Journos give 24-hr ultimatum
Issuing an ultimatum, journalists yesterday warned of a tougher movement for the resignation of the home minister if the killers of journalist couple Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi are not arrested within 24 hours.
Sagar, a news editor at private TV channel Maasranga, and his wife Runi, a senior reporter of ATN Bangla, were stabbed to death in their West Rajabazar residence in the capital on Saturday.
Hours after the killing, Shahara Khatun, the home minister, told reporters that she had instructed the law enforcement agencies to arrest the assailants within 48 hours.
“We want to have faith in your words. But if you fail to keep your promise, we'll take to the streets demanding your resignation,” said Abdul Jalil Bhuyian, secretary general of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ).
BFUJ President Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury said the government must ensure the security of journalists so they could work without fear.
But if the government fails to do so, the journalist community will be compelled to go for a tougher movement, he warned.
Incidents of the killing of journalists have been going on over the last decade, said Ruhul Amin Gazi, president of another faction of BFUJ.
“We want an end to these incidents, he said, “Journalists are united now. If you [home minister] fail to arrest the criminals within 24 hours, you'll be ousted.”
Shawkat Mahmud, secretary general of this faction, said journalists were the most vulnerable people today. They are murdered at home, crushed under the wheels of vehicles while on the road and are beaten up by police while covering events.
According to the rights body Odhikar, 20 journalists were killed between 2001 and 2011 across the country. Of them, five lost their lives in 2004 during the BNP-Jamaat rule while four were killed in 2010 alone.
No journalist was killed during the 2007-2008 caretaker government rule, says Odhikar.
Expressing resentment over the government's failure to complete the trials of the killers of journalists, journalist leaders have demanded that it form a special cell to investigate such killings and try the perpetrators of the crime.
They made the calls at a protest programme before the Jatiya Press Club yesterday morning when members of the shell-shocked community formed a human chain and brought out a procession protesting the gruesome killing of Sagar and Runi.
Wearing black badges, several hundred journalists stood still, holding banners that demanded immediate arrest and exemplary punishment of the assailants.
They demanded a guarantee of natural death, saying they were now overcome by fear.
Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU), ATN Bangla Paribar, Jatiya Sangbadik Sangstha, TV Camera Journalists Association Bangladesh, News Presenters' Society of Bangladesh, News Broadcasters' Association of Bangladesh and Karmajibi Nari, a rights body, joined the human chain in front of the press club.
DUJ President Omar Faruque and its General Secretary Shaban Mahmud, Jatiya Press Club General Secretary Syed Abdal Ahmed, DRU President Sakhawat Hossain Badsha and General Secretary Sajjad Alam Khan Tapu, among others, spoke at the human chain.
Meanwhile, colleagues of the Sagar-Runi couple and journalists of other media formed a human chain near the Saarc Fountain at the city's Sonargaon intersection.
Journalists and rights activists formed human chains and brought out silent processions elsewhere in the country, including Savar and Cox's Bazar, demanding punishment of the perpetrators.