Utsho, a reporter at the privately owned Bangla-language daily Juger Alo, was tied to a tree and hacked to death along the Dhaka-Rangpur highway in a remote area of Dharmadas in Rangpur city. The reporter was last seen in the area by residents at about 1:30 a.m. on December 24, the English-language Daily Star reported. His body was found around 8 a.m. Colleagues told the press that in the lead up to his murder Utsho, who usually finished work around 1 a.m., left the paper’s office early to visit extended family. One colleague was reported as saying that Utsho may have received a call that led him to the Dharmadas area where he was killed, reports said.
Utsho, 30, wrote frequently about drug dealing in Rangpur. Utsho’s colleagues were quoted in the local press as saying they believed the journalist may have been murdered for his critical reports, which had led to drug busts by police. The paper’s assistant news editor, Nazrul Mridha, told the Daily Star that Utsho had mentioned alleged dealers by name in his reports. “This might have infuriated them,” he said. On the day Utsho’s body was found, his paper published a report he had written on how an understaffed narcotics control department in Rangpur was struggling to tackle drug dealing.
Utsho’s wife, Tahmina Begum, told journalists she was not aware of any conflict Utsho had with anyone.
Police described the attack to the media as “planned.” A police statement said sharp weapons had been used in the attack, and that Utsho had injuries to his head and hands, according to reports. His face had been mutilated and his mouth had been stuffed with a cloth, and his motocycle, camera, and cellphone were missing the news reports said.
Hundreds of local journalists and press clubs held a rally on December 26, 2015, calling on police to swiftly investigate Utsho’s murder and bring the perpetrators to justice, according to reports.
A few days after his murder, Police Superintendent Md Abdur Razzak said five individuals had been detained in connection with the case and that police had received information about a mastermind from them, according to news reports. A drug dealer was among those detained by police. Police did not immediately say what the suspected motive for the killing was.
CPJ research shows that historically, reporting on crime is the most dangerous beat for journalists in Bangladesh. In 2014, Sadrul Alam Nipul, a reporter for Dainik Mathabhanga, was murdered. His family said at the time they believed drug traffickers were responsible. In 2012, Jamal Uddin a correspondent for Gramer Kagoj, who had been threatened for his reports on the local drug trade, was murdered.