No case has yet been filed and none has been arrested or interrogated for the attack on journalists, mainly photojournalists, while covering student protests for road safety near Science Laboratory intersection in Dhaka on August 5.
‘Let Allah do the justice,’ 25-year-old journalist Ahmed Deepto of Bangla daily Prothom Alo, one of the injured journalists, told New Age, where he began his career, in the past week.
He said that it was almost nightmare when helmeted attackers, reportedly activists of the ruling Awami League and its front bodies including Bangladesh Chhatra League and Juba League, beaten him and others up.
‘My helmet broke apart in the continued hits and the attackers beat up all over the body,’ recalled traumatised Deepto, adding, ‘now, I try to walk despite pain in the whole body, but I am still traumatised. I cannot sleep well. Probably I will not be able to put helmet any more. I am scared of helmet.’
Deepto was rushed to a private hospital and physicians advised him to stay there for at least three days for minimum recovery as he sustained injuries at 18 places of the body.
The family, however, took him home on the following day when suspicious ‘strangers’ started visiting him at the hospital.
He doubted if he would get justice but said that his
mother often asked why her son was brutally beaten.
On August 5, pro-Awami League activists wearing helmets and wielding sharp weapons swooped on journalists covering student protests in Dhanmondi area in presence of police, leaving at least 20 journalists and protesters injured.
The attackers targeted mainly photojournalists, 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.
Among the injured journalists, Associated Press photojournalist AM Ahad was admitted to LabAid Hospital as he sustained severe injuries in all parts of the body. Witnesses said Ahad came under attack near Science Laboratory intersection when he was taking photos of pro-AL activists who attacked the protesting students. He was roughed up and his mobile phone and camera were broken, they said.
Ahad suffered head injuries and was unable to speak. Doctors kept him under close observation.
He was in fear about his security and AP moved him to Jakarta for his treatment, two of his friends said.
Five more photojournalists – including Palash Sikder of Banikbarata, Ibnul Asaf Jawed of Janakantha, Abu Sufian Jewel of New Portal BD morning, Shorif of Nayadiganta, Rimon of US-based Zuma Press and freelance photographer Rahat Karim – were injured at the same spot and their cameras were broken.
Chhatra League general secretary Golam Rabbani, however, denied that his organisation activists were involved in the attack and claimed that Islami Chhatra Shibir and Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal and their paid agents might have attacked the journalists for incriminate Chhatra League.
Different media exposed the identities of some Chhatra League activists involved in the attack but police said they were yet to identify the attackers.
Local and international bodies also demanded justice for the attacks on the journalists.
Following the attack, journalist organisations demanded arrest of the attackers.
National Human Rights Commission chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque on August 7 condemned the attacks and demanded identification of the attackers for exemplary punishment without delay.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police said that they were yet to take any action against the perpetrators as no case was filed.
Journalists were attacked at Dhanmondi on August 4 and 5 and there were hardly scope to cover the facts in those days especially in Dhanmondi area, triggering rumours that flooded social media.
The police are, however, now busy with catching people on allegation of spreading rumours during the student movement in August 4-5.
On August 13, Inspector general of police Mohammad Javed Patwary was asked why none of the perpetrators of attack on journalists on August 5 were arrested, why police were inactive during the attack on journalists, and who the people accompanying police were during the attacks on students in August 5-6.
Javed replied that they asked the Dhaka Metropolitan Police to identify the attackers and to find whether the police were reluctant in protecting journalists during the attack.
A senior metropolitan police official said that they were yet to arrest anyone for the attack on journalists.
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