BNP senior leader Moudud Ahmed on Friday alleged that the government has enacted two ‘coercive’ laws–Digital Security Act and Broadcast Bill–to make media ‘inactive’ ahead of the national election.
“The government has formulated the Digital Security Act and Broadcast Bill ahead of the election…why did you formulate such laws? The main motive behind is to make media inactive by establishing the government’s fully control,” he said.
Speaking at a discussion, the BNP leader further said, “The two suppressive laws have been made so that media can’t criticise the government before the election, and the televisions and newspapers only sing the songs of the government’s development.”
Bangladesh Youth Forum arranged the programme at the Jatiya Press Club demanding BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s release from jail. Moudud, a BNP standing committee member, said the Digital Security Act made journalists and people scared.
Referring to section 32 of the Act, he said journalists can be sentenced to 14 years’ jail and fined Tk 25 lakh for publishing any government document on its corruption and misdeeds in the media.
“The section 43 is more dangerous where law enforcers are given limitless power as they’ll be able to raid any office and house and seize computers and other equipment and arrest anyone without any warrant. It’s a direct interference in the press freedom,” the BNP leader observed.
On Monday, the cabinet approved in principle the draft Broadcast Bill 2018.Under the bill, if anyone broadcasts false or confusing information in a discussion programme or anything against the spirit and principles of the Liberation War or against the state policy, he or she will face a maximum jail term of three years or a fine of Tk 5 crore or both.
Earlier on October 8, President Abdul Hamid signed the Digital Security Bill turning it into a law. Moudud said there is no atmosphere in the country for a credible election as the government is trying to gag media and keep opposition leaders and activists away from election by filing ‘fictitious’ cases against them.
He said the newly formed Jatiya Oikyafront caused heartburn to the government. “We’re observing that the government has got unnerved following the formation of our front. Their various remarks have exposed that ….they seriously fear the national unity and people.”
The BNP leader warned the government that they will ensure the defeat of the government through the Oikyafront by involving people with the platform.
He said no one of the current cabinet members will be able to win the next election if it is held in a fair and credible manner. “That’s why the government doesn’t want to hold any fair election.”
Criticising the government for denying Oikyafront permission for holding its rally in Sylhet on October 23, he said it has exposed how much the government’s popularity has waned.
Moudud said though the ruling party can hold rallies anywhere and carried out road march, BNP is not allowed to arrange similar programmes. “Why do we need to take permission for holding our programmes when you need not to do it? Are we the second-class citizens of Bangladesh?”
He called upon BNP leaders and activists to get ready to overcome all the obstacles by the government. “We must take to the streets and wage a strong movement to force the government to reach an understanding.”