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This is the time for Protest

This is the time for Protest

- Khaled Mahmood

You are inducted in many positions such as newspaper editor/ news editor/ chief reporter/ city editor/assistant editor/columnist/literary editor/staff reporter/crime reporter. Many of you write many things, do not write many things, understand many things and do not understand many things. Many of you are learned and many are selfless. Many of you are honest, knowledgeable, scholarly and patriotic and some others are universal lovers. But none of you are dishonest or irresponsible; is not it? According to your perception something is news and something is not news or something is an article, something is a literature, something is not literature, something is politics and something is an evil-politics, something is Economics or all these are nothing of the sort? Are the country and the people or Hasina-Khaleda-Ershad-Jamaat, religious fundamentalism, Communist Left-Right above all these? Surely people and the country are the basic truth.

There is politics and partisan view in all the professionals like teachers, lawyers, intelligentsia, jobbers, labor class, Government and Non-government officials, service holders. In our society people of all professions seem to be party blinded. In the same way party politics reside in you. You like somebody and do not do so some others. You publish with importance news, articles, opinions, political news of someone or telecast them but publish a little without importance if you dislike it or you do not publish something at all. It is your pleasure and freedom to publish and not to publish or telecast important and unimportant matters. Of course you have freedom of choice. You publish many things under the capricious demand or pressure of the party in power or the opposition party. Many important matters in the eyes of readers or  viewers get importance to you. With many of you material, social and state transactions may take place or may not happen so. In the free market economy in unequal competition some of you may walk along  the golden stairs of luck by putting hands in hands with selfish one. Most of  you do not do that due to lack of opportunity or many of you hate those immoral acts. Of course, my perception is that most of these professions like to remain self-righteous and honest. Current time of the country is very bad, someone say. But my question is when was it better? Was it better during the regime of Ziaur Rahman, Hussain Mohammad Ershad, Khaleda Zia or Sheikh Hasina? Many a man has set world record in selfishness, incoherent and unrestrained behavior and falsehood. Do you have the answer how more days sixteen crores of people have to tolerate their egoism? I present the subject to the countryman for their kind consideration.

What kind of epic have they composed in a country having independence 42 years back in connection with the protection of election, fundamental democratic administration and in the interest of greater classes of people for which you the pen-soldier and newsmen of electronic media are awfully busy from unmemorable days to collect news by headlong fall behind them? Many of you of new generation of news media and TV media are observed to scramble for procuring message or authoritative words at the doors of hated extortionists, tender-mongers, commission eaters of illegal money, property looters of general public, land grabbers and corrupt leaders, ministers, businessmen and industrialists. In your bracket those persons have started to think themselves as dignified and highly honorable ones. Another matter is true as daylight that all the governments have been controlling except in black and white the freedom of newspapers and media. Our many newspapers and electronic media are of such low standard that it impairs the taste to state. The moderators/conductors of electronic media are seen to talk more than the respondents or discussants.

But in this country of sixteen crores of people the quantity or volume of thinking and writing of instructive news, articles, protests-objections or cautionary advices and suggestions on day to day solution of problems, production of democratic, humane and fundamental rights are not comparatively published or served. Problems of mass people all over the country are not highlighted or exhibited with importance. The kind of sincere labor that the marginal farmers, the workers of garments and small and large industries give to the socio-economic development and earning of valuable foreign exchange are not weighted by the owners of firms and industries and the government. All authorities have set examples of cheating by not paying the blood debt of their back-breaking toil. Adequate wages, housing facilities, medicare, health and sanitation of the rural farmers and factory workers and provision for free education at the state or social levels for their children have not been made up to the expected level from any quarters. It is to be kept in mind that if we want to raise the dignity and enhance the success of a nation, we must have to ensure full constitutional rights for health, housing, education, food etc for every citizen of the country. Unless at least 95 percent of the people is educated, we shall be deprived of the overall development and general rights. The key problem of Bangladesh today is corruption and mismanagement. If we fail to send these two immune matters to the museum our nation and people shall never be able to achieve complete happiness, peace, freedom, democracy and human rights.

