Minister Without Portfolio Suranjit Sengupta has blamed the ‘weakness’ of democratic institutions responsible for recent repression and police assaults on journalists.
“Police were not supposed to attack the media. Why they are now so intolerant? Such incidents took place due to the weakness of the democratic institutions,” the ruling Awami League’s Advisory Council Member said on Friday.
“If the democratic institutions like Parliament and the Election Commission had become effective and powerful, such incidents would have never taken place,” he observed.
Speaking a discussion at the National Press Club, the former Railway Minister also urged police to show ‘restraint’.
Some police officers assaulted three photojournalists of Bangla national daily Prothom Alo and took away their cameras while covering the demonstrations of Dhaka Women’s Polytechnic Institute students at Agargaon last week.
On Monday night, miscreants stabbed two journalists and an office assistant of bdnews24.com and injured several others storming into their office building at Mohakhali.
On Tuesday, police assaulted three journalists and two lawyers at the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Judge Court premises for trying to gather news on alleged sexual assault on a girl inside Police Club.
Home Minister Shahara Khatun at a function on Friday morning expressed ‘regrets’ for the recent incidents of assaults and torture.
Suranjit, also a Member of the Awami League Advisory Council, also blamed lack of support of the opposition for the weakness of the democratic organisations.
“Currently, democracy is in severe crisis in Bangladesh. Now it’s the biggest challenge to uphold democracy in the country. I suspect whether they (opposition BNP) believe in democracy.”
“There can be no accountability without the participation of the opposition in a democratic system. There is no other country in the world where the opposition doesn’t join Parliament,” he observed.
Suranjit said the government was ready to sit for talks with the opposition. “But you (BNP) should not set a pre-condition to starting the dialogue. Unveil your model regarding the next polls. The government will obviously consider it,” he said.
Opposing the BNP’s demand for restoration of the caretaker government system, he said: “The government will not hand over the state power to an unelected government.”
Workers’ Party President Rashed Khan Menon MP also spoke at the discussion.