Attack on reporter
The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) was created as a temporary measure to quell the menace and insecurity created by the rise of extortion by petty robbers and thieves masquerading as political activists who were often protected by “godfathers”. While society breathed a sigh of relief when these extortionists were brought under control, many feared that this elite force one day would also turn against the very citizens of the country where the justice system is too antiquated and bureaucratic to be effective. When a police force loses the respect and co-operation of the people it is paid to protect, it no longer serves its purpose. Between failures of the judiciary and the politicised law enforcement, common people are left to fend for themselves. Is this what an elected government promised to deliver?
As in most countries, each and every media outlet has a natural slant towards its pet political party; Bangladesh is no different. In the last ten years, the media in Bangladesh has made strides in involving common people in the daily affairs of the country through investigative journalism, talk shows and random interviews not to mention informative documentaries. Whereas only a couple of decades ago, the media was simply an extension of the propaganda arm of the party in power, it would not be fair to depict today's situation with the same colours. The awareness drive against social ills such as abuse of women by religious fanatics, abuse of drugs, extortion, failures of the bureaucracy, wrong implementation of the statutes etc., by the media has to be praised. Within the broad spectrum of issues, it is only natural that different outlets will taint the stories with their own shades while acting as the eyes and ears of a democratic society. To single out any one of the media outlets if they are at discord with the party in government either through neglect or deliberate punishment is an abuse of government.
The New Age has served as an alternative voice of national interest since its inception. To hear that its editor has been the target of bombers who seem to have gotten away with impunity and one of its reporters has been barbarically beaten and tortured by none other than members of the elite force Rab is extremely disconcerting. It shows political immaturity and intolerance that can only divide society and harm national interest. While Bangladesh seeks to garner the sympathy of the world against threats from its neighbours, seeks support to protect itself from the consequences of global warming and the government speaks publicly against extra-judicial killing, it cannot be seen to be attacking the media by unleashing covert political goons and state sanctioned forces to muzzle it.
The media is the closest thing to transparency and accountability that Bangladesh has. Instead of chastising the media, it should respect it as an outlet for the continuous voice of the people.
It is the ineffective justice system and the crawling civil service that require to be brought in line to meet the needs of a more informed citizenry, instead of dishing out yet more rhetoric.