Bangladeshi reporter beaten to death by local official’s thugs

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Bangladeshi prosecutors to do whatever is necessary to identify those responsible for the brutal murder of a reporter in the north of the country that, according to a colleague, was organised by a local village chief who had brought an unsuccessful complaint against him.

Reporter Golam Rabbani Nadeem died at around 2:30 p.m. today (15 June) in a hospital in Mymensingh, 120 km north of the capital, Dhaka, from the injuries he received when he was ambushed and badly beaten last night in Bakshiganj, a small town in the nearby district of Jamalpur.

The Jamalpur correspondent for the website and Ekattor Television news channel, Nadeem was returning home on a motor scooter when he was ambushed at about 10 p.m. in the centre of Bakshiganj by around ten men armed with machetes and steel bars, according to a fellow journalist who witnessed the attack without being able to intervene.

The colleague, Al Mujahid Babu, said they dragged Nadeem into a dark alley, gave him a severe beating, and left him unconscious.

“Golam Rabbani Nadeem’s shocking murder cannot remain unpunished. We call on the Bangladeshi prosecutor’s office to do whatever is needed to identify all of those involved and bring them to trial, especially the instigator, whose identity is not a mystery. And in response to the increase in violence against journalists in Bangladesh, we urge Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government to set about drafting legislation to protect news providers.

Daniel Bastard
Head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk

Babu, who was himself attacked during the ambush, said he recognised the attack’s organiser as Mahmud Alam Babu, who is the chairman of the Sadhupara Union Parishad (Sadhupara village council) and head of the local branch of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League. “Chairman Babu was waiting in the dark to oversee the attack,” he said.

Growing violence

There is also no mystery about the motive for the attack, he said. “Nadeem and I had published several stories about Sadhupara Union Chairman Mahmud Alam Babu’s secret marriage after one of his wives held a press conference about his refusal to recognise his second marriage.”

RSF has learned that this village official had tried to silence the two reporters by bringing a complaint against them under the digital security law, and had clearly not accepted the decision by a Mymensingh court to dismiss the complaint.

The head of the Jamalpur police said today that most of the assailants have been identified with the help of surveillance camera footage. Three of them have reportedly been arrested already.

Bangladeshi journalists are increasingly the targets of violence that is often orchestrated by local officials linked to the ruling Awami League. RSF sounded the alarm in February, after counting at least seven violent attacks against news providers in less than two months.

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