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BANGLADESH: Wounded Khulna reporter flown in to CMH

Officer-in-charge of Sadar Police Station replaced for negligence of duty during attack, protest programs begin and two are arrested

The Daily Star
Monday, February 7, 2005

Khulna -- Daily Sangram Khulna Bureau Chief Sheikh Belaluddin Ahmed, the most severely injured in Saturday night's bomb blast at the Khulna Press Club, was flown yesterday to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in the capital.

Meanwhile, officer-in-charge (OC) of Sadar Police Station was closed to the police lines last night for negligence of duty during the bomb attack. Iqbal Hossain, OC of Khan Jahan Ali Police Station replaced him.

Belaluddin, also the president of Metropolitan Union of Journalists (MUJ) of Khulna, was rushed to the Khulna Medical College and Hospital (KMCH) immediately after the powerful explosion that also grievously wounded three other newsmen, including the press club's president.

His face, stomach and legs were seriously burnt and his left eye was extremely injured, said doctors at the KMCH, who amputated his left hand on Saturday night. They later referred him to the CMH failing to improve his condition even slightly.

Belaluddin was helicoptered to Dhaka at 1:00pm yesterday. Doctors attending him at the CMH said his condition was still 'critical'.

Belaluddin's wife Tanjila Belal, a lecturer at Islamia Intermediate College in Khulna, Dr Moniruzzaman of Islami Bank Hospital, and two other people accompanied him in the Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) chopper.

Khulna City BNP President M Nurul Islam MP, local journalists, high officials of local civil and police administrations, and a large number of leaders of Jamaat, BNP and Awami League were present at the Khulna helipad when the chopper took off at 12:00noon.

On the other end, Social Welfare Minister and Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid, Khulna City Mayor Tayebur Rahman and Ali Asgar MP received Belaluddin, who also is the Rokon of Khulna City Jamaat, at the old airport in Tejgaon.

A board of medical experts yesterday examined him. He is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), CMH sources said.

Among the other three victims, the condition of Daily Jugantor Staff Photographer Zahidul Islam has not improved yet. He, too, was severely injured hit by splinters all over the body. He is undergoing treatment at Khulna Surgical Clinic in Sonadanga.

Khulna Press Club President and Prothom Alo Khulna Bureau Chief Shaikh Abu Hasan and The News Today Khulna Correspondent Rafiqul Islam Tutul have been released after primary treatment at a local clinic adjacent to the press club.

Protest programmes

Journalists of Khulna brought out a procession yesterday noon in the city condemning and protesting the dastardly attack. A rally was held after the protest procession on the press club premises.

Speakers at the meeting bitterly criticised police for their failure to provide security for Khulna journalists despite frequent death threats given by extremists.

They demanded immediate removal of Khulna Police Commissioner Javed Patwary and also an impartial enquiry to find out why security forces were withdrawn from the press club on Saturday, which is believed to have made ample opportunity for the terrorists to launch a remote-controlled bomb attack on the club.

The assembled journalists also strongly condemned the termination of the investigation into the unsuccessful grenade attack on January 4 on Dip Azad, Khulna bureau chief of Dainik Jugantor.

Speaking at the rally, Dainik Purbanchal Editor Alhaj Liaquat Ali expressed his deep concern at the rampant and ceaseless attacks on journalists in Khulna. He said the failure of police to track down the killers of journalists Haroon, Manik Saha and Humayun Kabir Balu has made this latest attack on newsmen possible.

Khulna Press Club President Sheikh Abu Hasan, Khulna Union of Journalists (KUJ) President Makbul Hossain Mintoo, Daily Tribune Editor Begum Ferdausi Ali, MUJ Acting President Anisuzzaman, Khulna Press Club Secretary Feruque Ahmed and KUJ Secretary Mohammad Shahab Ali also addressed the meeting.

Local units of BNP, Awami League, Jamaat and Jatiya Party in separate press statements strongly condemned the attack on press and demanded immediate arrest and exemplary punishment to the attackers.

The political leaders expressed their solidarity with all programmes to be undertaken by the journalist community against the bomb attacks and murders.

Khulna Press Club, KUJ and MUJ will form a human chain today from 11:00am till 12noon in front of Picture Palace cinema hall protesting the bomb attack.

Journalists of all local newspapers will abstain from work tomorrow to stop publication of the February 8 issue.

A protest rally will also be held Tuesday morning at the press club.

Probe and security

Khulna police yesterday arrested two persons -- Habi Shaikh, 35, and Khokon, 32 -- in the violence-stricken southwestern city in connection with the bomb attack. A special team of police officials is quizzing the two arrestees.

No complaint or case was filed with Khulna Sadar Police Station in connection with the bomb blast until filing of this report yesterday evening.

A nine-member team of army explosives experts headed by Major Khaled from Jessore cantonment came to the press club yesterday afternoon to collect evidence. Earlier, on Saturday night, Rab officials also visited the spot.

A one-member committee comprising a deputy commissioner was formed to find if police neglected in their duty during the incident. The team was scheduled to submit its report yesterday night.

The police authorities have deployed around 250 policemen at the local newspaper offices and the press club to provide round-the-clock security.

Asia Institute