The ruling Awami League has barred The Daily Star from covering all its programmes, even those open to the press, without showing any reason.
A Star reporter was asked to leave the AL president’s Dhanmondi office on Wednesday when he went there to cover a party meeting.
As the reporter entered the office premises at 11:15am, a guard wanted to know his identity. When told that he was from The Daily Star, the guard requested him to leave.
Yesterday, the AL invited the media to cover a press briefing at the same venue. But in a departure from standard practice, The Daily Star was not invited to the briefing.
Journalists from the print and electronic media, who went there to cover the event, were surprised when staff at the AL chief’s office inquired about their identities to make sure that no one from The Daily Star was there.
Interestingly, though the AL barred the daily from covering its programmes, the party in its official facebook page uploaded a cartoon published on The Daily Star’s front page yesterday.
Contacted by The Daily Star, AL Assistant Secretary Syed Abdul Awal Shamim said, “Don’t you know that there is an embargo on The Daily Star regarding coverage of our programmes? We are not inviting you to any Awami League programmes.”
When asked what had prompted the ruling party to make such a move, Shamim advised this correspondent to talk to either AL Office Secretary Abdus Sobhan Golap or Assistant Publicity Secretary Asim Kumar Ukil.
Though calls were made and short messages were sent to his mobile phone, there was no response from Golap.
Contacted over the phone, Ukil said, “The party has asked us to bar The Daily Star from covering events at party offices, Gono Bhavan and the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Asked about the reasons behind it, Ukil declined to make any comment. He, however, suggested that The Daily Star could get reports from news agencies which cover events at AL offices, the Gono Bhaban and the PMO.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said there was no official order to prevent the daily from covering events at the PMO or the Gono Bhaban.
“I cannot say why the Awami League is not allowing The Daily Star to cover party programmes. I have to know it first,” Inu told a Star reporter at the Jatiya Sangsad yesterday afternoon.
AL President’s Media Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury told this correspondent yesterday, “No official order has been issued to bar The Daily Star from covering these [events at the PMO, Gono Bhaban, AL offices).”
“If there were any prime ministerial instructions in this respect, I would have been aware of them since I handle media affairs for the prime minister. As far as I know, there have been no such instructions,” he added.
Source: The Daily Star