Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for an independent investigation into yesterday’s murder of a Bangladeshi newspaper reporter whose coverage of criminal activity in an industrial area south of the capital, Dhaka, had led to the arrest of two local gang leaders. His crime must not go unpunished, RSF said.

After passers-by found him lying in a pool of blood at around 8:15 pm yesterday in Bandar, a municipality that is part of Narayanganj district, Iliyas Hossain was taken to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead at 9 pm.

Hossain’s family believe he was killed in reprisal for articles he had written for the Dainik Bijoy daily about the criminal activities of local gangsters, especially drug dealing and the provision of illegal gas connections. Two brothers who were arrested because of his articles, Minnat and Mishir Ali, had just been released on bail. 

Violent crime

“We call on the Narayanganj district prosecutor’s office to order an immediate investigation to ensure that Iliyas Hossain’s brutal murder does not go unpunished,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia Pacific desk. “In view of the extremely dangerous environment for reporters in Bangladesh, we suggest that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government should create an effective mechanism for protecting journalists.”

Daily Samakal reporter Shariful Alam Chowdhury was nearly beaten to death by ten thugs armed with steel bars in Muradnagar, on the outskirts of Cumilla, 100 km east of Dhaka, on 4 July, after writing about alleged corruption and nepotism involving a local official.

As RSF reported at the time, another newspaper journalist, Shelu Akand, was left for dead after being badly beaten by men with steel bars in the northern city of Jamalpur last December.

According to RSF’s tally, at least 16 journalists have been the victims of serious violence in Bangladesh since the start of the year.

Bangladesh is ranked 150th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.