Renowned writer Prof Muhammed Zafar Iqbal yesterday came down heavily on a section of the media for their stand against holding the 10th parliamentary elections amid a boycott by the main opposition party.
The news organisations along with the civil society members have talked about the importance of deferring the January 5 polls and holding dialogue among the rival political parties. But nobody is saying that violence has to be stopped immediately, he told a discussion at Lakeshore Hotel in the city.
Although he did not name the media outlets, it was evident from Iqbal's comments that he was referring to The Daily Star and the Prothom Alo, the two leading newspapers, which have urged the Election Commission and the government not to go ahead with the polls.
Bangladesh Economic Association organised the discussion on the current political situation.
Iqbal said one newspaper published commentaries urging the government not to hold the elections. One of the commentaries has been translated into Bangla and published in another newspaper. “Had I met the editors, I would have asked them about the reason,” he added.
A professor of computer science and engineering at Shahjalal University of Engineering and Technology, Iqbal alleged that those who are calling for halting the electoral process are actually trying to ensure the participation of Jamaat-e-Islami in the election.
“They are saying that violence would not cease if elections are not stopped. Will the elections have to be stopped to bring Jamaat to polls?" he asked.
“This upsets me. The Jamaat should be banned,” he mentioned, adding that nobody has the right to speak on politics if they cannot stop violence, which has been raging across the country.
Iqbal blasted the editors of some major newspapers and a few civil society platforms for talking in line with the Basher Kella, a website allegedly run by pro-Jamaat activists.
He insisted that he does not want to be part of a civil society, which, he thought, confuses people.
The European diplomats based in Dhaka did not pay tributes to the Liberation War martyrs on the Victory Day as they are “pampered by some intellectuals” of the country, complained the educationalist.
Bangladesh, he said, is now economically capable of standing on its own feet and the country does not need support from the development partners. “These foreign donors now support the NGOs. In a meeting the NGOs said the polls cannot be held. But they didn't say that violence has to be stopped first.”
Information Commissioner Sadeka Halim said some newspapers are resorting to “information terrorism” by conducting surveys after surveys.
Zia Rahman, a professor at Dhaka University, said a newspaper editor was heard in a leaked telephone conversation instructing one of his employee journalists in a confused manner.