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Dhaka police shut down Islamist newspaper

Paper claimed Indian army collusion in government crackdown

Dhaka police shut down Islamist newspaper

Workers gather outside the Daily Inqilab offices as the raid goes on inside (picture: Shahadat Hosen) reporter, Dhaka

January 17, 2014

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Dhaka police raided and sealed off the press of Islamist Bengali newspaper the Daily Inqilab on Thursday night over charges of publishing a “false and fabricated” report intended to “tarnish the country’s image.”

Four journalists were arrested and computers were impounded during the raid, which followed a controversial report in the paper’s Thursday edition.

The report created a storm on Bangladeshi social media sites. Entitled ‘Indian army assists joint forces operation in Satkhira,’ it claimed that the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry, with approval from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, sought assistance from the Indian government to crack down on opposition party supporters.

The newspaper is known to have strong links with the hardline Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party. The Satkhira district, in southwest Bangladesh on the Indian border, is a Jamaat stronghold and has been a recent hotspot for violent political clashes.

Last month, the government sent police, border guards and troops to the district in a bid to restore law and order. Many Jamaat supporters were arrested for perpetrating violence.

In a press release on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry condemned the newspaper report. “This baseless and misguiding report is an attempt to tarnish country’s image and also to defame reputation of our law enforcing agencies. We urge people not to be misled by the misinformation,” the statement said.

Government crackdowns on dissenting and propagandist media outlets are not unknown in Bangladesh.

Last week, a Dhaka court jailed the editor of a weekly magazine over an aborted to trip to Israel 10 years ago.

In April last year, the daily Amar Desh was shut down and its editor was arrested on charges of publishing ‘negative elements against Islam to create anarchy.’

The following month, the government pulled the plug on two Islamic TV channels, Diganta and Islamic TV, amid allegations they were broadcasting provocative news reports on clashes between police and activists of the radical Islamic group, Hifazat-e-Islam, during an anti-blasphemy rally in Dhaka.

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