A furor was created a few days ago when major media outlets, including the Daily Star, published reports of attacks on the Hindu minority at Pabna at Bonogram bazaar in Santhia upazila, about 40 kilometres from Pabna sadar. The Daily Star reported that the attacks originated from postings on a facebook page where people inflamed by malignly worded attacks on Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) were reported to claim that local resident Rajib Saha had maligned Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the page.
Understandably so, the page in question was found to be in existence for the sole purpose of the denigration of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and spreading hate speech against Islam and Islamic teachings. However, the twist by the Daily Star was equally tantalizing to behold, as it added its personal spin on to the incident at hand.
.Another yellow doctored report:
The report, without any preamble, injected the following into its vividly detailed report. As per the report, “Yesterday’s incident also followed the trend of recent Jamaat- Shibir-BNP attacks on the Hindu minorities across the country. Locals of Bonogram said some known faces of Jamaat, Shibir and BNP led the attacks throughout the day.”
But who were these “known faces of Jamaat, Shibir and BNP”? As always, that was where the report inserted speculation as it stopped elaborating any further into such serious allegations. The mission of the daily Star was accomplished. It had successfully made Jamaat and Shibir the culprits behind the attacks. It had played the religious intolerance card, baring its own sinister political motives of defaming the said parties. The leftists had their fodder for more Jamaat bashing sessions, despite the fact that it was just baseless speculation. But who cares? Despite the fact that journalism has been forced down the drain, the Daily Star, a media outlet which likes to drum on everywhere about its “impeccable reputation”. Let us move on.
Thinly disguised desperado attempt to separate Awami League and terrorism:
Another report soon followed suit in the same newspaper a couple of days later, this time a contradictory one, entitled “Some attackers seen with Tuku”.
As per the second report, “Some of the alleged culprits of Saturday’s attack on Hindu community in Pabna were yesterday seen with State Minister for Home Shamsul Hoque Tuku and two lawmakers in the affected Bonogram village. Interestingly, during the visit, the state minister claimed that his party men had tried to save the Hindu families. Mithu and Rubel, who according to villagers were among the attackers, were prominently seen welcoming the ministers and taking part in a rally organised by the local administration protesting Saturday’s violence. The Daily Star took photos of Mithu and Rubel, both aged between 20 and 25 years. Seeing the photos, the victim families and locals vehemently said that both had taken part in the vandalism and looting. Mithu was seen around the ministers all the time and chanting slogans with others. Asked, locals said Mithu and Rubel of nearby Miapur village are known as local thugs. But the villagers could not confirm their political identity.
“Another youth named Ani, who also had been with the attackers, was also seen in the programme,” said a trader of Bonogram bazar. Hailing from Gouripur, Ani is also known in the area as a mugger and extortionist. He is involved in an underground party along with his uncle, alleged locals.”
So why the double standard? In the earlier report, the Daily Star did not shy away from blatantly claiming that the attacks were led by “known faces of the Jamaat, Shibir and the BNP”. But in the second report, despite the presence of pictographic evidence collected by the Daily Star itself, the meek claim is that the attackers, although very close to the Awami League stalwarts, maysomehow not be related to the Awami League. Intentional or not, this sure is shoddy journalism at its peak.
Pabna communal attacks politically motivated:
So what happens now? We need to know what truly happened that day to understand the reality behind this awful incident. On the 5th of November, eminent leaders of the opposition in Sathia arranged a press conference to give their take on the incident. Their accounts turned out to be equivalent to letting multiple cats out of the bag.
According to the written statement at the conference, ruling party cadres under Khetupara Union Chatroleague Convener Jakir Hossain started distributing printed leaflets of what was claimed to be a facebook status ridiculing and denigrating Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and the Quran at Bonogram Bazar. They claimed that it was written by Rajib Saha.
Behind the scenes of the incident, it was revealed that earlier, Chatra league cadres had demanded extortion money amounting to 2 lakh taka from Rajib Saha’s father, Babul Saha. On being unable to extort the sum, the Chatra League cadres had resorted to using the communal card through incitement of religious hatred against the local Hindus so that they could loot minority properties and carry out an attack on Babul Saha at the same time, all the while keeping their true intentions hidden. A detailed version of the press conference covered by Amardesh can be read here.
Organisers of the press conference said that the incident was being used by the government authorities and the ruling party in order to put the blame on to the opposition. They reiterated the need for the authorities to carry out proper investigations, using video evidence if necessary. It was time to stand beside the victims, not play with the sentiments of the people for political gain.
It would be in the best interests of the nation as well to attend to the complexities doctored on by biased media such as the Daily Star. Reports such as these bring into question the actual intentions of the Daily Star and will make readers wonder whether the Daily Star had had doctored previous reports with its mysterious hidden intentions in context. Objectively speaking, Bangladesh as a nation would be highly better off without such yellow journalism. Stop yellow journalism NOW.