NEW DELHI: The Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA), an umbrella group of journalists in the Commonwealth nations, on Saturday expressed its "shock and extreme concern" that its Bangladesh chapter General Secretary Shyamal Dutta is facing threats of violence from Islamist fundamentalists who have publicly called for his hanging.
"The Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) expresses its shock and extreme concern that one of its Vice Presidents and Bangladesh chapter General Secretary Shyamal Dutta is facing threats of violence from Islamist fundamentalists who have publicly called for his hanging," the CJA said in a statement.
"Dutta is Editor of Bengali language daily published from Dhaka, Bhorer Kagaj," it stated.
"The issue raised by those who have spoken out against Shyamal Dutta is a report carried by the newspaper about 'vulgarities' contained in a book on the Hadith published by the Madrassah Education Board, an official body of the Bangladesh Government."
According to the statement, Dutta's article was a factual report on a matter of public interest but it has been misinterpreted as if the newspaper report had called the Hadith vulgar.
"That is categorically not the case. Public marches and a demonstration in front of the Press Club in Dhaka took place on December 23, at which protestors demanded punishment for Dutta and the reporter concerned.
The CJA statement said a string of legal notices have been served on Dutta and apology demanded.
The newspaper has issued a clarification that it merely reported the matter, quoting sources, and had not passed any comment on the Hadith.
"Dutta has also been the target of an aggressive, derogatory and threatening campaign against him on social media. Some of the comments have a sectarian character, focussed on the fact that he and the reporter who wrote the article are members of the Hindu minority community," the statement said.
"In view of the incidents over the past months when a number of bloggers and journalists have been attacked and killed in broad daylight in Dhaka and other cities, the CJA is extremely worried for the safety of Dutta, his team and the newspaper itself."
The CJA has also sent a formal letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"Bangladesh is a secular democracy. The CJA expects the government of Bangladesh to ensure adequate protection to all concerned and to send out a stern message to those responsible to desist from any further threats, incitements and false accusations." the CJA statement added.