Sunday, October 27, 2013

About a Shibir martyr in Rajshahi and a Refutance of Yellow Media Reports

Rashedul Haque was like any other young man in Rajshahi. He was full of life, energetic, brilliant, active in sports and passionate in his love for his country. What set him apart from many other youth was the unique blend of all these qualities within the framework his strong faith; strong unshakeable faith in the Almighty that stood the test of time and oppression. He was shot by police today at a procession at Kajla adjacent to Rajshahi University (RU) on Saturday afternoon.

Witnesses said activists of RU unit Shibir were going to Talaimari in the city in a procession to participate in a rally of Matihar thana unit of the BNP-led 18-party alliance. As the procession reached Kajla gate, RAB members intercepted it, opening fire immediately in order to disperse the procession. Being resisted, the Shibir men pelted the elite force members with brickbats. 

As RAB continued to fire live rounds on the Shibir activists, Rashedul Haque Rantu fell, victim to the onslaught. Severely injured and bleeding from multiple bullet wounds to the chest, Rashedul died while receiving treatment at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. 

Rashedul Haque Rantu was son of Aminul Islam Tuku and Rafi Begum. He was a 2nd year degree student of Islamiyya College. His was an associate of Bangladesh Islami Chatra Shibir and was a unit President as well as Finance Secretary of his thana at Dashmari Division of Rajshahi University. This is a video of Rashed at the hospital.

Another Shibir activist and Rajshahi University Research Secretary, Arif Rahman, was sent to Dhaka after his condition deteriorated in the aftermath of being bullet ridden. Doctors have reported of receiving at least 20 activists with injuries such bullet wounds. Chaotic scenes were described by distraught activists where one broke down while describing how his fellow activist received a bullet which entered through his femur, breaking the thigh bone and got lodged into the other thigh, causing immense bleeding.

Yellow journalism regarding incident:

Prothom Alo, a beacon of perceived ‘exemplary’ journalism in Bangladesh, was representative in its yellow nature regarding the coverage of the incident as it attempted to distort facts and present falsehood in a manner that left many a reader shocked. This was the screenshot of the initial news that Prothom Alo reported on the incident with a shocking picture of a 40 something man running around brandishing an AK-47 at everyone around him. The caption was, ”রাজশাহী নগরের কাজলায় শিবিরের সশস্ত্র মিছিল। এরা এই অস্ত্র কোথায় পেল? ওদের কাছে এমন কত অস্ত্র আছে? ছবি: শহীদুল ইসলাম” which translated into English reads, “Armed procession by Shibir at Kajla in Rajshahi City. From where did they get these weapons? How many more weapons of this kind do they have? Photo by Shahidul Islam”.

The news was taken down in a flash as an authentic video was released by Basherkella within a short time of the report. The contents of the shocking video not only blew away the baseless allegations of Prothom Alo, it also gave rise to a number of questions. The video showed a couple of men along with RAB shooting at protesters in Kajla at Rajshahi. The same man who was brandishing the AK-47 in the Prothom Alo picture was seen along with his mates working along with the police. The group working along with the armed RAB squad appeared to be civilians brandishing weaponry in an expert and aggressive fashion. The weaponry used by the unidentified men include a couple of AK-47’s and a shotgun. Let us look at the raw footage of the incident.

As to the question about what could the identity of such mysterious men be is anybody’s guess. Unless we have official answers, the guesses could range from local gangsters to ruling party League men to extrajudicial secret forces provided by the Indian intelligence agencies. For now, the best answer the security forces could garner was that they fired rubber bullets in ‘self defence’. This is a compilation of the yellow nature of the Prothom Alo report in conjunction with the incident.

The questions revolving around the incident are endless, but what remains is the fact that security forces have clearly violated all norms in attempting to carry out another massacre in the name of relatively peaceful crowd dispersion. The fact that the Hasina administration has neared its end gives weight to fears that the atrocities committed now may never see the light of justice. The question remains. Was the right to peacefully demonstrate in a democratic country the sole fault of Rashedul Haque Rantu for which he deserved to be brutally murdered in broad daylight?  

We demand justice for the murder of meritorious student Rashedul Haque Rantu at the hands of this oppressive regime.