IGP prioritizing cases against social media users accused of spreading rumours during the student protests for road safety
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Mohammad Javed Patwary has said that a team of Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) is working to identify the culprits who attacked journalists while covering the student demonstrations for safer roads.
Asked whether a third party was involved in the attacks on August 5, he said: “A DB team is investigating the matter and we will soon get a report about it.”
The IGP made the remarks on Monday while briefing the media at the Police Headquarters on the security measures taken for the National Mourning Day and ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha set to be celebrated on August 22.
When asked why policemen did not intervene when journalists were beaten up by unidentified men wearing helmets and whether these policemen would be punished, he said the law enforcement officials were also attacked during the student protests.
He said: “At that time, Rajarbagh Police Lines, Mirpur Police Management Order, Kafrul police station had also come under attack. One policeman even sustained head injury.”
Police’s role during the attacks on journalists would also be revealed through the investigation, Javed said. “Newspaper reports, video footages and photographs of the incidents are also being investigated by a committee led by an additional commissioner of DB.”
The IGP, however, did not give a direct answer when the reporters asked about the identities of the helmet-wearing youths who had brutally attacked the journalists with sticks, metal rods and sharp weapons, and whether they were accompanying the police to “maintain law and order” in Dhanmondi, Bashundhara and Rampura areas during student protests.
“We never asked for anyone’s help in this regard. If we had, we would have asked the people to help us,” he said.
On August 5, at least 25 journalists were attacked, beaten, and assaulted in Dhanmondi area while covering clashes between protesting students and police and allegedly activists of ruling party affiliate organizations.
The attackers had also smashed the cameras of the photojournalists and vandalized vehicles.
Associated Press photojournalist AM Ahad took the worst of the beatings. He was hit mercilessly by the attackers with rods and sticks.
Besides Ahad, Bonik Barta staff photojournalist Palash Shikder, Ibnul Asas Jawed of Janakantha, Rimon from US based Zuma Press, freelance photojournalist Rahat Karim, and Enamul Hasan, a photography student of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, were also beaten.
During that time, police, who were present in large numbers and fully equipped in riot gear, played the role of a passive audience.
Cybercrime unit to be strengthened
IGP Javed Patwary on Monday also said the Cyber Crime Monitoring Unit of the Police Headquarters will be strengthened more effectively tackle all kinds of cybercrimes, including spreading of rumours on social media.
He said that the unit would be strengthened comprising members from other units, including the police’s Criminal Investigation Department, Special Branch and Police Bureau of Investigation.
He added that a directive was also issued to form a cybercrime monitoring unit in each district police headquarters.
The police chief also said that they have identified several hundred online news portals that spread rumours during the student movement demanding safer roads and total 21 cases were filed in this connection so far. "No one will be spared.”
Security tightened for August 15, Eid
Javed Patwary also said that they have taken extensive security measures for smooth observance of the National Mourning Day, August 15, as well as a safe and uninterrupted celebration of the Eid-ul-Azha on August 22.
“We have already issued directives for the deputy inspector general of the divisional cities to implement,” he said.
The IGP also said that instructions have also been given to remain alert and keep vigil to avert any untoward incident during the two programs.