It is true that the nation is captivated front and back into the hands of about thirty five lacs of small and big looters. Rights from them are to be realized through bold struggle. If the advantaged thirty five lacs of people think that they can restraint the greater chunk of the people of this country for ages they would never see it to be true. One day these hungry disadvantaged people might be able to grasp the state and group power into their own possession collectively through mass struggle by ignoring the misuse of prevailing laws. The consequences of this situation are getting grave as  the time passes by. People are rising against self-willed person, group and family rule. A person, his family, society and people of the country have not given any written bond of slavery to keep any group, clan or ruler group in the permanent power against their interest from time immemorial. If we consider the context of Bangladesh we see that no party can come back to power successively twice. But it is a mysterious truth that our greater slice of population is seriously annoyed with the both ruling and the opposition parties alike.

There being no other probable rise of alternative powerful political party Awami League and BNP ruling circles have been showing the audacity of impudence and cheating with the countrymen during the last 23 years (except the 2 years of Emergency Rule by Moinuddin and Fakruddin).  Awami League and BNP for own class and group interest and for state power term the ex-president Hussain Mohammad Ershad as autocratic and corrupt.  According to your own version Ershad is an autocrat and a corrupt person. One of you is the mind-daughter of democracy, Sheikh Hasina and another is the state leader, Begum Khaleda Zia. How far are you democratic, free from autocracy and free of corruption?  To my mind the governments of both of you are more corrupted than Ershad and both of you is anti- democratic autocrat. It is because during both of your regimes were declared by the Transparency International to be the number one corrupted government in the world. These two Chief Lady leaders have created the history of misfortune more than the welfare of the country. The journalists have the moral, democratic and humane obligation against obtaining realities and wrong politics in favor of making the people vociferous and raise voice of the countrymen, if they work honestly and impartially.

One leader of us is Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I honor her as the daughter of the father of the nation. Getting more than two third majority seats in the parliament in the General Election of 29th December, 2008 has earned a sky-high election success. But she and her Great Alliance government could not utilize the elections success towards the interest of the general masses. For that reason she is now talked about-criticized in home and abroad. During emergency rule-born government of Moinuddin and Fakruddin I wrote an article in Daily Janakantha of 1st July, 2008 about the misrule of Khaleda Zia and her two worthy sons. In that article I expressed optimism in comparative discussion on the political far-sightedness and personal honesty of Sheikh Hasina. But after being lodged in power Sheikh Hasina disappointed me along with the entire nation. Today the countrymen are greatly offended due to the corruption, mismanagement and evil-politics of abduction, extra judicial killings unlawful confinement, murder and concealment of dead body. Now I understand that she could not enrich herself with a single quality of thousand good qualities of our father of the nation. She has now once again taken oath of Prime Minister for the third time with three-fourth majority in the controversial national Election held on 5th January 2014. Of course, I have to wait to see her performance this time before I make new comments.

How far does it enhance the prestige of the profession of journalists by being direct or indirect associates of any particular party? But the truth though hard, is a reality that many so-called learned named and famed young and old journalist friends are seen to play the role of a toy of political parties and groups. Is not this kind of role is considered to be antagonistic to the proper development of journalism and welfare of the mass people?

Dear journalist brothers and sisters, may you all be party activists but why you journalists put your feet in the trap? Journalist of which civilized and developed country do like that of you? Freedom of expression of opinion and publication and serving of news is the part and parcel of any democratic state or society. As a claimant of a democratic state that is also desired in the case of Bangladesh. But publication and service of any news and article that incite unnecessary excitement, religious feelings, undemocratic value-judgment or damage communal binding of  good brotherliness is in no way acceptable. Newspapers, online media and electronic media should be ensured complete fair and polished freedom. Any restriction in these fields without any clear and just direction of the court would not be treated as lawful and equitable. Journalists should raise their voice unitedly by with the demand for withdrawing the ban on all newspapers, online media and electronic media as they became vociferous in case of the murder of Sagar-Runi journalist couple.

