The High Court has wanted to know what administrative action has been taken against Teknaf Upazila executive officer Mohammad Kaisar Khosru for yelling abuse at a local reporter over a report.
Justice Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Khizir Hayat issued the order on Sunday after a media report on the matter was brought to the judges' attention by Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan.
“The UNO behaved badly with a journalist because of a news article,” Khurshid Alam told the media afterwards. “We believe that, as a government official, this kind of behaviour was not legal. A government official must speak responsibly. I brought the matter to the court’s attention and they read the news. The court then said that a government official cannot behave in such a manner.”
“One of the judges said the UNO’s remarks were like those of a gangster and unbecoming to a responsible official. The senior judge described them as ‘wrong-headed’,” the lawyer said.
“His remarks are extremely objectionable. It is unfortunate and unacceptable,” Justice Talukder said at the hearing.
“Journalists are a mirror to society. They are the fourth estate of the state. If they have committed any offence, the law or the press council can handle it. But no one can abuse them in this way.”
Deputy Attorney General Amin Uddin Manik has been ordered to inform the court what action the district administration had taken against Khosru.
Manik, who represented the state at the hearing, said: “Some homes had been built for the homeless in Cox’s Bazar and a journalist for the Dhaka Post wrote a report about how they were being inundated. The UNO swore at the journalist about this article."
The court instructed Manik to make inquiries on the matter. "The UNO has apologised, but even so, the district administration says it will take administrative action. I will discuss the matter with the deputy commissioner and inform the court," Manik said.
The issue was also brought to the district administration’s attention and they summoned both sides for a meeting. The UNO apologised for the insults and asked for forgiveness.
Several homes built for homeless people under the Ashrayan Project next to the Naf River in Teknaf were recently waterlogged due to the tide and the rain, causing difficulties for residents.
On Thursday, the Dhaka Post ran a story about the situation, filed by its Cox’s Bazar Correspondent Saidul Islam Farhad. Later that night, the UNO called Farhad from his government phone number and hurled insults at him.
An audio recording of the conversation then spread on social media, drawing a storm of criticism.