CRAB advisory panel formulates new guidelines for its members
The advisory panel of the Crime Reporters Association of Bangladesh (CRAB) has sat with its executive committee following massive criticism after some members met with the Bashundhara Group managing director, accused in a case filed over the suicide of a college student.
Several CRAB members, including its president, have said that the incident had tarnished the image of the organization, which has members who have exposed different crime-related issues and paved the way for victims to come by justice.
As many as 10 CRAB members, including its General Secretary Alauddin Arif and Vice-President Nitya Gopal Tutu met with Bashundhara Group Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir on June 2. They also issued a press release and shared a photo on social media that sparked widespread criticism.
At the meeting, Anvir urged all, including media personnel, to speak out against women trafficking and drugs, according to Banglanews24.com, a media outlet owned by Bashundhara Group’s concern East-West Media Group.
Police recovered the body of a young woman from a flat in Dhaka’s Gulshan area on April 26.
The deceased, Mosarat Jahan Munia, 21, of Comilla, was a second-year student and HSC candidate at Mirpur Cantonment Public School and College.
Her sister, Nusrat Jahan, filed a case with Gulshan police, accusing Anvir, who had rented the flat for Munia, of abetting the suicide. A Dhaka court on April 27 imposed a travel ban on Anvir, barring him from leaving the country.
After holding an emergency meeting with the executive body on June 4, CRAB President Mizan Malik said that the organisation had approached the advisory panel of senior crime journalists to take a decision about the members who had met with Anvir.
“Perhaps the general secretary explained to the advisory panel why he went there [to meet with Anvir]. The rest is up to the panel. In such a situation when CRAB is facing a crisis, the advisory panel will take the appropriate decision,” said Mizan, who is a journalist with the daily Jugantor.
He earlier told the media that some members of the forum had met with Anvir personally. “It was not CRAB’s decision to greet him. CRAB has nothing to do with it. But they did not do the right thing by issuing a press release using CRAB’s name and sharing pictures. It has tarnished the image of the organization.”
Advisory panel member Sheikh Nazrul Islam, also the editor of Protidiner Sangbad, told Dhaka Tribune: “We have given a guideline for the executive committee. The committee will notify all members accordingly. We advised them that such an incident should not happen in future. No one needs to resign now and their membership will not be canceled.
“We also said that the decision to meet him [Anvir] was not a timely one. Many people are saying that we received funds from them [Bashundhara Group], but that is a different case. Although he is an accused – not a convict – they should not have met with him at this time.”
He added that CRAB had to consider many issues while giving the guidelines. “We [advisory panel] are elected by the executive body and we stepped forward to solve them,” Nazrul said.
He observed that had the members discussed the matter with the other members beforehand, they would have been barred from meeting Anvir.
General Secretary Md Alauddin alias Alauddin Arif, who works for the daily Desh Rupantor, said that the executive body would provide an explanation on the matter.
“We are discussing the issue with our executive body as well as the advisory panel. We will give an explanation following the guidelines of the advisory panel. I cannot say anything more now,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Arif earlier told an international media outlet that the CRAB members had met with Anvir in the interest of the forum.
“The journalists’ bodies in the country run on grants. If someone is not convicted by a court, there is no obstacle to take grants from him/her. Moreover, Bashundhara Group gave us grants earlier too. Many more organizations took grants from him; even Dhaka Reporters’ Unity took grants after he [Anvir] was sued. But there is no discussion about that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the DRU has served a show cause notice on Arif asking him to submit his written reply in five days, terming his remarks false and offensive.
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The DRU took the decision at a meeting of its executive body on Friday. The statement of Arif, who is a member of the DRU, has tarnished the image of the organization as well as the honor of around 2000 members.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Gulshan Division Deputy Commissioner Sudip Kumar Chakraborty said that although there was no impediment to arresting Anvir under the law, the police were working to ensure that the matter was fully investigated.
“Their [Anvir and the girl] previous relationship and the cause of the suicide are being investigated,” he said.
According to the official, there were two aspects to the issue of an abetting of the suicide – intention and instigation. “The law enforcers are looking into both aspects,” he said.