Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader yesterday met with five journalists’ associations at the Secretariat, and told the leaders that the Rozina Islam issue need not have rolled so far.
“The minister told us that the situation was mishandled by the officials concerned. He told us that the situation could have been solved amicably on that very day, if senior officials concerned had stepped in to resolve the issue,” claimed Rejoanul Haq Raja, chairperson of Broadcast Journalist Centre (BJC).
In addition to BJC, leaders of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, Dhaka Union of Journalists, Jatiya Press Club and several other journalist leaders were present at the meeting.
Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, said he met the leaders in his capacity as general secretary of the ruling party.
Journalists pressed forth five demands to the minister.
Raja said they included withdrawing the case against Rozina, amending sections of the Digital Security Act which are hostile towards journalists, refraining from the use of Official Secrets Act against journalists, and passing the Mass Media Employees Bill.
About the bill, the minister assured the journalists present that the law will be placed in the parliament at the soonest possible time.
“Regarding the rest, the minister told us that he cannot make any decision unilaterally, and he needs to speak to others in the government, including the prime minister,” stated Raja.
He claimed that Quader said he cannot single-handedly get the case against Rozina dismissed.
The minister said “the case is now in the court. We have to discuss the matter with the law minister and others…”, said Raja.
Quader also said he does not want to see any hostility between the government and the media. “They have raised the problems and I will place these to the prime minister,” he said.
“I don’t want any confrontation and I want to see cordial relations with the media being maintained,” Quader said in reply to a question.
Prothom Alo senior reporter Rozina Islam was sent to jail on May 18 in a case filed under the Official Secrets Act and the Penal Code by the health ministry.
She was freed from Kashimpur Women’s Central Jail on May 23 after a Dhaka court granted her an ad-interim bail until July 15.