South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The government yesterday cancelled the declaration of the Bangla daily Amar Desh citing that it has no authorised publisher.

Acting editor of the daily Mahmudur Rahman was arrested at its office in the wee hours today.

Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Mohibul Haque told The Daily Star, “Declaration of the newspaper has been cancelled as it has no publisher.”

The DC has cancelled the declaration according to article-5 and -7 of part-III of the Printing Presses and Publications (Declaration and Registration) Act, 1973.

The DC said the previous publisher Md Hasmat Ali, in writing, notified the DC office in March that he is no longer willing to be the publisher of the newspaper. However, as of yesterday, Amar Desh was published with Md Hasmat Ali’s name as the publisher of the newspaper in the printer’s line.

After cancellation of the declaration, over 200 policemen went to the Amar Desh office at Karwan Bazar. The journalists of the newspaper staged a sit-in at the entry points of the office to prevent policemen from entering.

The police also went to the press of Amar Desh at Tejgaon to stop publication of its today’s issue but journalists of the daily said they were able to print its first edition.

Meanwhile, hearing rumours that police are going to arrest Mahmudur Rahman, around 100 BNP and Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal leaders including Nazrul Islam Khan, Abdus Salam, Khairul Kabir Khokan and Sultan Salauddin Tuku gathered at the Amar Desh office to stop the arrest. They chanted anti-government slogans and tried to get to the 1oth-floor Amar Desh office. Police, however, stopped their attempt.

Arrested Mahmudur Rahman was brought down from the building around 4:00am today and the BNP and Chhatra Dal leaders chanted anti-government slogans as he was put into an unmarked police vehicle.

On Hasmat Ali not willing to be the Amar Desh publisher anymore, the Dhaka DC said, “The previous publisher submitted his application with an affidavit.” The DC office, in March, informed Hasmat Ali through a letter that the office has accepted his affidavit. The DC, however, could not say the exact date the affidavit was submitted and accepted.

Meanwhile, Mahmudur Rahman, the acting editor of Amar Desh, in a letter to the DC office in March said he wanted to be the publisher of the newspaper.

After getting the application, the DC office asked the Dhaka Special Branch (DSB) of police to give a report on Mahmudur Rahman whether he is eligible to be the publisher of the newspaper, said Mohibul.

“We have received a negative report from the Special Branch today [yesterday], the DC said.

When asked, on what grounds the DSB gave a negative report, the DC said they mentioned several reasons including that there are 31 cases filed against Mahmudur Rahman.

“We had been waiting for the report of the Dhaka Special Branch since Mahmudur Rahman filed an application as an aspirant publisher of Amar Desh. But when we received the negative report from the Special Branch today [yesterday]. We cancelled the declaration of the paper as it has no publisher,” said the DC.

Mahmudur Rahman is the former energy adviser of the BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government and is known as a close ally of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.

Around 7:00pm last night, Hasmat Ali, elder brother of Mosaddak Ali Falu who is an adviser to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, filed a case with Tejgaon Industrial Area Police Station against Mahmudur Rahman for using his name as the publisher of the newspaper.

In the case statement, Hasmat Ali said he sold all the shares of Amar Desh Publications Ltd to Mahmudur Rahman last year and the shares were handed over to Mahmudur Rahman.

He said he resigned from the post of publishers on October 11 last year and the resignation form was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka district.

He said Mahmudur Rahman continued publishing his name as Amar Desh’s publisher.

He said during this time at least 30 cases were filed against the daily and he was implicated as the accused in all the cases. He said this tarnished his social image and incurred financial loss.

The Daily Star twice called Hasmat on his mobile phone, which a woman picked up. She said Hasmat left home leaving his phone at home. She then hung up.

Tejgaon Industrial Police Station Officer-in-Charge Omar Faruq told The Daily Star that the case was filed under sections-419, -420 and -500 of CrPC in connection with cheating Hasmat Ali and violating section-7 of Printing Presses and Publications (Declaration and Registration) Act, 1973.

Article-5 of the act is regarding publication of newspapers. It says, “No newspaper shall be printed or published except in conformity with the provisions of this part and unless there subsists an authenticated declaration in respect thereof.”


Acting editor of the daily Amar Desh Mahmudur Rahman yesterday afternoon held a press conference at the newspaper office where he claimed that members of National Security Intelligence (NSI) kidnapped the publisher of the newspaper Hasmat Ali from his house.

The former energy adviser to BNP-Jamaat government termed the incident a government conspiracy to shutdown the newspaper that focuses on corruption of the ministers as well as human rights violation of the government.

He said NSI kidnapped its publisher around 9:00am yesterday and released him at 2:00pm after taking his signatures in two papers, addressed to the deputy commissioner of Dhaka and officer-in-charge of Tejgaon Police Station.

“The paper addressing to the DC reads I, Md Hasmat Ali, is no longer the publisher of the Amar Desh newspaper. The newspaper is being published using my name. I am requesting to take legal action against the move,” Mahmudur Rahman quoted Hasmat as saying.

He claimed that the Dhaka DC was not giving the nod to his application to become the publisher of the newspaper.

“The DC informed me that he can’t give permission following an objection by higher authority of the government,” Mahmudur said.

Source: The Daily Star – 08.06.2010

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