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Reporters Stand By as Biswajit Das is Brutally Murdered in Bangladesh

Written by পান্থ রহমান রেজা (Pantha) · Translated by Aparna Ray On 12 December 2012 @ 7:19 am | 14 Comments

In Bangla, Bangladesh, Citizen Media, English, Feature, Human Rights, Media & Journalism, Photography, Photos, Politics, Protest, South Asia, Weblog

On Monday, 10 December, 2012, Bangladesh celebrated Human Rights Day [1] with the aim of highlighting [2] [bn] rights related issues pertaining to women, youth, tribal, poor and marginalized communities and bringing them to the mainstream discourse and policy related discussions. However, on that very day, the news that captured the nation's imagination and made the headlines across all the major newspapers, magazines and TV channels was the the brutal murder of 24 year-old Biswajit Das [3] [bn], under full view of the public and media.

Perhaps he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Biswajit was stabbed to death after falling prey to violent clashes between the student wing of the political party in power and that of the opposition. It has been alleged that taking him to be a member of the opposition party, the cadres of the government's youth wing beat up Biswajit and then repeatedly stabbed him with sharp weapons in broad daylight and full public view. Later, the youth died on the way to the hospital. The shocking event took place on 9 December, 2012, during an 8 hour road blockade programme organized by the opposition.

Images and video footage of Biswajit getting stabbed has gone viral on Facebook and Twitter. Many Facebook users from Bangladesh have condemned the incident and uploaded these disturbing images on their homepage as a mark of protest. The images have been widely shared, leaving netizens with a feeling of alarm that such a thing could easily happen to them as well.

Clashes on The Street [4]

The countrywide road blockade program by the 18-party opposition alliance ended after clashes left four people died and vandalism and arson spread across different parts of the country. Image by Ibrahim. Copyright Demotix (9/12/2012)

Pavel Mohitul Alam's Facebook status [5] reads [bn] as follows:

অবরোধ চলাকালে বিশ্বজিৎ কুমার দাস নামের এক পথচারীকে ধারালো অস্ত্র দিয়ে কুপিয়ে হত্যা করেছে ছাত্রলীগ কর্মীরা।
আমিও একজন পথচারী। বিশ্বজিতের জায়গায় আমি নিজেকে কল্পনা করেছি। বিশ্বজিৎ আর আপনার-আমার মধ্যে তো কোনো পার্থক্য নেই। আজ বিশ্বজিৎকে কুপিয়ে হত্যা করা হয়েছে, কাল রাস্তায় হাঁটতে গিয়ে যে আপনি বা আমি খুন হবো না, সেই নিশ্চয়তা কে দিবে?
স্বাভাবিক মৃত্যুর অধিকার বিশ্বজিতের ছিলো না, আপনার বা আমারও নেই।

During the blockade, Biswajit Das, a pedestrian who was passing by that area was stabbed to death by Chhatra League cadres. I too am a pedestrian; there is no difference between Biswajit and you or I. Am alarmed to think that you and I could so easily face the same brutal end – who is there to reassure us that it will not be so? Biswajit did not have the right to a normal death – it's the same for you and I. [Translator's Note: Chhata League is the student wing of the current ruling party in Bangladesh - the Bangladesh Awami League]

Prior to this, many others have lost their lives in violent political conflicts in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, none of the murders have found justice. Blogger Russel Pervez rued [6] [bn]:

… বিশ্বজিতের মতো মানুষগুলো জনসংখ্যা শুমারীতে নিছক একটা অঙ্ক হিসেবে বেঁচে থাকে আর এমন রাজনৈতিক অপমৃত্যুতেও শুধু মৃতের ঘরে একটা বাড়তি টালির দাগ হয়ে মিলিয়ে যায়।

People like Biswajit spend their lives as a mere a number in the population census and their untimely, accidental death simply adds a tally mark to the death count and disappears.

Media Criticized

When Biswajit was being stabbed, many reporters from both print and TV channels were present there, but none came forward to save Biswajit. Rather, they were all busy taking pictures and videos of the incident. Their actions have been strongly criticized  on social media, especially on Facebook.

Murtala Ramat wrote [7] [bn]:

একটা মানুষকে কোপানো হচ্ছে, মারতে মারতে মেরে ফেলা হচ্ছে আর সংবাদকর্মীরা ক্যামেরা নিয়ে ছবি তুলতে ব্যস্ত!রক্তাক্ত মানুষটার জন্য অ্যাম্বুলেন্স ডাকারও সময় নাই! শেষ পর্যন্ত এগিয়ে আসতে হলো এক রিক্সায়ালাকে! প্রশ্ন জাগে সাংবাদিকতা কী মানবিকতার উর্ধ্বে উঠে গেলো নাকী!

A person is getting beaten and stabbed to death and news reporters are busy clicking photos. They had no time to call an ambulance even. In the end, it was a rickshaw puller who came forward. The question that one is forced to ask is ‘has reportage become a greater priority than humanitarian response'?

