In another reprehensible attempt to suppress the media and its electioneering coverage of the upcoming national elections, a gang of 30 to 35 people launched a hideous attack on around 40 journalists and their drivers on Monday night. The attack took place at a rest house close to the Nawabganj Police Station in Dhaka district, leaving 12 journalists injured and 16 vehicles belonging to their respective media organisations vandalised. And it continued for 20 minutes during which time the journalists tried to contact the local Upazila Nirbahi Officer and officer-in-charge of Nawabganj Police Station but to no avail. When questioned about it, an Election Commission Secretary expressed his ignorance about the issue the following day.
While we ourselves are shocked and disappointed at him for seemingly being oblivious to the incident, we would like to ask: why do the law enforcement agencies or the EC have to wait for media reports? Don't the authorities have their own channels of communication? And why was it that the police failed to respond to the journalists under attack? Isn't it the duty of police to ensure the security of all including journalists?
Even though the ignorance of the EC Secretary beggars belief given that the news of the attack was all over the various forms of media and social media, if indeed we are to accept that he, or the Election Commission in general, was unaware of the incident, it fails to instil any confidence in the EC's ability to ensure the kind of environment that is needed to have credible elections. Which is why we call on the EC to come out of its bubble of “not being aware” of any “inconvenient truths” that exposes the commission's failure to perform its duty one after the other.
We further call for an immediate investigation into the attack and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.