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A Study on Bangladesh Press Freedom Situation

journalist killingBy Zahid Al Amin :: Media have been playing inevitable role in the world and Bangladesh as well. The role of media and its impact on the society became prominent since the restoration of democracy after 90s. But the way of the journey of the press is not always smooth. The institution is going forward facing different challenges in everyday. These experiences contributed Bangladeshi media to achieve spirit, strength and skill through working various socio-political and cultural dynamics. It is always expected that the media will get enabling environment to work for society and culture. Bangladesh as a transition society has many vested interest groups who want to suppress the voice of the media. It’s a continuous phenomenon for Bangladeshi media. Media are still now facing different hurdles/barriers to enjoy their freedom as it was the previous days. That’s why, we are trying to get A Study on Bangladesh Press Freedom Situation.

Journalism Training and Research Initiative (JATRI) operated by BRAC University conducted a media monitoring on the state of press freedom 2010. Under this study JATRI monitored 12 national dailies’ contents on press freedom issues and collected 3714 newspaper clippings in this regards. Then the research team categorized the collected news clippings into 10 sub-titles i.e. Journalist Killing, Kidnapping, Attack/Physical Assault, Threat, Harassment, Case, Arrest, Ban, Licensing and Conflict among Media Houses and analyzed the data.

Specific Objectives:

  • Assessing the number of victims;
  • Finding out identity;
  • Indentifying reasons of different oppressions;
  • Mapping the legal progress;
  • Role of journalists community;
  • Finally, analyzing the trends


Under this monitoring initiative the research team scanned the news related to press freedom of the 12 major dailies published from Dhaka in 2010. These selected newspapers were- Daily Star, New Age, Prothom Alo, Kaler Kantha, Ittefaq, Jai Jai Din, Amar Desh, Amader Shomoy, Naya Diganta, Samokal, Jugantor, and Janakantha. According to the latest Report of Department of Film and Publishing (DFP) of Bangladesh Government, the top twelve circulated newspapers have been selected as a sample. The research team monitored the newspapers published from January to December 2010. A team of data collectors has worked for gathering the data of this project from the digital archive of JATRI. The research team of JATRI organized orientation for the data collectors. They also consulted and verified hardcopy of the newspaper to make sure the authenticity of the data. Subsequently the team has developed a coding sheet for analyzing the content of the newspaper through a consultative process. After collecting this data the team organized the contents into ten major thematic areas for presentation.

Data Analysis and Presentation:

  1. Journalists Killing:

Beneath the table depicts the killing of four journalists committed in Dhaka, Sylhet, Barisal and Khulna in 2010. Among the killings, two journalists were assassinated following personal conflict whereas the other two were to be victims of snatching. The reports reflected that a group of miscreants, snatchers, relative and business partners accused for the killings. There was no linkage found in the study of the assassinations related to journalism.

Table-1: The State of Journalists Killing in 2010

No. Journalists Killed Reasons of Killing Accused
1 Fateh Ali Osmani, Sylhet correspondent of Saptahik – 2000, Sylhet Sadar During snatching his motorbike A group of miscreants backed by Chattradal
2 Shafiqul Islam,Senior cameraman, ATN Bangla, Dhaka City Became a victim of snatching and assassinated after confirming identity to be a journalist A group of snatcher
3 Monir Hossen Rari, president of Muladi press club, Muladi, Barisal Family conflict i.e. land   dispute The journalist’s cousin
4 Hasan Dhali, Khulna bureau chief of MY TV and also vice chairman of Grameen Islami-e-com(BD) insurance company of Khulna region, in Munshigang Conflict of money matters with the business partners Business Partners

Table-1.1: The State of Journalists Killing in 2010

Regarding the journalist killing, police had taken measures in the case of two killings while no steps were taken for another two though cases were filed in each killing as the table reveals. Ministry of Home Affairs considered the case of Fateh Ali Osmani as one of the most important case. But any other follow-ups or developments regarding the killings were not found throughout the year.

