The Prime Minister's Office yesterday trashed a media report that claimed an attempt on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's life was foiled on August 24.
Outright rejecting the media report, the PMO said it was completely "baseless and motivated".
"Some media outlets on September 23 published and broadcast a report about a failed attempt on the life of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, using a source of a foreign TV channel and an international online news agency," said a press release signed by Mohammad Ashraful Alam, deputy press secretary to the PM.
The PMO requested the media to “exercise caution and judgment” in publishing and broadcasting confusing information that goes against the interest of the country's security.
Though none of the print media outlets carried the news, a few TV channels hastily arranged heated talk shows on it on Saturday without verifying at home the very authenticity of the highly sensitive disclosure by Indian journalist Subir Bhaumik on September 22 on Myanmar news portal mizzima.com under the headline “Bangladesh's Hasina survives another attempt on her life.”
On the same day, the report of Bhaumik, once a BBC correspondent who now mostly freelance, was run by news portal lookeast.in, where he is an editorial director, with the headline “BNP-ISI nexus targets Hasina, but fails.”
A day later, the CNN-News18 (formerly known as CNN IBN), a partnership between TV18 (one of India's leading TV broadcast networks) and CNN International, reproduced the report with the headline “Jihadi Conspiracy to Assassinate Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina Foiled In The Nick of Time.” In the report, Bhaumik was credited as a contributor.
As if to give it more currency with a salt of “authenticity”, News18.com backed up its report by a reference to the Mizzima report penned by the same journalist.
Yesterday, a section of Bangladesh TV media followed suit. A Bangladeshi TV channel even went on to interview Bhaumik, consulting editor at Mizzima and also senior editor of a Dhaka-based news portal, live where he boasted of his 37-year journalism carrier and claimed that his report was authentic.
The PMO is disturbed by all these media activities.
"This is to inform all that the news of the so-called failed attempt [on PM's life] is completely baseless, confusing and motivated. It's not expected at all from any responsible person or conscious media organisation to publish or broadcast such a confusing report that goes against the interest of the country's security," read the press release.
The PMO also requested all the media outlets to be cautious about such "baseless and confusing news”.
Ironically, the state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) also gave in to the news, only to kill the dispatch within an hour.
Unfortunately though, vague comments of some ministers and TV talkers also gave some sort of weight to this “baseless” report.
On Saturday night, the CNN-News18 TV channel took Bangladesh information minister's comments over the phone.
Hasanul Haq Inu told the TV channel that Hasina and political parties are facing a conspiracy from forces like Pakistan and their friend, the Jamaat-e-Islami.
“[Members of] JMB and other militant outfits who have been arrested or killed have links with ISI and Pakistan-based terror networks,” the channel quoted Inu as saying.
The minister said Bangladesh would take up the matter with Pakistan.
“Pakistan is involved in terror activities in Bangladesh. And Khaleda Zia is toeing Pakistan government's policy. Khaleda Zia and her son are behind these attacks. They are hand in glove with Pakistan.”
About the so-called assassination plot, Inu said, “We are looking into the matter seriously. We are investigating. Reports are along these lines. Sheikh Hasina knows there is a threat to her life.”
Yesterday, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said a vested quarter is plotting to kill Hasina.
“Being envious of Sheikh Hasina's huge popularity, a vested quarter comprising local and foreign elements is plotting to kill her,” Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, told reporters while talking about the PM's efforts over the Rohingya issue.
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, however, trashed the report on the so-called assassination attempt on Hasina.
He was talking to reporters after a meeting of the cabinet committee on law and order at the home ministry yesterday.
“This was not discussed [at the meeting]. We don't find any authenticity in it [such reports],” Amu said.
In his report, Bhaumik, consulting editor at Mizzima News of Myanmar, implicated Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa), also known as Harakah al-Yaqin, in the so-called attempt on Hasina's life.
But it's not fathomable that a force like Arsa would involve itself in something that Bhaumik is suggesting at a time when the Bangladesh PM championed the cause of the repressed Rohingyas and is playing host to half a million refugees with global appreciation.