Journalist leaders yesterday said state actors cannot deny responsibility in the incident of the abduction of Chattogram-based journalist Golam Sarwar, who was found unconscious on Sunday night three days after he had gone missing.
They said such an incident reflects that a culture of impunity is prevailing in the country.
Sarwar, a journalist of online portal ctnews.bd, went missing on Thursday morning on his way to work. He was found unconscious beside a canal in Sitakunda on Sunday night.
His family members alleged that since his disappearance, they had been contacted at least five times by his abductor, through Sarwar’s cell phone. The abductor demanded ransom each time.
A video clip emerged on social media of a terrified Sarwar repeatedly saying “I won’t write news anymore!” after regaining consciousness. This newspaper could not independently verify the footage.
On October 24, ctnews.bd published an article by Sarwar on the alleged involvement of a minister’s family member in land grabbing.
Talking to this newspaper, Bangla daily Manabzamin Editor-in-Chief Matiur Rahman Chowdhury said Sarwar’s howling cry has upset everyone, including the journalist community.
In districts and upazilas across the country, many more journalists have kept themselves away from writing reports, he said. “This is very unfortunate for media.”
Matiur said although it is more or less known who could have been responsible for creating this situation for media personnel in the country, the remedy is a distant dream.
He urged for a more active role from different journalist platforms in raising their voice and protesting such incidents.
Matiur said it was good news that Sarwar was found alive, but there were other journalists who remain missing.
He said the tearful state of one journalist reflects that the country’s whole journalist community is at risk and it is not certain when they can overcome the situation.
Manzurul Ahsan Bulbul, former president of a faction of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, said whoever was responsible for Sarwar’s abduction, the state cannot evade responsibility for the incident.
“The state has to find out who abducted and tortured Sarwar,” he told this newspaper.
Pointing at the culture of impunity, Manzurul said if the state ensures punishment of those involved in the killings, disappearances, and threats to journalists, a safe environment for them can be created in the country.
The journalist leader said Sarwar’s howling cry resonated harshly with him as a professional journalist.
A journalist declining to write further reports meant that he was abducted and tortured for professional reasons, said Manzurul.
He also said now the police has to trace the culprits behind the incident as early as possible and ensure their punishment through a trial.
Mohammad Ali, president of Chattogram Union of Journalists, said soon after Sarwar had gone missing on Thursday, a colleague at ctnews.bd filed a general diary with local police.
Later, journalists in Chattogram took to the streets and staged protest rallies demanding his rescue, said Ali.
He also thought that Sarwar was abducted for writing a report against some influential people.