Police Measures Role of Journalists Community Reactions Legal Process
Police arrested three miscreants while others absconding. Signature campaign, protest rally, mourning procession and submission of memorandum, human chain, expressed solidarity TV Camera Man Association, Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and Dhaka; Union of Journalists (DUJ) expressed concern.  Finance Minister & Sylhet City mayor   mourned for the killing.  Ministry of Home Affairs considered the case as one of the most important cases. But any other follow-ups or developments weren’t found throughout the year.
Seven people had been arrested. Information minister, BNP chairperson and Jamat-e-Islami mourned for the killing. A case was filed in Turag thana by his brother.
No one arrested Not found Monir’s elder brother filed a case.
No steps Not found Hasan’s wife Jharna filed a general dairy after missing and filed cases after killing.

 Journalists Kidnapped

The table elucidates the kidnapping of four journalists including a child journalist in Dhaka, Shariatpur, Comilla and Kurigram. It is also found from the table that one journalist that of Kamran Karim was kidnapped because of broadcasting reports on war criminals issues and activities of Jamat-e-Islami while the other two were kidnapped for personal conflict and ransom and the cause for the rest one was not found. The newspaper contents also reveal that local terrorists are the accused for the kidnappings.


Table-2: State of Journalists Kidnapping in 2010

No Identity of Journalists Reasons Accused
1 Kamran Karim, senior reporter of Boishakhi TV, Dhaka City Covering reports on war criminals and activities of Jamat-e-Islami Not mentioned in the reports
2 Child journalist Fatema Akter Auntora, working as a journalist in Shariatpur for Sishuprokash – a child news agency operated by UNICEF and MMC, Shariatpur Not found Spoiled Ramjan and his group
3 Anisur Rahman Molla, Daudkandi, Comilla correspondent for daily Khabar, Titas, Comilla Land dispute Terrorists Group (unknown)
4 Liakat Ali, editor of the daily Banglar Manus published from Kurigram, Kurigram Ransom A group of terrorists

Table-2.1: State of Journalists Kidnapping in 2010

The table reveals that out of four kidnappings three had been recovered while the rest one that of Anisur Rahman Molla in Comilla is still missing. Though cases were filed in each incident but any significant steps were not found from the police.

Police Measures Post kidnapping Situation Status Role of Journalists Legal Process
Not found Recovered Not found Victim wife filed GD
The kidnapper gave death threat to the family for not filing case Recovered Journalists of Sishu Prokash and civil society of Narshingdi formed human chain Her father filed case
Terrorist vandalizes the journalist’s house and gave death threat to the family to withdraw the case Not recovered Not found The family filed a case
Police took steps Not found Recovered Victim filed a case after getting free


  1. Attack

The newspaper contents elucidate a total of 82 attacks happened throughout year the in the country whereas 28 in Dhaka and 54 were in local level of the country. It is also found from the table that the journalists came under attack in the time of covering news/information/snaps, debate with police, internal and personal conflicts and the reasons behind 26 attacks were not found. The newspaper contents also reveal that Awami League activists had been accused for 39 attacks and police had also been accused for 6 attacks. And for the rest attacks Dhaka Medical College employees, Water Development Board Official, Local People, Students of Dhaka University, Land Grabbers, Union Parisad Chairman and unknown miscreants were the accused.


Table-3: The State of Attack

No National Local Reasons Accused
82 28 54 Reasons did not mention in the reports: 26 In covering news, protest, debate with police, internal conflicts, taking snaps, land dispute, in collecting information etc. Awami League Activists: 39Police: 6


Dhaka Medical College employees, Water

Development Board Official, Local People, Students of DU, Land Grabbers, Union Parisad chairman and unknown miscreants


  1. Threat

The monitoring report shows that journalists received 41 threats all over the country while 30 were death threat. Senior, mid level and also junior journalists came under threat from almost all leading newspapers and also TV channels. A series of different people such as minister, upazila chairman, union parisad chairman and member, political leaders, business leaders, police, local muscle man, miscreants, terrorists and in some cases unidentified gave threat over published or potentially publishing reports and in time of covering information and snaps.