[8]

The photographers and TV crews filmed the atrocities and nobody took the initiative to protect the victims. Image by Ibrahim. Copyright Demotix (9/12/2012)

Ali Sayed Mahbub commented [9] [bn]:

… মঙ্গলবার ও হরতাল। আমাকে অফিসে যেতে হবে। পথচারী আমিও হবো। মিছিলের মাঝে পড়বো। ককটেল ফুটবে। ভয়ে দৌড় দিবো। তখন ছাত্রলীগ বা ছাত্রদল বা ছাত্র শিবির অন্য পক্ষের মনে করে আমাকেও এভাবে চাপাতি দিয়ে কুপিয়ে লাশ বানাবে।

২০টা টিভি চ্যানেলের ৪০ জন কর্মী, ২০টা নিউজ এজেন্সির ৪০ জন সাংবাদিক, অসংখ্য পুলিশ, অসংখ্য জনতা আমার মৃত্যুবরণ দৃশ্য দেখবে, ভিডিও করবে। ১০টা চাপাতিধারী পশুর বিরুদ্ধে ১০০ জন মানুষ দাঁড়াবে না। তারা ভিডিও করবে-হত্যা নিয়ে নিজস্ব প্রতিষ্ঠানের কাটতি বাড়াবে। আমার মত অধমের মৃত্যুর মূল্য বেড়ে যাবে বহুগুণ।

On Tuesday there is another political protest planned. I will have to go to the office. I will have to pass through the rally. Bombs will be thrown and I will run in fear. Then Chhatra League or any other student wing of political parties will mistake me for being a member of the other party and hack me to death.

Forty journalists from twenty TV channels and a similar number of print journalists, a large contingent of police personnel and general public will stand by and witness, photograph and take video footage of my brutal murder but even a hundred people will not stand up against a mere ten sword-wielding ruffians. The media will be busy garnering TRPs of their channels and increasing sales of their own newspapers and magazines. The price of my death will go up manifold as an enabler of their business advantage.

Ekramul Haque Shamim has posted [10] [bn]:

পুরান ঢাকার জজকোর্ট এলাকায় চাপাতি দিয়ে কুপিয়ে, রড দিয়ে পিটিয়ে, লাঠির বাড়িতে রক্তাক্ত করে মারা হয়েছে বিশ্বজিৎ দাসকে। বার বার সে চিৎকার করে নিজেকে নির্দোষ দাবী করলেও তাকে রেহাই দেওয়া হয়নি। আশেপাশে এতো এতো মানুষ তা দেখছে, এতো এতো মিডিয়া ব্রেকিং নিউজের জন্য ফুটেজ সংগ্রহ করছে, এদের কেউ বিশ্বজিৎ দাসকে বাঁচানোর জন্য চেষ্টা করলো না!

In Old Dhaka Judge's Court area, Biswajit Das was beaten with iron rods and repeatedly stabbed, to death. He kept screaming that he was innocent and merely passing by but still he was not let off. There were so many people around, so many media personnel recorded the event as their breaking news but not a single person came forward to try and save Biswajit!

Fire on vehicles [11]

Activists of the BNP-led 18-party alliance set fire to few vehicles at Kanchpur in Narayanganj during countrywide blockade program. Image by Ibrahim. Copyright Demotix (9/12/2012)

Photojournalist Hasan Bipul has however protested against the criticism being levelled [12] against the media in this incident. He commented [bn]:

কোনোমতেই একমত পোষণ করতে পারছি না শামীম। যার যা কাজ তারই সেটা করা উচিৎ। এই ছেলেটিকে রক্ষা করার প্রথম দায়িত্ব রাষ্ট্রের এবং রাষ্ট্রের পক্ষ থেকে রক্ষার প্রথম উদ্যোগটি আসা উচিৎ ছিল পুলিশের কাছ থেকে। মিডিয়ার কাজ জন নিরাপত্তা দেয়া নয়।

I am sorry Shamim, but I simply cannot agree with you on this. Everyone should do their job. It is not the duty of the media to offer protection to the members of the public. That is the duty of the State and as an enforcer of the State, it was the duty of the police force to come forward to save the youth.

However people like PsychoSaika are not willing to buy this logic and has tweeted [13] [bn]:

@princess_saika [13]: “তুই মানুষ, না সাংবাদিক?” – এই সময়ের জন্য একটা ভালো গালি হতে পারে এটা!

“Are you a human or a reporter?” – This can become a good, modern day phrase for berating someone.


Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org

URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/12/12/bangladesh-media-criticized-for-not-helping-murder-victim/

URLs in this post:

[1] Human Rights Day: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Rights_Day

[2] highlighting: http://www.prothom-alo.com/detail/date/2012-12-10/news/312092

[3] brutal murder of 24 year-old Biswajit Das: http://www.prothom-alo.com/detail/date/2012-12-10/news/312066

[4] Image: http://www.demotix.com/photo/1666258/countrywide-road-blockade-program&popup=1

[5] Facebook status: http://www.facebook.com/pavel.hottogoal

[6] rued: http://www.unmochon.com/2012/12/09/42609.html#.UMXPrvKwd-k

[7] wrote: http://www.facebook.com/murtala.ramat?ref=ts&fref=ts

[8] Image: http://www.demotix.com/photo/1666269/countrywide-road-blockade-program?popup=1&popup=1

[9] commented: http://www.facebook.com/oli.paragon?ref=ts&fref=ts

[10] posted: http://www.facebook.com/ahsamim?ref=ts&fref=ts

[11] Image: http://globalvoicesonline.orgActivists of the BNP-led 18-party alliance set fire to few vehicles at Kanchpur in Narayanganj during countrywide blockade program.

[12] protested against the criticism being levelled: http://www.somewhereinblog.net/blog/sketchbookblog

[13] tweeted: https://twitter.com/search?q=%40princess_saika&src=typd

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