Golam Rabbani Nadim

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

At around 10 p.m. on June 14, 2023, a group of about seven men ambushed Bangladeshi journalist Golam Rabbani Nadim while he was traveling home on his motorcycle in the Bakshiganj sub-district of northern Mymensingh division, according to news reports, security footage of the incident published by Ekattor TV, and Al Mujahid Babu, a journalist and witness to the attack, who spoke with CPJ by phone. 

The men dragged Nadim into a dark alley where around 15 to 20 other men were waiting and severely beat him with bricks and wooden rods, Al Mujahid Babu said, adding that when he attempted to help Nadim, the attackers pushed him away from the scene. The attackers left Nadim unconscious, and bystanders took him to the hospital.

Nadim, 42, died the next day from excessive blood loss caused by a severe head injury. He was a correspondent for the privately owned news website Banglanews24 and broadcaster Ekattor TV, and vice president of the Jamalpur District Online Journalists Association.

Al Mujahid Babu and a member of Nadim’s family, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal, said they believed Nadim was targeted in retaliation for his May 2023 series of reports for Banglanews24 about Mahmudul Alam Babu, chair of a local government unit and general secretary of the Bakshiganj unit of the ruling Awami League party.

Mahmudul Alam Babu initially denied any involvement in the attack. Police claimed that he later confessed in court, which ordered Babu to be sent to jail on June 23.

Nadim’s articles concerned issues in Babu’s marriage, including a press conference by a woman who alleged the politician secretly married her, then abused and divorced her. Nadim also posted about the allegations on Facebook.

On May 14, Babu filed a complaint, which CPJ reviewed, against Nadim and three other journalists, including Al Mujahid Babu, under the Digital Security Act for reporting on the allegations. Hours before the attack, Nadim posted on Facebook that a court had dismissed the case.

Mahmudul Alam Babu was at the scene directing the attackers from a distance, Al Mujahid Babu said, adding that he saw the politician’s son, Fahim Faisal Rifat, hit Nadim’s head with a brick.

Mahmudul Alam Babu went into hiding following Nadim’s death. He was arrested by the Rapid Action Battalion, a paramilitary unit of the Bangladesh police, on June 17 following his suspension from the Awami League for violating party discipline. 

CPJ’s calls to Mahmudul Alam Babu prior to his arrest did not connect, and text message did not receive a response. CPJ’s call and WhatsApp message to the politician’s brother Mukhlesur Rahman did not receive a reply.

 As of late July 2023, authorities had arrested 17 people in connection with the murder while Rifat remained at large, according to Nadim’s family member.

The Media Freedom Coalition, a partnership of countries advocating for media freedom, issued a statement on June 22 saying it was “deeply concerned” by the attack. The Bangladeshi Journalists in International Media and Bakshiganj Press Club local press groups condemned the killing, saying Nadim was targeted due to his reporting.

Nadim’s family member said they wanted police to investigate whether Shahina Begum, president of the Bakshiganj unit of the Awami League and a close associate of Mahmudul Alam Babu, was involved in the attack.

Nadim received death threats from Begum and her supporters after the journalist published a critical January 10, 2023 article alleging Begum’s father committed war crimes during the country’s 1971 war, the family member said, adding that on April 10, four of Begum’s supporters severely beat Nadim in retaliation for that reporting.

Nadim reported the threats and the April 10 attack to the Bakshiganj police station, but authorities did not hold the perpetrators accountable or ensure his safety, the family member said.

CPJ’s calls and WhatsApp messages to Begum did not receive a response. 

CPJ’s calls and text messages to Sohel Rana, officer-in-charge of the Bakshiganj police station, and Khandaker Al Moyeen, director of the legal and media wing of the Rapid Action Battalion, did not receive a reply.