Table-4: Threat

No Who received threat Journalists Types of Threat Accused & Reasons
41 Executive editor, district correspondents, journalists community, editors, special correspondent , editor and publisher, staff correspondent, upazilla correspondent, senior reporter, joint editors, media house, photo journalists, Ex-president of BFUJ, University Correspondent and Planning Editor Daily Observer, Jugantor, Daily Amar Desh, New Age, Bangla Vision, Daily Polli Porikkroma, Samakal, Prothom Alo, Inquilab, Bhorer Kagoj, Ittefaq, Janakantho, Naya Dinganta, Diganta Televevision, Jai Jai Din, New Nation, Bhorer Dak, Manab Jamin, ETV, Kaler Kantho, Sangabad Out of total 30 were death threat Miscreant, terrorist, political leaders and activist, police, land grabbers and pirates, public representative (Minister, Upazilla chairman, Municipality Mayor, UP Chairman), outlaw, local muscle man, business leader and unknown person gave the threats to publish and potentially publish reports against their interest.During covering and events the journalists received the threat specially taking snaps and collecting information
  1. Harassment

The following table elucidates that in 2010 journalists had to face 22 harassments in time of carrying out their duties. The nature of harassments journalists faced are fake case, used slang in the public place, made fade away mobile and tape recorder from the event place, shut down and make fire in the shops of journalists. Different ages of journalists from almost all the leading media houses harassed whether published reports, in the time of gathering information and also for changing media house. Journalists also harassed when their published reports hampered the interest of different stake holders such as Jubo league, Sromic league activists, Public representative (MP, Upazilla Chairman, UP Chairman, UP Member), Drug Control Department, Police, Ministry Official.

Table: 5- Harassment

No Harassed by journalists Accused Types Reasons Measures
22 District correspondent, staff reporter, chief news editor , assistant editor, University Correspondent , senior reporters, economic editor, national editor, editor, senior sub-editor, reporter Jugantor, Daily Star, Bangla News, Channel-I, ATN Bangla, News, Ittefaq, Destiny, Janakantho, Manab Jamin, Naya Diganta, Kaler Kantho, Somudro Barta, Islamic TV, Amder Shomoy, Jai Jai Din and Amar Desh Jubo league Sromic league cadres, Public representative (UP chairman, Upazilla Chairman, MP, UP Member) Drug Control Department, Police, Ministry Official Shut-down shop of the journalist to cover the report, mobile and tape recorder lost, termination and labeled them as criminal in the scroll, fake case filed, slang use in the public place, rude behavior and refused to provide information, snatch mobile phone and digital camera, firing Published report, change media outlet, in collecting information for reporting, in taking snaps, to protect self interest Police refused to take one case then journalist filed case in the court
  1. Arrest

The table however reveals that 20 journalists have been arrested across the country in 2010. Most of the arrest held having the allegation of extortion and involvement in murder case or having illegal weapons or in some cases generating comments on court verdict and for taking stance that went somehow against the government. The journalists who are arrested are mainly editor, special correspondent, senior reporter, bureau chief and university correspondent.


