Police have arrested 6 employees of the widely popular monthly children’s entertainment magazine, the Kishore Kantha from its offices at Paltan in Dhaka including its assistant editors. This comes at a time when the government at Bangladesh is facing widespread criticism by governments and rights advocacy groups for its clampdown on the media, especially through the closure of several newspapers and TV stations and the arrest of leading media personalities such as Mahmudur Rahman of the Amardesh newspaper and Mir Quasem Ali, the Chairman of the Diganta Media Foundation.
Police informed that a joint team of Detective Branch (DB) of police and RAB aided by Paltan station police arrested the employees in a nighttime raid last Monday on the offices of the magazine opposite Baitul Mokarram at level 7, 51/1, Paltan. Of the arrested, Parvez Alam and Tofazzal Hossain were assistant editors of the magazine while the identity of the others could not be immediately known.
Paltan police station OC Morshed Alam informed the media that his team had raided the offices of the institution on ‘secret’ information that plans subversive to state security were being plotted there. He further added that his team had arrested 6 people from the office premises Monday night based on the above information. He further informed reporters that cases were ‘being prepared’ against them in this regard and that some laptops and equipment had being seized from the offices in this connection.
When contacted on the above incident, Kishor Kantha magazine editor Poet Mosharraf Hossain refuted allegations that plans subversive to state security were being plotted at Kishore Kanta offices as being very absurd. He added that the employees were solely engaged with tasks pursuant to the running of the monthly magazine. Furthermore, the 6 employees had been arrested by police without any charges or any prior notice on the part of the police whatsoever.
Kishor Kantha is a popular monthly magazine for children and teenagers throughout Bangladesh. It is represented at the local level by numerous reader forums under the banner of ‘Kishor Kantha Pathok Forum’ spread throughout the districts of the country and has recently launched an e-version to broaden its reach to online audiences.
What this means,
This sudden move to even descend with vengeance upon staff of a children’s magazine is nothing to be taken lightly. The unspoken reason behind such despicable actions conducted with the blessing of the state is indicative of the current state policy, that of throttling any media not subservient to the government in lieu of its ownership, be it a simple children’s magazine or a media group, despite repeated protests by numerous advocacy groups. On previous occasions, the two term running information minister and hardcore leftist, Hasanul Haq Inu was even seen to smirk when asked about when his department would facilitate the ‘re-opening’ the blocked television channels Diganta and Islamic TV.
History teaches us that oppression has its limits, not due to the unimaginativeness of the oppressors, but due to a cumulative realization by the oppressed. As the lists of the affected become longer, the question remains as to how long will it be till we reach breaking point?