Hill Voice, 18 September 2019, Wednesday, Bandarban: Md. Ibrahim, Bengali Muslim settler, filed another case under the Digital Security Act with the court of Senior Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Hasan of Bandarban Court accusing Sanjoy Kumar Barua, Bandarban correspondent of The Daily Star, for using the word “indigenous” in a report titled “Three indigenous villages face land grabbing” on August 27, 2019.
But the judge dismissed the case saying there was no legal barrier in using the term “indigenous”. “The government of Bangladesh discourages using the term ‘Adivasi’, but it does not discourage using ‘indigenous’,” the judge said while passing the order, adding that the two words do not mean the same thing.
“Therefore, it is not evident that the accused had committed an offence by using the word ‘indigenous’ in his report,” the judge said.
The report titled “Three indigenous villages face land grabbing” was published in The Daily Star on July 28.
The second case was filed by Md Ibrahim, alao former vice-president of the Parbatya Bangalee Chhatra Parishad, a platform of Bangalee settlers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), on Thursday 12 September with the Bandarban District Session Judge Court against Sanjoy Kumar Barua for using the word “indigenous” in a report.
In the case statement, he alleged that the correspondent used the word by violating the articles 23(A) and 36(2) of the country’s constitution in an attempt to “provoke anarchy” in the hills.
After recording the case, the court fixed October 2 for hearing, said Debasish Devnath, bench assistant of the court.
In the latest case statement, Md. Ibrahim also alleged that Senior Judicial Magistrate Hasan had “arbitrarily” dismissed the case.
When asked if anyone had influenced him in filing the cases, Md. Ibrahim said, “Some Bangalee leaders of CHT and I had a meeting on August 20 and decided to file the cases against the reporter as he has long been working for the rights of the hilly (indigenous Jumma) people.”
On August 19, Masum Rana, president of another forum of Bangalee settlers named Parbatya Adhikar Forum, filed another case against Sanjoy for the same.
Contacted, Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, said, “We strongly protest filing of multiple cases against a journalist who works for the rights of indigenous people,” adding that filing of such cases is a threat to the press freedom in the country.