Table-6: Arrest of the Journalists

No Name of the Journalists Reasons
1 Saiful Islam Swapon, Laxmipur correspondent of Jai Jai Din Not found
2 Shamsul Haque, Editor of daily Naoroj Showing reasons that the editor demanded 2 lack taka extortion from a business man and following the case
3 Abdus Salam, Chairman of private TV channel Ekushe ETV Mumbai Airport police got an unauthorized rival bar and seven round bullets with him
4 Mahmudur Rahman, Acting Editor of the Daily Amar Desh Contempt of Court, Declaration of the Newspaper Issue
5 Shafiqul Kabir, Special Correspondent of the Daily Ittefaq Family dispute
6 Arifur Rahman Arab, Bera upazila correspondent of the daily Inqilab and the editor of a local daily ‘A Juger Dip Following a ‘false’ extortion case
7 Mir Farhad Hossain Sumon, Laxmipur Correspondent of the daily Kaler Kantho A written allegation by residential medical officer of Laxmipur Sadar of extortion against the journalist
8 Azharul Islam, correspondent for Ashar Alo Claiming that he collected money in an illegally way
9 Emdadul Islam Shohel, Executive Editor, local daily Localoi Barta Suspected to be involved in a murder case
10 Prof. Shabuddin, editor of daily Satmatha in Bogra and Ameer of Bogra Jamat-e-Islami The court sentenced him two years jail following a defamation case
11 Sheikh Ziaur Rahman, general secretary of Fakirhat Upazila press club in Bagerhat Police arrested him following a case filed
12 Mahmudur Rahman, Acting Editor, Daily Amar Desh He was arrested following a deceit case filed by the publisher of Amar Desh
13 Auliullah Noman, Special Correspondent, Amar Desh Published a report titled ‘chamber manei sorkar pokkhe stay’
14 Omar Faruque, Ashulia Correspondent of Bangladesh Pratidin He was arrested for a car snatching case filed by car businessman
15 Md. Humayun Kabir, Rajshahi Bureau Chief of the daily Khabar Patra For cursing at the prime minister over the executions of the five jailed convicts for the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
16 Abul Bosor Noyon, Naikhongchari, Bandarban Correspondent of Amar Desh Union Parishad chairman handed over him to police raising being accused in an dacoit incidence
17 Abul Kasem, Senior reporter of the daily Ajkaler Khobor For publishing reports on the conflict on the matters of a schools where two political tycoons involved
18 Sankar Jit Samaddar, Vandaria Correspondent of daily Motobad published form Barisal He was arrested following a case by a person where it was said he took 1250 taka illegally and claimed also for more 2 thousand taka from him
19 Sheikh Yunus Ali, Mongla Upazila correspondent of the daily Amar Desh in Bagerhat Not found
20 Anowar Hossain Sagor, Dhaka University correspondent of Daily Banglar Ava On the allegation to be involved in the activities of recently banned political party Hizbut Tahrir


  • Arrest of Fake Journalists
    1. On 20th May 2010 Police arrested Md. Iqbql Hossain Kabir while he was taking money illegally in the Tafsil office of Keranigong of Dhaka
    2. On 1st September 2010 police arrested 4 persons introduced themselves as journalist while they were collecting money at a diagosnistic centre of Savar, Dhaka
    3. On November 30, 2010 one person introduced himself as journalist had been arrested while he was trying to snatch 15 thousand taka from a businessman
    4. On 29th of August Tejgaon thana police arrested a fake journalist named Ripon Boiddo while he was taking money illegally introduced himself as journalist from Firmgate of Dhaka city

It is found from the newspaper contents that in 2010 police arrested 7 people when they extorted and snatched money generating their identity as journalist.

  1. Case

The table reveals 107 cases filed against journalist across the country in 2010. It is also seen from the table that Ruling party supporter, Anti-Corruption Commission, journalists, police, lawyer, government, aggrieved person, energy advisor of prime minister, literary personality, Media Star Limited and Busundhara Group, Bankers, real estate company, political leaders, MPs and their relatives filed the cases as Defamation Case, Contempt of Court, Legal Notice, General Diary , Provocation for Suicide, Created barrier to perform responsibility of the police, Grab, Extortion, Charge for damage, accused to involve with Islamic militancy, women torture and drug cases for criticizing the government high-ups (ministers) performance or activity, newspaper declaration issues, due to not pay salary and other benefit, due to fake and baseless news, due to publish news, published reports, piracy of the popular character of Humayun Ahmed novels, due to publish report of the son of prime minister on receiving bribe, land grab, involve with Islamic militancy, to criticize the role of court, published reports of corruption of MPs, accused to involve in Kidnapping, report published in war criminal, reports on court, torture on women.


