We are appalled by the news of a journalist—Jahangir Alam Shahin—being assaulted and tortured allegedly by BGB men in Kulaghat while he was trying to get information on incidents of drug smuggling in the area.
According to Jahangir Alam, he had gone to Kulaghat area in Lalmonirhat with a local named Sohag to report on drug smuggling at 11:30 pm on Thursday, April 15. He was talking to some BGB men when the Camp Commander came and started assaulting him and Sohag. Jahangir says that the BGB men took both of them to the camp and beat them up, with Sohag being released afterwards, while Jahangir was kept in custody. Jahangir has described how he was allegedly beaten with sticks and kicked mercilessly. What is most shocking is that Jahnagir was taken to Lalmonirhat Sadar police station with his hands and waist tied with a rope and with a bottle of phensidyl that the BGB men claimed was found on him. A case was filed against him for possession of drugs. Thankfully, a virtual court granted him bail.
It does not take much imagination to glean what happened here. We will refrain from commenting, as it is now a case that will be tried in court.
We do however, have to ask the following questions: Why would a journalist from a reputable newspaper and news agency (also a college teacher) go all the way to Kulaghat to get phensydil? And then talk to BGB men? How will the injuries on Jahangir Alam's eye, face, nose, neck and waist, as confirmed by the medical officer of the local hospital he was taken to, be explained? The answers to these questions must be unravelled by the investigation officers.
The frequent assault of journalists by individuals in positions of power and random cases filed against them under the Digital Security Act or for possession of narcotics, that we have seen recently, gives an indication of how freedom of the media is being threatened. These individuals enjoy a culture of impunity that allows them to abuse their power to intimidate, incarcerate and physically torture journalists or anyone who they deem to be challenging the status quo. We demand a thorough, fair investigation into this case of assault and torture. If the BGB men are found involved they must be punished according to the law of the land. The government is obliged to prevent such abuse of power and protect its citizens.