It is learnt through reports in various newspapers, periodicals and confidential sources that after the birth of Bangladesh till now about 50 journalists in some way or other were killed brutally in the hands of murderers. Other than these hundreds of journalists were harassed in various forms. Save the trial of Goutam Das murder no trial of murder or torture of other journalist has been finalized as yet. Do the journalists have any need for  becoming the ladder of going to power of any anti-people group? You please become the symbol   of being the real carrier of public opinion, protection of democracy, preservation of human rights and establishment of an exploitation free balanced people’s welfare oriented state where there shall be real assertion and materialization of food, clothing, education, health, shelter and  security. Recent flourishing of Bangladesh newspapers and electronic media seems to be a great catastrophe (holocaust) like  that of Aila and Nargis cyclonic storms. Number of newspapers and electronic media in the country seem to exceed the number of qualified competent, honest and ideal journalists. Publication of low standard newspapers has overflowed in the country.

In recent years, many newspapers, periodicals and electronic media have turned into the tools of the owners of black money hoodwinks. Dishonest and low standard journalism is tipping the scale in the country. Through the low standard newspapers and electronic media crores of Taka squeezed out of the pockets of the general masses by taxation is being plundered. I am not against the extension of healthy journalism, improved standard newspapers and electronic media. But my contention is that it is not a matter of high ethics to confuse people in the name of journalism which is really dishonest and unhealthy. Time has come for my journalist friends to think over the degree how much we have been able to prosper in our industrial, business and economic fields in a land of 56 thousand square miles populated by 16 crores of people. In a market economy here lives 80% of the population under the poverty line. About 5 crores of educated-uneducated people remain unemployed. Under these kinds of circumstances, should we not think over the provision for employments of our manpower, amelioration of poverty, establishment of various industries, mills and factories, food, clothing and shelter for our teeming millions of people? Should we not ponder over the new economic philosophy and bring forward the philosophy of the socio political right of the general people based on the non-profitable business and investment and living? Further development of newspapers, online media and electronic media and keeping their business position intact, if regular salaries and other employments cannot be given to the staff and newsman properly, then there is a possibility of newspapers and electronic media of being stumbled in their auspicious journey. Many newspapers and electronic media may be closed in future due to the mismanagement and financial insolvency. Complaints go that license of newspapers and electronic media is managed by satisfying the persons in power with spending about 5 to 20 crores of Taka and consequently ownership changes. Dishonest rich persons of this country have become the owners of many newspapers and electronic media. It is observed that these elements are frequently used as a tool of concealing the illegal business and corruption.

I myself was working as the staff correspondent, Noakhali of Daily Azad and afterwards working in different national dailies started my journey to work as the editor and publisher of the weekly English Magazine “The Economy” on the 17th March, 1988. In this connection those who absolutely encouraged me includes respected late national professor Kabir Chowdhury, renowned  journalist late ABM Musa, Late Economist Professor Mozaffar Ahmed, Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, late journalist M. Anisuzzaman, ex-Editor, Daily Azad and later Managing Editor B.S.S., Joinal Abedin, ex-News Editor, ENA, Syed Badrul Ahsan, present renowned journalist of the Daily Star, Syed Iqbal Rizvi, the late journalist of the Morning Sun. I mention here that as a partisan of liberation war and as an ordinary associate freedom fighter my personal ideal is the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The second one is the first Bengalee Nobel winner for peace, the worthy son of the soil of independent Bangladesh Professor Mohammad Yunus. Those who are involved in the newspaper industry surely have observed how far the standard and principles of “The Economy” have been maintained right from the day of publication till today. In case of expression of opinion and criticism “The Economy” has not been a propaganda weapon of any partisanship or hoodwink. “The Economy” has not even gone for a compromise with anybody else.

