Many criminals are using the identity cards of different print and electronic media houses as a tool for extortion, drug trade and other criminal activities, tarnishing the image of the journalist community.
There is also a section of people with ID cards of some name-only newspapers, magazines and online portals. They extort money from businessmen and others with the help of some dishonest policemen.
Rapid Action Battalion-3 (RAB) arrested two men— Mehedi Alam and Juboraj Khan— from a house at Paltan in the capital on Friday (December 3) with a firearm, 300 yaba pills and some homemade sharp weapons.
Two ID cards of Natun Somoy, a Bangla daily, were seized from them, said Commanding Officer of RAB-3 Mohammad Asaduzzaman, adding that cards read that they were the journalists of the newspaper.
The officer said that Mehedi was a ‘top terror’ of Paltan, Motijheel, Shahjahanpur and adjoining areas.
When contacted, Nazmul Haque Shaymol, publisher and editor of the daily Natun Somoy, told the Daily Sun that the arrestees were not their staff.
“We will take legal action against them for using the name of our newspaper,” he said.
Fazlul, also vice-president of Jatiya Sangbadik Sangstha, went to Bagerhat to collect the money along with one of his ‘correspondents’.
But the madrassah teacher Hannanur Rahman informed the Bagerhat Sadar Police Station of the matter before their arrival. Later, police arrested them and filed an extortion case against them with the police station.
Fazlul uses an accreditation card without the signature of the Principal Information Officer.
When contacted, Fazlul, who was released on bail, told the Daily Sun that they were indicted in a false case.
Over the use of the accreditation card, he said that police wiped out the signature of the Principal Information Officer from the card.
In response to a question as to how many journalists are working for the newspaper and whether they are being paid or not, he said “We have correspondents in every upazila and district and they are not being paid.”
“We just appoint them and issue ID cards,” he added.
On September 7, the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) rescued a young girl, who was thought to have been killed after rape in the capital in 2016, from Madaripur district.
A syndicate allegedly led by Rina Begum alias Lota held the girl, 21, hostage in a house of the city and forced her into prostitution over the last five years.
The PBI arrested Lota, RJ Rabbi and some others for their involvement in the crime.
An ID card of a newspaper was seized from Rabbi. He tried to evade the arrest by showing the identity card of the newspaper.
He used to introduce himself as a journalist in the area of Nurerchala in Vatara.
Mizanur Rahman, superintendent of police (SP) of PBI Dhaka Metro South unit, told the Daily Sun that Lota, Rabbi and others were running a sex trade racket.
Asked whether he was a journalist or not, Rabbi claimed himself as a journalist but did not mention the name of his organization. Even, the ID card, seized from him, does not have the name of a newspaper.
Wishing anonymity, the owner of a vermicelli factory at the Kamrangirchar area, told the Daily Sun that Muzzammel Haque alias DM along with a sub-inspector of Kamrangirchar Police Station took extortion money from him, bringing allegation that he was producing vermicelli in an unhygienic condition.
When contacted, DM, who claims himself as a journalist, told the Daily Sun that he did not commit such a crime.
Sazzad Alam Khan Topu, general secretary of Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), told the Daily Sun that unprofessional conducts have been committed by a few so-called media houses, tarnishing the image of the whole journalist community.
“We demand that the ministries concerned take action against those involved in the selling of ID cards in the name of journalism,” he said.
Sohel Haider Chowdhury, former general secretary of the DUJ, told the Daily Sun that criminals were taking ID cards of different mass media houses and committing crimes.
He also called upon the DMP commissioner to check the vehicles having stickers of mass media to confirm whether those really belong to journalists or not.
Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud could not be contacted for comments.
The minister at a recent event at Dhaka Reporters Unity said the ministry would go for a massive drive against the people involved in crimes in the name of journalism.