CPJ urges probe into police attacks against journalists covering anti-Modi protests in Bangladesh

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NEW YORK, Mar 30 (APP):The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent watchdog body, has called on Bangladesh authorities to investigate police attacks on journalists during recent demonstrations against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country.

Ten people were killed over two days of protests during which police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protestors, hitting and injuring journalists covering the demonstrations, according to news reports.

At least 17 journalists were injured by police or demonstrators, according to data shared with CPJ by the Drik Picture Library, a local advocacy group and multimedia services provider.

“Police in Bangladesh must immediately end their outrageous attacks on journalists covering protests, and should protect them from abuse rather than inflicting it themselves,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator.

“These blatant attacks on press freedom undermine a key pillar of the country’s democracy,” he said

According to the data shared with CPJ, the majority of the injured journalists were photographers.

Demonstrators and police officers hit journalists with the butt of a pistol, sticks, iron rods, stones, and bricks, and journalists were shot with rubber bullets, according to that data, which stated that they sustained injuries including bruises, swelling, bleeding, broken bones, a dislocated shoulder, and a cracked skull.

CPJ emailed the Bangladeshi national police headquarters for comment, but did not receive any replies.

Access to Facebook was also blocked during the demonstrations, according to reports, which stated that the Bangladesh government did not comment on whether it had ordered those restrictions.