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Newspaper concerned spreading propaganda instead of apology: Hasan

Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud on Sunday said people of the whole country have protested the incident (report) of the Prothom Alo, but the newspaper does not apologize yet.

“Today, the people of the entire country have opened up their mouths and are protesting the incident (report) of the Prothom Alo. But the concerned newspaper is yet to apologize. Rather, they are spreading propaganda in the international arena,” he said.

Hasan, also Awami League (AL) joint general secretary, said this at a meeting with the leaders of Bangladesh Sangbadpatra Parishad (BSP) at the conference room of his ministry in the Secretariat.

Noting that this propaganda is also an offence, he said, “Reports were published and are being published in the country’s newspapers, television channels and online media almost everyday centering the prices of essentials. Filing case is a far matter in this regard, even no one was asked about it”.

“So the propaganda, which is being spread out that Shamsuzzaman was arrested for writing about price hike, is also a crime. It is a matter of observation whether someone files a case for this (propaganda),” the minister added.

Mentioning that protests are taking place across the country, Hasan said, BFUJ-Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), Dhaka University Teachers’ Association, 50 eminent citizens, Dhaka Bar Association, The Editors Guild, Bangladesh, Bangladesh Editors’ Forum, BSP and Amra Muktijoddhar Shantan and many others have issued statements protesting the Prothom Alo incident.

About arrest of accused Shamsuzzaman in early hours, he said, “He was arrested after the case was filed. Many lawmakers are also arrested at 4am. Those, who serve as minister for several term and eminent politicians, are also arrested in the country. We all went to jail; most of us were arrested at night. But, no question was raised then”.

The minister added: “So everyone, including politicians, ministers and MPs can be arrested at night; but if a journalist undermines the sovereignty of the state, exploits a child and ridiculed the independence, there is no such law that he cannot be arrested”.

Since he was arrested after a case was filed, Hasan said, “Here we have to see whether he was tortured. But no complaint of torture was found”.

“As an information minister, I always try to protect journalists and intervene at first whenever any journalist faces harassment. We have to remember that our independence and sovereignty are above of all. So while publishing reports, we should not do anything that goes against the morality and ethics of journalism and the state as well,” he added.

BSP president and prominent politician Mozaffar Hossain Paltu said Prothom Alo often publishes negative news first.

“My opinion in this regard is, you can publish but there must be a justification for it. Opposing something for sake of opposition is not newspaper policy. Surely, we want the security and rights of journalists. But it has a limit. There is necessity to think repeatedly about it in Journalism,” he added.

Paltu said they (Prothom Alo authority) organized programme and staged cultural function even on the day of Rana Plaza collapse that claimed lives of many people and had a great impact in national and international area.

“A student died at a cultural programme of them at the Residential Model College. These are unfortunate,” he added.

BSP General Secretary MG Kibria Chowdhury said, “Those who don’t respect the independence, they don’t respect the country either. It cannot be accepted that anyone will do journalism in Bangladesh without respecting the country”.

The BSP, a platform of publishers and editors of more than 350 newspapers, thinks that newspapers should be published and circulated in accordance with the journalistic principles. It is unexpected, unrealistic and motivated writ up, whoever writs it.

Pointing out that the development progress of the country is being appreciated all over the world, Hasan said, “US Assistant Secretary of State Julieta Valls gave a speech lauding the development progress of Bangladesh. It has been published in various newspapers today. A bill has been introduced in the US Congress to recognize Bangladesh’s progress”.

Mentioning that BNP is not giving relieve to the people even in Ramadan, he said, “We have never heard or seen that during the holy month of Ramadan, people clash with the police on the streets blocking roads by calling political programmes”.

BNP’s programmes definitely destroying the sanctity of Ramadan, the AL joint general secretary said, adding, “They talk about Islam but they are carrying out programmes by hampering the sanctity of Ramadan, which is unexpected and sorrowful. Their recent programmes are the reflections of their ill politics. Awami League, which tackled their (BNP’s) petrol bombing from 2013 to 15, knows what to do and when.

After the meeting, young journalist Jakwan Hossain handed over the book “Pranab Mukherjee: Rajnitir Bhetor O Bahir”, a biography of former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, sent by Press Club of India President Gautam Lahiri, to the information minister. Lahiri recently published the book.

BSP members Rafiq Ullah Sikdar, Kamruzzaman Zia, Sheikh Manjur Bari Manju, Farid Ahmmad Bangalee, Ashok Dhar, Md Zahidur Rahman, TM Shawkat Ali, Morshed Mazumder, Md Anwar Hossain Akash, Nurun Nahar, Md Mafizur Rahman Khan Babu, Mohammad Arfin, Sohana Tahmina, Kazi Anwar Kamal and Md Jasim Uddin joined the meeting, among others.