The Hifazat-e Islam not only barred women from entering its rally in the capital on Saturday, but also harassed physically and mentally several female journalists performing their professional duties there.
Activists of the Chittagong-based radical Islamist group assaulted
Ekushey Television Reporter Nadia Sharmin at Bijoynagar and interrupted
Financial Express Reporter Arafat Ara at Paltan when she was going to
On Friday, Mohona TV Chief Reporter Sumi Khan faced obstruction
from the Hifazat activists in Chittagong.
Female journalists were not
alone to face the Hifazat harassment, even the women garbage collectors were
driven out from the rally area.
Leaders of the group demanded imposition
of restrictions on open movement of male and female together, from the rally
organised in Motijheel to press for their demands, including action against
Nadia Sharmin told bdnews24.com that she was attacked around
3pm when she went to cover the rally.
“Some Hifazat activists came to me
and told me that admission of women to the rally is not allowed. They said, ‘You
resort to falsehood. You’re the agents of Ganajagaran Mancha.’ At one point of
the conversation they assaulted me. I took shelter in a car nearby and then they
even tried to vandalise the car,” she said.
Later, several journalists
tried to take Nadia to Bijoynagar where she was attacked
“Fifty-sixty activists hurled brickbats and water bottles at me at
Bijoynagar. They snatched my mobile phone and handbag having several thousand
takas. Then they threw me on the ground and beat me up,” she
Injured in the head, left side of the neck and leg, Nadia was sent
to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment.
She said she was
attacked only for being a woman.
Financial Express Reporter Arafat Ara
said she was obstructed by the Hifazat men around 4pm at the Paltan intersection
when she was going to office.
“Several activists stopped my CNG
(auto-rickshaw). Then they said ‘You’re not wearing scarf, so you can’t go this
way’,” she told bdnews24.com.
“I asked why I can’t go just because I am
not wearing scarf? It’s my personal business whether I wear scarf or not. Who’re
you to talk about this? Then they got locked in argument with me. At one stage I
started for my office again ignoring their obstruction.”
She said it is
beyond anyone’s imagination that women would face such obstruction while going
to office. “Females of our country attained progress in education and
employment. Now moves are trying to take it (progress) back.”
A poor old
woman collecting water bottles at Paltan at noon was driven away from the area
on the pretext that ‘it is not a place for females’.
working for the women rights condemned the harassment of women by the Hifazat
activists at a time when the progress of Bangladesh’s females is being acclaimed
“It seems that they want to take the country towards
Afghanistan. But the people will never allow it,” Karmajibi Nari chief Shirin
Akter told bdnews24.com.
Rasheda K Choudhury, Executive Director of the
Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), said, “What happened is unexpected and
most undesirable. I’m very worried and angry. We didn’t want this
She questioned how the ‘wheels of economy’ would keep moving
if the women stopped working because of harassment.
“Women of our country
are now everywhere – from the grassroots level to the peak of the Himalayas. But
move is on to pull the females back. This cannot continue if democracy and
freedom of speech are there.”
Rasheda, also a former Adviser to the
caretaker government, said: “Chiefs of the two top (political) parties are
women. We’re waiting to see what they will do. Otherwise, we will have to take
our own course.”
Several of the 13-point charter of demands that the
little-known Hifazat is pressing for are contrary to the provisions of the
Constitution, women’s rights, national women’s policy and cultural development,
it is being felt.
The group had staged a long-march to Dhaka from
Chittagong to press home its demands.