Pro-Awami League activists wearing helmets and wielding sharp weapons swooped on journalists covering student protests in the capital’s Dhanmondi area on Sunday in presence of police, leaving at least 20 of them injured.
The attackers targeted mainly photo journalists, and threatened many other journalists covering the protests.
The attacks took place in presence of police who hardly tried to save the journalists and instead asked them to leave the place.
A car of Nagorik television was damaged completely on Dhanmondi road-2 while the AL’s student body Bangladesh Chhatra League’s activists chanting slogan ‘Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu, action-action, direct action’ were seen to cordon two dozens of journalists, and manhandled a female journalist from Channel-i.
At least eight journalists including six photographers were given medication after being injured and their cameras were smashed.
Among them, Associated Press photo journalist AM Ahad was admitted to LabAid Hospital as he sustained severe injuries in all parts of his body. Witnesses said Ahad came under attack near Science Laboratory intersection when he was taking photos of BCL men who attacked the demonstrating student demanding safety on roads.
He was roughed up and his mobile phone and camera were broken, they said.
Fellow journalists said Ahad suffered head injuries and was unable to speak. Doctors kept him under close observation.
Besides Ahad, five more photojournalists including Palash Sikder of Banikbarata, Ibnul Asaf Jawed of Janakantha, Abu Sufian Jewel of New Portal BD morning, freelance photographer Rahat Karim, Nayadiganta photojournalist Shorif and US-based Zuma Press photographer Rimon were attacked at the same spot and their cameras were vandalised.
Daily Prothom Alo reporter Ahmed Deepto was admitted to Square Hospitals while their photographer Sajid Hossain was given medication.
The attackers broke cameras of a number of other photojournalists as they took photographs of Chhatra League men beating the protesters.
Police charged baton injuring New Age journalist Mahtab Uddin Ahmed although he showed his press identity card during the attack on protesters at Jhigatala in the afternoon.
Freelancer Rahat and Enamul Hasan, a photography student of Pathsala South Asian Media Institute, were also attacked.
BCL general secretary Golam Rabbani, however, denied the allegations and said that Chhatra Shibir and Chhatra Dal men and their paid agents might have attacked the journalists for incriminate BCL.
At least 15 BCL activists were injured during violence, he said.
About the attack on journalists during the clashes, Ramna zone deputy commissioner Maruf Hossain Sardar said they charged tear shells to bring the situation under control and could not identify who were protesters during the time.
About the attack, information minister Hasanul Huq Inu said that the government believed in the freedom of press.
‘I will definitely take action on the issue,’ said the minister.
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