Table-7: Case against the Journalists

Number of Cases Who filed the cases Reasons Types of case
107 Ruling party supporter, Anti-Corruption Commission, journalists, police, lawyer, government, aggrieved person, energy advisor of prime minister, literary personality, Media Star Limited and Busundhara Group, MP, Bankers, read state company, political leaders, MPs and their relatives Criticized the government high-ups (ministers) performance or activity, newspaper declaration issues, due to not pay salary and other benefit, due to fake and baseless news, due to publish news, published reports, piracy of the popular character of Humayun Ahmed novels, due to publish report of the son of prime minister on receiving bribe, land grab, involve with Islamic militancy, to criticize the role of court, published reports of corruption of MPs, accused to involve in Kidnapping, Report published in war criminal, reports on court, torture on women Defamation Case, Court of Contempt, Legal Notice, General Diary , Provocation for Suicide, Created barrier to perform responsibility of the police, Grab, Extortion, Charge for damage, accused to involve with Islamic militancy, women torture and drug cases


Table -7.1: Sensational cases

The table reveals the most sensational cases filed in 2010 where Mahmudur Rahman, Acting editor of daily Amar Desh faced 49 cases among them 41 cases were defamation cases and the rest were contempt of court, sedition and deceit cases. Shawkat Mahmud also faced five defamation cases because of generating comments against prime minister. The Prothom Alo editor and the respective reporter faced a contempt court case for publishing a report on court. M Asafuddowla, ex-editor and secretary, also faced contempt of court while he generated oblique remarks on the impartiality of the judiciary.


No Journalist Number of case Types of case Reasons
1 Mahmudur Rahman, Acting Editor of daily Amar Desh 49 Defamation(41), Contempt of Court and Sedition Published Reports, Connection with Hizbut-Tahrir,
2 Shawkat Mahmud 5 Defamation Used slang to state minister of law and justice, Commented against making house vacant of ex-prime minister
3 The editor of Prothom Alo and Reporter Mizanur Rahman Khan 1 Contempt of Court Published report on ‘Massive irregularities in bailing process’
4 M Asafuddowla 1 Contempt of Court Due to his oblique remarks on the impartiality of the judiciary


  1. Banned

The table elucidates the banned of one newspaper, one television station, two weeklies, two fortnightlies, two TV programs, one social medium and one photo exhibition across the country in 2010. In all the cases government made the decision to ban generating the cause of violating act and the issue of bad impact to the audience.


Table 8: State of Ban of Newspaper, Television and TV Programs

No Name of Media House/Program banned Reasons
1 Channel 1 (TV station) BTRC banned Channel 1 because of violating provision of Broadcast Act
2 Amar Desh (Newspaper) Following a defamation and deceit case filed by the publisher against editor
3 Facebook (Social Media) BTRC banned Facebook temporarily (7 days) raising allegation that it was disregard of the people’s religious feeling   [sharing the images of Prophet Muhammad]
4 Satrong, Weekly published from Rajbari District Commissioner banned the weekly as it didn’t take publishing order from Government
5 Panguchi, Weekly published from Rajbari
6 Kohenda, Fortnightly published from Irregular Publication
7 Morolgong Barta, Fortnightly published from
8 Two TV programs i.e. ‘Hangman’ and live talk show ‘point of order’ broadcasted in Banglavision Government considered that the program had negative impact on the children and is for technical problem
9 Photo exhibition on crossfire organized by DRIK Gallery Without mentioning any reasons


  1. License for Private TV stations

The newspaper contents reveal that the government of Bangladesh issued licenses for 12 Televisions. It is also found that most the of the cases pro-Awami League the leaders and their relatives got the licenses and has created huge debate in the media.

No Name of the Television Own/backed by
1 Ekattur Television Mozammel Huq Babu (Son in law of Mr. Asaduzzam, sitting MP of ruling party)
2 Channel-9 Syeda Mahbuba Akhter, the wife of retired Brig-Gen Syed Shafayetul Islam, who is younger brother of LGRD Minister and ruling Awami League General-Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam
3 Independent Television Salman F. Rahman, Vice-Chairman of Beximco Group and adviser of Awami League
4 ATN News Mahfuzur Rahman, owner of ATN Bangla
5 Somoy Television Ahmed Zubair-Murshedul Islam brother of current state minister of law
6 My TV Nasir Uddin
Machhranga Television Anjan Chowdhury, Director of Square Group
8 Mohona TV Kamal Ahmed Mojumder, Sitting MP of Rulling Party
9 GTV Gazi Golam Ashriar
10 Bijoy TV Chittagong Mayor A.B.M. Mohiuddin Chowdhury
11 Channel-24 Times Media Ltd (AK Azad, president of FBCCI)
12 S.A Channel Private Ltd. S.A. group


