BANGLADESH: Rab beats up Jugantor chief photojournalist

Photojournalist assaulted while filming Rapid Action Battalion brutality

The Daily Star
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Dhaka -- Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) members yesterday assaulted a photojournalist for taking snaps while they were beating up three youths on the street near Baitul Mukarram National Mosque.

SM Gorky, chief photojournalist of daily Jugantor, while returning to his office at Motijheel in a motorbike at about 5:45pm, saw the Rab members beating three youths at the south gate of Baitul Mukarram. As he snapped the incident, the Rab men swooped on him.

Gorky said he gave his identity but the Rab members continued beating and kicking him. They also snatched away his digital camera. "Don't you know we are Rab?" shouted one of the Rab members. "How dare you take snaps without taking our permission?"

The Rab members hurled abuse while dragging him to their van. As Gorky tried to sit in the van, a Rab man kicked him. They took him to the Rab-3 office at Tikatuli and snatched away his cellphone when he tried to call his office.

Then several Rab officials came and took him out of the room saying 'sorry' for the incident.

The Rab members returned his camera but deleted the snaps he had taken.

Commanding Officer (CO) of Rab-3 Lt Col Faruq Hossain told The Daily Star last night that he had apologised to Gorky on behalf of the Rab members for the incident.

Meanwhile, a Rab-3 press release said the incident took place when the Rab men arrested three extortionists with Tk 50,000 in cash. They were demanding toll from a man at Motijheel identifying themselves as the accomplices of notorious criminal Kala Jahangir.

When the uniformed and plainclothes Rab members nabbed the three, hundreds of enthusiastic people rushed to the scene. "They tried to snatch them away from my men and intended to beat them up," Faruq said.

Gorky reached there at that time, he said. "The situation was so tensed that my men could not understand what they were doing....Gorky might have been pushed when he was being taken to the van along with the extortionists. I myself said sorry to him for the incident," said the Rab CO.