Few journalists’ working with Mahfuzur Rahman owned ATN Bangla today engaged in a series of brawl with the journalists’ groups who are demanding arrest and punishment of the killers of journalist couple Sagar Sarwoar and Meherun Runi.
According to media reports, the embarrassing situation erupted when a journalist leader, Jahangir Alam, from a human chain programme at the National Press Club accused Mahfuzur for the killing, demanded his arrest and also threatened to lay siege to his office.
ATN Bangla’s journalists including correspondent Shawkat Milton reacted at this and questioned Prodhan’s credibility of announcing such a programme. And the scuffle began. As Prodhan tried to run towards the Press Club, the ATN Bangla journalists including Milton, Z E Mamun reportedly assaulted him. Meanwhile, journalists of the agitating groups with wood and bamboo sticks chased the attackers. It created a massive fracas between the journalists of the pro- and anti-Mahfuzur in and around the press club and continued until senior leaders intervened.
Following this, different journalist originations decided to expel the journalists of the two private television channels who were involved in the attack from their respective organisations. The television channels in the afternoon, however, ran news scroll saying that their journalists were attacked and beaten by criminals at the press club. Police present at the press club were surprisingly silent and stayed at “safe distance” during the incident.
The ATN Bangla chief on May 30 told a rally in London that the slain couple was “victims of an extra-marital affair” and he had video footage and information to prove the matter. As his comments drew massive criticism from various quarters, the journalist platforms demanded his arrest and grilling by law enforcers. Later the businessmen in a statement regretted for his remarks “if those hurt anyone”. But it could not tame down the tense situation in the journalist groups. Rab officials carrying out the investigation on June 21 quizzed Mahfuzur at his office and collected a CD and several other video footages from there.
At this, Mahfuzur defending his remark claimed that some people in the media were carrying out propaganda against him and as part of the ploy, one journalist had intentionally asked him sensitive questions on the killing of journalist couple. He then lost his temper and said whatever he knew and apparently “believed”.
Journalists, staff and members of TV artists and crew are set to form a human chain in Karwan Bazar on Monday protesting the propaganda launched against Mahfuzur. Meanwhile, Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and other organisations of newsmen today announced a rally before the National Press Club at 11:00am tomorrow for trial of the killers of Sagar and Runi.
Sagar, a news editor at Maasranga, and his wife Runi, a senior reporter at ATN Bangla, were killed in their flat in the capital on February 11.