  1. Community Radio

Since the two-decade endeavors of civil society and the Non-governmental organizations initiated advocacy program for setting up the Community Radio for bringing the voice of the voiceless people of this country. Government promulgated a policy for broadcasting the community Radio entitled with Community Radio Installation, Broadcast and Operation Policy – 2008. On the basis of the policy government invited application for the GO-NGOs organizations. A good number of applications have been submitted and initially 12 organizations got the licenses. The details of the organization are as follows:

Table 9.1: Community Radio

No Name of the Radio Own/backed by
1 Community Rural Radio in Amtoli, Barguna Agricultural Information Service of Ministry of Agriculture
2 Chilmari, Kurigram RDRS Bangladesh
3 Barguna Sadar Mass-line Media Centre (MMC)
4 Kaligong, Satkhira Nalta Hospital and Community Health Foundation
5 Shahjahanpur, Bogra LDRO
6 Chandighat Union in Moulovibazar BRAC
7 Naogoan Sadar Barendra Radio
8 Sitakunda, Chittagong Young Power in Social Action (YPSA)
9 Chapai Nawabgong Sadar Proyas Manobik Unnayan Society
10 Rajshahi Sadar Centre for Communication and Development (CCD)
11 Pobhati, Jhenidah Srijony Bangladesh
12 Munsigong Sadar EC Bangladesh


  1. License for FM Radio

The table also elucidates that in 2010 the government took initiative to issue license to eight more FM Radio stations that were mainly recommended by the leaders of Awami League and leading business houses.

Table 9.2: FM Radio

No Name of the Radio Recommended by
1 Peoples Radio Nur-a-Alom Chowdhury Liton, Whip of ruling party
2 Radio for Media City Azaduzzaman Khan, MP
3 Herbal Pharmacy Radio of AP House Fakrul Islam Munshi
4 Next Wave Broadcasting Radio Abdus Sattar, MP, Mymenshing 8
5 FM Radio Harunur Rashid, Chairman of Asian Group of Industries
6 FM Radio Asiatic Marketing Communications Ltd. owned by Sara Zaker
7 FM Radio Ganchil Media owned by singer Kumar Biswajit
8 Dhaka FM Ltd. Doli Iqbal, Dancer and younger sister of late Awami League leader Amir Hossain Babu
  1. Conflict between Prothom Alo and Kaler Kantha
  • The conflict between the houses started with the business interest of two media owners.
  • They filed defamation cases against each other following some published reports in each newspaper
  • Each newspaper imposed extra sensation regarding the issues of both parties (Ward Commissioner Ahmed Hossain murder; Pir Amjad Hossain; Grenade attack in 21st August, Land grabbing)
  • It was alleged that a few human chains had been formed in Dhaka and Chittagong by both parties disguising their physical presence and identity
  • Both the media houses alleged against each other that they presented fake and wrong information

Key Observations:

  • The journalists killed for their personal conflict and to be victim of snatching rather than any journalistic purposes;
  • To deal the cases police role is questionable;
  • In general, we didn’t find any significant role of the journalists or media houses to deal the issues properly (except few one);
  • Follow-up of the incidents were not found specially in killing, kidnapping attacks cases;
  • Most of the kidnapping happened for personal conflict;
  • Journalists came under attack mainly from supporters of the ruling political parties and local elite;
  • Most of the arrest held having the allegation of extortion and involvement in murder case or having illegal weapons or in some cases generating comments on court verdict and for taking stance that went somehow against the ruling political parties;
  • Misusages of the journalists identity at local level for extortion;
  • Political identity gets priority in getting license for TV and FM Radio;
  • Conflict of interest between two big media houses have been appeared before the mass audience during this period.

 Zahid Al Amin: CEO, Institute of Media & E-Journalism (IMEJ), E-mail: [email protected], Cell: 01778312345

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