Rights group Ain O Salish Kendra and a faction of Dhaka Union of Journalists today demanded withdrawal of the case filed against four persons including editors of two online news portals under the controversial Digital Security Act after the media outlets ran reports on misappropriation of OMS rice in Thakurgaon's Baliadangi upazila recently.
Expressing deep concern over the case, DUJ President Quddus Afrad and General Secretary Sajjad Alam Khan Topu in a joint statement said the aggrieved persons or the quarter could have gone to the Press Council or sent rejoinder to the respective online news portals if there was any confusion regarding the news.
"Instead, filing of the case against editors of the two established online news portals is nothing but tantamount to create mental pressure on independent journalism. This is also tantamount to harassment," said the statement.
Mominul Islam Bhasani, president of the upazila unit of Swechchasebak League, filed the case on Friday night against Toufique Imrose Khalidi, editor-in-chief of bdnews24.com, and Mohiuddin Sarker, acting editor of Jagonews24.com, for "deliberately publishing false and defamatory news".
Two Facebook users named Shawan Amin and Rahim Shuvo were also accused in the case filed with Baliadangi Police Station.
In the case statement, Mominul said the authorities recovered 68 sacks of rice, meant to be sold among the low-income people at Tk 10 per kg, in the upazila's Palashbari on April 9.
The next day, Upazila Food Controller Nikhil Chandra Barman filed a case with the same police station accusing six people, including local rice dealer Amirul Islam, his brother Jamirul Islam and wife Kulsum Akhter, in this regard.
Apart from expressing deep concern over filing of the case against two editors and others, ASK in a statement today also expressed concern over recent allegations of threats, harassment and physical torture on journalists in different parts of the country.
ASK said the incidents of the lawsuit and different harassment against journalists are "ill-attempt to gag the media which in no way can be accepted."
ASK urged authorities concerned to create a proper environment so that journalists can do their professional duties uninterruptedly.