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Journalist forums, family demand justice over attack on journo Shelu Akondo

  • Published at 04:07 pm February 9th, 2020
justice over attack on journo Shelu Akand
Members of various journalist forums at a press briefing in Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) on Sunday, February 9, 2020 Dhaka Tribune

They also demanded adequate compensation for him

Four national and international journalist forums and family members of Jamalpur journalist Shelu Akondo have demanded that justice is ensured over the attack on him.

They put forth their demand after Mukto Prokash (FExB), a forum for freedom of expression, revealed a fact finding mission report on Shelu Akondo at press briefing in Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) on Sunday.

They also demanded adequate compensation for him and called on the authorities concerned to provide security to journalists in Jamalpur who are living in fear.

Demanding justice for her husband, Shelu Akondo's wife Farida Akondo also urged the authorities concerned to ensure the safety and security of her family.

Representative of Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Khairuzzaman Kamal read out the report during the conference.

On February 4, a delegation from Mukto Prokash visited Jamalpur for conducting a probe into attacks on journalist Shelu Akondo, who is now undergoing treatment for multiple fractures on both his legs at the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation (NITOR), said Kamal, who is also the vice president of Mukto Prokash (FExB).

Faruq Faisel, regional director of the London-based Article 19, said:  "Digital Security Act is a constant menace on freedom of speech and independent journalism. It also contributes towards a growing bout of animosity towards journalists across the country."

Pen International Bangladesh Secretary General Syeda Aireen Jaman said: "We want security for the journalists in Jamalpur as we fear that their lives are in danger. However, the local law enforcement agencies are taking appreciable actions in this regard.

"We will also provide legislative support and medical help to Shelu Akondo and his family," ensured Aireen Zaman, who is also the president of Mukto Prokash.

Correspondent of Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Saleem Samad said: "We are now in a state of self-censorship due to the digital security law."

Shelu Akondo, the Jamalpur correspondent of Daily Bangla Bazar and journalist of Daily Polly Kontho Protidin, was reportedly assaulted by a local leader of the Bangladesh Chhatra League in Dewanpara area of the district on Dec 18, 2019.

Local correspondent of Somoy TV Md Jahangir said a total of 48 journalists have filed a general diary (GD) seeking safety and security to continue their profession as journalists.

Never before had local journalists sought police security en masse in any other cities.

According to the report, Jamalpur Deputy Commissioner (DC) Mohammad Enamul Haque said the case of Shelu Akondo has been raised in the last monthly law and order meetings, and he hopes to follow up on this issue again in the monthly meeting on February 10.

During the visit, the fact finding team also found that the district administration has offered to contribute towards the medical expenses of Shelu Akondo.

The fact finding team added that Additional Superintendent of Jamalpur police Abdul Basit said the charge sheet of the case will be submitted to court within a few days, as they have received the medical certificate from the local hospital. Moreover, Basit also assured that an additional charge sheet will be filed after the report from NITOR is available.

The team also said ASP Basit briefed that, among the six accused, prime suspect Councillor Hasanuzzaman Khan and Ranu Khan, member of Jamalpur Awami League, sought for bail from High Court and is scheduled to appear for their bail hearing in the lower court in Jamalpur on February 18.

According to the victim's statement, at least 5 to 6 people led by Rakib Khan, the district Chhatra League secretary of religious affairs, attacked him with metal bars while he was on a regular evening walk on the banks of the Brahmaputra river. They broke both his legs and fled, the speakers said.

The victim said he was attacked because he was one of the two witnesses in the case filed over attack on Kaler Kantho correspondent Mustafa Monju seven months ago. Police arrested Rakib Khan following the incident but later released him.

Later, Ranu Khan and Rakib warned Shelu against providing a witness statement, the victim told the fact finding team. However, despite of the warning, the victim submitted a witness account against Hasanuzzaman and his son Rakib.

After the attack, Shelu's brother filed a case with Jamalpur sadar police station accusing the councillor, his son Rakib, and four other suspects in connection to  the attack.