BANGLADESH: Janajuddha outlaws claim killing journalist Manik

An unnamed caller to newspapers in Khulna yesterday claimed responsibility for the killing of prominent journalist Manik Chandra Saha in a bomb attack and branded him as a class enemy of an underground outfit in the southwestern district

The Daily Star
Saturday, January 17, 2004

An unnamed caller to newspapers in Khulna yesterday claimed responsibility for the killing of prominent journalist Manik Chandra Saha in a bomb attack and branded him as a class enemy of an underground outfit in the southwestern district.

The caller told the newspapers the Purbo Banglar Communist Party (Janajuddha), a faction of the banned PBCP (Marxist-Leninist), carried out the attack on the senior staff correspondent of New Age on Thursday, the latest addition to a series of journalist killings in the district since 2002.

The 50-year-old, also a BBC stringer, was heading home by rickshaw from Khulna Press Club when the handmade bomb blew the head off his body on Mirzapur Road, sending shock waves among people of all walks of life.

Khulna journalists enforce a daylong hartal in the metropolitan city today as part of a seven-day programme, followed by another called by the main opposition Awami League for tomorrow in protest at the murder that sparked a torrent of condemnation.

The Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) enforces a half-day hartal in Khulna and local journalists enforce another half-day round in Satkhira today.

In a faxed message to Khulna Press Club, Mofakkher Chowdhury, self-styled secretary of the PBCP (Marxist-Leninist) central committee, condemned the murder and denied his group's links to the incident. "The killers of Manik have no intention but to dominate urban areas with killings."

No-one filed a first information report over the murder until early last night.

"We didn't find any clue to the killing, although a man has been taken into custody for questioning. Investigation is going on," Police Commissioner Mustafizur Rahman told The Daily Star, but declined to name the arrestee.

TRIBUTE AND PROTEST

A contingent of armed policemen gave him a guard of honour in the presence of Information Minister Tariqul Islam, Mayor Shaikh Tayebur Rahman, lawmakers M Nurul Islam and Panchanan Biswas and senior officials of Khulna Metropolitan Police, joint forces and district administration.

The body was cremated with state honour after it was kept at the press club from 9:00am yesterday for journalists and other admirers to pay their last respect to the eminent reporter, also a freedom fighter.

The flower-bedecked coffin was taken to his home on Ahsan Ahmed Road and different temples before cremation at Rupsha Shasan Ghat in the presence of hundreds of people, including leaders of political parties.

Political parties, socio-cultural organisations, business community, non-governmental organisations, Kindergartens Association, Khulna University Teachers Association, Khulna Union of Journalists, Metropolitan Union of Journalists, Khulna Press Club, Khulna unit of Sangbad Patra Parishad, 11-party left alliance, Puja Udjapan Parishad and central leaders of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) placed wreaths on the coffin.

Khulna Press Club President Humayun Kabir Balu presided over a protest rally, also addressed by the mayor, Dainik Purbanchal Editor Liaquat Ali, CPB President Manzurul Ahsan Khan, BFUJ President Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, BFUJ Secretary General Akhtar Ahmed Khan, Vice-president of BNP-backed BFUJ Zakir Hossain, New Age Deputy Editor Nurul Kabir, Dainik Sangbad News Editor Monir Ahmed and The Independent's senior journalist Shahabuddin Ahmed.

The information minister, attending the rally, directed the police commissioner to arrest the killers of Manik with no delay.

Later in the day, the minister at a meeting on law and order at the Circuit House directed the police commissioner to provide security for local newspaper offices and journalists, if sought by them and asked him to track down the rickshawpuller who fled the scene after the bomb blast.