Dhaka, Jan 19: Turning down the statements of Amnesty International and 47 personalities on the arrest warrant against the daily Prothom Alo editor, Dr Hasan Mahmud on Sunday said the case against the editor and others was lodged for a criminal offence, and the matter has no bearing on press freedom.“The court issued the arrest warrant against the daily Prothom Alo, and it is a matter of the court. It has no relation with press freedom,” he told a press briefing at his office at Secretariat.
The minister made the comments while replying to a query on issuance of arrest warrants against the Prothom Alo editor and nine others in a case filed over the death of Naimul Abrar Rahat, a student of Dhaka Residential Model College.
Hasan said anyone can give statement as there now exists freedom of expressing one’s opinion. There are thousand other renowned personalities in the country, he added.
The minister said it would tantamount to an offence, if the death incident was occurred due to negligence or if anyone tries to hide the death incident or if anyone tries to bury the body without postmortem. Another allegation is also lebelled against the organizers that they pressurized the concerned to hide the death incident, he added.
“But, truth will come out through the investigation,” said Hasan, also joint general secretary of Awami League, adding, “I hope the personalities, who gave the statement, will issue another statement seeking punishment to those who are found guilty in the incident.”
He said the case was not filed against due to reports or speeches that were published in the newspapers. The case was filed for a criminal offence, he added.
On the other hand, the Amnesty International gave statements against the trial of war criminals, the minister said, adding that “But, they didn’t give any statement against the mass killing in Palestine. A question looms large over the credibility of the Amnesty International.”
About his recent India tour, Hasan said, “I and my Indian counterpart Prakash Javadekar jointly launched the broadcasting programme between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh Betar on January 14, enabling audiences to listen to Bangladesh Betar and Akashvani radio in both the countries.
“Bangladesh Betar is now being heard across India while Akashvani, also now could be heard in Bangladesh,” he added.
He said, listeners of both the countries, especially the people in Tripura and West Bengal, would be able to listen Bangladesh Betar’s programmes terrestrially while the rest of India through using DTH (Direct to Home) service.
Besides, Hasan said, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC) and National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), India on producing the biopic of Bangladesh’s Founding Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
He said, “I also met with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi where we vowed to enhance the existing excellent bilateral relations between the two neighbouring countries.”
“In the meeting, we reached at a consensus on quick completion of Akhaura (Bangladesh)-Agartala (India) rail-road border connectivity to increase people-to-people communication of the two countries,” Hasan added.
He said, “On that night, I also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the conversation, the Indian Premier conveyed his warm greetings to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina through me.”