Pressure piles up on Salim Osman
Controversial Jatiya Party lawmaker AKM Salim Osman, now under pressure from the Awami League as well as his own party, last night cancelled his press conference scheduled for today.
The lawmaker had planned to hold the press conference in Narayanganj this morning to defend his role in the public humiliation of schoolteacher Shyamal Kanti Bhakta.
A Narayanganj-based reporter told The Daily Star last night that Salim Osman's men sent text messages to local journalists, claiming that the press conference has been cancelled at the request of his party's central executive committee.
Asked about the claim, Sunil Shuvo Roy, JP presidium member and also political secretary of JP Chairman HM Ershad, only said the party chief has requested Salim “not to go any further and no to do excesses” on this issue.
Some sources close to the lawmaker, however, said the MP cancelled the press conference following a “government instruction”.
Earlier on Sunday, Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammad Nasim, visiting the teacher at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said humiliation of a teacher by a lawmaker is an unforgivable crime.
"The lawmaker who had humiliated the schoolteacher should apologise .... the lawmaker has insulted all lawmakers with this kind of incident."
Nasim told journalists that those responsible for such a heinous incident should understand the language of public outrage. "If the lawmaker has a bit of shame left in him, he will not join the next parliament session."
The minister also said, “I have urged the home minister to identify all those involved in this incident and bring them to book.”
As Salim Osman is a JP lawmaker, the party has an obligation to take action against him, Nasim added.
Seeing the health minister at the hospital, Shyamal burst into tears.
A doctor at the DMCH said they would form a medical board to examine mental health of Shyamal as he has been under huge psychological stress.
Also on Sunday, BNP standing committee member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman demanded that parliament membership of Salim Osman be scrapped.
Talking to reporters after visiting Shyamal, the BNP leader again said the MP should resign on his own.
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Mizanur Rahman too met Shyamal on Sunday. Talking to reporters, he said considering the gravity of the crime, the government must ensure punishment of the perpetrators.
In another development, the Narayanganj chapter of Hefajat, which on Friday staged a demonstration demanding punishment of the teacher for “making anti-Islam comments”, apparently backtracked from its earlier stance yesterday.
The unit had threatened with tougher movement if Shyamal was not punished within 72 hour. The ultimatum expired yesterday afternoon.
In a release yesterday, it demanded the government launch another probe to find whether Shyamal made any derogatory remarks on Islam.
Central leaders of the Islamist group, including Nayeb-e-Ameer Nur Hossain Kasemi, told this newspaper that they were not involved in the activities of its Narayanganj unit regarding the issue.
On May 13, Shyamal, headmaster of Piyar Sattar Latif High School in Bandar area of Narayanganj, was physically assaulted by a mob over the allegation that he made derogatory comments about religion while beating up a student in class.
Salim Osman then made the teacher do squats holding ears in public, sparking outrage across the country.
Later, an education ministry probe body found that Shyamal had not hurt anyone's religious sentiment.
The three-member committee also termed illegal the decision of the school managing committee to suspend Shyamal as the headmaster.
The ministry reinstated him following the probe body recommendation.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Friday said the decision to reinstate Shyamal was made as per the prime minister's directives. He also said all the ministers support the education ministry's action to this end.
Besides, Law Minister Anisul Huq and Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid condemned the JP lawmaker's role.
Protests continued yesterday as people from all walks of life kept demanding action against Salim Osman and security of the teacher.
The lawmaker and members of the school committee will have to be brought to book, said speakers at a rally of writers, publishers, teachers, students and leaders of different cultural organisations at Shahbagh yesterday afternoon.
Avinna Kibria Islam, a teacher at Jessore Science and Technology University, said all the people responsible for humiliating the Narayanganj teacher would have to be tried to check recurrence of such incident.
SALIM OSMAN MEETS JP CHIEF
The JP MP called on Ershad on Sunday at the latter's residence in the capital and submitted a written statement in defence of his role regarding the Narayanganj incident, according to party sources.
Details of the meeting couldn't be known.
Contacted yesterday, JP Co-Chairman GM Quader said the party does not want to do anything in a hurry as the whole nation has taken this very seriously.
“We want to make the right decision regarding the sensitive matter after discussing this at the party's presidium,” he added.