Our scrupulous journalist friends and the investors in media industry have to think over the fact that the newspapers and electronic media of  you is not merely a field for business only. It is an institution related to public interest. It is your right that you would make some profit for survival. But by terming the newspapers and electronic  media as the forth column of the state, none has the right to blackmail anyone. The protector, carrier  and sustainer of moral, constitutional,  democratic and basic rights should not themselves identify as the rogues; time has now come to ponder over it. As a citizen and a nation you have the right to circulate and telecast news; so have the citizen’s equal right to raise their voice against the mismanagement, corruption, obscene news versions, articles, etc. by those who are involved in this industry. It does not go through that you would unilaterally criticize the politicians, businessmen, industrialists, government officials, employees and ordinary people and put blame on them. As citizens of the country you have also the liabilities and obligations to guard against few identified political partisans or notorious corrupt police and RAB members who misuse power and capriciously kill persons by so-called cross-fire and then disown the action; this cannot be accepted because this is the utmost   violation of human rights. This damages the images of the government and the respective body of forces. Government, human rights organizations including all responsible officials should have an eye in the honesty, temperate democratic behavior and human rights.

Our Army is the symbol of our  national security and pride. Other forces like BGB, Police and RAB are engaged in guarding our national boarders and the internal law and order of the country. The nation expects that our Army and law enforcing agencies should set examples of patriotism in their duties and responsibilities.  The nation believes that every member of every branch of Army and other forces is sincere in carrying out his or her duties and responsibilities except the few who are misled by some political parties for fulfilling their heinous objectives. The same is the true for civil administration also.

An ordinary people like me and respected journalists like that of you were not born to provide satisfaction or dissatisfaction to anybody. My expectation is that the journalists should sacrifice their ideal lives for the land, man and mass welfare. I believe that the whole nation would be of the same opinion with my longing. Throughout 42 years after independence no judgment except for Goutam Das could be had for the remarkable and proud journalists killed and oppressed in the hands of the miscreants. Of course, the journalist society, intelligentsia, distinguished personalities of the country are not satisfied with this verdict. Their contention is that as per the evidences and proofs the accused persons of the Goutam Das murder case would have to be given death sentence. In the Goutam Das murder case Dhaka Tribunal No.-1 judge Shahed Nooruddin delivered the judgment on 27th June, 2013 wherein he gave a sentence to imprisonment for life with a fine of 50 thousand Taka to everybody of the 9 accused. On non-payment of the fine one more year sentence would have to be extended. The plaintiff side is known to have to submit an appeal against the judgment to secure the highest punishment of death sentence. After the announcement of this judgment Golam Sarwar, the editor, the Daily Samakal in a reaction said that, “We could not be fully satisfied for not awarding with death sentence to the defendants. So we would go for appeal to the higher court against the verdict.” The widow of Goutam Das, Dipali Das expressed in her reaction, “We are not happy with the  judgment. We are disappointed on the non fulfillment of the verdict that we expected. I was eagerly waiting for long 8 years for a judgment that would entail death sentence of the killers. But that has not been achieved. Appeal to the higher court would be submitted against this judgment.”

After independence the governments that came into power pocketed some selfish journalists to fulfill their interests. But the greater journalist society has been harassed and deprived. There are shameful examples of many journalists and media employees of various newspapers and electronic media who have been deprived of their reasonable rights and even they did not receive their salaries for months and years together.

Time has come for the journalist friends to think and speak out. You have already seen many things. The history of your sufferings and hardships are not less than anybody. You take the responsibility of issue and publication of newspapers as journalists after examining the financial and social positions and policies and characters etc. of the publishers. If your profession does not pay you here, you may please take up another profession. But please do not take recourse to falsehood, cheating and plundering in the name of journalism because newspaper and newsmen is a holy and courageous pillar for any democratic country. For God’s sake, please do not make it controversial.

Your present affairs of journalism in Bangladesh have perturbed and annoyed me. We all should be vigilant against the humiliating behavior of the persons in power. Democracy does not mean that there shall be only change of power after every five  years, a monstrous force would grasp the power and we would be oppressed by them. This evil culture can in no way be tolerated. For the interest of fundamental rights and over-all welfare of the country our present constitution should have to be amended and reforms should have been undertaken. Our desired consti-tution would be for the mass people. People are the sources of all powers. The government should have to be decentralized up to the village levels and powers are to be expanded circumscribing one main  dictatorial power breaking down the centre point of multidimensional powers. Let us we journalists raise our voices and form public opinion and thus carry out our responsibilities.

