Sheikh Hasina’s support for journalists is unprecedented: Information Minister
Information Minister and Awami League Joint General Secretary Dr. Hashan Mahmud said that the journalist-friendly Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has played an unprecedented role in the welfare of journalists and the development of the media.
He said, we think that criticism sharpens the path, is helpful for work and the freedom of media in Bangladesh is an example for the developing world.
The information minister said this in a special guest speech before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s speech as chief guest at the BFUJ-Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists conference at the National Press Club on Thursday afternoon. Under the chairmanship of BFUJ President Omar Farooq and moderated by Secretary General Deep Azad, President of Dhaka Journalist Union Sohel Haider Chowdhury and regional leaders of BFUJ addressed the meeting.
Hashan Mahmud said, “The number of newspapers in the country has increased from 450 to 1200 in the last fifteen years.” Private television was started by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and then there were 10 till the end of BNP and caretaker government. Today there are 35 TV channels on air and at least 5 more will be on air very soon. How many thousands of online media is an experiment. These prove that Sheikh Hasina and her government are media friendly.
Broadcasting Minister said, ‘Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did journalism for a time in his life, Bangabandhu gave the place of today’s square to the National Press Club. Prime Minister Bangabandhu stood here in 2014 referring to a permanent fund for the welfare of journalists and said – “I don’t know how long I will live but I want to make a permanent arrangement for journalists”. ‘Journalism Welfare Trust‘ has been established under his initiative, which recognizes all the journalists of the country and says that this trust stands as a place of trust for them.’
Hashan Mahmud said, ‘If a journalist dies, his family gets a grant of 3 lakh taka from the welfare trust, sick journalists get a grant. We have amended the rules of the trust, henceforth meritorious students of poor journalists will also get grants. To everyone’s surprise, we have given one-time assistance to journalists from the trust during the Corona crisis. More than 7,000 journalists across the country have received grants. This has not happened in any country of the subcontinent including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal. Even in any European country, there was no separate allocation for journalists, which was given by the leader of the people, Sheikh Hasina.
At that time, criticizing BNP, the information minister said, ‘You know what BNP did on October 28 in the name of rally. Journalists do not belong to any party, they went there to collect news and more than 32 journalists were injured, including 20 from BNP bit. A journalist was dragged to the ground and killed the way a snake is killed, luckily he was wearing a helmet. Strongly condemn this incident.’
He said, ‘I would request, to form public opinion against the miscreants and terrorists who have tortured, injured and beaten the journalists, take up the pen, write in the pages of the newspaper, present the report on television. But at the same time, I express concern that Reporters Without Borders and other organizations that exist often make statements about a journalist, and on the 28th, 32 people were beaten, so many incidents happened, there is no statement. I will request journalists to write to them why they are silent.’
About the Wage Board, the Broadcasting Minister said, ‘The 9th Wage Board was given by the Prime Minister but it is closed due to some newspaper owners suing. Owners are humbly requested, 9th Wageboard should be implemented and not retrenchment in words. And I have already asked to submit the file to the ministry to start the process of forming the 10th Wage Board.