Chakrabarty, a veteran journalist who also helped lead several press groups, was on his way home in Sherpur, a town in the Bogra district of the northeastern Rajshahi Division, when as many as five assailants ambushed and decapitated him, local journalists told CPJ. Witnesses heard Chakrabarty’s cries and the sound of motorcycles as the assailants fled the scene, according to local news reports.

No known motive has been established for the October 2 attack, but police told Agence France-Presse that the killers were likely “professionals.” The Press Trust of India wire service reported that police suspect left-wing extremist groups. Chakrabarty’s family has filed a case with local police, according to press reports.

A journalist since the 1970s, Chakrabarty was vice president of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, and president of several local journalist associations. Local journalists were shocked by the brutality of the attack, and demanded that police find those responsible. Local newspapers ran blank front pages in protest of Chakarabarty’s murder and to commemorate his contributions.

Already this year, CPJ confirmed that two veteran journalists were killed for their work. Manik Saha was killed by a homemade bomb in the lawless southwestern Khulna Division in January. Humayun Kabir also died in a bomb attack, in Khulna in June. In those cases, an underground leftist group known as Janajuddha (People’s War), a faction of the Purbo Banglar Communist Party, claimed responsibility.

CPJ is also investigating the circumstances surrounding another case—the August 22 kidnapping and murder of Kamal Hossain, local correspondent for the Bangla-language daily Ajker Kagoj in the eastern Chittagong District