An Attention Drawing Foot Note:

“The Economy” a weekly English Magazine which is being published from Dhaka has crossed twenty six years. Its office was in Talukder Plaza (GF) 10/1, Shantibaag, Malibaag, Dhaka. Here also existed the office of Rokeya World Research Centre and Archives, an associate organ of “The Economy”. The ground floor of the 6 storied building of the said address was rented for January 2011-January 2020 on contract leases. In the above mentioned “The Economy” office and Rokeya World Research Centre and Archives there remained preserved files of all kind of dailies, weeklies, fortnightlies of home and abroad of 42 years. Moreover different kinds of thousands of valuable books on Science, Technology, History, Politics, Economics of home and abroad were kept in safe custody. Also here were preserved many evidential documents of the war of independence. In terms of nominal money price it would amount to Taka 100 cores. This research centre was established for the research studies of high thinkers of home and abroad.

Following the dispute with the house owner Jaynal Abdin Talukder the newspaper editor/publisher Khaled Mahmood filed a civil suit (No. 434/2012) in the court of honorable 4th senior assistant Judge, Dhaka. On this background the honorable Court made an order of injunction and maintenance of status quo until 21/05/2013. The court directed the respondent party not to do any unlawful act or not to harass or evict the plaintiff Khaled Mahmood, the editor, The Economy. Disobeying the said order, Sheikh Sekander Ali, local Awami League terrorist and executive member of Dhaka metropolitan Awami League and the house owner Jaynal Abedin Talukder along with the local armed miscreants broke open “The Economy” office cum residence of the editor and occupied the flat by force on 1st May, 2013 at about 10 A.M. After plunder, destruction, theft and messing up of records of newspapers and research centre, they threw out everything down the front building in the open sky.

The residing adolescent daughter of the editor was captivated, tortured and violated. In this regard a case was instituted in the Dhaka CMM Court (MM Court No. 19) bearing No. 878/2013. The responsibility of enquiry of the case was given to CID, Police.

Before the occurrence and during the occurrence Hasan Mahmood Khandaker, IG, Police and RAB, DG, Mokhlesur Rahman was duly informed.

Direct and indirect connivance of the above mentioned incidents of Anisul Haque, former O.C. Shahajahanpur Police Station, Sheikh Nazmul Alam, Ex-DC, Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Motijheel Zone, Major Emarat Hossain, ex-Deputy Commander RAB-3 (Husband of the daughter of late prominent Awami League leader Ahsan Ullah Master) was observed. In fear of implication with false case, abduction or death by cross-fire, Editor Khaled Mahmood hesitates to file a suit against them as yet, because there is no democracy, fundamental rights and fair justice in Bangladesh. Justice cannot be achieved against money and power. The judge becomes oppressed or influenced. Only the will of Allah and will of the Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina or the people of Bangladesh or the universal humanity can ensure fair justice.

Dear journalist friends, none of you have published a report or printed a real photo/picture of the occurrence by an on the spot enquiry, in spite of the fact that you were informed of the incidents. What shall I treat it- negligence, irresponsibility or insignificance?

Thanks to and approbation to Ruhul Amin Gazi, President, Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalist (one part) Shawkat Mahmood, General Secretary, Dhaka Union of Journalist (one part), Leader Md. Baker Hossain and Ilias Khan, Secretary, Dhaka Reporters Unity who had arranged formation of human chain and organized protest meeting in front of Jatiya Press Club against these misdeeds and heinous occurrences. At the same time my humble gratitude to Naya Diganta authority and journalist friends for their efforts to publish in the newspaper on the 15th May, 2013 in page 15, column 3, 4, 5 with the caption “Complaint of eviction of tenant from the residence in violation of the Court’s Order”.

The writer of the article above is Khaled Mahmood, editor and publisher of the weekly English Magazine, “The Economy” published from Dhaka.  E

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