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Journo held in Bangladesh for spreading 'provocative' news

A TV journalist has been arrested in Bangladesh for allegedly "fomenting unrest" during a widespread protest by garment factory employees who were demanding a pay hike, police said today.

Ekushey Television's Savar Correspondent Nazmul Huda was detained from Ashulia's Baipail area yesterday on the basis of definite proof, a senior police officer Mohsinul Kadir said.

Huda, who is also the local correspondent of Bangla daily 'Bangladesh Pratidin', was booked for "fomenting unrest" among agitating workers at readymade garment factories in Ashulia, bdnews24.Com reported.

"Under the orders of higher authorities, he was taken into custody by Detective Police for questioning," the police officer said.

A case was filed by police against Huda under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act yesterday.

"The case alleges the suspect spread false and provocative news through television, the media and several Facebook accounts," the officer said.

Meanwhile, the arrested journalist's brother said Huda was innocent and that he has been framed.

"My brother has been framed. He reports the news, like everyone else," said Huda's brother Kamruzzaman.

Police have also confiscated Huda's mobile phone, laptop and car.

So far, at least 20 people have been arrested by the police in connection with the Ashulia garment workers' unrest.

Workers at 25 garment factories went on strike last Monday after furnishing a 16-point charter of demands, including a three-fold monthly age hike.

Though a few ministers met the protesters, the strike continued. On Tuesday, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) announced an indefinite closure of 55 garment factories. Windy Apparels and Fountain Garments have dismissed 256 workers for protest.

Police have been deployed to guard the 55 factories that have been closed. Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and armed police are patrolling the streets.

Owners of more than 55 readymade garment factories in Bangladesh, the world's fourth largest garment exporter, closed down their units after the workers walked out, demanding higher wages and benefits.

Garment factory workers have been demonstrating for over a week now to press home a series of demands including a minimum monthly pay of 16,000 taka (USD 202 or Rs 13,758). They say the present monthly salary of 5,300 taka (USD 67 or Rs 4,556) is considered "woefully inadequate" by the workers.